October 12, 2008

An Emotional Blender

  • 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!

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Hi Gabe:

Love reading your posts. Your roller coaster emotions brought back memories of my AFS experience in South Africa! Generally, things seem to stablize in January!

The kids in LA had a surf lesson yesterday. They had a great time. It's a good bunch of kids this year!

Hang in there. You're doing great!