Anxious…I think

Today is my last full day in Ankara. Wow. Let me say that again. Today is my last full day in Ankara. Yep didn’t work. It really isn’t setting in that my time here is just about to be up. Granted I finally started to pack last night – shocker I know. This time there were no 11 o’clock at night discussions over what luggage I should take between me and my parents because well I only have the luggage in my room. My room for only 36 more hours. Gosh. Still not setting in. Will it ever?

But yes I did start to pack and what did I realize, that it’s gonna be fun lugging me and my equal weighted luggage across the countrry tomorrow, but I will persevere. I made it from Italy to Germany with more luggage 2 years ago and well I can make it half-way across Turkey or so I tell myself. I’ve made the bus journey before so I am not worried for that, but yet I am still worried, or I think I am worried. What exactly is anxiety and the feeling of being anxious – not being able to put your finger on what you are feeling? If so that is exactly what is surging through my body right now.

Maybe I am just unsure of what to feel because my life is gonna be a whirlwind for the next month and I don’t know what to think about. To give you a little flash forward here’s the breakdown:

August 28th – Leave Ankara for the Big City of İstanbul. Move into my new digs at 11pm at night.

August 29th – Pack for my Euro Backpack Trip and fly to Paris in the afternoon and hang with my long lost program companion Allyce!!!! Go back one time zone

August 30th – Greet my friend Jess from the US and do Paris Live!

August 31st – Fly to Lisbon, Portugal. Go back one more time zone! Holy moly I will only be 6 hours ahead of my lovelies back in Illinois. That’s the closest we will be in a long time – a very long time.

September 1st-4th – Experience Portugal through sights, sounds and of course tastes

September 4th-8th – Experience Spain via all my senses. The Al Hambra – EEEEEEKKKKSSSS! and fly back to Paris

September 9th – Fly back to Istanbul! Wowsers

September 10th-12th University Orientation

September 13th-20th Become a Tour Guide for a week for my Parentals – ahhhhhhhh so excited to see you two and eat out on your wallet FPU – but really excited to see you two – I can’t contain my excitement!

September 21st-23rd – Maybe sleep??? Find my inner realm of peace and reflect on my life

September 24th – My semester starts

September 25th –> Start putting money back into my bank account.

And somewhere in the midst of all that I will get some runs in, I will hammock internationally and I will know what it feels like to be in a country where I don’t speak the language. Heck I may actually be praying to hear Turkish when it is all said and done with. Portuguese – you frighten me,  Spanish well  I gave up on you after 3 years and switched back to the mother tongue and then chose 2 more languages over you so you know where you stand. And French well I am just not able to sound as formal and proper as you require so I will stick with my limited vocabulary of please and thanky you that I will be scorned at by all Parisians no matter how hard I try. It seems as if I am a hater of languages now – but really I am not I just have my preferences of English, German, Italian and Turkish. I think my Italian may help me around, may being the keyword.

Yes I think that clearly classifies as a whirlwind of a month, if not well then I am not sure I could handle a whirlwind because that is overwhelming enough already as it is for me. And mapping that out was more for my own sanity I think…

With all of that laid out I will be quite busy, but I do hope to keep you all up to date on my activities.

Now I will just try and separate out all the mixed emotions running through me and keep my head screwed on right so that I can focus and pass my Turkish level exams! May luck be on my side.

Cheers from Ankara






Hypothermia Shower

A quick post because I have lots and lots of Turkish to study.

But I think I just took the coldest shower of my life and that is saying something. I embraced the ice cold bucket showers (big bucket with little bucket method) in India where your body is producing steam because it is warmer than the water – yes 3 weeks of that really makes you appreciate a shower head that pours out hot water. And I’ve even showered in the cold mountain water of Thailand when in Chiang Mai. Heck, stateside I’ve even had to embrace the shower shivers when on a volunteer trip in Memphis. I guess you cold say I’ve become a little bit of an expert of how to approach a cold shower, but I was not expecting it at my home stay. Now if I hadn’t gone for a run I would of just foregone the shower – I also have a little bit of expertise in not showering for extended periods of time (usually finals induced), but post my run tonight I was stinky and my hair was super sweaty (sorry for the overshare) so a shower was a must.

