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.