Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Cross of Cultures

What is black without white? What is life without death? What is Turkish without Americans? The past few weeks we have had the family of the other exchange student in Çanakkale here. The contrast, the ones we may have felt when we first got here, were again quite obvious. I suppose we have adpated more than we have realized. Cultural norms that used to bother us, again began to bother us as we toured sights that have become the background of our lives. I have to admit, I felt much more Turkish than I did American. (This is actually something I worried about as I tried to depchir their actions). For example, when I was lucky enough to have them over to dinner at my house, we took a photo with a pattern of Turk- American- Turk. It was my host dad, then me, then my host brother. I, in seriousness, thought we had done the pattern wrong- there needed to be an American in my place.
The dinner experience was really interesting. Two groups of people, who dont share the same ideas, the same nationality, or even a few words in eachothers language gathered on the floor ( we dont have a table at my house) to share a meal. A surprising thing happened and an important lesson was learned. People despite all border lines and skin colors are still, well, people.They expressed their apprecation for the food with mmmms and smiles and each group told jokes, which were still funny even after translation. The two cultures happily SHARİNG an evening was a beautiful, beautiful thing. Sometimes the culture differences feel impossible and the world is a big place, but everyone can laugh, love, and learn a little from eachother.
My host dad tried to teach them one of his fundemental lessons- the brotherhood of Islam, and the importance of hospitality in Turkish culture.
My first time hearing this lesson he told me people were forgeting brotherhood, and I tried to convince him no- My peers a school love to look after me and eachother, buying food and wishing illness to pass. There is brotherhood I exclaimed! His correction was that that is the remains of brotherhood. (What would he think of America then?) A true Islamic man would happily give his house away to someone in need. This is according to him, one of the most important things in Islam- helping others. And this man exhibts it- when the night ended he begged to be able to give up his bed so they wouldnt have to pay for a night at the hotel. The fact that our countries are arguing over hot issues such as genocide, did not appear to have matter.Babies are born. People get married. People die. We love, hate, laugh, cry, and feel pride.People are, well, people. xoxo

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Absolutely Unforgettable.

On December 17th, all of the AFS scholarship students and I met in Konya Turkey for a celebration of Rumi or Mevlana in Türkish. Rumi is a well known poet around the world, as well as a major figure in Islam. He died on December 17, 1273 and was the father of mysticism. The main event of us coming to Konya, home of Rumi on his death day, was to watch a special performance of the religious ritual Sema- or the swirling dervishes.

The first Dervish came out and placed a red sheep skin over the prayer rug, then the music began the additional 25 Dervishes filed in. They wore a high brown hat representing Rumi's Tomb and a black robe representing flesh and worldly comforts. Underneath the robe they wore white skirts\shirts symbolizing the spirit. The prayer started with four selams (greetings) between each Dervish, performed while still coated in the "worldly comforts", the black robes. In these greetings they bow to each other, which is said to be bowing to the pure sprit within all of us.

After the four selams, the Dervishes removed their robes and formed a line. The line of 24 Dervishes began to move forward and receive their blessings form a higher Dervish and then began to whirl. While beautiful reed pipe music played, whirling, the Dervishes held their heads slightly tilted to the right (at the angle of the earth so they can actually manage to spin for that long period of time), their right hand extended out and bent upwards (receiving God's blessing) while their left hand held extended outward and bent downwards (delivering the blessings to the Earth). It is said that while spinning you go on a spiritual journey- starting as your human flawed self, spinning towards righteousness and truth, until reaching a point of perfection with Allah. You come back from spinning as a more whole and better person. Afterwards a part of the Qu’ran was recited and they then returned back to their caves for meditation. The same Dervish that place the sheep skin prior to the performance, received it once all the Dervishes exited.

