Yesterday, at very early in the morning I left Salt Lake City, and began my journey. I'll admit that when I was getting out of the shower at 3:30 am or so, I was thinking "what the hell I was thinking leaving for ten months??!". it was hard to say goodbye to all my friends and family and I'm going to miss you guys a lot. I cried off and on during my flights, but I found a group of other exchange kids and kept conversation with people sitting next to me to ease my mind. By the time I was in DC I was feeling good and ready to go! Things here have been great! I love orientations because the kids here are so much fun, but also very intelligent, and interested in the world culture and religion like me. Even the officials are really fun. We all sit around and talk and they treat us like regular people (adults) not just ignorant teenagers.
Yesterday in some of our sessions we learned the expected cycle of culture shock. It goes from honeymoon, to hostility ("If I have to eat one more eggplant I'm going to kill someone!"), to humor (" When I get home I'm going to make the whole town eat only eggplant for a month straight! mohaha!") to home sweet home. It can take 6 weeks to 8 months to finish the cycle on average. I am very impressed with how much of a science they have this exchange down too. They have so many good exercises to help us learn how to cope, how to be an ambassador, etc.
Today, after getting 5 hours of sleep, we went to meet with the Dept. of State who are funding YES. I liked being there because it was all serious and formal.Made me feel like I was important, haha. We had to get all dressed up and go through security.I ended up really learning a lot. I learned even more next, at the Turkish Embassy. We got to talk to a man who I think was an ambassador about Turkish issues suck as the PKK, the Armenian "genocide", and American- Turkish relations. After we went for Yummy Turkish food and went to the Islamic center, which was basically a mosque. It was beautiful and very peaceful inside, and we all had a lot of fun learning how to tie the head scarves. I'll post pictures later.
So, tonight is my last night in the USA. Its still very surreal. Darin, the head of AFS-YES, keeps asking us "Does it feel real yet?" haha, It surely doesn't. But I can't wait until it is. I can't wait to get on that plane tomorrow and really begin my exchange.
Oh, on the plane we are having a big Turkish study party. I'm excited because we all know different areas of the language and are going to help each other. I am really happy I spent so much time studying this summer. What I have learned is already helping me so much. Note to self- send Ercument a thank you email.
Lots of love from DC, Amber.