Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mevlâna (Whirling Dervish Festival)

It was a wonderful experience going to the whirling dervish festival in Konya. This time I met some Turkey AFSers from other countries such as Germany, Italy, Venezula, Taiwain, etc. That was a lot of fun! The whirling dervishes continuously spin around in a circle (sometimes for hours) in a spiritual honor of God. There is a whole process that goes on: it's hard for me to explain but if you're interested you can check out the link which gives the details. I don't understand how they can just spin for so long without getting dizzy. It's truly amazing. After the festival, the rest of the exchange students went home but only us four Trabzoners stayed for our "end of the semester" orientation. The night before (at the hotel) we had a lot of fun experiencing the snow in Ankara. Of course, I'm used to lots of snow, but Victor and Cristina had never seen it before and were very excited! That was interesting..anyway, I wanted to keep this post short. I'm busy working on various college things and preparing for my life when I return back home (which I hate to think about..) I'm anxious for Christmas, although it will be quite different here. I'm sure I will enjoy it regardless. Also, my books finally came in the mail! The ones my parents sent me from back home. yayyyy for reading! Here are some pictures of the festival:

Turkey AFSers!



Friday, December 3, 2010

Aralık (December)

I've now settled into my fourth month of living here (December) and I can't believe three months have already gone by! It has just gone by way too fast...really. I wish the time would slow down but I know it won't :( Well, I'm really getting a hang of the Turkish language and it's hard to believe that after just a few months I can speak and understand it to this extent. Of course my skills aren't even close to being excellent, it's good enough so that people can understand me, and that's whats important! Because I can speak and understand a lot more now, I'm very close with my classmates and we have a lot of fun. I usually become a source of laughter/entertainment :) And I'm okay with that! I love my host family so much. My sisters are just so wonderful. We are a real family they are just so special to me. I recently started taking a traditional Turkish folklore dance class with the three other American students here. Now that's interesting, I'll tell you that much hahaha. We are learning how to dance "Horon" - the traditional dance of Trabzon. It's really fun but complicated because of the different steps and how fast its done. Here's a link to a video of it: now of course we don't look like that AT ALL, and there are only four of us; but that's what its suppose to look like when you're actually good at it:) The other day we demonstrated what we had learned so far for our Turkish teacher. She really enjoyed that I think;) 
Because it's the holiday season and Christmas is coming up, us four Trabzon students are going to get gifts for the Samsun students (like a "secret santa" gift exchange thingy). Even far away from home, we still want to keep the holiday spirit alive! It's weird to think I won't be home for Christmas- I bet my family is saying " All I want for Christmas is for Danielle to come back home!" or maybe they are saying the exact opposite: "All I want for Christmas is for Danielle to never come back!" Hahaha, just kidding:P Hmmm..I forgot to mention anything about Thanksgiving! Yes, I did celebrate it, sort of. I was very thankful and reflective this year. I tried to explain its meaning to my Turkish classmates. I drew a turkey on the chalkboard. They were a bit confused. They don't eat "turkey" much here in "Turkey" - hehe:) It's actually called "hindi" in Turkish. And Türks prefer their country to be called "Türkiye" pronounced 'Turk-ee-yay' because they are sick of all the turkey jokes..hahaha. QUICK HISTORY FACT: it's kinda funny because the Türks originally evolved from the Huns, you know, the scary warrior people in Mulan? Yeah, those guys, except they weren't all scary like that- that was just an exaggerated portrayal. Anyway, that was a really long time ago, but now the Huns live in Hungary and are no longer Türks, although there is a still a connection. Both countries don't particulary get along now, so that's why Hungary is "hungry" for Türkiye "turkey". hahaha, okay i'm done with that. Hmm what else, what else. bilmiyorum yaaaa. i like my american friends, we have a lot of fun. and laugh a lot. tonight i had fun dancing with my little sister, while my other sisters watched and laughed. i'm not saying i was ever a good dancer to begin with, but i must say my dancing skills are now equivalent to napoleon dynamites. be jealous. i'm sorry this post was sort of random, its hard to collect my thoughts now, especially since i'm forgetting proper english. PARDON! tamam, bitti! Here are some photos of where I live and my TÖMER language classroom:)


