Sunday, December 4, 2011

Afiyet Olsun, İzzy Style

Contrary to what the title may suggest, this post is not about food. I promise I will write about Turkish cuisine very soon. It is amazing, it is delicious, it is fantastic, but no, this post isn't that post. This post is about books.

If you know me, you probably have known for a long time my love of words. And if you don't know me, you should figure that out fast. I love words. Expression is everything and communication is important. I love books more than I love a lot of things in life. I could survive on books alone for nourishment (maybe supplemented with chocolate and coffee?). I could definitely be the young lawyer in 'The Bet', one of my favorite short stories by Chekhov.

I almost always have a book on me, and if I'm of the inclination (it seems to me that I am always of the inclination) I might pull it out and turn a few pages. It might be philosophical and deep like 'Sophie's World' or 'War and Peace.' It might be lighthearted like the 'Harry Potter' series. It might be one of my dog-eared, war-torn favorites like 'The Book Thief' or 'Life of Pi.' Truth is, when it comes to reading, I get around the library.

Now, why am I talking about this? Books... not really seemingly related to my adventures in Turkey, are they? Ha! Wrong! Books are my everything. Of course they're important. Of course I'm going to talk about them.

Books in Turkey are an interesting thing for me. The art of reading seems to be not as cherished as the use of modern technology. And don't get me wrong, I love technology, but nothing compares to the musty pages of a second hand book or the crisp scent of one right off the press. I would never trade in my paperbacks for a Nook or a Kindle, no matter how much lighter-weight they are and how much more efficient. I like the heft of a book, the feel of the paper between my fingers. I'll always travel with my backback of books, ready to sit down and pull one out anywhere, at any time. And if I'm starving, well, I've got words to eat and if truly necessary, I've got a good source of fiber.

Eating in Turkey is important - you go to someone's house and they'll feed you, whether you're hungry or not. Eating is just as important to me, but I think that words are sufficient snacks, and if you're reading something good, I think you should enjoy.

When I see someone reading, I want to say 'afiyet olsun,' bon appetit, enjoy! Books are amazing, books are wonderful, books are delicious! Books are a good source of sustenance for the imagination. Eat up!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey in Türkiye

Thanksgiving is for sure one of my favorite holidays - I mean really, who doesn't love a holiday based on bloatation? Also that I get to spend time with family and friends is a biggie. But the main purpose of the holiday is to express your thankfulness for what you've got.

I really have a lot to be thankful for.

I'm so happy to be having this experience - it really is more than I could have hoped for.

I have amazing friends both here and at home, who give me all the support I could ever want. They are just amazing. I'm thankful for my friends.

I have a fantastic host mom - she's absolutely wonderful. And she's a fantastic cook and laughs when I do stupid things. I am so thankful for her.

I have an amazing Rotary club both here and at home who are supporting me no matter what. I am so thankful to them for sending me and receiving me and keeping me happy and safe. I am so thankful for my clubs.

And my actual parents... I couldn't be more thankful for them. They are the ones who helped me to become an exchange student, filling out all the paperwork in BLUE INK. They talked me through my college application process and now the scholarship process. They keep me sane and help me to correct my English grammar. They help me make sense of all of the languages in my head. They are amazing. I am SO thankful for them.

Thanksgiving today was absolutely wonderful. We went to the Turkish American Association for Thanksgiving dinner (we being me and my other awesome Ankara exchangers - Samuel, Fernanda, Abby, Gaia, Rio and Paulina). We spent the evening laughing and eating, granted, not to the amount normally served at a Thanksgiving feast, but, you win some, you lose some.

Thank you for such a fantastic evening!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Speaking Turkish & Other Disasters

The other day I asked my host mom what 'mut' meant. Because mutlu means happy and mutsuz means sad. And the endings for with and without are '-lu' and '-suz'... Well apparently mut means absolutely nothing. And my host mom laughed at me for about twenty minutes straight.
Not: Kut, works the same way. Tat does not. Tat means taste (tatlı is sweet, tatsız is tasteless)
Sometimes, when cooking a soup, it is always good to use a large saucepan. Tencere is a pot. Pencere is a window. Cooking in a sheet of glass might be a little bit more difficult than anticipated. And your stew might not have the right flavor, consistency, or edibleness.
Earlier today at anneanne's house, I was learning about containers when setting the table - you know how the thing that holds the stuff has a name, usually something to do with the thing that it holds. Like a salt-shaker is a tuzluk and a pepper-shaker is a biberlik and a bread-basket is a ekmeklik. Compound nouns, luv. Good to know that the thing that holds water is not a suluk. That's a leech. A water pitcher is su sürahi, meaning, specifically, a carafe for water.
Not (to Jim): I'm glad we make the same mistakes, except yours was with ovaries, not leeches. <3

Thank you Turkish for again making me look silly. <3

I want to talk to you about learning a language. Not like learning Spanish in school for a few years, repeating the present, past, future, conditional over and over until your tongue bleeds, no, I want to talk to you about what it is like to learn a language. So that that language is evident in every word you say. Until you don't think about what you want to say, but the ideas just flow together. There's no translation: it's just natural.

Granted, I haven't exactly gotten there myself yet. I want to. I dream of it. Everyone who knows me knows that all I want is to make sense. To put words together in beautiful sentences and have a genuine comprehension, understanding, of what I'm saying. I want people around me to be able to talk to me. I want to be able to talk about whatever I want, not what I'm limited to. The point of coming here is for experience of a new thing, but it's hard to experience when you can't communicate. Charades only goes so far. How do I talk about philosophy with a few hand gestures? Talking about where I see my future headed is not like asking for a glass of water. Miming isn't a final solution.

My goal is complete fluency. Speaking seamlessly, chattering on about meaningless things or meaningful things - what's the difference? All I want to do is to be able to talk again. To make sense again. To really learn it.

And that is why we do it. We exchange students go to another country for many reasons. But the goal is to evolve yourself and become something new. And language helps. It helps you understand the culture, how people think and act and live their lives. Without the language, you can't begin to understand the culture. The language is evidence that the culture is different from the others.

Learning Turkish is hard. It's not Spanish or French or even Latin. The way you form a sentence is different. The way you pronounce letters is different. The way you think is different. Unlike Romantic or Germanic languages, Turkish is set up like stringing together beads for a necklace. I start with my verb. If I want to include more people I might pluralize it; and then, if it's the opposite, I'll add in a negative; maybe I want to change tense and I'll add a different ending. Maybe my mouth will fall out with the effort I expend in trying to simply say things right. Like the longest Turkish word is 'muvaffakiyetsizleştiricileştiriveremeyebileceklerimizdenmişsinizcesine' Good luck saying that. It means 'As though you are from those we may not be able to easily make a maker of unsuccessful ones.' Any takers for pronouncing that?

My goal is to know Turkish. I don't want to be the person who elongates a conversation, giving five minute pauses between the question and response to think about the language. I want to have a conversation that simply bounces back and forth, not sporadically but rhythmically.
I told a friend once that listening to people speaking Turkish was like going to the opera. I could hear the movement in the music they made with their mouths. The singing tremolo of each word as it entered the ear. The way I listen to Turkish is how I enjoy music - I love the crescendo rise and swell of an argument, the cadenza of an afterthought, the pianissimo of a whisper.

All I want to do is to be able to sing along.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Many Things of Much Importance

First off, today is 29 Ekim - Cumhuriyet Bayramı - the Turkish independence day. On this day in 1923, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, father of the Turkish Republic brought modern Türkiye into being. Turkish flags hang all around Ankara, as well as posters of Mustafa Kemal, the first president of the Turkish Republic.

It is really wonderful to see how independence day is celebrated in a different country - July 4th is a day of fireworks and barbecue and parades, and in Turkey it is the same (minus the barbecue... I hope there are fireworks!) We had Cuma as a half day and after a history quiz in the first two classes, we all went to the gymnasium for presentations. My friends Hilal and Emre emcee'd the event, introducing the different grades as they sang and read poems, teachers gave out awards and it was a merry (and confusing) morning. Afterwards we went to my friend's house for a celebration of both Turkish independence and the good fun of Hallowe'en! It is just wonderful for me to really hear this important aspect of Turkey's history and enjoy spending time with my friends at such an important time.

They fly these giant flags between the different apartment buildings :)

Second of all, the deprem, the earthquake, occurred about 918 km away from Ankara, or roughly 570 mi. It is horrible what this earthquake has done to the Eastern part of Turkey, resulting in many deaths and many more injuries. To donate to earthquake relief, the Helping Hands Relief Foundation is helping to rebuild Van and the surrounding areas affected in the earthquake.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Strength of a Nation

I want to talk about how universal some things are. Like bonding together after something important - for bad or good - happens. After 9-11, Americans everywhere bonded together to fight terrorism - the same in Norway earlier this year. While acts of terrorism happen everyday, everywhere, you see the strength of a nation in their response.

Early this morning, 24 soldiers were killed in a terrorist attack and the response of the Turkish people was evident and immediate. All over the country, people have put up flags to commemorate the honorable deaths of these brave people. On Facebook alone, there are at least 5 groups that are anti-terrorism in Turkey and in the next few days there will be events held all over the country to recognize what has happened.

What has happened is terrible, and it takes the strength of a nation to recover.

Monday, October 10, 2011

School Daze...

Well, school is officially one of the funnest things ever. I love friends, learning Turkish and whatnot, so here's the answer to some of your questions... Got more? Email me! :D

Also, this is just a note that my blog posts will probably stop making a lot of sense from here on out... My English is quite atrocious... :P

PS, I love my parents so much - I just got my care package today!!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I Miss It...

Well, I've yet to be homesick. Sure, I do miss a few things, but mostly I'm just a happy camper. :D

I promise to do some more posting with pictures and video from school and places and things soon!!!
<3 İzzy (İzabel...)

Other things that I miss:

  • Being punny
  • Having weird accents
  • Being sarcastic
  • Other things that I miss subconsciously...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

On Being a Turk

I don't care how many people like being complimented on their appearance. Appearance compliments are all well and good, but I'm sure that all other exchangers would agree that the moment that someone thinks that your accent sounds legit, you immediately have a happy dance spazz attack there in the street. Or on the couch. Or wherever. At least I do.

My host mom is fantastic and insists that people take me out all the time and have a 'program' for the day. I don't mind it. It's better than being at home. So I go out with random people and do random things - mostly having kahve, çay, or wandering around. Either way, it's always fantastic fun. This morning, my host mom handed me the phone and said 'Su.' (That means water, so I was hella confused.) I asked into the phone 'Merhaba?' and the voice on the other end stuttered and said hi. (Su is a girl who took me out this afternoon to Tunalı and Panora) What she didn't tell me until later was that she was initially confused as to whether I was an American. She knew I was an American, but she thought I was Turkish in how I said hello. AND I WAS HAPPY. (Funny thing is that her accent is very American and half of that phone call I was confused as well!)

Anyways, that was my happy dance for the day. School tomorrow! Hurrah, for I missed it muchly! (I don't think I've ever liked school this much in the States. And I have to think so much more here just to understand what's going on! I come home exhausted but ecstatic every single day!)

Hope everyone is having a fantasmagorical day!

Those crazy kids in the park...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Yesterday morning... this... was... me...

School was absolutely amazing and wonderful and awesome and fantastic and great and HURRAH! :D
It was absolutely, without a doubt, the best first day experience ever. And I've had a lot of first day experiences.

I made lots of friends pretty much from the get-go. They all crowd around me and ask questions. And then they point at each other "What's my name?" "What's his name?" (Benim adin ne?; O adin ne?) Everyone's so freaking cute here! Granted, many people don't really speak fantastic English (notice that mine is going downhill?*) For me, it seems like absolutely everyone is friends and they all get along smashingly. Granted, what do I know? They could all hate each other's guts. But I choose to believe that everyone is a huge family.

Here's the English translation of my classes... if the Turkish was a bit much to take! ;D 
Türkiye Cumhuriyete İnkılap Tarihi Ve Atatürk - Turkish Republic Revolution & History of Atatürk
Matematik 4 - Calculus
Almanca - German
Türk Edebiyatı 1 - Turkish Literature
Coğrafya - Geography
Geometri 2 - Trigonometry
İngilizce - English
Müzik - Music
Din Kültürü Ve Ahlak Bilgisi - Culture of Religion & Ethics
Dil Ve Anlatım - Language & Writing Skills
Beden Eğitimi - Gymnasium

I really like the classes that I've had so far. The teachers are really interesting to compare to American teachers. They rule the class with an iron fist, and yet they socialize and are friendly with the students. They refer to students as arkadaşlar or çocuklar, calling us friends or children. Teachers really want us exchangers to know what is going on, even though their English isn't the best either. They keep asking questions and asking anlıyor musunuz? Türkçe bilior musunuz? And I always shake my head, embarrassedly hayır. And then everyone yells out that I'm from Boston and an American and NO I don't know Turkish. And then I have to try to tell the teacher over the shouting Anliyorum ama konuşmıyorum. (I understand, but don't speak.)

*I'm finding that my English is getting worse because I try to cut big words and confusing grammar in favor of making people understand me. The sentences that I use are less intricate and fluffy, but are easier for people around me to understand. Which, when it comes down to it, I'd rather they knew what I was saying than that I sounded like I was a Nobel Prize winner or something. (My current level of English is not at the Nobel Prize degree, and with the way it looks, it's not going to be there for a while.) I took an English pre-exam today... If I did badly, there will be a lot of self disappointment. The teacher will certainly notice how I went through and explained for each question why multiple answers were correct...

Özel Bilim Koleji (My school)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

İstanbul (Not Constantinople)

Hi, so I recently (as in last weekend) went to İstanbul, the biggest metropolis in Türkiye (and 4th largest by population in the world). Thirteen million people live in İstanbul. That does not count tourists, of which there are many. It is super kalabalık, like, to the max'n back. It is the only city in the world that spans 2 continents (Europe and Asia).

Here's a video of my antics in İstanbul! Enjoy!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

History is All Around Us

So I was sitting in a restaurant in Panora with Berfu a few days ago, and we had a fascinating discussion about how history is around us and how people don't really appreciate how far we've come since... the dawn of time?

We talked about how people never imagined the future as it is. You read futuristic science fiction novels, and they say that by the year 2000, people would be able to fly around in cars and teleport... I don't think that's happened yet. A thousand years ago, no one would think that there would be shopping malls and skyscrapers and planes. A thousand years ago, no one would guess that we could talk to people across the world, on a different continent. It's the same world, but it's a different world.

The point that I'm trying to make in this video is not to take the world for granted, and to really think about how we got to where we are. How far we've really come so that you can have your Segway and your iPod. Think about how it was way back when and what could have happened right where you are sitting (or standing, or whatever). History is around us, and it is what gets you to where you are. 

Think about that.

I love history because while we can't predict the future and while we live in the moment, we can appreciate how much effort it took our ancestors to get us to where we are today.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Some Like It Cheeky

Didn't you want to hear about life in Turkey?
May a rant about cheek kissing bring you joy.


Post Scrit: Here is a semi-transcript of what goes down in the video if you can't or don't want to watch it...

Everyone says that your first kiss is awkward.