Later, we went to the Tomb\ Mosque of Rumi-Mevlana. Usually mosques seem to be done with tiles in intricate patterns, but this one was different. Prayers from the Qu'ran looked to be carved out of wood, then hand painted to create incredible beauty. It was worn, the history and stories that passed that place obvious, but still glorious, covering the ceiling and walls around us. It was the most beautiful mosque I have seen yet on my exchange. On display in glass cases, were his instruments, The Original Versions of the Qu’ran, his rugs and clothes from his home as well as Muhammad The Prophet’s beard. The feeling in that place was so intense. I have never been in a place is with such a forceful spirituality prior to this. Women cried and wailed as they raised their hands up to Allah in dua, fell to their knees as they pressed their noses to the box with Muhammad's beard to catch a whiff, people sat all over on the floors deeply engrossed in the Qu'rans words, others sat in circles professing their love for Rumi and their religious beliefs. Absolutely unforgettable.

The next major happening was Christmas. This was something I dreaded since the day I left America, but I knew if I could make it that far, I could do anything. It ended up not being so bad, but more special in a untraditional way. On Christmas eve, I opened up packages with my host sister and drew a picture of Santa together. Later we made My grandmas special sugar cookies that we have for christmas every year back home. But at school was what really made it special for me. My friends remembered and told me 'Bayram kutlu olsun' (Happy holiday), one girl even brought brownies, and I taught them the true meaning of Christmas. Much to their surprise, It is actually a religious holiday. :) I got to make a big deal about a special thing to me (including wearing Candy Cane earrings pinned to my school tie) , and share something totally new with people eager to learn. The teachers must have known it was a holiday and didn't come to class, so I went to a pasta shop on the sea side with friends. It really was a merry Christmas, even all the way over here in Islamic Turkey.

The funny thing though is that I actually kind of got two Christmases. What is Christmas in America is New years in Turkey. Which explains why there is signs in some parts of town saying 'Noel'e Hayır' (No to New Years) because it is so similar to a Christian holiday. My host family and I went to Istanbul for the holiday, which was nice. We celebrated with a bunch of aunts and uncles, played silly present drawing games, and when we hit 2010 (and did not watch the ball drop P.S.) we all exchanged gifts.Now I am back home in Çanakkale, and couldn't be happier. I really do love this city so much. In the past weeks I have had lots of changes and lots of bumps on the road, but all for the better, and my life is going really, extremely well. Right now we are getting ready for our semester holiday, so everything is really relaxed aka teachers dont come and we have parties in class or sneak off to cafes. Funny things happen like my friends advice when seeing I needed new shoes, that I could always steal new ones from the mosque. Last weekend I went to a Hamam or Turkish bath, last night to a cafe to listen to live turkish music, tonight had yummyyyyy ciğ köfte on the seaside, and learned to play a popular cafe game tabvo (the guys version!). The memories and experiences I am creating here test me and try me constantly, but continue to be-
Absolutely Unforgettable.

