Saturday, October 20, 2012

Izmir Camp

Last week I went to Izmir with other AFSers from around Turkey for a week-long camp :)

The trip there was not that great. We had to go by bus and we left Istanbul at midnight, so we didn’t get to see much of the country (it was dark most of the way there, it was an 8 hour drive). But it was really cool because in order to cross the Bosporus the bus had to go onto a ferry, which was pretty cool. I only slept a couple hours or so because I talked with my friend almost the whole way.

We eventually got to the hotel at about 8 and went to our rooms. Every day we went to breakfast at about 9 am, then to Turkish lessons at about 10:30, lunch at 1 pm, AFS workshops from 3-5 or 6, then after 6 we had dinner and free-time. The food at the hotel was good, and I had simit (which is kind of like a bagel) almost constantly. There was a ping pong table there, so that was the main activity for everyone the whole week. The Turkish lessons were usually really boring because I already knew everything being taught. One of my favorite things about the hotel was that from the beach you could see across the sea and see Greece!

One of the days (I can’t remember which) we had karaoke, which was fun because people from every country chose songs that they knew from their home country. I didn’t really take part in the karaoke, but my Belgian friend taught me how to moonwalk and I practiced my front-handspring. Another day, we went swimming in the sea, and that was nice but the floor of the ocean was a bit weird. It was either very rocky or slimy and I wasn’t used to that :P . On Wednesday, we had a talent show where we had to do a talent about Turkish culture. Everybody but one group did a skit (that group did a parody of Call Me Maybe). My group’s skit parodied Turkish relationships.

On Thursday, we left the camp. Before we went home, we visited a couple of touristy places. The first place we went was to the house of The Virgin Mary (it was said that she lived there at one point). It was a nice place, but we weren’t there for long because the house was very small and there wasn’t much else. After that, we had lunch at a Turkish restaurant where there weren’t normal tables, instead we had to take off our shoes and sit on the floor with a lot of pillows. The food was really good, but my water didn’t arrive for a couple hours (I have no clue why it took this long, I asked for it multiple times). After that we stopped at the Ancient Greek/Roman city of Ephesus. I love that kind of stuff, so I took a lot of pictures, mostly of the architecture and of the places where there was Ancient Greek written.

After that, we had to go back to our cities, which meant saying goodbye to the kids that are staying for a trimester since we won’t have any more camps until February. This really sucked because I became really close to some Belgian kids that are only here until December. In fact, I hung out almost exclusively with Germans and Belgians and my German friends and I joke that I am practically on exchange in Germany and I will know more German culture than Turkish culture by the end of the year :P

I finally returned in Istanbul at around 5 am and then arrived home at 7 am and slept for the next 10 hours (I didn’t sleep much at camp). And I haven’t done much today besides watching American TV and walking in town.

That is all for now, görüşürüz!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Turkish Lessons


On Sunday, we started our government-mandated Turkish lessons. It was held in one of the AFS offices in the European side of the city (I am not sure where, exactly). I had a hard time getting there, most likely because I was told many different routes by different people that I just had no clue where to go. Eventually, my host father drove me to Kadıköy where I met up with Eren, an AFS volunteer, and some of the AFSers. We took the ferry to Beşiktaş, on the European side and waited for the remaining students to arrive.

The Turkish lessons were nice, but I knew everything that was discussed except for the word yellow (sarı). We did things like simple conversations and were given homework to do.

As it turns out, I actually did not meet all of the AFS students in Istanbul at the survival camp – there were about four kids that were late arrivals. I started talking to a Russian girl, and oddly enough, she was an exchange student in the US for one year in my home state, Maine!

On Monday, I was walking around school with my friend Romina when I discovered that there was a tour group consisting of Australian teenagers that visited my school. I was allowed to skip class and hang out with them, which was nice.

On Tuesday, the exchange students and I had to pick up our residence permits. I, however, was confused about where we would meet up so I was walking around the wrong continent looking for the volunteers (which wasn’t too bad, they were giving out free ice cream near the docks). When I finally got my permit, it turns out that they had the wrong address and I needed a new one.

Not much has happened since then, so I guess that is the end of this post :)