It’s True I Missed Turkey

After a full 2 days back in Turkey I can indeed say that I missed a few things about the country that has become my home. Here is a short list, but there are plenty more.

1) My crazy but awesome host mother – I can’t rant on long enough about how wonderful she is. Last night she was up to all hours cutting away at some crazy vegetable. She already made my favorite dessert for me and has been sure to serve me plenty of good home cooked Turkish food…about that diet…hmmmm may just have to wait till September.

2) Learning a bizarre but somehow useful Turkish word – learned that bamya means okra because that crazy said vegetable in #1 was okra. Bulls full of it in the kitchen.

3) The dining room table being used as a pseudo dehydrator – in the past it was mint, this week it is beans – she is drying them for the winter…if I understood correctly…

4) Realizing that I have my favorite Turkish teacher for my third and final course. She is on equal standing with my host mother of being pure awesome. Her mannerisms are fantastic and she knows how to explain things so that I can actually say “anladim = I understand)

5) Seeing all my classmates and friends – it was like a long time coming reunion.

6) Lost in translation – my phone doesn’t show Turkish characters – usually not a problem until someone sends me a message with a lot of Turkish characters as was the case today. One of the students I teach English to sent me a message but I only understood half of it – messaged her back to have her call me – this wouldn’t be a problem if I would have been able to hear her on the phone but there was a glitch and I couldn’t hear a darn thing. So there I am in the middle of traffic saying “Hello – Merhaba – Hello – Effendim – Hello” over and over with no dice for hearing a response. Got a few good lucks from passerbys too – all the while playing the game of frogger to get across the street. They say you shouldn’t drive on and talk on the phone – well you shouldn’t try to cross a busy Turkish street and talk on the phone either. Thankfully I was near the school and ran into the owner who called my student for me – he explained the story to her as I had just told him the problem and all was sorted out in quick Turkish fashion. But really how was I suppose to answer the phone to someone I am teaching English to, but is Turkish and I am an American in Turkey – Hello or Effendim –> really a more confusing question than I previously thought.

Now as I have already mentioned Ankara got hit by a heat wave, but magically the temps are down in the 80s again – so much more pleasurable. However, still hot and I still overheat when running in running tights – so I took things into my own hands and wore shorts today and ran in a park that I usually don’t run in – double whammy of the daredevil characteristic in me I suppose. The run was glorious – well minus the fact that the elevation of Turkey is higher than that of Illinois and I somehow realized the difference in oxygen – or maybe it was all the hills I was doing – either way I was a tad short of breathe  – but in the feel good give me more kinda way. So I got a few stares – maybe because I was the only person running or maybe because of the shorts – but either way I figure I will be stared at so I might as well be a few degrees cooler – Im over the no running in shorts thing – gone, gone and gone.

Cheers to a good month of August ahead


Travel Time

Night flights are great – they go by super fast because its not a matter of “ohh I should probably try and sleep” rather your body just decides to shut down on you proclaiming that you have no choice in the matter. Not to mention I got to see Chicago from the sky at night – really it is a city of squares and the downtown looked so little – kind of like a model that belonged in the Museum of Science and Industry – but nonetheless impressive. Especially once I saw the haphazard lay out (with more crooked roads and a lacking skyline) of Ankara since I flew in at midnight.

After a bit of chit-chatting with my flight neighbor (a 21 year -old gal who was going home to Bosnia for her best friend’s wedding – instant bonding since I was returning from a wedding) that was everything from what we do (she works at the O’Hare airport) to our mutual phobia of spiders and bugs over our free glasses of wine, I zonked out and I zonked out hard.

Window seats are prime real estate for getting your zzzz’s on. Slept right on through the breakfast and when I did finally come to the flight attendant was there to serve juice with a super friendly and yet mischievous “good morning” all rolled into one. It was kinda like “oh yeah I saw you drooling last night when you were sleeping – I won’t judge though because I would’ve been doing the same if I didn’t have to work”.

The downfall to it all – sleeping on a plane makes you stiff no matter what, add a 7 mile run to the mix and well I was all kinds of stiff when I got up. I was definitely doing some odd stretches in the Munich airport while a woman looked on and just chuckled. Not to mention I gave myself quite the colorful bruise on my upper arm with my backpacking bag at the very start of my journey – super tender, but at the very least it makes me look tough. Over the 25 hour journey it has gone from pink to purple to more blue – maybe in two days it will be green/yellow…who needs a tattoo when bruises give you the whole spectrum?

Being cooped up in an airport for 7 hours with only a half hour of free wi-fi = actually doing thesis reading and teaching myself all sorts of new Turkish grammar. English speaker, learning Turkish in a German airport – love my life. It’s the equivalent feeling to watching the Olympics in 3 different languages in the span of 2 days: EnglishàGermanàTurkish. Grand. Super grand. And I must say that watching women’s dead weight lifting (is that what it is even called) is a first for me – not sure the US even gives it airtime… Such a strange sport and yet I’ve come to appreciate that these women are able to lift more than 2X their weight. (the winner 53kg with a max lift of 131kg – wicked insane)

What is not so grand – blazing heat – it’s even hotter than imaginable with no escaping it – the city of Ankara is melting – I’m sure of it (and the sun is not even up). My taxi ride was super breezy flying down the deserted interstate with the window rolled down, but upon walking into my homestay/bedroom I felt like I was in Dante’s Inferno. Not to mention on my bed was a super thin sheet – major warning sign…

Did end the travels on a high note – my taxi driver thought I was awesome – he wanted me to sit up front with him, but I learned my lesson with that. He was super cool though – we chit chatted the whole time – from asking about my reasons for learning Turkish to Obama to what cars my parents drive. If I didnt know a word he would keep repeating it – didnt really help but it was super funny. Not speaking Turkish for a week and it being a long day made for some iffy Turkish but I’ve come to welcome and downright enjoy the

Off to try and battle the jet lag since I start up my third course of Turkish tomorrow – oye vey…or is inshallah more appropriate??

