Awkward Spottings

I must be brief because I still need to shower and get to the bus station because I am leaving for Istanbul in 2 short hours!!!!

Super excited for my weekend away – it will be a mix of Istanbul and Edirne –> I am going to Europe!!!! Trust me when I say the pictures post this trip will be GREAT!

Anywho, I thought I would sum up some of the more awkward moments in Turkey

My sightings:

1) Man slapping other man’s butt – not normal in any country…maybe only reserved for a sports field and even then…

2) Man holding lady’s corn on the cob while she eats it – come on now! Corn on the cob is already awkward to eat so that you don’t have yellow bits all up in your grill and having someone else hold it while you try to chomp away just ups by about 10 notches – no thank you

3) Homeless woman getting into fight with man running on the track – purse being thrown and all – just wasn’t sure how to react…so I kept running.

4) Student in class discussing how he wants to marry his cousin…the teacher’s confusion over whether she heard correctly and then disapproval was on par with my own.

Turks sightings:

1) Lone Girl walking through the city in running tights and a bright yellow AIDS Marathon training shirt – bizarre – I can officially say that I am comfortable in my skin – running is too important for me not to be a stand out duckling.

Cheers to the random moments that bring us all smiles..or confused expressions

n

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A Different Kind of Holiday

Happy 4th of July to all Americans out there. While I may be missing out on the fireworks, red-white-and-blue themed foods and summer hanging out I did try to make my day a little American. I hung out with an American if that amounts to anything. We found the Amerikan Pasaji – area of stores where they sell American products – this pretty much amounted to overpriced toiletries and a lot of protein powder – muscle heads would go biz-irk. I  had somewhat of an American lunch (a chicken wrap and fries…but I guess those are French….) then did some thesis research – being the studious American student that I am and all… Post that I went and taught English for two hours. Have I mentioned that teaching English is going great and I really do enjoy it – makes me think about the English language on a more in-depth level – we have so many words for the same thing – this is astounding to one of my students and makes my hard difficult because it can complicate things fast.

Now what is the different kind of holiday I reference in my title – well today just happens to be Berat Kandili which is “The forgiveness of the sins” and it is the 4th religious evening in the Muslim calendar. Kandil means candle because the mosques are illuminated to let the public know that it is a holy night. Most if not all of the bakeries were selling Kandil Simidi (Simit – the bread rings) today and it definitely made the city smell great. Granted you can get Simit any old day, but today they are special (:

For dinner we had a bunch of delish food and had the great company of the aunt – it was my first time meeting her, but she is a super nice lady. Just sitting and listening to the two sisters banter back and forth was entertaining. We even had the traditional dessert of the day – lokma tatllısı – fried dough with syrup – yeah just imagine a doughnut hole soaked in honey syrup – I limited myself to one – serious damage could have happened but I took control of the situation.

Off to do some Turkish studies. My class has dropped to 17 – still large but not as bad as 20 (:

Cheers and Happy 4th

n

 

Crowded Much??

The size of my class exploded over night. We went from a perfect size of about 9 to a WAY TOO CROWDED –> ÇOK KALABALIK of 20!!!!

Say what???

Yeah definitely not happy about it – hoping the class splits or something. Nothing against the new students – I’ve been in those shoes too many times to count as an Army Brat, but my Turkish learning will definitely progress at a slower rate with so many pupils in the classroom. Heck – we didn’t even have enough desks or chairs – the teacher was scrounging for them and she was scared every time there was a knock on the door that another student would be joining us. Ufffff

I did acquaint myself with the new student I was sitting next to – he is from South Korea. He has both a Turkish name and a Korean name since his Korean name was super hard for Turks, but I thought both were hard – haha. He was shocked when I just had my 1 name – but he proceeded to tell me that it was a “sexy name” – high compliment of the day right thur!!!

Off to study some Turkish and sleep – I am dang tired and do not know why

Also the crash from a nescafe is way worse than the crash from a cup of coffee – grrrr

Sorry for all the weird noises throughout the post – I’m at a loss for words

Cheers from a hopeful student abroad (everyone needs to cross their fingers in hopes for a smaller class size tomorrow)

n

 

The Importance of the Turkish Lira

When I run in Turkey I must first walk twenty minutes to a safe/somewhat normal running park. Every time I go for a run I remember to bring money with (1-2 liras) in case I need a bathroom or need to quench my thirst post my run. Well, of course the day when you really need that 1 lira is the day that your 1 lira.