Now I should have realized when washing dishes post dinner that there was no hot water, but I just figured it was a glitch with the kitchen sink – boy was I wrong – the whole apartment is without hot water. Needless to say it was a quick shower and my body temperature is slowly warming back up – just a few minutes of hypothermia doesn’t hurt, right?

I will update tomorrow about my weekend travels – I traveled nearby (only about 3 hours away) but I have a good story or two to share and photos, but they just have to wait.

Must get back to Turkish studies and warming my body up – shouldn’t be hard in my inferno room

Cheers from the land of confused temperatures



My Time in Turkey Through GIFs II

Many informed me that they loved my GIFs from a couple weeks ago so I thought I have kept yall all waiting long enough for the second installment. In case you missed the first round you can click to it here!

What I wish I could do in Ankara Traffic

The More Plausible Outcome

Me Walking in Ankara on My First Day

Riding a Dolmuş Part II

Trying to Explain Something in Turkish and Realizing I don’t know the Vocabulary

Running into a Fellow Illini Abroad

Trying My Friend Flora’s Pickle Juice in Istanbul

Istanbul with its heat and humidity

Turkish Men to Tourists

Taxi Drivers Response when I Speak to them in Turkish to make a Fare Deal

What Everyone Looks Like During my Morning Commute

What my Turkish Teacher Really Wants to do when I say I understand – “Sure you do”

Eating Something Really Hot but Trying to Keep it Together out of Respect

Me Dreaming About Soy Milk

Drinking Raki – doesn’t get easier with attempts

When I am oblivious to my surroundings and try to exit the metro via the entrance

What my conversations with my Japanese roommate look like

What said roommate does on the rare occasion she is ready to go to class on time  – who needs Turkish when you have hand gestures??

Cheers from the land of Turks


Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Not having an oven for 4 1/2 months = torture

I am already having nightmares about it. Why would someone even build an apartment and not put an oven in the kitchen? That just seems preposterous. I mean my friend’s 8×8 Parisian apartment – makes sense – there isn’t room. A normal size apartment with a normal size kitchen – doesn’t make sense – plenty of room. The pseudo replacement of a toaster oven better have magical baking capacities that I am currently unaware of.

Get ready for the series of nat and her toaster oven accompanied by her trusty hot plates – unreal.

Thinking about my oven-less situation come September made me want to bake – so I did.

If you wanna do something, then do it. End of discussion, especially when the matter is to bake or not to bake.

Ingredients: (adapted from this recipe right hurrrrr)

Dry ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (a pinch more depending on the moisture of the mix) –> haha have yet to find whole wheat flour so white just had to suffice
  • 1 1/2 cups of Large Flake Rolled Oats (smaller flake is ok too)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp Cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp. flax meal

Wet ingredients

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup oil (corn, grapeseed or olive – or sunflower oil like I used)
  • 1 egg (beat with 1 Tbsp Water)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla

Yummy ingredients aka mix-ins

  • 3/4 cup cranberries
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs


  1. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together. Hint: when measuring out the honey, spray the measuring cup with oil or baking spray–your honey won’t stick).
  3. Mix the wet stuff with the dry stuff. Add your mix-ins. If the mixture seems too wet, add a bit of flour. If it isn’t binding together very well, you may wish to add an egg white.
  4. COOL the mix for 20 minutes in the fridge.
  5. Preheat the oven to 335 degrees (lower temperature due to the honey in the recipe which will burn more easily). –> I trust the baker but for me these babies were baked on #5 with the homestay oven!
  6. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto your baking sheet (I recommend lining the baking sheet with parchment paper). Press down with a fork to ensure even cooking. – I used my hand – oops.
  7. Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes or until golden on the bottom of the cookie. The cookies freeze very well and make a great snack! Enjoy.

