December 13, 2008
Well, I'm safe back in the US. I had a very long week, getting back into the swing of things at school. It's so great to see all the faces of people I missed and love. Being home feels so... right, I'm glad I made the right decision, to come home, even if it was early, I needed to do it. I don't really have much to write about- I'm kinda overwhelmed with my workload, but other than that I'm great. Looking for a job, want to get my permit and prepare for the SAT (I'll take it in Spring and then Fall next year). Getting ready for Christmas time, it's great to have my family around. I have to prepare a wish list, which is sorta hard since I'm just so happy to be with my family that its hard for me to wish for anything else. We have our tree, but since it's really warm in California, and we aren't drowning in presents, it's kinda hard to get into the Christmas spirit (not that that necesarily includes tons of presents!). My school had it's Christmas program last night, so that helped a little. Nights have this thing called... California Cold (I just invented that)- cold enough for a light sweatshirt,but definitely NOT for a coat =) I missed California weather (or lack thereof!) I LOVE home and say goodbye to THIS blog =( Kinda sad about that, but I might start another blog (I'll let you know!) Goodbye/ Gule Gule -Gabe p.s. my email is firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail me!
November 25, 2008
Thats a Turkish tongue twister, say THAT 10 times fast! Well, its my last week. Some sadness, but an overwhelming excitement is the main feeling for me. Going to see the palaces and some places in Sultanahmet before I go. And the Bazaar, to egt gifts for you all =) Ive had some good times, some bad, made friends and still learned things. Some people dont understand my decision, but others do. I know I made the right decision and thats all thats important! Im leaving December 1st for almost 24 straight hours of international flight. FUN!!! But thats what tylenol PM ıs for! Cant wait to return to my 'normal' life. Ive gotten used to living here, besides the language and school, and even though I wasnt always happy, Ill still miss some thıngs- mainly my AFS friends. People ın Turkey- Ill miss you all People at home- cant wait to see you soon!!!
November 19, 2008
I do have an excuse- No Internet at home! Wrıtıng thıs ona school computer, havent had much chance to do anythıng besıdes emaıl ın my two hour Wednesday computer class, plues beıng computer starved made me neglect the blog ın favor of facebook or gmaıl. I cant say ıll be wrıtıng frequently anymore. Pıctures, well, there are some froma recent AFS trıp to Büyükada, an ısland ın the sea of Marmara (theres four!). It was great,as always, to see AFSers. Increasıngly, thats the only place I feel comfortable. My experıence has gone rapıdly downhıll, and I am not happy, ın fact Im far from happy, really depressed actually. But I ahve good news (for those at home) and thats that Im comıng home!!!! Its not a joke, ıts actually quıte serıous and everythıng ıs currently gettıng sorted out at AFS and Ill have a return date soon, but currently Im just tryıng to survıve. Its not ym famıly, or school, or really the locatıon of my new house, and there are problemns wıth each of these ıssues. Its really me- Im unhappy to the poınt of depressıon, Im no longer learnıng so much as tryıng not to be depressed. Im not learnıng Turkısh or tryıng, I dont WANT to leatn the culture anymore, I honestly want to come home. Thıs ıs a very short explanatıon of the extreme paın Ive been experıenceıng ın the past month away from home faıls to capture how MUCH Ive thought abpout thıs. But even ıf ıts hard to understand, thıs ıs my choıce and what ıs best for me. Ill be back early or mıd-December, so Ill see you Angelınos then! -Gabe
October 28, 2008
- Again, it’s been a while since my last post. I did have my computer, but I was at a week-long orientation in Izmir. We weren’t actually in Izmir, actually an hour away, but it was at a four star hotel!
- Pretty much my week was awesome, I loved seeing everyone again and seeing that we all had the same problems adjusting. The sessions were a little boring, so were the daily Turkish lessons, but I still managed to laugh a lot. I can’t recall all the sessions, but essentially I learned that I need to communicate my problems to people around me or else I’m easily overwhelmed.
- On Friday, the last day =(, we went to Efes (Ephesus in Turkish) and the Virgin Mary’s house (where she lived after Jesus’ death) There will eb pictures of these!