Today my run was cut super short (too embarrassed to say how short) because I drank way too much coffee nescafe and I forgot my lira at home that would of bought my way into the public park restroom. NEVER before in my month in Turkey have I needed to resort to my 1 lira and NEVER before have I forgotten my 1 lira. That all changed today.

At least I got a good 40 min walk in – although the last 5 minutes the “I gotta go, I gotta go, I gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now” was on repeat in my head. I was barely able to greet my host mom when I came home because I was so focused on not peeing my running tights.

Live and learn and never forget your lira at home – otherwise it might be a long ways home.

Cheers to needing a bathroom at the most inopportune times.

n

1 Month in Turkey – celebrated with American Cookies

Today marks my one month of survival in Turkey! – I will pat my own back accordingly.

Started the day off with a nice 6 mile run with my running partner. Now I was never big on running with others – but my runs with her are quite enjoyable – we went at a nice easy pace and talked about tons of different things. Definitely not able to run as fast when carrying on a conversation and running hills – haha. The runs work as a great time for us to tap each other for our knowledge of Ankara and life in general. Even got in a little ab workout in the park post the run. All the Turkish bread eating means I ne

ed to focus some more attention on the mid-section or I am gonna be having problems. Muffin top – no thank you.

Scenic Running Area

Running track – half of the time we ran on this, the other on red dirt

Red dirt stained shoes

Then went home showered at lightning speed and met up with another friend because we had a baking date. We both wanted to do something “American-esque” with the Fourth of July next week but weren’t sure we would be able to meet up before Wednesday so thought that we better do it today. We successfully made “American Cookies” as the host daughter and the neighbor mom/friend labeled them – “Amerika Kurabiyesi”. However, they were in fact chocolate chip cookies. Now at first we were having a few difficultie

s with the baking of them – figuring out the old notch over in the home stay, but by the 3rd sheet we had figured out the right number notch, the right amount of time and the right size to make the cookies. Super impressed by our baking here. Chocolate chip cookies are a lot easier to make in the US – will never take them for granted again. Best part was that the chocolate chips we used were dark chocolate – mmmmhhhhhmmmmm.

The cookies were so good that we my friend wrote the recipe for them in Turkish – funniest part was when the neighbor asked what temperature we didn’t know what to say – the dang old notch oven. Haha – will never forget it. Made me realize that when I go and look for apartments in Istanbul that I should make sure the oven has Celsius degrees for telling temperature and not just 1-10.

Will be sure to post the recipe we used.

Thus another relaxing afternoon full with cookies and plenty of nescafe drinking.

Tomorrow starts my second course of Turkish. Oh yeah – forgot to share that I passed my Turkish level exams on Friday – woooooooooooo

Now onto more challenging Turkish grammar – booooooooooo. Will have to do some review tonight for sure.

Lasted a month before my first bloody nose – the elevation was bound to get me eventually ):

Host mom made homemade poğaca today though – rolls stuffed with things (feta cheese and herbs) (:

Happy July to all

n

Brunch Success, Research Fail

The plan for today was to go to brunch with a friend and then head off and put myself in isolation to do thesis research. Well 8 hours later and I was still at the brunch place. Yes, 8 hours later. I think that is a record for how long I have stayed at a restaurant.

Now my friend has lived in Ankara before and the first time I met her, she raved about this brunch place. Then she was worried that it wouldn’t be the same as previous years and was super concerned, but it was BETTER than she remembered!

So for 12 Turkish Liras you have open access to 3 or 4 tables of breakfast/brunch foods AND as much fresh squeezed Orange Juice and Strawberry Juice as you want! The juices in and of themselves are worth the money – while juice is cheap here you still would pay like 10 lira just for a pitcher of OJ and we had 4! haha –> but let me just say that 2 more people ended up joining us. So we only each put away a pitcher on our own. haha. My immune system needed some boosting…

This was the first round of food

The second round of food

and my Turkish drinking problem

2 pitches of oj

 

After we were unbelievably stuffed I was taught Tabla – backgammon! YAY! I’ve been wanting to learn since people are always playing at cafe’s and I finally got my chance. Still learning the rules (not sure I could teach someone else yet) but I am quite the lucky dice roller – or so I am told. Doubles were my friend today (:

By the time we realized we’d been at the restaurant so long we finally decided to leave. Now the plan was to go home, but tomorrow is the last day the Dinos will be in the city and my friend still wanted pictures so she lassoed me into joining her. The dino park was fun – like always and going there led to the detour of taking a city bus tour of Ankara! The buses are open roof and window so super breezy and cool and the best part is they are free. Super cheesy and touristy (even though it is all locals – we were the only non-Turks) with Turkish music being blasted.