(Black Sea)


Sunday, November 14, 2010


I just returned from an AFS Trip to Kapadokya (Cappadocia). It was my second time going and we actually stayed at the same hotel as I did before! The whole point of the trip was mainly for orientation/session purposes. We spent the majority of our time (4 students from Samsun, and us 4 from Trabzon) at the hotel discussing different things; about our past, present, future, etc. How we were doing in our exchange so far, any problems or issues we faced, conflict & resolution, stereotypes, and so forth. All the sessions were very interesting. In one session, we talked about our childhood memories. Embarrassing moments, how we used to act. It was weird because I remembered how shy I really was as a child. How I'd often hide behind my parents whenever I'd meet new people, how I wouldn't talk with anyone unless I knew them well. During recess while other kids were playing together I'd usually be hiding behind some bushes talking or singing to myself. Of course I completely changed and have become a very outgoing person, although I still can be shy sometimes, I guess I just hide it pretty well. When I looked back at how different I was- I think to how far I've come. All those years, I never thought that I'd be living in a foreign country. That I'd become this outgoing. I figured I'd be extremely shy here considering the language barrier, but I'm actually not shy at all. I know I may sound stupid when I speak, but I've just become so comfortable. Its a great feeling. On the second to last day, we went adventuring around Kapadokya. We saw lots of beautiful things, including the underground city where the Christians used to live and hide from their enemies. We had lots of interesting meals together, especially at the hotel considering the massive amount of food served. During our stay we all decided to go get a Hamam. Now this was pretty hilarious. For all of you that don't know what that is, its basically a Turkish bath. So all of us went (even the guys..hahaha) and we swam in the pool and went in the sauna first. There was a French guy chilling in the sauna. We tried to communicate in French. Considering I've taken it for 3 years I'd figured it would be easy, but none of us could remember how to speak it! It was hilarious but scary at the same time. Everything I tried to say I'd automatically translate into Turkish. Anyway, the actual Hamam part was us going into a big room with lots of bowls, soap, and water. Let's just say that was a lot of fun, and we were all very clean after! The last day together we went back to the U.S. Embassy for a check-up. We got some American candy to celebrate Halloween which was very comforting:) Heading back to Trabzon was sad because I knew it would be a little while before I saw my Samsun friends again, especially since Cristina went to Istanbul. It's a holiday here in Turkey, starting on Tuesday they sacrifice animals and feed everyone for free, including all the poor. The moral of the holiday is good, but I hate to see animals die, especially since I'm a vegetarian. So I suppose this will be interesting. LuckilyI have this whole week off from school and turkish class so I'll get to sleep and relax. Yay! Soon I'll be taking belly-dancing classes and traditional turkish art classes....SO EXCITING! That's about it for now. FOTOĞRAFLAR:

We are so..interesting...hahaha


In the underground city!
We be chilling

We see things in a different perspective.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Çok Mutluyum! (Very Happy!)

It breaks my heart to know I have to leave this's now been about two months and of course its gone by way too fast. I love it here so much, I'm the happiest I've ever been, and my host family is just so wonderful. My sisters are REAL sisters to me; I can tell them anything and confide in them. I love them and they love me in return. There is no drama at school, or at least very little from what I can see. The culture is really growing on me, and I'm feeling so empowered by it. I guess I can't really describe it, but when I'm walking down the crowded streets by myself, I just feel like I really belong here. When I hear the call to prayer, it's just so beautiful to me every time. I know I'm not Muslim, but I just feel like I have something to believe in - and that's really special. I guess I'm not really sure how to describe my feelings right now, so I'll stop rambling!

Tomorrow is Republic Day (Turkish Holiday/Independence Day) basically! We had a half day of school today so after I went out to lunch with a bunch of my classmates. After that we went to a cafe to play games and then to the cinema to watch a Turkish film- that was interesting..hehe. Then tomorrow we are going to watch some celebratory activities and what not. I think tomorrow night I'm going to watch "Saw 234273096723 (haha)" with my sisters and Hawaiian friend CRISTINA! In celebration of Halloween on Sunday, of course. I made  a little flyer with a pumpkin on it, and I wrote all my classmates names on it- and "Happy Halloween". I'm going to bring it to school along with candy so they can celebrate with me, and learn about this fabulously "sweet" holiday us Americans love:) I have a few trips coming up soon- Ankara on November 15th for another AFS trip. We are going to Cappadocia (second time for me!) and I'm excited to see my other AFSers:) and then I'm going to live with another host family for one week in Samsun, where my other AFS friends are living- so I'll get to experience another Turk family/culture. But luckily it's only a week because I'll miss my host family in Trabzon too much! 

The latest "big" news is that I met Trabzon's mayer! He requested to see us four Americans living here because its the first time Trabzon has had American students come here apparently. So it was really "official" and we had tons of paparazzi which was sort of intimidating, I guess I didn't realize it was going to be THAT official. And we also were in the newspaper! I saved the clip to show my family back home. I guess I never thought in a million years I'd be in a Turkish newspaper. So I'll show a few pictures of that. okay i'm done talking for now. 

Melek <3

The Mayor! (Valli)
Something was really funny... :P
With our host families:)

Friday, October 15, 2010

OKULA (School & other random things..)