- It was great not having to go to school or be a member of a family, but sadly I’m back =( It’s hard not being with the exchange students and AFS volunteers, around them is the only place that I feel I really belong. Coming home (I got there at 6 in the morning after a 10:30 p.m. bus on Friday), I just fell asleep and pretty much feel like crap. I don’t feel like trying to continue being happy, polite or even learn Turkish. Honestly, I feel like going home. But I always do when I feel down.
- Maybe my problems will get better if I talk to my counselor and start communicating better and trying to be occupied, seeing Istanbul. Even if its easy to just go home, I need to start planning things after school and to go see the wonderful city I’m so lucky to be in. It’s just that I feel like I’m really not meant to be here a whole year.
- Well, it’s kind of annoying: Blogger is now blocked in Turkey! First YouTube, now this! But I will just be using a proxy and will still post! Sorry for the short-ish post, but I just wanted to give you some info about my life and there will be more!
October 12, 2008
http://picasaweb.google.com/gabeandreen/EkerBayramSept28Oct5# These are from Bayram, enjoy! I got lazy, but now you get to see what I was hiding
- It’s Sunday night here, and this week I realized that I was starting to fit in more, i.e. get adjusted and start understanding Turkish. Where last week was marked by extreme homesickness, this week, I felt a lot better. I still can’t understand Turkish when people are going fast, but I know how to say, slowly, please: yavaş lütfen. I understand words or the topic at hand, although not what is being said!
- As far as events go, not much. Part of my problem in adjusting was in what my excpectations were of – I expected this crazy adventure, which it is, but not in the sense that I’m running around, crazy busy, seeing Avrupa (the European side), but instead I’m living on the Anatolian side, not where all the luxury shopping and tourists are, but where the real Turkish soul of Istanbul is. Avrupa is ultra-modern and, indeed, where all the tourists go, but in Anatolia, the energy is less jet-setter and more laid back. In Anatolia, especially Uskudar (sorry, typing in Turkish with an English keyboard is a bitch) it’s more traditonal, women walk around with headscarves and there aren’t really any high-end stores, just the necessities—supermarkets (which are actually really small), kuafors (hair-cutters, it’s from the French couiffeur, I think), some clothes stores, etc.
- To mention the few events that occured, starting with Monday, when I felt really homesick and missed all y’all at home, I can Skype some of you and e-mail the rest, but it’s not the same as seeing you. The worst is missing my dog, who can’t talk on the phone and always comforts me, so that was really hard. I’ve been writing in my journal, like 15 pages a day, granted they are small pages. That helps me when I’m feeling like I need to talk to somebody, because even though I have counselors and y host family, there are some things I just need to write down.
- Ok, Monday I felt really bad, but then I made some new friends or rather got closer to people I had already met. I’m sorry (if you’re reading this), but I only remember one of their names- Nil, the rest are always with her, so I call them Nil& Co to myself. They took me to a birthday party. I didn’t stay the whole time, but I had cake (when it’s decorated, it’s called pasta, when it’s not it’s cake, although that would probably be spelled keik), which was really delicious. There were lots of cakes this week, my taste buds liked that but I don’t like what it’s doing to my wasteline. Any semblance of an exercise routine I had is gones, I need to pick that up now that I think about it. I felt better after that.
- One of the hardest things for me is eating alone, which happens everyday at breakfast. Me and my brother wake up at the same time, but he never eats breakfast, so it’s usually just me, in the kitchen alone, and eating alone depresses me, so now I either watch TV or don’t eat, athough that has only happened once.
- Back to my week—After some rocky patches in the beginning, I’ve been adjusting well and feeling less sad all the time and I’ve been watching a lot of news, following the election (Obama Biden ’08!!!!!) and the poor state of our world (melting ice caps, apparently in five years the polar ice caps won’t be there during the summer and just last year it was almost the size of the continental US; dying polar bears, economic crisis- light stuff). I hope the U.S. will be in good hands when I return! With writing, reading, the BBC and CNN (I finally found some English books, about the Ottoman Empire, aka Osmanli Imparator and Muslim/Christian relations in the Medieval Times), I can kill a lot of time, when it’s slow waiting for Nuray, Cemil, Ersin and Selin to come home. I’m finding Nuray is very easy to talk to, about anything- difficulties I’m having, what I’m enjoying, what it’s like in the US, what I miss, etcetera etcetera.