This is where video should be inserted but I am having difficulties #technology

Now because I ate so much at brunch and didn’t run I decided on walking the 5km home – great choice because it let me think and clear my mind – since it was a hard day and all…but the weather has cooled off a bit in Ankara so I am grateful for that at least. Room is still hot, but eventually I will get use to it – or so I hope.

Cheers to lazy days

n

Milestones & Bad English

My aim is for this post to be short and simple – easiest way to accomplish that – a bullet list

1) Passed my Turkish level exams – woot!

2) Had fish for the first time today – woot!

3) Had dinner with an American, my Japanese roommate and an Iraqi classmate and her sister – woot!

4) My English is subpar these days and I’m suppose to be an English teacher here – boo

5) In conjunction with #4 the structure of my English sentences is mirroring that of Turkish grammar when speaking – boo

Off to watch Friends in Turkish (if I manage to stay awake through the opening song)

Happy Friday to all and to all a good weekend

n

 

Impulse Buys, House Slippers and Oral Exams

Something has overcome me this week because I keep on making impulse buys. Tuesday it was fresh squeezed orange juice (get my vitamin c dose). Yesterday it was towels (important – right?) and today it was almonds (protein source). Now while none of these are a waste of money I realized that I can’t get too into impulse buying or I will start wasting money (no bueno). Not to mention I will have the impulse to buy baklava or dondurma (Turkish ice-cream) every time I walk buy a stand (and they are like every 20 ft) and not only can I literally not afford it money wise, but I would start putting on weight in a heartbeat (the 20 ft to the next stand is not nearly enough to burn off the honey saturated calories that make up baklava).

House slippers. House slippers. House slippers. The Turks love them, the Germans love them (family experience), but I do not love them. In fact there is nothing I love more than being able to walk around barefoot – inside and outside. Outside is not an option here, so I do inside but to the great dismay of the host family. It’s one thing we do not see eye to eye on – they are always concerned that my feet are cold – but really when it is so warm out, my feet are sweating – not freezing. If it were winter I’d be all about the house slippers (or at least my wool socks). I do try to wear my flip flops that I only where indoors when I am home – but I forget – it’s hard to change habits (especially ones that you don’t want to change). So for all you who are able to run around barefoot – I am super jealous.

Today I took the first of four of my exams to go on to the next Turkish course. It consisted of reading a passage, answering some questions that were on the passage and then answering some personal questions. Then the teacher went around and you had a nice five minute conversation with her about the passage, the answers you scribbled down and lastly it was a free flow convo that you would have with her. Pretty much throughout the past month she has been collecting information on us so asked random questions about what she did and didn’t already know about you – kinda cool. After you were done the teacher would just rip the passage up – so awesome! Nothing says finished like ripped and thrown in the garbage paper. Pretty sure I nailed the speaking – tomorrow is writing, reading and listening. The latter is what I am concerned with. Sometimes the listening exercises are super easy, while at other times I feel like I’m listening to a foreign language and not Turkish…catch my drift….

I stumbled upon this song in my outings – has a nice little ring to it – best part is that the Turkish singer’s name was translated into Tokio Hotel – super wrong since it is Fudan Ara. Yok Yok – No! No! – as in something can’t be found. Var is its opposite.

My host family has caught on to my love of bananas (I may have mentioned this) but it is super cute because the other day the dad went to the market and made sure to buy me bananas and he told me that he bought them for me. However, he ended up buy TWO bunches – like 20 bananas – haha. Needless to say the house is not short of bananas – and if I can’t eat them fast enough (on top of all the fruit they buy – it’s sooooo good though) then I’ll just make some banana bread again – since it went over so well the last time (:

Said good-bye to two of my students today because it is now crunch time for them and their exams. I learned quite a bit about the Turkish education system, Turkish culture and that gas in Turkey is either the first or second most expensive in the world – 20 TL a gallon – that’s almost $12 – complaining about $4 back in the US seems trivial to that. They got a great laugh from the expression of shock that canvassed my face when I heard that – almost choked. You can get a 5 kebaps for that price!!!!

Lastly, before I head to the park for my run – Germany vs. Italy Semi-Final soccer game tonight – O.M.G. –> Of course I am cheering for the motherland – Germany, but my heart aches for Italy too – my home for 5 months 2 years ago. Last night’s game (Spain v. Portugal) was quite the hanger – kept me up way past my bedtime – gotta get to bed at a decent hour tonight since I have exams tomorrow. Grrr to being an hour behind Europe.

