Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Goodbye America, Merhaba Turkiye!

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.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Alie! (family)

Today, at Graces, where I happen to always receive information from AFS oddly enough, I was notified I now have a host family!! Finally right? I only leave in a week! But, the wait was by far worth it, because i feel this family is a really good match.
They live in a city called Çanakkale (pop. 81,000) which is right on the Sea of Marma, located very close to ancient Troy. It looks extremely beautiful and you should all do a google image search right now. :) I will be staying with Ali, Birsen, and Sude Pehlivan. Ali is a business man and likes philosophy, Birsen loves to cook and is a food engineer (whatever that is...haha) and Sude is 8, and likes to swim. They also have a daughter named Gizem who is my age, but will be going to school in another city, sadly. They speak elementary to Intermediate English, non-smoker, no pets, and I get my own room! For all those of you worrying about my safety, It says they live in a safe area. They like to travel and see the historic sites of their city.
I just sent them an email in some hopefully understandable Turkish!
Only 6 days to gooooo!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Winding down.

Tonight I said farewell to Flan. She is one of my good friends and her and I journeyed through the whole process of becoming YES scholars together. And by some miracle both got accepted. Tomorrow she is headed off to Indonesia with many of the other YES kids.I'm going to miss that chick, but I couldn't be more excited for her. I've been waiting to tell her I'll see you in DC July 2010 almost all summer. Haha, Tonight I got to!! To think the day we have been hoping for since February 1st (when we first began the application process) is finally coming is the most surreal feeling...
I think Its finally starting to hit that new life is just around the corner. Things here are winding down as the world I'm part of now begins to plans events and activities I won't be here to take part in. Its almost painful in a sense. But in a totally unexpected way. I'm not sad because I'm going to be missing these activities (I'll be doing something much more enriching). It's painful because I have to sit on my hands waiting for these next weeks to pass, while my head is already over a thousand miles overseas.I don't think I'm freaking out, although I've been told otherwise. But freaking out or not, I have two and half weeks left in the states. Until then, all I can do is keep plowing my way through my long list of to dos, and hold my loved ones tighter,tighter, tighter.
Güle Güle, Amber