It’s a tradition in Turkey that on the anniversary of a relative’s death, you get together with family and eat Lokma (a doughnut type thing). Atilla’s uncle died a year ago so last Friday I got to meet much of his family. I’m getting significantly better at the “Hello” “How are you?” “I’m good” “Thank you” etc. I’m really looking forward to when I’m conversationally fluent. I know it’ll be hard to learn the language, but my thought is, what will learning the language take away from this experience?
We had breakfast with the family as well the next day. It was nice and relaxing and reminded me of old family reunions at my grandma’s house. People walking around everywhere, somebody watching TV, a baby crying, some drinking kahve. It all felt quite homey.
That Sunday, I went to Urla with my family to meet Banu’s cousin and some family friends. Urla’s right along the end of Izmir and we went to a restaurant with a beautiful sea line. Banu’s cousin had a daughter named Lars (it means rose in Turkish). Names tend to have way more meaning in the Turkish culture than back home, which I love. Anyway, her parents switch between speaking English and Turkish with her so she can know both languages well. So basically, she was this adorable little seven year old who was about as good at English as many of the kids in my school. I couldn’t quite get over it. The meal was delicious and we ended it with kahve and, you guessed it, Turkish Delight! I remember my father saying “No Sarah, Turkish Delight is not from Turkey…” it was quite tasty.
On top Lars, and then the beautiful sea view.
School’s been great. The teachers are incredibly nice and I’ve been making some good friends. Here you’re with the same kids all day and the schedule isn’t the same each day, but the same each week. I’m still getting used to it and having to follow around my friends somewhat like a puppy. I do know where all the buildings are by this point, but the schedule is so random, and we’ll have the same class in 3 different rooms within one week. I don’t quite understand why, but I’m sure I’ll catch on. During the Turkish classes I just sit there. I see what words I can understand that the kids and teachers are saying and it usually sounds like “because” “very” “What?” “Yes” “No” “and”. In other words, I don’t understand too much yet. My English classes are English (obviously). Math. Environmental Systems, and Theory of Knowledge.
English class is somewhat intimidating because they’re actually doing really advanced English and the last vocab quiz was half made up of words I’ve never used before. “That’s a hackneyed expression.” “My fears are assuaged” “I expostulated him from jumping out of the window” Anyway, I’m doing fine in the class, it’s just somewhat embarrassing when people expect you to know all of the answers because of your English skills and you can’t help, in English class.
Everybody hates Environmental Systems in my class, because we’re on the math track, and for some reason they added a Science class to the mix that doesn’t really have too much math in it, and the teacher thinks they know way more science than they’ve actually learned. I think the teacher’s quite entertaining (He’s been to Waupaca to go fishing!) but I haven’t really had to class too much to form an opinion on it.
Math is math. Not much else to it.
Theory of Knowledge. This is a relatively new class. It’s a philosophical class that should probably be somewhat interesting. We’re learning how to think for ourselves and what is knowledge truly? What do we truly know? It's one of those classes with more questions than answers. I’m not sure yet if I’m going to like it or not, but the teacher’s really fun, so that’s a plus.
Last but not least, Visual Arts. I’m taking an art class. Me. It’s honestly the scariest class for me. I've never been confident in my drawing or artistic abilities whatsoever, but it was the best option out of the elective classes. Everybody insisted that the class is all about getting better and not being good. But it’s hard to believe that when everybody else’s drawings are so impressive! I think the class will be good for me honestly. It’s always good to put yourself out there and do things that make you uncomfortable.
On the 23rd it was Heloisa’s (one of the exchange students from Brazil) birthday. Many of us went to her house to celebrate. It was my first time meeting the exchange students in Izmir and it was so nice to finally do so! They’re all so nice, but we were kind of separated into the Portuguese speakers and English speakers, which I’m sure will soon stop though. (Also shout-out to Aaron, happy 26th birthday!)
Then on the 26th it was Bruno’s (another exchange student from Brazil) birthday. We went to Ege Park, which is very close to my house, and a few more exchange students who weren’t at Heloisa’s were at his birthday, and already the groups were a lot more combined than last time. I had a simple conversation with Junior (yet another exchange student from Brazil) in Turkish, and even though it was quite pathetic, I keep thinking that if that’s what you know in about 2 weeks’ time and you consistently learn at least that much more, we’re probably on a pretty good track. He, Daniella (NOT another Brazilian, she’s from Mexico :) are the only 18 year olds in the group, but it was really nice to learn I wasn’t the only one!
On a final note, I finally got my phone today! I’ve been waiting for it for a while, and it’s nice to know that I won’t miss out on any experiences now because I don’t want to be lost in Izmir without a phone!