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



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


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.


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


Türk Babam – Host Father

The homestay is no longer a sanctuary of women – the host father has returned and I had the great pleasure of meeting him. He is a gentle and kind soul just like his wife from what I can so far tell. Best thing yet, he speaks clearly and slow enough for me to understand (:

I enjoyed a lovely dinner with him and the host mom – the daughter and fellow student staying had not returned home yet. Was able to carry my side of the conversation for most of the dinner – except there was one thing about what they are doing tomorrow that I didn’t catch – guess Ill find out soon enough (;

The dad was super impressed when I was talking about my running with him. Definitely will be nice to have him around. If anything to make me feel good and productive.

I wanted to bake banana bread today, but was stumped when it came to the oven – yes I know it is Celsius here and not Fahrenheit, but what about just the numbers 1-10 on the dial????? hmmmm asking the fellow student who is not here anymore who made banana bread here what she did – meeting up with her tomorrow.

Had a run – but I must say it was quite rough. My legs felt like lead – the usual feeling on the third day of three days straight of running. Decided to just do a short run and follow it up with a serious and long stretch/ab workout. Funny thing though – one of the older gentlemen who was running last night saw me again today and when saw I was done running he did a gesture of like WHAT! come on don’t be done running yet – haha. If only my body was up for it.

There was a soccer game going on while I was running that I watched for a few minutes post but naturally there were no girls playing. I might have to figure out pick-up games at university in the fall because I certainly miss my Intramural days – forever CFFC love.

Still loving Turkish class – one great thing about all the nationalities in the class is everyone has different specialties from home – today the guy from Libya shared with everyone baklava – so delicious (: you can find it all over Turkey, but regional and country varietal differences do exist.

I’ve survived another day and have yet to melt away – I think my body is finally acclimating to the heat…just maybe

Cheers to new acquaintances and in this case family members (: