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...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Turkish Wedding...

A lot has happened in the past few weeks. Honestly, each thing excites me so much but if I tried to share it on this blog I would end up writing a novel. With that being said, I'll continue to share the "top" moments of my experience. Just the other day I went to a wedding. It was the cousin to my host sisters. I've only been to one wedding in my life, so I was really anxious to see a "Turkish" one. Well, it was extremely beautiful/extravagant and I was bewildered. The actual marriage process was a lot different from what I expected. It was actually rather short and basically just signing a paper. However, the "after part/reception" which they call the "wedding part" was the celebration of the now married couple, and that is considered the most valuable part. Not only was everything decorated beautifully, but there was a group of traditional dancers from Trabzon that performed as well as a belly dancer. A several-course meal was served along with good music and dancing. The bride and groom looked lovely and at the beginning shared a special dance together (like weddings back home). Before the wedding, there was a special night in honor of the Bride-to-be called "Henna Night". Its for girls only and just a lot of dancing and fun, plus Henna! Basically a bachelorette party you could say. Fun fun :)
Okay, now school. I love school. It's quite appalling to me because I really can't understand much, and turkish schooling is SO HARD. Math and science...ummm WOW. These people are incredible. They don't use calculators. Ever. I just can't even begin to describe how smart these kids are. Probably if they came to the U.S.A all of them would be Valedvictorian material. No joke. I'm so jealous and I feel like a complete idiot. I know that its been taught entirely in Turkish which makes it ten times harder, but still. I do. But I LOVE MY CLASS SO MUCH! They are all so sweet and nice and its so funny. During biology we have spitball wars and the teacher doesn't even notice. I understand that we should all be paying attention, but the kids don't even need to because they are all geniuses. Wow just so much happens in the classroom. We just have way too much fun. Especially when they crack jokes about me or something I can't understand. The teachers are all really nice and try to help me, but I just say "çok zor!!!!" meaning "very difficult" because I simply can't understand. When I begin to understand I get soooooooo excited, but then I realize I still don't understand. It's okay though, it will get easier in time. My language classes are going well too. I can understand a lot of turkish and can basically survive in the language. I can have conversations with my classmates, and although my turkish is either very basic or in the wrong sentence structure, they understand me and say my turkish is "really good". Even if it isn't, having confidence is key when learning the language. I was beginning to think that I would never get it down, but I just tried anyway and started to make so much progress! I actually have friends at school (sort of) hahaha we talk and even when I can't I just smile because I really am so happy. On Friday we had a lot of fun. I played hangman in Turkish and I also played tic-tac-toe against a friend. And I won hehe:) But they also made me dance and sing and they really enjoyed that. Turkish dancing and singing, by the way. I just love the culture so much I can't get enough of it. I hope to take a picture of my school and class soon to post. Okay I'll talk more about my school later. It just keeps getting better and better everyday. Oh, and I'm starting to get used to my uniform haha:) Alrighty, here are some wedding/henna night pictures!





We have fun:)