That would sound like the beginning of a joke, probably a lost in translation or differing cultures sort of joke, you know a character from the west, one from the east, and the Turk at the divide? Well no in fact it is my life. I guess I could say A Japanese a Turk and an American were walking down the street when one fell and ask you to guess, but it should be obvious that it was I, the American. Yep completely just wiped out on the streets of Ankara this morning – way to start my day – at least laughing is the same in all three of our cultures…
Never really thought I’d be walking between a Japanese girl and a Turkish woman on the streets of Turkey. The Turkish woman part yes, I got that, but Japanese not so much. In fact, there are a total of 3 exchange students (including myself) staying with the host family I was assigned and the Japanese one was my tour guide for the day after our morning shopping adventure with the host daughter.
The morning started off good – well later than I thought. Sleeping last night was a bit reckless.
Went to bed passed out from travel exhaustion around 11, only to wake up at 2am. Then I was stir crazy till 5am when I finally passed out again. I did get to enjoy the 4:20am call to prayer though! Finally got up and going around 10:30.
Enjoyed a traditional Turkish light breakfast with hard boiled eggs, different cheeses, bread, olives, etc. and of course a cup of tea. Then got dressed and headed into the streets of Ankara for errand shopping with the host daughter and Japanese student. We went and bought a table, chairs and other things (not really sure since they are getting delivered tonight) and massive amounts of fruit because I guess compared to the other exchange students I am a big fruit eater – oops.
Then when we came home we rested a bit until the Japanese student (whose name I am unsure of the spelling as of yet but will soon learn) decided to show me a bit around. She just started learning Turkish a month ago, so while mine isn’t strong hers is even weaker. Our conversation – a mix of broken Turkish and her broken English was quite hilarious throughout the day with many hand gestures and people looking at us like we are nuts. I even was able to teach her some new words – she may have known them in Turkish or English but not both, or only in Japanese.
Overall, I do think I grasped quite a bit – rode the metro and the bus amongst a significant amount of walking and was shown the language institute where I will take my classes starting Monday (super nervous for that). It was quite crowded – one of the reasons I didn’t take photos. The other being that I wanted to take in as much as I could so that I have a lesser chance of getting lost on my own.
Some of the things noted while walking Ankara
1) Globalization is present everywhere – of course I saw the typical restaurants of McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Starbucks, but had never seen Sbarro abroad. That was a first. And my slight obsession with Pitbull was fulfilled when we walked through a huge shopping center where they were playing multiple songs of his.
2) The driving is a sort of fend for yourself, pedestrians are just objects that drivers dont mind rolling back into or bumping when trying to run a red light.
3) There are shops just for eggs – literally about 10 on one short street alone – eggs galore!
4) Countdown timers – in the US we have timers to count down how much time is left for pedestrians to cross, here they have those too, as well as timers on the green lights for cars and timers to let you know how much longer the commercials are – both of the latter I feel the US should look into.
5) No one (well maybe three people out of the thousands out today) wears sunglasses! I mean it was super bright out and I was definitely squinting but didn’t want to put on my sunnies since no one else was wearing them. Next time I may just have to be one of the FOUR people wearing sunglasses otherwise my 20/20 eyes just won’t make it out of Turkey.
This evening I came home to some nice fresh fruit (2 of which I’d never had before). Green plums – super sour and something the color of an apricot but not an apricot – maybe it was a malta plum – can’t remember – will definitely have to study my fruit.
And the dinning room table at my homestay which is currently covered in drying mint – boy does it smell great (:
Cheers to the first full day in Ankara