- My emotions this week have not been consistent for anybody except maybe somebody with bi-polar disorder. I’ll go from being happy to being sad, or I’ll have these weird mixes of feeling where I’m not sure what is my dominant feeling, my journal helps me sort it all out and see where all my feeling are coming from—now I knwo what therapy does! (Thanks Dr. Silverman!). A perfect example of my emotional rollercoaster: on Friday, instead of breakfast, I called Mom with Skype, which was wonderful! But the second she asked how I was, I started tearing up. It was nice to hear her voice, but simultaneously made me miss her. And the funny thing is that, even though I was crying, I felt happy. I felt better after crying, I guess it really is cathartic!
- Other than those “little tear droplets,” like the fabulous Miss Jay Alexander might say, I had no other troubles. Saturday was my first language class in three weeks, it was great to be back. We learned a lot- some verbs, some suffixes, words for family, reviewed what we’d learned before the break and such. I rode home with Sylvan, a German exchange student from Berlin who is also staying in stanbul, and met his parents—who were really nice, his dad has this huge, deep infectious laugh. No picture from this week, nothing really picture worthy or new.
- Sunday, aka today, the whole family went to a friend’s birdthay party—we ate lots of food, some of which I spilled on the floor, I played football and felt ok ebcause my “team” (two people) won and met a woman from Australia (Bir Avustralya’li kadin) named Helen. It feels good to see people who are also foreign in Turkey, it can be a nice break from all natives all the time. The party was in ITU (Istanbul Technical University, a school for engineers where my counselor goes to school), in a district called Levent, where there’s a really swanky shopping center called Kanyon. There were five accidents on the highway from Anatolia to Avrupa, so it took two hour and two more people than were supposed to be in the car (the car holds five, we had seven- including Elvin and her mother)
- Well, I have to hurry off to bed soon because I will wake up at 6:30 tomorrow and leave the house at 7, to go to Kadikoy, wher all the ferries leave and then to Istinye, to go to the US Embassy. I have a confession to make and it will worry some of you- but literally since the day I got here, I ahven’t had my passport. I got off the airplane, through baggage, immigration and customs. Passport in hand after baggage, I thought I had it until we got to our hotel, when we needed to give it to the front desk as collateral so that we wouldn’t run away, and I couldn’t find it, I looked everywhere like five times- it wasn’t there. I was so close to tears and mad at myself- I don’t if I dropped it or if someone took it, I have no idea, so I can’t really say what happened. I just know I have no passport. I wasn’t worried, and AFS is helping me a lot. Luckily I made copies of my passport, so that makes getting a new one that many times easier. All I need to do is go there and apply for a new one, which I will be tomorrow. Within two weeks I’ll have my passport, hoepfully my visa and then my residency permit.
- I also haven’t been able to cash my travelers’ checks without a passport, but Elvin’s mother works at a bank and on Wednesday after school I’m goin with Ersin and Elvin to kadikoy, where all the central banks are for some reason (you can only cash checks there, nowhere else, which is slightly infuriating) so I’ve been borrowing money since I only have 40 us dollars left, which I’m keeping in case something happens. So... my money and passport woes will be solved very very soon. It feels great to tell everyone, I didn’t want to worry anybody until I knew the problem was solved for sure!
October 06, 2008
- Hey Everyone, sorry it’s been so long since my last written blog, about two weeks. I was on vacation and didn’t take my laptop.
- A lot has happened in the last week – most importantly the month anniversary of my departure – Tuesday, September 30. Also, we had the week of from school for Şeker Bayram (Sweet Feast), the end of Ramazan (it’s not Ramadan)
- What did I do in this last week? What did I feel? What happened? Let’s start—a four hour drive on Saturday morning to Ankara, where we met Nuray’s brother, sister-in-law, their kid; sister and her sister’s husband and son (Ercan, Sevde, Berke; Gulay, I forget, and Egeman, respectively). I only really remember some family members name, especially since I think I met the entire family over Bayram (or else it felt like it). As is the tradition during Bayram, we visited all the family, especially since we traveled 10 hours total and wouldn’t see them again for months.
