Turkish Tune

A Turkish Tune that has been stuck in my head for the past week

Kasma by Yalın

Granted, looking at the lyrics just made my addiction that much worse

Kuş uçuşu burdan ne tutar oralar
Hani kapasam gözleri karşımda sen vardın
Hani aşkta mesafe yoktur falan tamam
Ama dokunmak sarılmak diye bir şeyde var

Kasma kasma kasma kasma
Kasmadan da olur işte
Özlüyorsan duramıyorsan
İçine atıp susma böyle

Gel diyorum sana ben
Bu iş olur diyorum sana ben
Tutma tutma tutma tutma
Elinden kayar böyle

Sert düşüşe razı gönül o kahraman
Sabrına az hayran çokça düşman
Bir temas bir koku bir sese inanan
Yanında durmalı yarın da olmalı

 

Cheers

n

The Nanny Diaries: Istanbul

I give you round two of the Nanny Diaries: Istanbul

I have been opened up to an entirely different world in Istanbul via baby-sitting. No there are not leprechauns with pots of gold at the end of rainbows (although that would be pretty fantastic), but rather the life of children growing up in the city and participating in extracurriculars.

I always wondered what it was like to be a swimmer. I always viewed it as hours upon hours of lap-swimming in an overly chlorinated pool to exit prune-like, but maybe I was missing something…nope not missing something. My babysitter duties of taking my little friend to swim practice proved that my theory was close if not spot on. If I could go back in time I would still choose the Saturday morning soccer game days with 10 fields squished together, orange peels acting as pseudo mouth guards and being saturated like a sponge with sweat. Yep those were the glory days. Now the little ones look to be having fun in the pool – but when you get to the golden age of 10 it seems that life as a swimmer starts looking bleak. Kat – at what age does swim practice become really dreadful? (:

So my mornings are passed at the pool/sports center chilling sweating in bleachers – really it is like a sauna in there. The parents probably sweat as much as the kids (do you sweat when swimming??) I pass the time with academic readings or small chit-chat with the other parents. Not to mention the whole “my child is the best” is a worldwide phenomenon – not just within the US. Oh and Malcolm Gladwell – yep his books are popular here too as one of the fathers was reading Blink which lead to a long conversation between the two of us – until he stopped mid-sentence to cheer his son on…what this is all showing to me…not ready for parenthood and I am blessed to have two awesome parents who saw me through 18 years of sports practices – sunshine, rainfall and snow –> you guys rock. So maybe when it comes to the winter time swimming is a better option?? Nope – that’s when you do basketball or volleyball – until you realize you are too short and then you find the glory in indoor soccer.

Post swim practice means scrubbing my little friend down to the bones so that chlorinated fumes stop wafting off her, the 10 minute hair blow-drying session (that’s more time than I have been spending on my own hair) and then it is the adventure of hailing a taxi and getting said driver back to the right apartment. I’m nervous enough to hail a taxi, but with a 5 year old in tow – well you gotta move quick. A toss into the taxi might be required on times, and a few head bumping into doors has maybe also happened…maybe…no tears though so I think I am still in the clear. Probably thinking I am a horrible babysitter now, but really I am quite excellent. I have it all down from the big city travel and fall crafts that incorporate paint to being an excellent swing pusher and tent builder. I should definitely go put those on my CV right now.

Cheers from the babysitter

n

Caught Running

Friday I have no class. It is a beautiful thing. I thought I had to do something productive with this past one though so started my day off with a run along the Bosphorus. Now the hills through campus down to the Bosphorus are a tad steep and I will probably be without knee caps or something by the end of it all, but I am too eager to get down to the waterside to walk down. So by the time I got to flatland (something that there is not much of in Istanbul) I had hit a good pace and had zoned out into my own world as is normal for me on runs. However, I might need to stop doing that because it got me a little tangled up. Yes, literally tangled up. All along the Bosphorus are amateur fishermen and there seem to be a lot more during the cooler hours of the day – naturally. Well one guy just happened to be casting his reel and got an early catch – me! Yes, my shirt got caught by this random dude’s fishing rod and let me just say it was quite the sight with me screaming because I was startled and him confused and apologizing in Turkish. Now I was glad he got my shirt and not my skin – looking for the positives here.