Cheers from Turkey


Rehash of USA

My ‘refresher’ week in the land of the red, white and blue was just that – refreshing.

I got to snuggle a little nugget named Zoey – we make good nap buddies – almost as good of nap buddies as these two – we are a super close second

I got to see my good friend Brittany get married – a classic wedding that suited her just right. The wedding and reception were both a blast – to include an ILLINI strong chant at the end of the night – school spirit (I think an insertion of spirit fingers here is appropriate).

I got to bake and all most baked goods were appreciated and good (I had a tad bit of a flop with making a yogurt based ice-cream for my mum’s birthday – sister likes to kid with me that what I make isn’t good – this time no need for jokes – it was bad, super bad, redemption was needed).

I got to run and not in circles – super grand! Ended the trip with a nice hilly 7 mile race –>; the BIX is a killer and yet you can’t keep me away from it – it is sooo bad it is good. The so bad it’s good is not applicable to ice-cream – maybe to dogs that are so ugly they are cute, but ice-cream – just a solid bad.

Pool time – when its 100 degrees a little time in the pool or poolside is much appreciated. Add in some cool aunts and mums and well you have a little pool party on your hands.

I got to listen to some country (aka CW as it is apparently called these days – sister and I are still wondering where that one came from mums). Two good songs that I am digging right now Home Sweet Home and 5-1-5-0

And food – yeah I got to have some good home cooked meals, some meals out and everything in between. Loved on waffles, maple syrup, sweet corn, filtered coffee, whole wheat flour, chips – baking chips that is, Greek yogurt and gallons of soy milk. Quite an odd mix I have going there, but all are missing in Turkey or have yet to be found.

I am looking forward to going back to the land of Turks because even though people there warn me that Ankara is hot and hungry I think my last month in the city that has become my temporary home with my Turkish host family will be a good one…I mean there has to be some upsides to Ramazan – oh right I remember – visiting the host family’s summer house in Bodrum at the end of it all (:


To Flourless Chunky Monkey Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yesterday my dad came home with the consensus that the other cookies I made for his office were a success. This is pretty much code for “hey they want more”. Here is what came back on the empty container Since … Continue reading

To-Run List

I am a big fan of making lists because lists make you feel productive. A friend of mine (will remain nameless) even puts meals on her to-do lists because well lets be real –  it’s not on there to remind her too eat, but rather because you know you will eat so at the end of the day you know you completed at the very least one thing off your list – and again to be real – it’s the most important thing (:

Anyhow, one of the bridesmaids from the wedding this weekend informed me of a new race that is upon the Big Ten Network. Now I am already signed up for a race this coming Saturday so unfortunately cannot take part in this inaugural race, but it is one that I want to keep on my radar for next year. This got me thinking – what other races are there that I know I want to run, but have let fall off my radar? So I figured the best thing to do is compile a list – so here goes the “To-Run List”

1) Big Ten 10K –> I-L-L-I-N-I  –> thanks for the heads up Peterman (:
2) Istanbul Marathon –> already planning for it – first marathon
3) Tough Mudder 
4) Color Run –> sister mentioned this to me
5) Glo Run
6) Warrior Dash
7) Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon
8) Disney Princess Run 
9) Be on a marathon relay team – any marathon
10) Travel to another country with the sole purpose of running a race

What are some races that you hope to one day run in?

Cheers to running


Suck up to your Parents – Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes

So my welcome back to the US gift was a flat tire – really? come on now my first day back driving and I get smacked with a big fat flat. Grrr. Thankfully I was outside my friend’s house so … Continue reading

Homeward Bound

In just a few short hours I will heading to the bus station to take the Havaş Service to the airport. I get to look forward to a night of sleeping in the airport – grand – which will make for my 3rd night in 5 nights of not sleeping/not sleeping in a bed. Really need to improve that statistic – my body is feeling it.

Then it is 17 hours of travel until I touch down in the city that has become my home while abroad – Chicago – because let’s be frank – no one knows where Illinois is nor do they care about it. New York, California and Texas – sure they have overseas status, but Illinois – not so much – but I am ok with this because while it might not be my home, it is home to “ahhhh the Chicago Bulls –> Michael Jordan” (said in foreign excited accent). And then it is still another 3 hours home – almost a full day of travel – almost…

So things I look forward to while home for the next week (yes I will be coming back to Turkey):

1) Soy milk (super tempted to buy powdered soy when home – milk does funny things to my stomach and I still want to eat overnight oats without taking meds)

2) Coffee – just straight from the pot (with soy milk – see #1) – no Turkish Coffee or Nescafe.

3) An oven that has degrees on it

4) Not thinking about whether I can toss the toilet paper in the toilet or not and just doing it

5) Drinking from the tap

6) AC – it is starting to really heat up here and not really cool down

7) Being able to run in shorts…heck just wear shorts in general – I can feel the wind on my legs already…weird I know

8) Smoke-free restaurants

9) Pool time

10) And last but certainly not least a little thing I like to call my family and friends and all the events that this entails (Friends wedding, my little niece who is nearing 3 months, and the surprise visits by two of my aunts that I was just informed about – it will be wonderful)

Cheers from abroad – the next time I write I will be on American soil and hopefully will have some recipes to share with you