Monday, November 30, 2009

On Kasım and AFS camp in Antakya- Kürban Bayram

On Kasım, or in English November 10th, is the day in Turkey that marks the death of Atatürk. Atatürk in Turkey, can be compared to Moa Zedong of China, or Gandhi of İndia. The savoir and light of Turkey- no sarcasm intended. From what was a rubble after the fall of the Ottoman empire, he formed a country that has developed extremely well and fast. In the beginning he was a revolutionist, later a war hero. He stood for equal rights for everyone,and a government that supports them, and is now known for founding 'kemalist ideaology' and the nation that follows it. In the beginning years of establishing Turkey he was even able to establish voting rights for women- just ten or so years after the USA. Today in sprit Atatürk still runs this country. Photos of him are found everywhere, and his beliefs live on. Not to mention he is completely worshiped by the Turkish people. Far more than any Prime Minister or President of present day.
At 9 o'clock we went out side and stood in our daily morning lines,everyone wearing the complete school uniform unlike usual and little Atatürk photos pinned to our hearts. Different students took turns reading Atatürk quotes in this majestic voice they always use involving Atatürk. We were ordered to prepare to show our respects when the horns when off. All around Turkey, at exactly 9:10 AM, the exact time he died, everyone stands with their arms at their sides, head straight, silently, while horns go off. After a few minutes we sang the national anthem- everyone more loud than most mornings as they put the flag at half and put flowers on our Atatürk statue. In National security class we closed our eyes for the entire period and imagined different photos of Atatürk and discussed his legacy.
My favorite Atatürk quote for you guys- 'When walking, it is not enough to be able to see the horizon; What is beyond the horizon must be seen and understood too.'
After that me and Sadie (the other American exchange student in Çanakkale) jumped on midnight bus to Istanbul and then later off to Atakya. Antakya is in southern Turkey, near the border of Syria,on the Med. Sea. There was the location of our 1\4 stay AFS camp. The first day of our adventure we landed in Adana, greeted all our friends from other cities, and began on a 2 hour drive to our hotel. I fell in love with Turkey once again as we watch through the windows the country side of cotton fields and what looked like rice patties, extremely green in color fly by. Sometimes the sea would even poke out between the rakity little villages. I wish I could describe the landscape here in Turkey better. Its one of a kind- not quite like anything ive seen before. When we arrived at the hotel (the only building in sight, right on the sea) there we little boys playing soccer outside on a dirt patch. The excitement rose as me and the girls I consider sisters got pumped for yet another adventure!
For the next few days we had sleepless nights full of non-stop laughter as well as helpful sessions discussing what we had experience on our exchanges so far. It was a lot less formal than the AFS USA camps, and even with the staff we laughed and cried. One night at sunset we went out and skipped on the beach, later put our feet in the water, later tried to jump over the waves, and finally ended up tripping and falling into the water still fully clothed. The water of the Med. was so warm, our AFS advisors really didn't need to warn that we were going to get sick. Thats just turks for you! :P Another night we got up in the middle of the dinner we got up, and with the hotel staff danced traditional turkish dance.
3 days later and our meetings were done an we were ready to go into Antakya to play tourists. Our liaisons prepared a scavenger hunt leading us to cultural places around the city, requiring us to ask people on the street directions in Turkish frequently. We ended up wandering the only a few feet wide, much more arab streets than Çanakkale for hours,in between colored buildings with big wooden colored doors (or cloth at times)leading into the lives of the wonderful Turkish people. On our scavenger hunt we tried lots of INCREDIBLE new foods, like a hot pink desert made from roses only found in Antakya, hummoses, and spicy sauces to dip hot fresh bread in. We also many saw many sights. Antakya was a really interesting city because it is a lot more middle eastern than Çanakkale, but at the same time is a city visited by St.Paul, with more Christian influences than most of Turkey. At one point along our scavenger hunt we climbed a Cathothic bell tower, only to get a few the big columns found on mosques just a few buildings away. The contrast of the two religions so close was so interesting.
After a few more great days of learning to read Turkish coffee, trying new foods, and touring Antakya it was time to say goodbye to speaking English and the comfort you create when you stick a bunch of exchange students in the same room. After a long night of flight delays and missing buses, Sadie and I watched the sea and the towns dotting by as we winded along the road that we couldn't see on the night time bus. As we drove into the sunset, dropping below the water, we braced ourselves once again return to a world we dont quite yet have a grasp on. Continue learning and practicing a new language. Making friends. And knocking down that 'host' part of 'host family'.

What a wonderful world it is.

This next part gets a little graphic. Sorry guys.