So yes – lesson learned – zoning out when running along the Bosphorus will lend me good tales. To continue or not to continue??

Cheers

n

I Just Wanna Be Legal

In my post of Rule #1 Befriend a Turk I summarized my “thrilling” evening of fun at the foreigner’s police station in my first attempt to get my application submitted for a long term residency/renew my current but expired residence permit that I got while in Ankara. Now I thought that was a long night of waiting around but my second time of going to the station (and this time solo) took the whole dang cake. It was an all-afternoon adventure, 7 hours to be exact. Sheesh do these people not think we have lives? Well maybe I don’t really have a life, but there are plenty of other things I know I could have been doing with that time like drinking çay and using any of the numerous café’s internet to do research where I seem to have taken up residency this past week with my connection still a hit or a miss at my apartment.

I felt like I was being kicked from one line to the next with no police officer wanting to take any pity on my soul. Now you might be wondering why I had to go for a second round of waiting torture and well I will tell you why because in hindsight it is a pretty hilarious story, but it has taken me a week’s time to get to the laughing stage.

The first time I went I had all of the required documents except there was a little fact that didn’t appeal to the police. There is always something. Now being an American and residing in the US and with most of my life back in the US it is not a stretch to assume that I in fact have a US bank account. Well the police wouldn’t take my bank statement from the US showing that I had sufficient funds to get by for 6 months in Turkey. By sufficient I mean $300 a month – that just covers my rent – no way a student can live off that in Istanbul, but I guess I won’t complain because thankfully for me the amount was low balling as I would soon realize my feat in proving I indeed had sufficient funds. So there I am with my US bank statement and the police telling my Turkish friend – sorry no can do. This lead me on my wild goose chase last Wednesday of getting a tax number (what does that even mean????? à still wondering myself besides it letting me open a bank account) and then proceeding to open a Turkish bank account.

Now in a huff and puff and lacking sleep I made my way to my parents hotel on Wednesday – you better believe I wasn’t fashionably late – I was rudely late, but thankfully they are my parents and they would rather have me legal than illegal. FPU (father parental unit) wouldn’t be too keen on trying to get my butt out of a Turkish prison – I hear they are quite the scary place to land. So, in the hotel lobby I am trying to find where the closest tax office is so that I can get a tax number. I found one about a half mile away so my parents and I set out to find it. Naturally, with my luck of the draw, I choose the one office that happens to be under construction (in reality others probably are too since there is always construction going on in this city) and in fact has been moved. Getting super frustrated on the street and looking like a complete fool by pulling out my laptop to see the screenshot of the map again to get my bearings, I asked a few people where the office was only to be re-directed numerous times to the point that I just said forget it I am going to find the other office. At this point I parted ways with my parents and I took off for the tax office by the grand bazaar. Yes, the grand bazaar as the largest in the world – this is a super important fact. Upon getting to the tax office which could be one of the more shady buildings I have ever been in (I wouldn’t want to see that place at night) I got in line with my on the verge of death phone and waited my turn. Upon asking for a tax number I was told to press some random number/symbol sequence into my phone. I was able to write the number down right before my phone decides to die. But, I still needed my phone. So at this point you better believe that I found myself handing my phone and phone charger over the counter to the laughing man and woman so that I could get my phone charged.  Now this is where the Grand Bazaar fact is important – most of the people who come to this tax office are from either Africa or the Arab speaking world and predominantly male since they tend to be vendors. I am far from the profile and maybe it was a good thing because the man and woman working the desk took pity on this poor American girl who couldn’t even keep a charge on her phone. Not to mention they gave me high fives when they found out I was American (the whole show your passport wherever you go thing). Finally I got my number and with a one bar charged phone I set off for the nearest Garanti bank to open an account.