I haven't posted in a little while, but now I will. So much has happened and it's hard to believe it's already been a month and a half basically. It's quite depressing actually because the time is going by wayyy too fast and I just love it here so much. I absolutely love my school- and the main reason for that is because my class is so awesome. They are just so sweet; and funny! School here is very different from the U.S.A. The students stay in the same classroom all day, and the teachers switch from classroom to classroom. It's basically the same as elementary school (with the same type of basic classes; math, literature, sciences, language, etc.) except different teachers for each subject. I guess you may think that must get kind of boring, being in the same class all day, but it really gives you a chance to get close to your classmates! Also, after each lesson (45 mins each; 8 lessons on Monday & Tuesday; 7 the rest of the week- plus hour long lunch breaks, and you can leave campus! wooohooo!) there is a 10 minute break. The breaks are the best because thats when you can really socialize and what not. We have a lot of crazy (delli) moments I think sometimes, but its just so fun! I can't believe I love going to school, and look forward to it everyday! I mean, I just sit in class and I don't understand much, but I just love observing everything and just having time to really think. I also tend to doodle a lot, or write random poems or letters to friends back home that I may or may not send. Right now I'm reading the book "The Last Song". My mom bought it for me to bring on the trip, and I didn't think I'd like it simply because Miley Cyrus just starred as the main character in the movie it was made into- but despite her being on the front cover (sort of embarrassing) the book itself is really good, and I find myself reading it constantly now throughout the day. I wish I could understand more and be able to participate in class, but its just too difficult. What's really funny is "English" class. Okay, learning how to speak English is just too funny. When the teacher asks if some students will read or what not, and no one volunteers, everyone just looks at me hahahaha. So sometimes I read, and I forget I'm suppose to speak slowly, so I end up talking really fast and they yell at me. Not really, but I guess it's good for them to see how I feel everyday at school:) Oh! Another thing that was really cute was that one day during lunch my whole class went out to lunch together! They make fun of me because I don't eat meat (et) and they really want me to because apparently its SOOOOOOOO delicious in Turkey- but I refuse! But they all got Pide (basically similar to a pizza but cheese with special butter on some special type of bread, its really delicious but I feel like every bite is going straight to my thighs..) and they all get theirs with meat. I was the only one with just cheese. And then they drink this yogurt drink called "Aryan" which, to me, tastes like liquidized chalk. For reals. And they think its the most delightful thing ever, and so it was just funny cause I was the only one drink peach juice instead of this yogurt thing. We also dance a lot, at least I think so. There's this special dance called "Apachı Dansı" and basically these guys in Turkey are called "Apaches" because they are sort of sketchy and have kind spiked up-dos (fohawks I guess you could say) but then long, rat-tail tufts of hair in the back. It's not attractive; so everyone here makes fun of them. But they think they are hot stuff. And they have their own type of dance; which is really just a combination of unattractive dance moves to go along with their unattractiveness in general and its very entertaining plus the music is cool/electronish/hip. So I like to dance like them. Also, Kolbasti. But that's a whole other story...Oh yeah, so one time I was in the city "Meydan" with Cristina (my american friend here from Hawaii!) and we sat down on this bench and these apache guys came over and started chatting with us. We didn't really know what to do, so we walked away. And we got stalked. We met up with my sister, who realized instantly that we were being followed by these creeps, so much to the point that when we went to the 5th floor of a restaurant, they followed us then too! My sister threatened to call the cops on them, so finally they left. But after that we learned to AVOID APACHES AT ALL COSTS. "AAAAC" - for future reference. fun fun fun. I also have language class everyday after school except for Tuesdays and Fridays. It's three hours a day, and it's not too bad. I'm really excited because now I can understand so much Turkish! Okay, of course I can't understand a lot, but if I were by myself in Turkey I could survive:) Actually, yesterday one of my teachers pulled me out of class and took me into the teachers room and we had a full out conversation in Turkish- and we understood each other! It was just so cool! I explained to her about life back home in the USA, my family, the differences between school there and school here, etc. It just makes me feel like a Türk- and actually, everyone here thinks I look Turkish; either that or German. But most of the time, people just start blabbing away to me in Turkish and when I just look at them blankly, they think I'm stupid or something. Then I say: "Türkçe biraz biliyor!" meaning: I know a little turkish. And they looked shocked and mildly confused for a second. Then after I explain that I'm American, they say "Ohhh, but you look so Turkish!". Then I get really really happy because that's exactly what I want to look like! yayyy! I LOVE TURKISH MÜZIK! okay, I just wanted to throw that out there before I forgot. Hmmm hmmm hmm what elseeeeeeee! I don't know what else to say..OH WAIT!!! I have the biggest, most ironic, awesomeness NEWS EVER!!! So guess what!? I'M HOSTING A GIRL FROM TURKEY!!!! Long story short, I told my parents I really wanted to host again even though I wouldn't be there for half the year (plus I didn't want them to be too lonely) and they agreed to it as long as it was someone from Turkey. Well, Aybuke needed a host family and my parents have agreed to host her and not only are they super excited about it, but I'm just beyond excited because #1 she's turkish, #2 when I return, i can speak to her in turkish, #3 i really wanted to host a student, and shes perfect! #4 I can keep the turkish spirit alive!!! and lastly, #5 I will not be super depressed when I return from turkey because she will be there :) So i'm really just so happy about that and its just so weird how everything works out! 

Also, I literally just got done skyping with my friends/teachers back home for the first time since I've been away. It was the end of the school day for them, so weird because its late evening here! And I got to see my high school and a bunch of different people and that was sooo comforting to me. To be honest, I've forgotten what life was like back home because I've just completely immersed myself here, so to see them gave me that little reminder :) I didn't feel homesick or anything, but I just felt glad to know that they still exist. ive changed a lot being here, i've faced a new realm of independence and cultural understanding- and i speak improper english now. wonderful :) but i'm so happy. its been an interesting few years of highschool. i've worked hard, and i've faced disappoints, great achievments ( i cant spell anymore either!), i've been consumed in petty drama, i've helped others, i've let people down, i've been that rebellious teenager and done stupid things sometimes, or made life difficult for my parents. but i've grown up, and i still have fun. but i embrace life now. what I once thought  was the end of the world means nothing now. everyday i feel so alive. and thats a great feeling. okay, enough of this i'm rambling! but anyway to all of my friends/teacher/whomever reads this: i miss you all! :) now I must study for my first, BIG, turkish test tomorrow! uh ohhhhh. we'll see what happens :)

Here are some photos of my class! 

View from my classroom! 
What I do in class...