Now its a couple weeks later. Life is continually steadily getting better and better as I adapt more and more to Turkey. I managed to somewhat answer 7 or the 10 questions on a health exam the other day which was a huge success. My teachers say 'We have 24 students in the class, plus Amber. Shes speical.' hahaha. Each day is wonderful and challenging at the same time. I love Turkey. I adore the people and the culture. Still each day I can barely make it through, and I keep waiting for it to get easier. I hate to think of it as an endurance test- but thats kind of what it has become. An endurance test I am capable of enduring though. My Turkish is improving, friends I am making, and the adventures keep coming.
This week was Kürban Bayram. This is the Islamic holiday where animals are sacrificed to symbolize Abraham being willing to sacrifice his own son but instead killing a goat when god's angel stopped him. Then meet is then to be given to the poor, and the animals killed are given a get in free ticket to heaven. So as you can guess, this weekend on our agenda was to kill a sheep in Grandmas yard. A great activity for an x-vegetarian like myself I might add. We arrived at grandmas and my host dad changed his clothes. Then out of the car came our sheep. Gizem ran into the house so she couldnt see, but I stayed long enough to catch a glimpse of the poor little guy. He fought as much as he could from his bound legs, and looking back I think he knew his fate.
My family kept telling me I shouldnt watch. 'Bad show' is what my host mom kept warning me, but I decided to poke my head out the window occasionally below at my host dad with his knife anyways. It was going to happen if I saw it or not, So I mine as well try to learn from it. Im still pretty in shock. Im not sure how I managed to watch the little that I did, and then somehow sit and eat sheep for dinner later. I now know that to kill an animal you cut at the throat, which kills it as fast as possible. But the truth is, its still taking life,a breathing, thinking creature. Fast and humane doesnt exactly equal right. I managed to poke my head out the window at the right time to see sheep legs stilling fighting, although its head was almost completely removed, blood pouring into a hole in the ground. I may also add that the really red color of blood from the neck that we all think is fake in the movie 'Sweeny Todd' is in fact the true color of blood when sliced at the neck. At least for a sheep anyways. Again. Im still a little in shock. Because this holiday, its really not a bad thing. Its an important thing dating far back in Turkish culture, and I need to remember to look past my judgements. Killing an animal for the sake of feeding the poor is a acceptable thing to do, and it wasnt any less unhumane than a slaughter house. Still, my host mom couldnt have been more right- 'bad show'. Later, as I stood in the kitchen staring at different whole peices of a once living thing- the legs, the ribs, the heart and other organs in a blue bucket, and the full head abandoned on the sidewalk outside I caught myself counting down the days until I could return home, and at last be a vegetarian again...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What It Means to be an American.

This weeks was Cumheriyet Bayram. This means republic holiday, a national holiday to celebrate the forming of the Republic of Turkey. To celebrate we went to a parade. At the parade I was outstanded with the sprit of nationalism that Turkey has. They all share the same extreme love for their nation. You could sense their pride as you walked down the street and almost every single house had a huge flag hung from their balcony. At the parade most people had miniature flags in hand and a sea of flags was in the stadium below us. The rich red of the blood of soldiers and the white moon and star reflected from the sky displayed on the numerous flags made even me, the American, feel pride for a nation that isn't my own. But,at the same time, I couldn't help wish it were a red white and blue flag swaying instead, and the Turkish flags presence, in actuality just made me love my flag even more. At that moment I wanted to wrap my arms around our glorious star spangled banner. It makes me sad that to love America usually also labels you as a conservitive Republican. I thought back to when, before I left, Steph told me upon my return to America I would kiss the ground out of firey passion for the USA. I scoffed at that then. But as I watched the Turkish parade, I truly loved my country. The United States of America.
As soldiers marched past us, A car full of old men also drove by. Gizem explained to me that those men were the soldiers who had in fact actually seen war. That hit home. It hadn't even occurred to me that Turkey was not currently at war, and that the young men standing in front of me never have and probably never will go to battle. I cant actually personally remember a time when America was NOT at war somewhere.
Later, It was an Interesting experience celebrating an American holiday abroad. I was my first, and as I stepped out of the door dressed in all orange and black (including underwear) and felt so proud. So proud to be different, to be an American, and to flaunt that fact. What a better country to belong to than the one that liberates us by granting us freedoms and equality.
Of course, I could not stay on this Uncle sam hugging, apple pie eating, baseball watching streak for long. That night we seemed to have an interesting selection of movies at Gizems sleepover party. All of them ended up in some way showing the terrible things, the reasons why previous to coming on this exchange made me hate America, that our country has done. Scenes of cruelty from Vietnam war, to beating of homosexuals by police in San Fran. filled me with anger and hate. How could something built on such good standards as the declaration of Independence, act in such unjustly ways!? Sitting in a room full of Turks, I could not help but feel ashamed for my heritage,lost, and confused. I love my country. Just that morning I could have been caught singing the star spangled banner. But fact is fact, and history is inerasable. I simply could not deny or excuse its actions. I could not even say that things are different now, because still, we have soldiers killing over seas.
Music videos here continue to disgust me. American videos are played everywhere here. No wonder people think so badly of America. All they see of us in the media is half naked women botty dropping and films such as the ones I watched with Gizem and her friends. Come on guys, seriously? Not the best images we could convey. Sadie and I discussed how we wished America could control what music videos went out to other countries. Then we realized that would violate exactly what makes us so proud to be Americans.
So what exactly does it mean to be an American? I still don't know. I find myself at a cross roads between loving this nation, and loathing it. Maybe that's what its all about. Being an American means loving our nation because our nation allows us to hate it. Loving it for the freedoms it grants us, but hating it because sometimes these freedoms are misused and abused.