My first cheek kiss was from a Chilean who, after greeting my exchange student sister, proceeded to greet me with a kiss me on the cheek (only one, as per South American etiquette). I was shocked - no one my age does that. Ever. He grinned at my confusion and declared, ‘Un beso por bienvenidos.’ A welcome kiss.

           I wanted to tell him, American teens don’t kiss each other on the cheek. We hug. We high five. We slap each other’s backs. We do not kiss. We reserve cheek-kissing for our relatives, elders, and cute little babies.

Now, as an American in a cheek-kissing country, Turkey, I have the chance to figure out cheek-kissing technique and etiquette. It's odd when someone angles their face towards yours, making a smacking sound right in your ear, but I’ve been figuring it out. Although my first response is to grimace and pull away, I’m learning to greet my friends and enemies with a kiss on both cheeks – directly for those I like, air kisses for people who are less than satisfactory, and add a huge hug for those who are my nearest and dearest.

I am worried what my American friends will think to have a cheek-kissing me back by their side. But, it’s only natural that their first cheek-kisses will be awkward too!

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Kahvaltı var. Pancake var. Reçel var. Şurup var. ÇOK GÜZEL!* Esin and I made pancakes for breakfast. And they were delicious! I put in too much süt, so they were more crepe-y. But they still tasted fantastic with şurup ve reçel. Esin was way better at making them than I was, and even flipped them in the pan - something I have never really mastered except with tortillas.
A traditional Turkish breakfast has domates, which is not a staple of my breakfasts in America. We then had Turkish coffee, which is delicious, but Berfu yelled at me in Turkish to drink it until only the dregs were left. Then, fulfilling Turkish traditions, I turned the cup three times around and placed it bottoms up on the saucer.

We then went out to Tunalı and walked around. Then to öğleyemeği at a lokanta. Overall, I'm impressed with how much of the language I understand. Granted the part I know is less than one percent, but I'm getting there.
Benim ailem (Esin, me, Ilgaz, ve Berfu)
*There is breakfast. There are pancakes. There is jam. There is syrup. VERY GOOD!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Survival Texting

Whenever I arrive in a new place I always text my mom, just so she knows where I am. Having arrived in Turkiye, I reached down to my pocket for my phone - no phone. Even if I had one... probably overseas texting is frowned upon. This is my check-in text so she knows where I am. I am arrived. I am safe. I AM HERE!!! :D

So I spent a fantastic afternoon with Ilgaz, my host brother, and his girlfriend, Berfu. They are so fun and nice. Even though I don't understand half of what's said, I was still able to get a gist and understand. I met a few of their friends and we bussed around. I can't wait to keep exploring! :D

Sitting in the Boston-Logan Airport...

Thank god for free internet wi-fi. I passed security without a hitch (actually, it went thrillingly speedily.) I've yet to spot any other exchangers, but a girl can hope, can't she? I hope against hope, wish against wish that some exchanger somewhere will pop up in a blazer and trade pins with me. Maybe in Munich. I'm keeping my eyes peeled either way. Maybe Massachusetts doesn't have a huge RYE thing? Oh well...

I'm so excited. That's a fact. But it still hasn't sunk in yet. I'm sitting in the airport at my gate, listening to the whirlwind of accents around me. Tomorrow I will wake up in a different country, learning to speak a different language. But today I'm just a girl sitting in a blazer covered in pins on her suitcase against a wall so that her laptop can charge. What can I say? I'm pumped. Tomorrow I get to meet my host brother and host mum - today I just said goodbye to my own parents. Tomorrow I will explore Ankara - today I spent time with my friends. Tomorrow and today are very different. And I am excited beyond belief.

I'll post another report soon... but now I must revel in the fact that I'm finally leaving and am on my way to my new home.

~Izzy <3

The wall is shiny! (I had to sit here to charge my computer and avoid awkward stares...)


As from the title. It looks like I'm leaving... TODAY! I'll see ya 'round, buckaroos! Time for me to kebap it up!!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

I've Got a VISA not a MasterCard

Well hello again! I thought I'd give you an update of recent excitement. There may or may not be a pop quiz on this later.

  1. I got my VISA today. Exciting stuff.
  2. I talked to my host brother today about random stuff, including food, grammar, skiing, Gossip Girl, and school.
  3. I know my flight plan. Officially.
  4. I can officially write short emails in Turkish. And apparently I can make sense as well. Job well done?

After much ado about Visa receiving, today I finally heard word back from our travel plan people. I have a student visa to be in Turkey for a year! I also have an itinerary. I leave from Boston at 8:20 in the evening on Wednesday the 24 (20:20, Çarşamba, 24 Ağostos), arriving to Munich around 9:45 in the morning the next day. I head out of Munich at 11:25 for Ankara where I will be greeted at 3:15 in the afternoon (15:15) by my amazing host family. I will be spending about 11 hours on a plane. Joy of joys. 