- So, back to Ankara—kinda boring, not very attractive and very developed. I wanted to get out of there a.s.a.p, although everyone was very nice and we only stayed a night. Sunday morning, on the road to Tokat, don’t remember anything seeing as I slept 5 out of the 6 hours, in the last hour we all played a game where someone says a word in English: Apple, the next person has to say another word that begins with the ending of the previous word: Eagle. We also played in Turkish.
- The first impression of Tokat—hmmm. I liked Nuray’s mother’s apartment, but there was 12 of us total in the apartment, including Nuray’s grandmother, my host great-grandmother. She was very old and only got out of bed to eat and go to the bathroom, she never talked and stared blankly into space a lot. At least her family was taking care of her, the retirement homes here are really bad and far away from everything, you are a very bad son or daughter to put your parents in a retirement home. The city was small, very beautiful, but pretty small and rural. Mostly there was farmland around.
- Nuray and Cemil aren’t actually from Tokat, their village, Ice Village (sorry, don’t remember the name in Turkish, but this is it translated!) is about 30 km away (about a 30 or 45 minute drive). Before we visited the village, we stayed at Cemil’s parents’ house, which was 5 minutes away from Nuray’s mother’s. This was Monday, the last day of fasting.
- Tuesday – let the visiting begin! Allah Hallah (My God!) you’d think people would get tired of visiting, but for two days straight all we did was visit, visit, visit, eat candy, Pepsi (or Coke) and eat lots of meals. I was glad to have this over...
- Except that, on Thursday I woke up feeling like crap. My stomach was in knots and I felt like throwing up. I went back to bed and took lots of stomach medicines and slept for three hours, feeling a little better. We drove to Ballıca Cave, near Tokat, because the weather was finally sunny and warm after rain and cold (it got to 12 C, 53.6 F, which is FREEZING for LA, although it can get a little colder). Despite those few cold days here and there, the weather in Istanbul is still pretty warm, although it rains a lot. I’m ready to get colder, though.
- Ok, back to my sickness. I was fine in the cave and when we picked wild blackberries of the side of the road and ate them (yummy!) but on the bumpy mountain drive home, I started having chills and was kind of moaning pathetically. My stomach hurt again and when it got really bad, Cemil pulled off the road and I threw up some bright red stuff- probably from berries and jam, the only food besides bread I’d had . Felt a little better, until I got home. I had a fever and now my head hurt. I told Nuray how bad I felt, so she took me to the hospital to check I was ok, which I was (there was gas in my stomach and a throat infection, which I got antibiotics for). There were some firsts- blood taken, visit to a hospital as a patient (not counting when I was born) and shot in the butt!
- After the hospital, I slept twelve hours and felt fine for the trip to Cankiri (I’m too lazy to use the tail and un-dotted I’s, typing in Turkish is HARD). Speaking of typing—it’s starting to take longer for me to type in English! Ahhh, noticeably so, although I’m still pretty fast, but I make a lot more type-o’s
- We left Tokat on Friday, to go to Cankiri. Cankiri, where Gulay and co. live was a tiny tiny city, smaller than Tokat, about 4 hours from Istanbul, was not much of a site. Finally, there was a computer, so I caught up on some shows (America’s Next Top Model and Gossip Girl, heck yeah!) and went to sleep at three in the morning! I wasn’t tired then, but I sure was Saturday. Saturday’s trip home was longggg. The highways in the rural areas are two lane, so if you get stuck behind a truck, it can be very hard to go around them (although we did) and there were a bunch of accidents, especially near Istanbul. But we got there, after 6 hours of leg-bending and not many stops.
- Glad to be back in Istanbul, with my laptop. Sadly, vacation ends tomorrow, and school starts again. Well, I need to find a library soon because I have one book in English which I’m almost done with and it’s getting very boring to sit in class only studying Turkish and trying to understand class, which I sometimes do, but usually I don’t.