culture note- At the parade I noticed there was no woman soliders. I asked Gizem about it and she told me women never serve in the military in Turkey.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

In case you happen to not spend 7 hours a day studying Turkish...

...I will fill you in here on what its all about.

The Turkish alphabet has 8 vowels (A E I İ O Ö U Ü ) and 21 consonants. The letters Q,W and X do not exist in Turkish. Most letters are pronounced pretty much as you would expect, but some are not. Once you know the pronouciation of all letters though, it is pretty easy to pronounce any word you see or to spell (yay!) any word one hears -unless it is of an unworldly length. The following letters require explanation:

Cc = "J" as in "judge" ( can= life, soul, pronounced like "John" )

Çç = "ch" as in "church"( çay= tea, pronounced "chay", rhymes with "buy" )

Ğ ( yumuşak ge [soft g] Never appears as the first letter in a word; essentially silent; sometimes lengthens preceding vowel; (dag =mountain, pronounced daa)

lı( undotted "i" ) "u" as in "radium" or "i" as in "cousin" (ışık =ligth, ırmak = river )

İi( dotted "i" ) ="i" as in "sit" ( bir = one, pronounced like "beer" )

Öö German "ö" as in "König" or French "eu" as in "peur"( göl = lake, rhymes with furl)

Şş="sh"as in "ship" (şey = thing, pronounced "shey" , rhymes with "hay")

Üü German "ü" as in "für" or French "u" as in "tu" (gül = rose)

The Ö and Ü I am always getting wrong, and along with the ğ are probably the hardest letters in this language. I have yet to be understood when I try to say the word çöp, meaning trash.

Turkish belongs to the Turkic branch of the Altaic language family. Turkish, the language of modern Turkey, is spoken by about 60 million people. Turkish formerly used the same alphabet as Arabic, but has been written in the Latin alphabet since 1928.
As an Altaic language, Turkish has virtually nothing in common with English or other Indo-European languages except for some loan words.

Turkish grammar is extremely complex- but has rare exceptions. It has multiple tenses, I believe this is all of them- past, reported past, present progressive, future, past present, and geniş zamana (english name, I dont know). The word order is SOV- subject, object, verb. In English 'I went to the sea' but in turkish it would be 'I sea to went' or 'Ben denize gittim'.

Two Identifying features of Turkish : (1) vowel harmony (vowels within a word follow certain patterns, matching each others sounds in a rythmn) and (2) agglutination (addition suffixes to words.)

So in Turkish often instead of saying a phrase, you have one root with multiple suffixes attached to create one word saying the same thing it would take multiple words in English to say.
For example- hatırlayacaksam means 'İf I can remember later'.
With the use of suffixes, also often, extremely long words are created. For example- the longest word in Turkish-
Yeah. THATS A WORD. It means Like you are from those we could not make easily a maker of unsuccessful ones.

Some basic words in Turkish are-

Merhaba\selam- Hello

nasılsın(ız)\iyi misin(iz)\ne yapıyorsun(uz)\naber- How are you

iyiyim\iyilik\fena değil- response to how are you

evet\hayır- Yes\no. ( No can also be said by flicking your head up and clicking quickly).

teşekkür ederim\sağol- thank you

anladım\anlamadım- I understand\I dont understand- one of my favorites.

var\yok- there is\ there isnt- I have\ I dont have.

ne kadar- how much.

çok güzel- very beautiful, used to describe anything you think is good.

allaha allah- probably the most common word used, meaning god.

Afiyet Olsun- the 2nd most common word said in Turkish- which does not have a direct english translation, but along the lines of enjoy your food.

doğru mu- is this true? I use this all the time after saying something very complicated in turkish and I want to know if I spoke correctly or not.

Right now I spend all my time at school and evenings studying grammar, learning new words, practicing by holding conversations, or attempting to read childrens books. Becoming fluent in this language has evolved in a mission for me, that I attack with the determination as if it were a matter of life or death. Good news- if you speak slowly and use a fairly regular vocabulary, I can pretty much understand what your saying!!

I am hoping one day (soon!) I can master this difficult language...ama, tabi, inşallah. (but, of course, god willing).

xoxo, Amber.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Turkish life in an American body- an update of the past 3 weeks.

After I posted my last blog, my school, determined to make adapting as hard as possible, moved me into a different class than the one I had been attending for the first week. It was like the first day all over again- extreme amounts of attention I didnt want. But now, I have been going to school for three weeks. Hard to believe I know. Ive adapted to my class and I am now thankful for that miserable attention in the beggining, because now I know many people, from all different classes and grades. I go out with a different group of kids every weekend, to cafes or movies or the sea.
As far as class goes- I have maths (advanced algerbra and geometry) as well as Turkish lit., Turkish language, Otoman history, German, English, Art, Religion, Health, National security, and a whole 7 hours of geograghy. Because I cant understand the teachers lectures though, I generally study turkish. Right now I am reading chidrens books. One of my teachers gave me homework to write an essay on Turk-America and Nato and why its important. Im lucky he gave me three months to complete it!
School culture note- At the begining of class when the teacher walks in we all stand. Like a lioness, proud and powerful, they say good morning no matter the time of day. We then all together say thank you. When speaking to the teacher during class you stand unless the teacher says you may sit. But, even with these formalities the atmosphere is a friendly one-much more friendly than schools in the US. The teachers call us 'friends' instead of students and sometimes they come sit next to you on the small wooden benches.

At home, I have reached the home sweet home phase. Although sometimes school is still new and strange, at home I couldnt be happier.I look forward to coming home every night and enjoying a family dinner and then tea time. Sometimes we get a little off task- one night ended in a sing and dance a-thon. Birsen and Ali were singing traditional and gypsy songs from different regions in Turkey- real music. The sounds of people and generations- music that is never recorded or downloaded onto an ipod. Other times we begin talking discussing Turkish or American politics over some delicious Turkish delight. Other times religion. Its facinating to learn the simularity of beliefs between us although we come from two different worlds.

There are some things about Turkey I am falling in love with. The old man with a small radio on top of his cart of simits every morning, trying to make a living. The steep, narrow cobble stone streets and the way they flood when it rains. A kiss on each cheek and a hug on each side when saying hello or departing. The exhilirating feeling of having a conversation completely in Turkish, the words just coming out of your mouth without thought,feeling like they arent your own words, but something completely new. It all feels a little like a dream. The surrealness of being here has yet to leave me. I dont think I will ever be able to travel to a country, and be just a visitor again. You cant see the country until you see it from its peoples balconys, from their dinner tables, in their language.
During one of the past weeks we also took a spontaneous day trip tp Ephesus. Ephesus is an accient city, its history mixed and confussed in Greek myths, which biblical charchters such as Paul taught at, and many wars have changed its owners over and over. The cream colored buildings against the blue blue sky was stunning. I could almost see its long gone people, walking through the streets, on their way to the temples, the library, or the hamam. When I found ancient Greek writing carved into the walls,I think my hand may have begun to shake.The history of that place was alive, and the stories those words tell, I can only imagine. Later, we went to the final home of the Virgin Mary.