I chose Garanti because they are suppose to have an English speaker at each branch.  LIES. I went to a huge branch and somehow not one of the 20+ people on the staff spoke English. Must I mention that I have never opened a bank account in the US solo (gotta love parents) and I sure as heck don’t know a lot of the proper lingo in English, let alone Turkish. So there I am sweating buckets – literally because I had run across town and I have found myself in a pickle. I had the girl not following that I had just gotten a tax number nor the fact that she didn’t want to let me open an account because I needed a valid residence permit while I am trying to say that I need the bank account to get the residence permit. Oy vey. Catch 22 like no other. By some saving grace the customer representative who was trying to help me had a friend visit on a social call. Said friend happened to speak English and basically told the representative that yes I know I need a residence permit to open an account but that I am not gonna do anything but prove my financial standing so just give me the account. It worked. I had another glitch with the phone which resulted in the customer representative having to charge my phone for me too – THIS WAS JUST MY DAY FOR MY PHONE TO BE LOW ON POWER. Why did my phone need to work at the bank – because they like to text you all your bank account info – I think I received 10+ texts from the bank while I was there.

An hour and a half and 60+ signatures later (no that is not an exaggeration – I was handed a packet of all the guidelines and had to sign EVERY page) I had myself a Turkish bank account. I dashed back to my parents hotel with the good news. Now it was just a matter of getting money into the account. Yes, normally an online transaction is easy but with international and US routing numbers, it wasn’t straight-forward so instead I went the route of pulling my max limit on withdrawals a day until I had enough.

On Tuesday morning I had enough funds withdrawn and I set out for Garanti to make the BIG deposit. I certainly felt like a high roller and also scared out of my chonies that I would get jumped in the short 10 minute walk to the bank. I made it though – explained my situation, got my money deposited and left smiling to the moon and back because I had finally gotten a Turkish bank statement. Yes this Garanti did have an English speaker – many in fact so that was quite nice, but I still had to pay a small fee for the services – what happened to the days when services came as part of being one of the bank’s customers?? Whatever I won’t complain because I was getting closer to my end goal.

Tuesday afternoon is when I went on my 7 hour adventure to the police station only to find out that I would have to come back on Wednesday. What do a Hungarian couple, Italian , New Yorker and poor little college student have in common? A hatred of the visa system – boy oh boy oh boy. Let me just say that compared to the Italian man I definitely kept my cool and next to the Hungarian couple my case should have seemed like a breeze. Not to mention a man with an unknown nationality and really sweet ponytail gave me valuable information that I wish I had known at the beginning of the process (the fee I would have to pay as the second to last step in the process could only be paid before 3pm because the cashier office closed then). Well that was just wonderful news – have sarcastic because really I was glad that someone who had to go through it all could give me a definitive answer.

Oh did I mention the cop with the hickey was back but her love necklace had healed (;

So finally Mustafa set me square and I finally parted ways only to know I would be returning in less than 24 hours. On Wednesday I dashed out of class and headed straight to the bus station because I was on a mission. Once I got to the station there was a huge line for the cashier’s office but thankfully it moved quickly. I paid my fee, went upstairs stood in a line that I shouldn’t have because I was directed wrong (again – no surprise there) to finally hand over my application and in return get my slip for retrieval!!! I think that was one of the happiest moments of my life regarding bureaucracy. That little slip of paper lifted so much weight off my shoulders. What a nightmare of an experience that would have been a heck of a lot easier if a clear outline of the process could be found somewhere – anywhere!

So here I am elated that next Friday I can pick up my renewed residence permit and go back to living a legal lifestyle here in the beautiful country of Turkey.

This definitely is one of those tears of frustration and laughter all mixed into one.