I talked to Ilgaz for an hour or so today. Note on the Gossip Girl - he was the one watching that show, not me. It was really great to hear that he thought my Turkish was coming along, which surprised me because in my mind it's still very underdeveloped. Turkish grammar is interesting in that it makes more sense than English (I get this feeling with just about every language) and there are simply endings that you tack onto the end of adjectives/verbs/nouns to conjugate them. There is skiing outside of Ankara, as well as hiking and other adventures (I'm so excited because my host mother likes to ski!). Ilgaz said that he was planning his guide trip, making sure that I know how to navigate transportation and things to do, as well as neighborhoods to avoid. I promised that before he leaves for Brazil I will bake chocolate chip cookies, which are an important part of an American diet (there are lots of other things but 1. I don't know how to cook them and 2. I don't particularly like them.)

So I'll be heading out next Wednesday!! :D

Şimdi ben bavul hazırlamak lazım... O.o*
*Now I have to pack... O.o

Monday, August 8, 2011

Confusion Beyond Imagining

I officially put my Facebook in Turkish today. The only reason I have any idea what's going on is because I may be a tad bit addicted to Facebook. I can gather (within reason) what things mean in Turkish, but sometimes I completely don't understand. What I didn't realize was that everything (and I mean everything) is in Turkish, not English, so when it lists languages that people speak, more often than not it says İngilizce" or "İspanyolca". Thankfully, I can understand when it says "Beğen!" or "Yorum yap!"*, which is amazing and exciting for me! My Turkish is slowly but surely getting better. Fingers crossed for being able to hold a conversation eventually! (I'm more than slightly relieved because my other future Turks are just as confused as I am with Facebook in Turkish!) I'd put my computer in Turkish, but I'd have no idea what was going on and would more than likely break it...

On another note, I do not yet have my visa, ticket, or itinerary, so we'll see how antsy I get in the next couple of weeks... (This might be on the magnitude of getting my Guarantee Form, folks... Watch out for anxious Izzy!) Toes crossed for getting those important things soon!


This was cute AND illustrates my emotions... :P

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dondurma, Lütfen!

Well... this is weird. I'm actually leaving. Like, getting ready and packing and learning and saying goodbye. It's a whirlwind of "WHAT? I'm actually leaving in less than a month?"-itis. I guess I knew that I was going... but it wasn't until my outbounds started leaving that I realized it. We're leaving. We're really doing this. All of us. The adventure is just beginning. Zevi was the first to go. Sven left next. Chris leaves Saturday. Sadie goes soon. JP will be too. It's really crazy how we're actually going. And it's ridiculous that I'm figuring out just now (with 22 days to go) that I'm actually leaving. I'm actually doing this. I am so excited.

This is a picture of (some) of the kiddos in both the outbound and rebound group.
(Back Row) Zoe, Sam, Chris, JP, Lexi, Alina, Emily, Julia, Bob, Phil, Francis
(Second row) Me, Alison, Liz, Andrew, Greg, Cheyanne, Valerie, Natalie, Audrey
(Front Row) Carrie, Rachel, and Noellen

For those who don't know, this is the Little Red School House. The founder of Rotary, Paul Harris, lived in Wallingford, Vermont. This is in front of one of the most important buildings in all of Rotary. Basically... it's like making a pilgrimage.
On another note, my parents are insane. Specifically my mother. The general idea is that if we label things the word in Türkçe and make me ask for things in Türkçe, eventually I might actually get some Türkçe out of this. It's 3rd grade Spanish again. Looking at windows and seeing ventanas. You know it's bad when I don't know the word for something and I have to skirt the subject instead. I wanted to say that I was going to go study my Turkish. What I actually said was Ben ve bir kalem ve kitapı ve Türkçe.* Because that really establishes what I want to say. Well, at least I can ask for ice cream.

I googled dondurma and this is what I got. I thought it was super nifty-licious.  (Or maybe just delicious...)
* Me and a pen and the book and Turkish.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Shrinky Dink Evil Genius

Well, hello there, my fine friend. Ever heard of a little something called a Shrinky Dink? What? No? Well then. You should probably know that they are like the coolest things ever. You draw something on this sheet of plastic, put it in the oven, and voila! You have a tiny miniature. Here's an example:
And then into the toaster oven with him!


And the dinks have been shrinked (shrunk)... So my Shrinky Dink creativity begins. With these dinks of shrink I will make numerous pins to hand out to other lovely exchangers. I really like the pin trading tradition because you start with a blank blazer:

And you end with a full blazer:

This is Mild, my Thai exchange host sister. We presented for our Rotary club Wednesday, July 20th. Sadly, she went home on Monday, July 25th. She will certainly be missed. (To Mild: I LOVE YOU SHARKKYYYYY)
And whenever you meet other exchange students (especially Rotary exchange students) we give each  other pins. Some people make them, some people buy them. Some are pins, others are tokens of a country simply clipped on with a safety pin. The fun thing is getting to show off your full blazer. The not fun thing is getting stabbed with a bunch of pin backs. I wonder how hard it is to get through a metal detector...

So here are my pins that I made to bring with me and hand out and whatnot. There is basically nothing on my blazer right now. We'll change that, shall we?

This one has an evil eye bead on it!
This one has an old man on it!
So exciting stuff, tomorrow is the rebound meeting! I get to see all my crazy awesome exchange outbounds tomorrow and hear from the ones who just got back! I'll have some information I learned from the rebounds up tomorrow and fun stuff.