UPDATE:

Post run necessary inclusions for the day.

1) Record for run in Turkey 7.5 miles – host dad gave me a high five for this – and I wouldn’t have realized this if he didn’t ask me how far I ran

2) A boy hanging out in the park decided to run alongside me and try to strike up a conversation (mind you he was wearing jeans) – he last a good mile and a half before I tuckered him up – valiant effort but super awkward and I don’t wish that upon anyone – let a gal run in peace. Thanks for the security guard for saying something too (:

3) I saw a cat attack a bird – I was in shock

4) Besides jean boy (with a super loud step mind you) my other entertainment was the equivalent of Michael Jackson on roller blades – ohhh it was good.

5) Host mom invited myself and the other student to their summer house in Bodrum (on the sea) for the Bayram Holiday (in August, post Ramazan – Ramadan) – hoping I can make it work with my language courses (:

Happy Thursdays from Abroad

n

Secret Ovens for Turkish Pide

I just found out one of the most interesting things yet – and it’s all because I wanted to watch my host mom make pide (a traditional Turkish dish – pita topped with a mixture of lamb, tomatoes, onion, red pepper and spices). Little did I know I was only going to be able to watch her prepare the mixture and not actually bake it. People in the neighborhood prepare the topping at home and then take it to a restaurant in the neighborhood (right next door to our apartment building) and pay a small fee to use the traditional open fire oven. Now I was told you can make it in a “normal” oven but it just takes longer and is harder. I am completely fascinated by this. Not to mention dinner was delicious – wishing I could’ve eaten more. And it was the first time all 5 of us (host mother, father, sister and the 2 students) all ate together AND at the dinning room table. It currently was not covered in its typical drying mint. But, why I didn’t eat more  you may be wondering…

–> Insert warning here for a possible overshare of information

Well sadly me and the porcelain throne have been in fair company lately. Monday night (yes after my bad case of the Monday) I fell super ill and was up till about 4am puking my life away. Instead of my head resting on a pillow that night I was either in writhing pain on the bathroom floor or keeled over the toilet wanting to scream blasphemous words to the world around me.  Now being sick is no fun and super uncomfortable (literally, but also super uncomfortable in the social context), but when you are in an apartment with 4 other people and you know that all sounds in the bathroom echo because of the tile walls – it is just taken up a few more notches of embarrassment.  Not to mention the following morning I was swarmed by both my host mother and father being super concerned with what caused my illness – my answer –  “bilmiyorum” I don’t know and not because I didn’t know how to say it in Turkish but rather I really didn’t know what caused my body to hate me so much. Could have been bad water, bad food, heat exhaustion, a food allergy, maybe even something else… Well after their extreme concerns the dad let it be known that I was going to have to eat breakfast with him because he kept saying you will have no energy because you have nothing in your system – he was definitely right about that. So there I sat with my host father, still “discussing” my issues and eating bread and drinking tea. The only good thing of the entire situation was that by some grace of God that Tuesday was the one day that my class had been bumped up to start at 11 instead of 9 – I can’t express how grateful I was for those two extra hours.

While me and the porcelain throne have parted ways, I am still having stomach pains throughout the day and I have no clue why. I am trying to stick to tame foods and all that grandness, haven’t gone running and am drinking plenty of water, but still I feel like Aladin’s sword is piercing through me multiple times a day (Aladin did have a sword – right???).

Hopefully I figure out what’s wrong and soon – because as of now my face shoots into an expression of pure agony at the most inopportune moments – thinking I scared a poor lady on the walk home today….not to mention I teach tomorrow and Friday so don’t want to be wanting to curl up into a little ball when giving an English lesson – that would not be good.

Until I come across a better solution the fetus position will just have to be enough – I guess it doubles as a yoga position too (;

Post dinner I found myself in the living room with everyone else and the irony of the situation is enough to share – the father came across a TV show in English about Azusa’s home town of Kyoto in Japan – so there we were with me reading the subtitles when the dialogue was in Japanese, Azusa understanding the Japanese and the host dad and daughter watching happily along. All the while my host mother was being diligent about her evening prayers.

Definitely a good evening of bonding in the apartment.