Host mother and sister approved

Cheers from the land that I am not sure knows the importance of a “normal” oven


The Power of a Jinx

Jinx knock on wood is one of those sayings that just seems to never disappear – rather it gets more ironic the older you get.

Today I had a great lunch at one of my favorite cafes in Ankara with the American who stayed at my homestay before me. She shared her story of how her first day in Ankara – straight off the plane – the apartment had no water. Huh? Yeah Turkey is definitely not considered a developing country but nearby construction anywhere can mess with your water supply AND your electricity supply.

She then went on to say how candles were the source of lighting then. Normal – this I can relate to, but no candles because the stock was not refilled because they are ridiculously expensive in this country – that’s all sorts of bad for a claustrophobia prone person because the dark just has a way of creeping in on you and making everything smaller (like a week back when I got stuck in the elevator of the building I teach English in – pitch black super small and the only relief in it all was that I was alone because yes in this scenario riding with someone else would’ve just cramped my style and made it even more of a sweaty situation because I would have had to talk in Turkish with a stranger instead of inhaling and exhaling deep breathes – nightmarish – you better believe that since that experience I have opted to climb to the 8th floor instead).

Now Azusa (the other girl at the homestay) told me that the week before I arrived there was no electricity – AHHHHHHHH. Good thing I arrived when I did – small blessings in disguise.

Thus I had only experienced one small electricity shortage and it was no big deal because I was home alone and it was still daytime….until today.

Yes, after leaving the cafe I went and mailed a big batch of postcards to the lucky winners of this round and then headed home – little did I know that the electricity was out. When I was walking up to the building I noticed that the convenience store on the corner of our building was running a generator and a little voice in my head said – yep you probably jinxed yourself.

The electricity outage was only a few hours long and just like my previous experience I was home alone and it was still daytime. Small blessings I tell you.

Never question the power of a jinx – knock on that wood I say.

It beats the electrical problems of my Italian apartment where if we consumed TOO much we set off a series of ear-deafening alarms throughout the whole apartment building – I’m sure the Verona ladies remember those late nights of running frantically for Geovani our handy man – classic moments abroad.

In the confusing world of Turkish I was reading the menu and asked Selina what Jambon was – she said don’t know I’ll look it up in my dictionary. Surprisingly it’s ham…..don’t worry I am still confused over why ham is on a menu in a predominantly muslim country also, because the chances of it being something else instead of ham are much greater than the chances of it actually being ham which just gets your mind thinking all sorts of strange things…and no I don’t think spam has made its appearance here….

For you Spanish speakers, supposedly Jambon is ham in Spanish too – loan word in action right there.



What do I think of when I think of coding? Computer Science guys (aka my friend Johnny B) and the ridiculous amount of high activity that is constantly going on in their brains and my complete and utter lack of comprehension. Really it is just a whole bunch of random numbers and letters to me – I consider it a foreign language all on its own.

Why am I telling you about coding? Well today at the school where I teach English there was a “tech” guy –> his words not mine in the front office where I was hanging out and he was re-installing the wi-fi internet. At first he started rattling off Turkish at me but then stopped when he saw my eyes get really big – yes I am learning Turkish, no I don’t understand rapid fire Turkish and I sure as hell don’t understand coding or internet installation…in any language. Gave the internet installation a try senior year of college –> major fail, but that could have been because our router was a dud, so maybe I do have some internet installation skills…

From then on I was left by myself until they wanted to check the wi-fi connection so asked to borrow my laptop – the first words out of their mouth “ufffff MAC” –> yes yes I made the switch just shy of a year ago and I won’t be going back “Once you go Mac, you don’t go back”. Now they were asking me how to find some program in my harddrive and I miraculously helped them find “Terminal” – had yet to use it. All I know is that when I got my computer back there was a program open with the coding language all over the place – it was like taunting me from the screen. Whatever they did worked because the wifi was connected and really that’s what I cared about. I was going to be helping my student edit her thesis and let’s just say that a medical thesis and its terminology is a tad out of my vocabulary boundaries too – but I somehow pulled that off too and know a heck of a lot more about carditis.