Life continues in Turkey.
Yes- Life. I learn a little more Turkish each day, figure out how to get to a new place by myself, make friends, I am even picking up Turkish body language and a Çanakkale accent- plainly, Im adapting. Im working through each days problems,and maybe one day, Ill even be able to function like a normal person. A life is begining to form, and along with it a person. The Amber that lived in America is a completely different from this half developed person who lives in Turkey. Its weird to think these two people, citizens of two different worlds, inhabited\inhabit the same body.

Lots of love,

Culture note-
İve been noticing the amount of consumption of products in America. An example- I have a package of hair elastics that I bought in America. Last night Sude would not stop questioning me on why I had so many, why I would need so many etc. Here I think you buy them individually. Another example is when I bought three pens at the store, Sude had the same reaction.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Back To School

This week I have began school. With the school year, a whole new set of problems is presented. The first day was something else. Awful really, actually. They had the national news there and I was shoved around with officals, forced to pose for photos, and even was interveiwed IN TUKISH! haha. The school put on a dance show for us and everything. Im a pretty big deal here because I am the 2nd exchange student they have ever had. If there wasnt a big sign around my head saying new kid already- there was certianly by the end of the day. It was all terribly mortifying. Up there with some of my worst moments. The next day I plainly did not want to go. I found myself doing something I never thought I would- missing East High!
In my desperation I talked to my brother, and he said something that really stuck. Being here is my chance to not only learn about Turkish culture, learn a new language etc, but to learn what is most important to me. A oppurtunity for personal revelation. He also said it is a chance to learn who I am really am. When you remove your school, your friends, and your family, all things we rely on to define us, you are left with you, in the purest form. Im looking forward to these lessons- and have actually already experienced a good amount of them. He ended the conversation with go get the world. Thats exactly what Im going to do- go get the world!
Each day I go to school and it gets a little better. Im actually begining to really enjoy it. I already have a great group of friends. Everyone has been extremely nice and welcoming. They love helping me with my turkish, and Ive even gone out with them a few times. We go to cafes along the sea and have coffee and play scrabble. hahah, it really helps me learn more Turkish vocabulary.
As far as education in Turkey compared to in America- First of all you chose a focus. If you chose forgien language, you take almost all forgien language classes. Same goes for math, science, etc. Then you have a class that have your same focus. Your class has one room, and your teachers come to you. You stay together all through high school. This week I do not have a class, so I have just been going to the forgien language one. 11-H. We only have 7 students, but most classes have about 30. The teachers teach in a very lecture style. They just come in- talk for 40 minutes, and then leave. No homework as far as I can tell, your just expected to go home and study on your own until you understand. At the end of high school there is an exam called the ÖSS. This decides what and if you go to college. Its pretty much like dooms day, and the older you get, the more you study. Most 12th graders go to school after school and on saturdays and sundays too, to prepare. On Mondays and Tuesdays we have schooll until 430, but the rest of the days 330. Our lunch is an hour long. Unlike the US, where if your teacher cant come, you have a sub, here you have free lesson. Or basicly time to go or do whatever you want. This week our teachers have been really busy with this European Union school sharing project that I was a part of on the first day, so we almost never have lessons. Maybe 2 out of the 8 or 9 you would usually have. Today we went down town for lunch and shopping because we had no lessons. Also when I have a free lesson I can go to the art room. One thing I love about this school,in comparision to East, is the Art program. The art teacher here is GREAT, and is allowing me to come work in the room on oil paintings etc, whenever I want.
Im adapting and finally getting moved in and making friends and improving with Turkish, still I miss you all like crazy.
You are all in my thoughts, Amber.