So now I am just waiting for my bank card to arrive and hopefully soon otherwise I am looking at figuring out another option of how to access the money in my new Turkish account….hmmmmm….the daily challenges of living abroad (:

 

Cheers

n

Rule #1 Befriend a Turk

Many things have happened these past three weeks and I am still trying to wrap my head around it all. I failed at updates this past week, but I will say that it is mostly due to the fact that internet at my apartment is non-existent. Well that’s a bit of a white lie – I can get a connection on my phone but not my computer – making some tasks that need the big screen a headache in a half. Thus I have been ‘forced’ to take up residency a few late nights in cafes around my school. Thankfully I love cafes.

Not to mention things like registering for courses (way easier said than done) hanging with the parentals and dealing with a messed up phone have take precedence on my time. Gotta have your priorities straight.

Now this post stems a bit from the ongoing struggles that is my life in Turkey – getting residency. I went through this back in Ankara and I thought that was a hassle, but sadly it has been more of a hassle in Istanbul. First things first I had to make an appointment online and my only choices were all super late at night. So with a 10pm appointment in the red light district of Istanbul I was a tad worry, as were the parental units. Thankfully I have befriended a Turk since then and he agreed to come along to be my personal translator.

The place was pretty much set up like a labyrinth with no directions what so ever. You had to ask to find anything and even then you got a different answer depending on who you asked about finding the right place. So we finally found the place, and my friend started to tell the police that I had a bus to catch and needed an earlier appointment. My appointment was not till 10pm and it was only 8pm. After being sent from one desk to another and back again a few times like a game of ping pong we started to make progress. My friend was trying to charm the female officer, but we soon realized that wasn’t going to work because he determined that she was more into one of the male officers – to include the spotting of a nice “love necklace” –> our saving entertainment for the evening.

Now my friend said to me in English that the officer had “beat on her neck” and the first way I interpreted this was that the officer had been beaten. But that was wrong – very wrong. What he was trying to say was the past tense of bite and once I figured this out – yes a demonstration of a vampire was needed to get back on the same level of understanding, I realized that he was trying to point out to me that the police officer was trying to cover up a hickey, which was on the side of her neck. Which had us both rolling in laughter. And then I spotted a few more where the makeup had failed. So there I am in the police station explaining a hickey and the pronunciation of it, because naturally he kept pronouncing it as “icky” which can you blame him? To sum it all up he soon was making up a song with the line of “icky girls get hickeys” –> haha like I said our saving entertainment because we then hit a barrier.

A big barrier.

I needed a bank document that I didn’t have in the correct format . Naturally it led to my Wednesday of hunting down a tax number and opening a Turkish bank account (another story for another time that I will preface by saying that it was extremely stressful).

Where things are now – well I am still working on getting said document and hopefully will have it cleared up by next week. I am super thankful I had a Turk with me. I recognized another exchange student at the station and told my Turk who followed it up by saying and “yes you see he brought a Turk friend also”. Haha – so lesson learned – if you go to a Police Station in Istanbul take a Turk with you because they will be needed – makes things a lot easier and you get seen a lot sooner.

The whole ordeal had us there till near 11 o’clock – and unfortunately I gotta return to the strange labyrinth were they send only the foreigners , but I think I would have had more of a panic attack if I went solo.

Cheers from a tired American who just wants Turkish Residency for 6 months.

n

A Story as an Apology

Hello hello hello. Yes I have sort of been missing for quite some time, and I apologize for that, but my travels got away from me and then so did my life upon trying to settle down in Istanbul. I’ve been going full throttle and well to be frank still am, but I thought I would try to amend our relationship that has been a little strained now.

I will be sure to post all about my backpacking through Spain and Portugal and my visit with my friend in Paris, but I would like to accompany said posts with pictures and well I kinda snapped a 1000+ pictures so am slowly wading through all of those. Sheesh I know – crazy.