Computer dudes, tech guys, CS majors –> all the same in every country – well maybe I should rephrase and say the same in Turkey and the US – they truly are a breed of their own – and I mean that with the highest compliments – I wish I could do what they do. My favorite was the one guy wore glasses but liked to perch them on top of his head and do a one eyed squint at the computer instead –> Classic.

Weekend Plan: Off to Istanbul tomorrow to meet the gal I will be subleasing my apartment from for the fall term – thank you Craig’s List Turkey (: and hopefully crossing paths with a gal I meet a couple weeks ago in Cappadocia (:

Will be an adventure – it seems from the pictures of my hostel that the bathroom is a tad “blinged” out – I will confirm whether or not it is accurate advertising.




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


Merak Etme (Don’t Worry)

Merak etme – the condoling words of my Turkish teacher when I pulled out the last straw and facebook friended and messaged her that I left my notebook at school that happened to have BOTH my passport and residence permit in it and wondering if she had grabbed it. Yes, I realized this last night at about 8pm and from there on out was a royal mess because the school was closed and I’d have to wait out 12+ enduring hours of mental agony. My mind was conjuring up the worst possible scenarios. I even researched what I would have to do if I did in fact lose my passport – things I am glad I don’t have to do because miraculously it was right where I left it when I got to the school. Mind you I was the first student in the doors this morning and there was no way another student was gonna beat me there – I booked it and was ready to bulldoze anyone and anything in my way.

I mean when the subject of an email to your parents is “I’m Such an Idiot” it is either pictures of people doing stupid things or said child reporting the most idiotic mistake in the world. Have I mentioned that I am notoriously known for forgetting/losing things. And my passport – yes that is the worst thing yet. Not to mention I am flying back to the US next week for my friend’s wedding I am in so I REALLY NEED to keep my passport on a tight leash.

So with the condoling Turkish messages from  Zeynep, my Turkish teacher, and my friend Jess trying to keep me leveled headed via gchat I somehow figured that I might as well take some “sleepy meds” and at least give myself the chance at rest.  Something had to stop the freakout I was having – telling this to my teacher the next day in Turkish sure gave her and the other students a laugh. I slept a good amount, but as soon as my body woke me at 5am I was back to having horrific images pass through my head.

Azusa – was shocked when I left the homestay by 8:10 but she completely understood and made sure to send me messages of support during my commute – gotta love that girl! Needless to say I was soaked in sweat by the time I got to school and only half was due to the heat – sheer panic was the greater cause.

Once I had my passport back I felt the crushing stone lift off my chest and knew that I was şanslı – lucky.

Quick Yes/No recap of the day:

Yes! To the lovers in the park I will gladly take your picture

No! To the man in the meat shop I don’t want to buy half a lamb

Yes! To the men working the bus ticket counter I will gladly accept your praises of my Turkish

No! To the kids on the street I don’t want to pay a lira to stand on a scale for the whole park to see how much I weigh (even though you guys are super cute – it’s me, not you)

Yes! To the man selling me tea kettles I will totally drink çay with you

And now I am off to right a fairy tale in Turkish (:

So remember merak etme – don’t worry because things have a way of working out





My Time in Turkey Through GIFs

GIFs are great – I love them. I’ve been meaning to post these for sometime and am finally getting around to it – all based off of my time thus far in Turkey (: Enjoy

When I first started using a Turkish Keyboard

Mastering a Turkish keyboard

My host mom consoling me when I got sick 

Finding another lone American in Ankara

Walking the hills of Ankara when I first arrived

When my Turkish teacher gives a lesson on grammar that doesn’t exist in the English language

Post successfully making Chocolate Chip Cookies with a Turkish Recipe

Looking at a non-western toilet when I first arrived

One month later when I hear there are only non-western toilets

Passing my Turkish level exams

When they finally turn the AC on when its 35 C out and you are at the back of the bus

Post an overnight bus ride

When someone speaks extremely fast in Turkish

Riding in a dolmus

My hair in Istanbul – unacceptable