- But I think I will start helping cooking for my family, today I made dinner for them. I made my risotto, which most people like it when I make it for them. Well, NOT my host family (Nuray liked it, though!). I was a little offended when they said they didn’t like it, maybe here people will tell you if they don’t like your food and it’s not rude, but I was a little hurt. My brother ate like two bites and said “he got full” didn’t know if he was making that up. Cemil tried a little harder before going towards the salad. I have no idea what Selin thought, but I know she didn’t finish. They all said that it was weird in Turkish food to mix onion and garlic with rice, which I believe, but it tasted GOOD (I’m not being conceited- it tastes like all the other times I make risotto, which people like). It made me miss everyone eating their food whether or not they liked it, whether or not they lie about liking it. Maybe they’ll like other things??? I'll convince them. Plus, we're planning Thanksgiving (I'll be really sad if they don't like that, seeing as it's a day or more of cooking!)
- Ok, I’m done until next time. Oh, there’s pictures coming too! I just need to caption them.
- Goruşuruz (until we see again), gabe
- p.s. I think about you all a lot and miss you guys! There will be more posts
- p.p.s Sorry about the bullets, seeing as theres no way I know of to format the post, it all comes out as unbroken word diarrhea.
September 21, 2008
Again, sorry for the bad presentation of my last last blog. I put pictures in my word document because they couldn’t load fast enough to my blog (that’s the short story). A lot happened this week- starting with last weekend. Saturday, nothing really happened. But on Sunday, I went with my brother, Ersin, and his two friends- Gözde and Elvin, to the European side, where we saw Galata Tower, which was built by the Genoese in 1348. We saw Taksim Square, the Golden Horn (including all the famous mosques- Suleyman the Magnificent, Saint Sophia and The Blue Mosque , Topkapı Palace and Dolmabahçe Palace, where Atatürk spent his last days.) We only actually went into Galata Tower, the rest we saw from the ferry ride or from Galata Tower. The pictures in my last post are pretty self-explanatory. I probably should have written this post after it happened, because I’m forgetting a lot. School was still very hard last week, especially since my birthday was on Monday, so I got really homesick because I’ve never been away from home on my birthday. But when I saw everybody’s e-mails and facebook messages (39 people told me happy birthday and wanted to know how I was doing) made me feel a lot better. In addition, my family threw a party. We had cake, çay and some other snacks. Gözde and Elvin’s family came over (our families are really close) and I got two Istanbul-related T-shirts and a Galatasaray uniform (one of the three major football teams- Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş being the others), which was funny because Fenerbahçe is my family’s team (everyone here has a team)- I haven’t watched a single match yet, so I don’t know, but ‘ll probably go with my family, so I’m Fenerbahçe I guess! I met some new people at school last week. Besides Mert, who translated for me last week, I met Muge, who is half Japanese, half Turkish and Eda, who helped me and my counselor when we were registering at the school and her friend who used to live in Denmark. On Thursday, I started to understand a few words of class, which was encouraging. I guess it helped that one of my classes was English- which I find to be one of the funniest classes. We were using present simple and present continuous tense (which I didn’t know the difference until I looked at the book, but it was still really funny). We had to re-write a letter with the right tenses: Dear mother and father, life in America is very different, I_______(sit) in the cafeteria, there are girls_________(put) on makeup, which is unacceptable in our culture. If another native English speaker was there, I would’ve started busting out laughing. Wednesday night, there was an Iftar dinner (a celebrationf of the breaking of the fast, which happens every night at 7:30 during Ramazan- Ramadan in Turkish) My language teacher, Merve took me there, because my mother and father couldn’t take me- they worked pretty late that day and Nuray had to cook dinner. I was at the table with mostly AFS volunteers, who were asking me how everything was, if I liked the food (I do, the bread is so so good, and the rice blows away any rice made in America, they put butter in the water and it makes the rice so soft and delicious.) I talked to Nanpon, the Thai kid, a little, but also Morgan and Eric, the Americans from Alaska and North Carolina, respectively. Merve’s family had hosted Slowly, my Turkish is getting better and better. I’ve started saying the greetings and my language classes started yesterday, all we did was the numbers and letter and colors, but it feels good to see all the other AFS students who all have to learn the same amount you do, although some are doing a little better