Also, I for some reason have internet on my phone at my flat, but not my computer which makes things like uploading pictures a tad impossible. So I am bumming off my university’s internet while I chill in the grass and try to breath out that whirlwind that my morning was – as a precursor for another post it naturally has to deal with visa/residence permit issues. When the international office says oh wow this is a special situation that I have never heard of before well you know you are a tad SOL. It’s ok hopefully my 10 – at night and not in the morning – appointment with the police will clear things up a bit. I will save my visa extravaganza of a story for post my rendezvous with the police so that I don’t jinx myself and kicked right out of the country.
Only can push my luck so far.

My story for you is a tad comical. Now many people have been warned of said to come story to happen, but after 3 months here I really had let my guard down and just didn’t think it would ever happen…but it did – oh yes it so did happen. Let me set the scene for you.

About a month ago I was in Istanbul setting up my apartment situation which also led to me finding my parents hotel so that I could ask reception some questions. Little did I know that I was going to the WRONG hotel the whole time. Yes – naturally Istanbul has 2 hotels by the same name – or well I guess nearly the same name, but nonetheless not until my second visit to the hotel 2 days ago did I realize that I in fact was at the wrong hotel. So I set out for the Actual hotel that my parents were booked at so that I could make a change to their reservation. While walking to the hotel it was a bit windy out and a sign was knocked over. Being the good person I am, I picked it up. This led to a gentleman across the street telling me “teşekkür ederim” – “thank you”, to which I gave the appropriate response of “Birşey Değil” – “it was nothing – don’t mention it”. From this the guys eyes just about popped out of his head and he yelled out to me something in Turkish to the gist of wait you speak Turkish, are you Turkish? To which I yelled back, no I am not Turkish and yes I know a little Turkish. He was fascinated – did I mention I was in the most tourist area of Istanbul and thus being a non-Turk and speaking Turkish is rare – super rare. So naturally I had a small chit-chat with him on the street which led to another guy coming out of his rug shop. If you have ever been to Turkey you can probably guess that the next appropriate action was being invited to a cup of tea. So there I am in a random carpet shop drinking tea and being quizzed away in a combination of Turkish and English. All is fine until the question is posed “how many camels does your father want for you” – bahhhhhh. Yeah if you know me then you can picture me giving an awkward laugh with a serious stutter of a response and just avoiding the question as much as possible. Easier said than done. So the conversation continued with the added guest of the guy’s father – who gave me a long lecture in Turkish about how I need a Turkish boyfriend because it is the ONLY way to learn Turkish. Yeah ok. Now I don’t know where else the conversation would have led because I was saved – saved by an actual customer. That Aussie doesn’t know how grateful I am that she walked into the shop when she did.
Now in any case I would just shrug it off – but even in going a different way when leaving the hotel the carpet men still found me – so in short with it just around the corner from the hotel where my parents are staying for the next week – I am screwed or I better start working on my bargaining skills for how many camels I should ask for. He did own a Mercedes and a very nice carpet shop – I think I should use this slight knowledge to my advantage – don’t you think?

As I just hinted at my parents are coming my parents are coming!! Yes I will officially become their guide at 5pm tonight when I pick them up from the airport. So while I hope to blog a little more in the coming days – I am not sure how feasible that will be but I will give it my best shot.

Cheers to camels

n

The Move and En Route to Paris

So my journey from Ankara to Istanbul and on to Paris has definitely be a fine one. I write to you from my plane ride from Zurich to Paris (so I guess I have yet to make it to my final destination of my friend Allyce’s 8×8 Parisian apartment) but nonetheless I think I can manage the streets of Paris – or so I hope. All the French I am surrounded by I am a tad intimidated. My Turkish will get me nowhere in the city of love.