If anyone noticed, I put a list of links to exchange blogs that I read up on the side bar. I'm quite sure that this list will just keep growing, but for now it's pretty short. I didn't warn you on the list, so here's a warning - SOME OF THE BLOGS ARE NOT IN ENGLISH. (Ie, there is Spanish, Portuguese, and Turkish up there... so watch out.)

Hope everyone's having a fantastic summer! I only have about 3 weeks left stateside and then it will be fun times and Turkish delight! (I actually hate Turkish delight, but it went with the sentence...)


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What a Haul!

So, today was a Turkish day. My mother and I headed down to Boston for some hardcore college touring and interviewing (Thanks, Brandeis!) and then off to Packard's Corner to indulge in Turkish delight. We went to a fantastic restaurant called Saray and then off to the market. I realize now that I should have taken pictures of the market and what-not, but I guess I'm simply a bad tourist. I'll have to work on this... There's also the Turkish Cultural Center which sadly was closed. The shopkeeper told us about how they have Turkish movie nights and Turkish coffee nights and Turkish classes. Would that I had heard of this earlier I might be better prepared! 

Our waitress at Saray is from Ankara and she knows where I'll be living! She is going back a couple of days before I leave and she said that I can come visit her and meet her family. She also says she's going to kidnap me to go to a Turkish wedding. When we went to the market it was really exciting because I was able to identify different foods for my mom and pronounce things (which is my favorite part of Turkish) and translate random words that I eavesdropped from other people's conversations. I tried to talk to the cashier in Turkish but evidently I'm not exactly up to par yet.

So here's a picture of the random Turkish deliciousness I bought. I got hot red pepper (acı kırmızı biber), halva (tahin helvası), aşure mix, two bars of Turkish Nestle chocolate (which, in my opinion, is far better than any American chocolate ever, simply on principle. It lacks a certain chalky quality which makes it exceedingly amazing.) in dark chocolate with pistachios (fıstıklı) and milk chocolate with hazelnuts (findıklı), grape leaves for making sarma, currants (kuş üzümü), and delicious cookies to have with my çay.

So last Monday my host brother friended me on Facebook and today my host mom did too. My host brother's name is Ilgaz and he will be an exchange student to Brazil. He leaves about 5 days after I get there and he seems really nice. Ilgaz said he'd take me around Ankara and introduce me to his friends so that I'll know some teenagers my age, even if they don't actually go to my school. I'm hoping to be able to email them more or maybe even Skype with them (now wouldn't that help me work on my Turkish?)

Monday, July 11, 2011


"You will never guess what happened yesterday at 3pm EST, OMG.

First off, you should know that apparently screaming and jumping up in down while in a mall is frowned upon. Heavily. Like... no screaming, shouting, jumping for joy, no dancing around and certainly no thanking your sweet heavens for finally sending a sign. I guess my phone is temperamental because it doesn't like to tell me when people call me with important, awesome news. And so I missed the phone call saying where I was going. But voicemail can be just as exciting."

I'm terribly sorry - this should have been posted on July 7th, but for some reason I wasn't able to post and tell everyone everything. So for those who don't know, I bet you'd like to know where I'm going. I'm going to Ankara! (Insert screaming, yelling, hullaballooing, etc. here).

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Who Doesn't Love A Mustache?

Hi y'all! So I found this hilarious link on the BBC (Who doesn't love the BBC? Obviously it's like... The place to be... And/or the place for Americans to find the awesomeness that they need.) and I loved it because it made me giggle.

"Moustaches Under Threat" (OMGness, look! I spelled it the British way!!!)

Anyways... no news really today, but I thought I'd take the chance to post something amusing. Also, something that made my mom laugh really hard today because don'cha know, I'm funny as Hell, and whatnot.

Mom: "Did you get news today?"
Me: "Nope..."
Mom: "I was thinking... maybe it would be cool if you get assigned to Adana."
Me: "If I'm in Adana, I might as well call myself a prophetess and go intern for the Oracle*."
Mom: **ROFLcopters** (AKA Bwahahahahahaah x Infinity)

I do apologize, there's quite a bit of parenthetical usage...

*The Oracle at Delphi - go do some research. Study up your myths and get back to me :)
(Here's some help... Don't judge me for my Wikipedic usage >.<)


Monday, July 4, 2011

A Little Kid At Heart

Well... while I'm learning Turkish, I might as well watch some too...

There's a reason I love YouTube. Not just because people (including me) post the most ridiculous things online, but also because people post the most awesome things online!

I can safely say that most children have at least seen some Disney movie - it's one of the most popular things to show children, like, ever. The best part are the songs. They are so catchy that you can't help singing along, and they stay with you a lifetime. The best part is that Disney movies are so famous that they've been translated into different languages... like TÜRKÇE!!! :D

You can tell that I'm a kid at heart because I love Disney songs. :)

Here's a link to a YouTuber who posts the Turkish versions of all the best Disney songs. Sustenance, I tell you, sustenance. This will feed your life force. Trust me.

On another note, HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY to all my American buddies! (Actually, I can wish a happy fourth to everyone because all months have at least 4 days... so HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY TO EVERYONE. And a happy Independence Day, too!)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Oh, the Aggravation...