than others, we all have a long road to fluency. Speaking of language class- there were a lot of surprises yesterday, I thought it was on the European side, luckily it was on the Asian side, and Merve took me there along with Merve. After language class, they asked us if we could find our way there next week, because no one was taking us there. We were all shocked, because I don’t think a single one of us remembered the way there. Then we were told we would go to Sultanahmet, the busiest, most tourist-filled area of Istanbul for Iftar- everyone gets together to break their fast, and a bunch of food stalls set up to sell you caramel, bread, soup, full meals, cups of corn, Turkish deserts, dried fruits, drinks (I forget the name- but it was like really fine apple sauce covered with cinnamon and filled with nuts, delicious!) I had to be back in Uskudar, which is about a 45 minute trip from Sultanahmet, by 8:30 for a family friend’s birthday party. (including a ferry trip across the Boshporus, which is black like oil at night, and a mini-bus ride and a walk down a very large hill and then up another not so large hill. I thought the party was at my apartment, so I went there only to find an empty apartment. Maybe it was at the family friend’s house? So I walk there (it’s right next to my school) to find nobody there. I give up and decide if I’m expected to attend this party, I’ll get a call at home. So I walk home, exhausted and feet swelling from walking for about 8, 9 hours at this point. I’m there five minutes, starting to watch the Edge of Heaven (in Turkish, with no subtitles, just like I did with Saw IV), aka Yasamin Kiyisinda in Turkish, when the bell for the front door goes off, and it’s my brother and his friends coming for me to go to the party, which at this point I’m too tired to even go to. They made me go, not before we went on a very long detour just to end up about three blocks from our apartment. At this point, I’m so hungry and tired, I’m almost hallucinating. I came to the party, said hi to everyone and went into the room where the kids were and fell asleep on the bed until the party was over. I was still asleep in the car, even though my eyes were open. I came home and changed into my pajamas and slept for 12 hours before reading in bed two hours this morning. Now I’m refreshed! Ready for more adventures next weekend, this time I’ll bring my camera! More hard lessons at school next week, but I’ll deal with it. I’m having a great time, a little stomach upset, but once that goes away, I’ll be ok. Güle Güle, Gabe p.s. my family is moving soon, so if you plan on sending something soon, do it right away or wait until mid/late- October, I'll keep you updated, with my new adress, etc.
September 18, 2008
September 10, 2008
Please pardon the ghetto presentation. the main blog post is in the image attached, and the pictures (from top to bottom) are of my friends Nicole, the Türk-cell cartoon and McKinley (left to right) on arrival from an overnight to Frankfurt from NY and then a 2 hour flight to Istanbul. This is literally the first thing you see when you come out of customs. Next is the view from my balcony in Selimpasa just after sunrise, right before our last breakfast at survival camp. Third- the view from my balcony, this time right into the water of the Sea of Marmara, the clearest water I've seen! Fourth is Selimpasa right after sunrise, not much there! Not mentioned above is the survival camp at Selimpaşa, which was lots of fun, even when it wasn't compared to the NY orientation. Despite being bone-tired, everyone had a blast. I got really close to the American kids and made some foreign friends. More pictures and adventures later, güle güle -Gabe p.s. I can hear the muezzin (call to prayer) from my apartment. I heard all the calls to prayer the day before yesterday and the day before that. There's a mosque right next to my house, I can see a giant minaret poking out over the roofs. p.p. forgot to mention the ferry I took with Göktuğ across the Bosphorus, I fell asleep in some part because the water puts em to sleep, but managed to see Santa Sofya and Sultan Ahmet mosques right before sunset
September 04, 2008
Today I had a quite long day, got to New York at 7:30 a.m. after an 11:30 red-eye. I was exhausted (I probably slept for three hours, after losing my iPod in the dark of the unlighted ground, I started having a panic attack, so I took a relaxing pill THANKS so so much mom, it helped me sleep). Tomorrow is an even longer day (which really doesn't end until Friday). All 10 of the kids going to Turkey are leaving together at 6 from the hotel for our 9:30 p.m. flight to Frankfurt (which is 8 hours). After that, we have a 2 hour lay-over which barely lets us run through Frankfurt, get food and re-board. We get to Turkey later that day and barely get a chance to shower before starting orientations about Turkey. Hopefully those are more interesting than what we did today (a boring reading of AFS rules and regulations, which I fell asleep in and almost fell onto my neighbor and travel tips for our long haul tomorrow) - Gule Gule