But first things first, the whirlwind that was my last day in Ankara followed by my move west. I woke up around 6am to get my mind in Turkish mode. I had 4 huge Turkish Level exams to pass for my certificate and while the practices went smoothly, I knew the real deal was gonna be rough – and I was not wrong. They were super rough. While I passed I wasn’t so happy with my grades, even though I was third in the class and yes there were more than three people in my class. Close to 17 for this past month. Anyhow I know my placement amongst my peers because the school posts your grades outside the building – name and all! No number identification or anything. I think I prefer the US system that follows the privacy act. Anyhow, then it was off to a lunch with my roommate Azusa to wait out our teacher grading our exams. Around 1:30 we headed back and the grades were up which meant I needed to get some documents and my certificate. Long story short, the school system crashed right before they could print me my last document. WTF!!! Last day in Ankara people and they don’t have an email service – I thought this was the 21st century. So there I am with two teachers talking rapid Turkish at me and somehow I understand it all but still find myself sitting because I realize that something that was so close at my fingertips is now gonna be a massive hassle when I get back to Turkey. However, I thankfully know the manager of the Istanbul language school (she just so happens to be the second host sister – met her in Bodrum) so hopefully I can pull what few strings I have and get the Ankara branch to fax it to the Istanbul branch. Oy vey – I will be on an adventure when I get back.

So there I am walking down the street home one last time complaining – in Turkish to my Japanese roommate who is trying to calm me. If you know me and things don’t go near what I plan I can get a little hot headed – me hot headed in Turkish basically is me on repeat – wait – no me hot headed in any English is me on repeat. Finally got home, through the last of my belongings into my suitcases and Azusa and I headed out together – her to Kapadokya (the hot air balloon spot) and I to Istanbul. I went to hail a taxi and lets just say that saying “hey I need a taxi, but not here over there” sounds just as ridiculous in Turkish as it does in English but nonetheless I got the classic “buyurun” which means like please, come, here, etc etc. and I jumped in the back seat to show my taxi guy the way. Once at the bus stop I thought I was golden, but nope. There was mass confusion over the buses because there were two going to Istanbul by the same company and people were all mixed up over which one to get on. I waited patiently for the bus boy to finally come to my aid and after loading up my luggage I got comfortable for my 6 hour ride cross country. Funny thing about the buses – like airplanes they give you luggage tags. Do they do this in the US? I have no clue – I try to avoid bus travel in the US – bad experience as a freshman in college.

Anyhow, finally got to my stop in Istanbul which meant I was a 20 min taxi ride from my apartment that I hoped I remembered what it looked like. Granted I saw it in the daytime and by now it was close to 11 at night. I found a taxi driver and off we went. Now this guy was a joker. Ali was his name and well I kinda felt like I was in the Turkish version of “Cash Cab”. He would rattle a whole bunch of stuff of in Turkish about American pop culture and I would find myself trying to put it all together to figure out what he was talking about/help him remember something.

I give you some examples translated into English:

Film + War + Hawaii = Pearl Harbor

Film + War + not Tom Hanks = Braveheart

Film + Indiana Jones + Paris = Taken for me to later state that the actor is Lian Neeson)

And so that went on for a good five minutes until he decided that discussing adult libations would be a better topic. So there we were discussing spirits and liquors as he haphazardly drove through the dark streets of what I was hoping was the right neighborhood. What a ride, what a ride. Although I must say I would rather talk about alcohol than have my taxi driver pull over so that he can welcome me to Turkey by buying me a beer (true story).

Once I got to the apartment I was still unsure if it was the right place and the fear in my stomach didn’t subside until my roommate stuck her head out the window and yelled down to me. Hallelujah – I made it. I have moved a lot in my 23 years, but usually I am just a tag-a-long and my parents are the ones having to worry about it all. I should travel with yall more often (;

Quick side note since I mentioned the lovely parentals: HAPPY 29TH ANNIVERSARY! You two make it look easy. Kimber and I are so blessed to have you two wonderful people as our parents! I am super excited to be your tour guide in Istanbul in 2 weeks time!!!!

Ok back to travels.