When in doubt (or in fits of frustration/anger)...yell loudly in Turkish at the Turkish-teaching software. That's what we call a winning action, folks. AAAAPTAAAAL!!!

I'm gradually gaining momentum with this Turkish learning. In the scheme of things that I'm good at, we can put learning languages up there with playing therapist, navigating high-heel shoes, and falling up the stairs. Tamam, I like languages.

I've always had a knack for picking up the message in what people say, even if I don't speak the language. I can gather what people mean. But I also can quickly pick up words and use them. When I find words I like I will almost always add them into regular conversation - words like obnoxious, serendipitous, and demandatory (I also like making up new words).

I would say that my Turkish-learning is going well. Recently, I spent two two-hour bus rides immersed in my Turkish book and all of this afternoon on my new software. Which brings us full circle to my original point. Evidently, I have learned enough Turkish to yell at my new software, which is good because then no one knows how upset I am. Oh wait... the tone. If you listened to my (ahem) interesting afternoon, you would see a very sick teenage girl sitting on the couch in pajamas yelling 'ne, NE, NE!!!' at her computer. (Part of the software was to repeat after the lovely little man who talks in Türkçe, saying things like 'Bu acil bir durum'* and 'Bir şişe bira, lütfen'*) After a while, the pj-clad girl understands the software and stops yelling and starts muttering what the little man says, hoping this will get her somewhere...

Honestly, some of the things I've learned so far seem a bit useless. I can't exactly imagine myself saying 'İki kişilik bir masa, lütfen. Köşede. Karanlık.'* at any restaurant, whether it was a nice place or not. But we shall see. Teach me, my lovely Turkish things, let me steal the knowledge from your pages and pixels and use it for my own devices. ;D

*This is an emergency
*A bottle of beer, please
*A table for two people. A corner. Dark (Sketch, much?)

Friday, June 24, 2011

O Müzik Sever (She Loves the Music)

I honestly have to say that I love Turkey. I haven't left yet (and nor do I know where I'm going...) but I already know I'm going to love it.

I love Turkish food - when we go to Mediterranean restaurants, I will give a jaunty 'teşekkürler.' Granted, half the time the waiters look at me as if I have six heads, but sometimes I will get a grin and a 'bir şey değil' back. I could eat kebaps and aşure 'till I croak.

I love Turkish history - we went to the MFA (Museum of Fine Arts in Boston) and instead of sticking with my parents to see interesting art (not that I don't love art) I abandoned them to go on a hunt. I found the Middle Eastern wing, and in it I found Iznik tiles, which are the most beautiful and intricate things ever. The pottery is famous for blue designs of leaves and flowers and utter gorgeousness.

I love the music - my Turkish friends have been plying me with all sorts of music. Pop, rock, jazz, anything and everything. From songs about ice cream to romance, passion, and random other cool things. I'm in love with how artists blend traditional rhythms with modern ones, creating a time warp with past and present an future. I'm in love with how cool a guitar sounds next to a kemençe. It makes you want to dance and dance and dance.

I really, honestly cannot wait to go. I'm excited that shortly I'll be picking up my bags, my visa, and my passport, boarding a plane and flying off into an adventure. I'm looking forward to new friends, family, fun, and amazing. IT WILL BE A BLAST!!!

See you soon, Türkiye!!! <3

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Getting to Know You

I know I've been whining a lot lately. I'll try not to whine in this post. Instead we'll discuss why I love modern technology.

I love Facebook. It may be the mother of all procrastinating things everywhere, but it really is a godsend. You can chat with friends, send messages, poke people, and a number of other things. You couldn't do that  even ten years ago. Then you had to make a phone call, write a letter, or walk up to them and give them a good prod in the shoulder. For exchange students, Facebook is fantastic. I've already made friends with everyone else going to Türkiye. I've befriended people from all over the world - Brazil, America, Mexico, Taiwan. We all know each others' names and we haven't even met in person yet! My mom was complaining that when she went on exchange, she didn't even really speak to her exchange family before she got there, let alone know who the other exchange students are. This is why I love Facebook.

We have daily chats where everyone pipes in with a 'Merhaba! Nasılsın? Iyiyim siz?' and then we muddle through finding out where everyone is from, where everyone is going, and obviously whether or not we can make tacos for everyone when we get there. We have Skype-ing Turkish lessons where we try to all somehow speak the same language.

I'm so happy that we have Facebook and Skype and modern technology in order to connect to my other exchange students. Getting to know them is so much fun! We are a fantastic group! <3 <3 <3

Guys, I can't WAIT to meet you all in person. We will have the BEST time ever!!! :D

Saturday, June 11, 2011

You Can't Dot the Capital İ... Or Can You?

I was always told that you can't dot a capital 'i.' They simply are meant to be barren. Isn't that sad? I wanted to give the big 'i' a dot just like the little one had, just so it didn't feel left out. In fourth grade I dotted my capital 'i's for a week before the teacher caught on.