Cheers to delicious meals but not to stomach troubles

n

Case of the Mondays

Today when walking to the park to go for a run I saw a mother hit a rock with her stroller in the road and the stroller passenger – aka the toddler didnt have his seatbelt on so he just fell right out – that’s how I felt this morning- like I had fallen flat on my face – one wrong thing after another.

First in walking to class I ripped my NEW shirt (yep my first clothing purchase in Turkey) on a tree – thus it lasted a good whole 3 minutes on the streets of ankara – maybe salvageable but who knows. My roommate was super sad for me and yet while I am pissed about my shirt being ruined I will now beware of that tree that just happens to be growing in the worst position – the middle of the sidewalk.

Then because I had to go home and change (gaping hole in shirt would only cause more attention to be drawn to me – no fun in that) I was late for class. Granted the only other time I was late for class was when the metro doors got stuck and wouldn’t open – talk about worst case scenario for someone who is claustrophobic. Have I mentioned how hot the metros can be here… That was a hard explanation to the teacher and I knew explaining the shirt would be too – but gratefully she never asked – just gave me a smile – wondering if she asked Azusa since she usually arrives post me – a little switcheroo we had today.

Then while in class the gal sitting next to me accidentally spilt her water and got a bit on my workbooks – could’ve been worse though – another gal’s books and phone were completely soaked and dripping. By now I was just in need of a laugh – always can count on my Syrian and Libyan classmates or Turkish teacher  to rise to the occasion of providing a good chuckle. We were talking about posing for pictures today in one of our readings and it is well known that “peace-signs” are a staple in many Asians photos – but be sure to know that the placement of the peace sign is different depending on the nationality. Japanese like the peace sign head on by the mouth in an “OHHH” position. Also, I’ve been told for them it stands for a V for victory and not necessarily peace – I have already enjoyed my peace sign photos with Azusa (my Japanese roommate) – not to mention that the double peace sign was my thing when I was 22, nothing wrong with a little 2-2 action (:

For Koreans it is higher up on the face and usually to the side and Chinese sometimes do it facing into their mouth – having my Turkish teacher act all these out and then the Chinese and Japanese students (no Koreans unfortunately) in class applauding her was quite the sight to see. While the only common language amongst the class is Turkish and not all is always understood correctly – this went thoroughly understood with no need for a translator – love!

What else went wrong in the class was I did the wrong homework assignment – ahhhhh! I have had night terrors of this happening before but was so confident that I had done the right assignment – 3 books to work with in the class and it was bound to happen – just add it to my list of things going astray for the day.

Now I thought my day had turned for the better, but a stepping on a piece of gum while walking home and being “softly hit” by a car that decided to run the red light needed to be thrown in to the mix as well. At least I can say that I am still alive in the game of Frogger and didn’t take on any serious injuries – just a blow to my Turkish street cred. (few witnesses though…I think). All of this was washed away with a little S3 – sister skype session and while my day seemed rough she shared this great quote from one of her friends with me “The grass is only greener on the other side until the bull shits” so while other people’s lives around me seemed like they weren’t hit by the bad luck charm today, they too may have been having a case of the rough Monday.

My 4 mile run in the park helped clear me of my troubles too and hopefully put me on the right track for the rest of the week (huge Turkish exam Friday so will be prepping for that). Nike also updated their interface/set up of the Nike+ running app – while I loved it before I now LOOOOOVE it! I was a little thrown off by it at first but am realizing that the new features and design will be even more useful and I will thoroughly be utilizing the app. OHHH YES.

Finished the evening chatting it up with Azusa about movies – youtube definitely came in handy – is everyone aware that Taken 2 comes out in October and takes place in Istanbul?!?!!? – Yes I am looking forward to that – might not be the best movie to represent a great city but I guess we will find out soon enough (hopefully it comes out in theaters shortly after its October release in the states). And now sharing my almonds with the 6 year old neighbor gal – may have found someone who loves them as much as me – no frets though she shared dut with me – mulberries (: and I got my first trial at eating pumpkin seeds – the Turks are talented with the shelling of them in their mouths – while I am horrible at sunflower seeds I think I may actually be worse with pumpkin seeds – didn’t think it was possible.

And got a great email from my dad’s secretary to top of my day – so while my day started out rough it has ended on a more pleasant note – complete with the call to prayer sounding just as I wrap this up.

Bad luck or fumbles are bound to occur – doesn’t matter where in the world you are, but there is always more good than bad – my motto to keep trekking along.

Stay tuned for a recap of my adventures in Southeastern Turkey this weekend (:

Cheers to rough days turning more pleasant

n