So I hastily unpacked and got somewhat settled into my new digs and then realized that I was dead tired and would rather just wake up early to pack for my trip. Splendid idea. Now the night I arrived the hot water worked and so did the internet. When I woke up my roommate had just left and I was then left with cold water and no internet – I think my apartment is out to get me. But I made the best of it – remember I am an sort of an expert at cold showers. I then headed to the ATM to make a cash deposit for my rent – funny thing is you need a Turkish Identity # to do such a transaction – something I don’t have. So there I am in the bank trying to explain my situation to the bank clerk who knows no English and I certainly don’t know the proper vocabulary but somehow she figures out my problem and just uses the cop on duty’s Turkish identity number (not sure if that is legal but he is the law) so I went with it and all said and done my rent was paid and the receipt gave me confidence in the transaction. Now that surely delayed my travels but I was confident I could get to the airport in time. So I raced to the bus station and that went well. Once I got to the tram I needed to reload my card and naturally the machine was broken. Really? So I ran a good 1/3 of a mile (backpacking bag and all) to the nearest Bufe (Kiosk) that could reload my card for me. Raced back to the tram and naturally missed it by a 2 clicks – grrr, but finally was on board and arrived at the airport. Went through a security before the check-in desk where I was stopped for my Kindle – and that took a good ten minutes of unloading and reloading everything. Afterwards Check-in went super smooth, passport control – yeah not so much.  Here comes my little passport control story for you…

In my world I am officially a resident of İstanbul having paid my first month’s rent, but in the eyes of Turkey I am still a resident of Ankara and not for much longer as my residence permit is on its last 15 days. Uh oh. I knew I would have to apply for a second residence permit, but wanted to forget that on my Euro Holiday. However, in going through passport control in Istanbul, the passport police man got all clicky tongue with me and was saying that I better be quick in my return. My response “Anladim” or I understand and at that he laughed. Only for me to race on to get to my gate. Really cutting it close Nat…seemed to be the trend of my day.

Boarded and sat next to a friendly Turkish lady – we ate some Turkish delight together and chit-chatted. Arrived in Switzerland and I must say it is quite a fancy airport. There are glass doors everywhere that just seem to open up to longer and longer corridors. At first you are not sure where the sign is directing you and then magically glass sliding doors reveal your way. This wasn’t my first time through the Zurich airport it, but my last time there surely made for a top three all time travel story for me and I am pretty sure any of my fellow travelers will tell you that I definitely was not conscious.  To save you the gory details, flying back from India sick is something I would never ever wish upon my worst enemy. It is cruel and unusual punishment and Switzerland just happened to be part of my excruciatingly long journey back what with a 6-hour layover.

This time I did some exploring though since I had 2 hours to kill and I found a really cool fresh market restaurant/café. I enjoyed some fruit and was working on my Turkish composition when I realized that I had 15 min to get my gate before it closes. I set off on yet another mad dash. Let me just say that naturally when you are in a rush your gate will be the farthest away – no joke. My day was a rollercoaster of ups and downs and it wasn’t over yet. Little did I know that while I had three currencies on me, I had haphazardly left my envelope of Euros in my apartment – real smart Nat. I realized this in Switzerland but naturally the only currency that is getting spit out there is CHF à that took me up to my third currency. So there I was in angst of finding an ATM in the airport train station and to my bad luck I had to run another good 1/3 mile to find one and pull some Euros. So I can say that I am safely on the RER Train into Paris with 4 currencies on me so I hopefully won’t run into anymore currency issues along the way and hopefully all machines will be on my side. In 30 min I should be with my good friend Allyce and by then I will have forgotten about all of this or at least will be re-telling it over a nice bottle of French wine. Until my next travels from Europe. Look for a post on Friday (hopefully) recapping my adventures in Paris.

And I just realized that this is super long….wow but pictures will be forthcoming so hang tight.

Do you have a favorite memory, restaurant, or activity to do in Paris?

Cheers from a Swiss Airplane and a Paris Train

n

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

n