"Isabel (İ), why do you insist on dotting the capital 'i's? That's just for the little ones. You simply must stop." I must stop?
"Teacher, it looks so lonely though. Shouldn't it have something to keep it warm?"
*Tsktsk* "Dots don't keep letters warm and anyway, it's an adult 'i.' It grew out of its dot." If you say so...
^Special letters!!!
This must be a sign. I was meant to be a Turk. Maybe I was one in a past life, or maybe I simply have a calling to Türkiye. But, that's where I'm meant to be. Thank goodness I caught on and decided to go there.


On a side note...

Every time I go through my blog  I see that picture of the the baklava. Oh my god, do I want some baklava. Delicious and honey-drenched, sticky, walnutty - baklava is up there with chocolate as one of my favorite desserts.

Friday, June 10, 2011

You Can't Bribe A Turk

Apparently you can't bribe the Turks. Well... I'm sure you can. But the ones who have the city list are un-bribeable. Even with cookies. Sigh.

My little birdie said I might be going to İstanbul. İSTANBUL!!! Now wouldn't that be fantastic? A fantastic city, so rich, so vibrant, SO MUCH HISTORY!!! <3 (Squeals of joy from the history buff archaeologist chick...)

Istanbul basically has MPD... Every 500 years... What are you again? Byzantium? No, that's not it... Constantinople? Nope? Hmmm... İSTANBUL? That's the ticket...

İstanbul is the largest city in Turkey with a whopping 13.1 million people. That's more than New York City. So... that makes it... kinda huge. It's the 20th largest city in THE WORLD. The city is on two continents (I'll have to find the divide... and prove I've been in two continents at once.), both Thrace (the European side) and Anatolia (the Asian side). It has been the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, Latin, AND Ottoman empires. İstanbul is famous for Topkapı Palace, the Hagia Sophia, and hundreds of mosques, churches, synagogues, fortresses, and walls. So we got everything history-buff-archaeologist-chick could ever want. It rivals Boston as a university town with more than 14 recognized universities. There are so many museums, park and gardens. Sounds fantastic to me!!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

On the Inability to Breathe

I'm not going to lie. Every time I check my email, my breath catches in my throat and I give a little gasp.

'You have mail!' I HAVE MAIL? I click on the mailbox icon, hoping it will somehow load faster. So you know- a watched icon never boils... or loads... The spinny wheel of death circles and circles in a doom loop. COME ON, COME ON, PLEASE, PLEASE, PUHLEEEEASE LOAD!!! *bing* My eyes glaze over as I scan the list of new mail... No mail. Well, none that I am absolutely dying to have. It's probably a good thing that I can hold my breath for some time. When the email actually comes... I just might faint. :D


New, less distressing topic. There are so SOO many cities I want to go to. Adana, İzmir, Antayla, Bursa, İstanbul, Ankara... okay, so I basically want to just go to Turkey. So sue me. I want to leave right now and live happily ever after, stuffing my mouth with kebabs and baklava until I burst. That sounds like a good life to me.

Umm... ^Heaven much???
I think I could thrive anywhere in Turkey. It has the food, the culture, the language. Everything I want to get out of the experience. I'm just the impatient one, hoping that someday my prince (ahem, EMAIL) will come.

People have been asking me where I'm going. "I mean, I get it, you're going to Turkey. But like... the place with the mountains... oh wait, the beach?! Wait... do they have turkeys in Turkey?" Truth is... I really want to be able to answer their questions. But I can answer one... YES, THERE ARE TURKEYS IN TÜRKIYE. But other than that... I don't know much else...

I wish I did... I honestly wish I did. When I know, dear readers, so shall you.

Monday, June 6, 2011

I Had a Dream

I had a dream this morning/last night that I had checked my email and LO AND BEHOLD there was mail. The mail said 'Congratulations! You are going to Adana!' I woke up almost immediately to check my email. The only email I had received was the SAT question of the day. I'm surprised I didn't cry.
Adana is a beautiful city in southern Turkey. It is 30km from the Mediterranean Sea and is a major agricultural and commercial city. It is the fifth most populous city in Turkey with 1.6 million people. It has been mentioned in all manner of historic tales - from The Epic of Gilgameshto Greco-Roman myths. It was once a part of the Hittite, Assyrian, Persian, Seleucid, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires. (My goodness Adana is a popular place to conquer, isn't it?) Adana has many museums, parks, theaters and gardens.

I definitely wouldn't mind going to Adana!!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Travel Bug

If there's any disease I'm glad I have... it is the travel bug. Honestly, I feel sorry for people who have no wish to explore - It's all I want to do! As a be-travel bugged person, I can't sit still. I want to go go go and get somewhere. And when I've arrived, I just explore. Everywhere. And then we're off again!

I think the bug is inheritable but also contagious. Either you catch it or you don't. But one thing is for sure... it doesn't go away. I inherited it from my mom and caught it from my god-family. It's in my blood. And the travel bug is certainly one of the things that brought me to where I am today: about three months away from jumping head-on into one of the greatest years of my life.

As of August, I will be a Turk. Not a real one - just honorarily. But that's where I will be. I spend from August 2011 to July 2012 in one of the places in the world with the best food, the best history, the best language. Well, face it. Turkiye is simply the best.

Anyways... I'll talk soonishly... like... when I figure out my city. And that will be some jubilating times, my friends.

<3 <3 <3