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.