Wednesday, October 9, 2013

It's Been Awhile

Last weekend, and this weekend, I had the pleasure of going to Kusadasi with my host family.  Kusadasi is a popular tourist area right outside of Izmir with many nice hotels and resorts.  Last weekend my family took me to the Kusadasi Golf and Spa resort.  The resort was absolutely lovely.  It was just super relaxing and I got to spend a lot of time swimming.  It's one of those places where more people tan than swim.  In the early afternoon I was throwing a ball around with Kemal in the water but he soon left cause he thought it was getting cold.  This is something I've been getting used to.  People here get cold so easily!  Even back home I was able to deal well with the cold compared to my friends and family, so people here think I'm a complete maniac.  At around 6 p.m. absolutely nobody was by the pool, not even tanning.  I literally had a whole pool area to myself for about 20 minutes and it was so relaxing.

Later we went to dinner, I met one of Eda's friends Daphne and a girl named Gunsu.  The whole reason we went to Kusadasi was because my parents here are part of a mason club.  I've never heard of it before but it's one of those organizations that does good for others.  Everybody else at the table was part of the club or a child of somebody who was.  Eventually us girls got a bit bored and we decided to butt out.  We walked around outside and talked.  Again, they were both freezing in sweatshirts and pants while I was wearing a dress.  I also managed to convince Daphe not to go to a University in Wisconsin because of the weather.  (Woops!) We went to a cafe above where our parents were having dinner then drank some coffee.  Eventually Gunsu left with her parents and Daphne and I watched TV in my room until her parents came to get her.  The next day we went golfing.  It wasn't a 18 hole golf game like I was expecting, but more like everyone in the club getting a lesson on what golfing actually was.  I found it super surprising that basically no one in the group of 20 knew how to golf.  My uncle's would be proud to hear that I was actually the best golfer of the group.  For those who know how I golf, I think this proves how little the people of Izmir golf, or at least the people of Izmir I've run into.  We did shoot off some rounds at a range and had little competitions on the green.  It was a fun time.  (Just as a note I can never get these pictures to go into the places I want on the page and it's driving me slightly insane)

This weekend we went to Kusadasi just for Banu and Atilla to meet up with some of their friends.  This was definitely a fancier hotel, but sadly I never got the chance to swim.  It was a bit awkward at dinner that night because there was only enough room at the main table for the adults and then all the children wanted to stay together at one table (Everybody's kids were between the ages of 7 and 10) It was all ok though.  I ate my dinner while listening to the guitar player who was playing Eric Clapton (one of my favorites), got my camera to take some wonderful pictures of the view, then went to my room and watched some music videos until I fell asleep.  Banu was nice enough to come over to talk to me for a bit while I was eating, and Atilla gave me a little explanation about the things I could see in the landscape. 

During the week I was practicing for this crazy thing my school has called MOODS.  Each year the student's organize a concert without any help from the teachers.  There's dancers, singers, and much craziness.  I was asked earlier if I wanted to join the Lise 3 girl's dance and I agreed.  There were many girls in the dance so my mistakes could be easily hidden by those in front of me.  I had late practices Monday-Wednesday and performances Thursday and Friday.  The practices were fun because I had a lot of time to talk to many of the girls that I don't get the opportunity to talk to as much.  On Tuesday and Wednesday I took the ferry back home with a girl named Selin who lives near me.  We had enough time on Tuesday to eat supper while waiting for the ferry with a friend of hers name Anil.  There was this bread there that was kind of like a huge air pocket with what I think were peppercorn seed on the outside that was to die for.  Nobody else knew what they were called so I wasn't able to look them up. 

The guys performance done before our girls piece.
On both Thursday and Friday I was able to hang out with different friends before the performances.  On Thursday I went with Dilge, who's in my class and stays at the dorms, and then got my makeup done by some prep girls who loved my hair.  It was a bit much compared to what I'd normally do (which is zilch) but I didn't really have the heart to take it off.  On Friday I hung out with Beliz (who went on exchange to North Carolina) and we went out for a nice dinner. 

The performances for MOODS were crazy.  Girls dress much more high fashion here compared to the US, and some of the dances done in the performance would not have been acceptable back home.  I found that interesting in a culture where you'd expect things to be much more modest, but my school and city are an exception for many things along those lines.  MOODS was a blast though and I'm glad I was able to be a part of it.  Many of the exchange students were able to come to the MOODS concert so it was really nice to see them all there.

The next day we finally had our first inbound orientation!  I met many of the inbounds already, but this was the first time we were all in one place at once.  Throughout the day we went through all the D's, how to protect yourself from bad situations, trips we'll be taking during the year, and all that other fun stuff.  When we went to lunch we had this huge line of Pide bread.  I also ran into Sunce, who I met at the Grand Rapids conference back home.  It was so nice to see her again!  We didn't get as much of a chance to talk as I wanted to, but I'm really hoping we'll be able to get together sometime in the near future.  The whole inbound group is awesome and I'm really excited for what's in store for all of us!
We were simply having a blast going over the rules.
The line of Pide (so good!)
Yesterday, I went to Konak with my art teacher Mrs. Papot.  I've been needing art supplies for a while and she offered to come with me to help pick them out.  It was a really fun time!  She's from New York, and this is her first year working in Turkey as well, so we're both kinda newbies.  We talked a lot about all the minor differences between here and the US that you wouldn't think about unless you were surrounded by it.  It inspired me to sum up a little list for you.  I know there's many more than this, but I didn't want to bore you and this is just what first popped to my head.

Differences between Turkey and the US
People here drive absolutely insane--When smiling at you, people also close there eyes. I thought everybody had a tick at first--No shoes in the house, you must take them off as soon as you get in--Students stand when their teacher enters the classroom--Compared to how children are raised in the US many Americans would think Turkish children are spoiled--It's against the law to work until you're 18--You always have breakfast in the morning, a cup of cappucino would never suffice--You push to open doors instead of pull--When greeting people or saying goodbye you kiss both cheeks--You don't say thank you or sorry (especially sorry) anywhere near as much--Nobody doodles in class--I stick out like a sore thumb--People speak Turkish

Today after school I went to Starbucks with Zoe, another exchange student.  It's always nice getting together with other exchange students, because there are simply some things that only other exchange student's understand.  We tried looking for a pair of sunglasses for me, but the only stores around here I can find with sunglasses are ones filled with designer pairs.  No way to get that on an exchange student's salary.

In other news, my brothers been entertained by taking pictures of my face with his little app that can morph it into some of the most disgusting ways imaginable.  After which, he thought it would be fun to instagram to his friends.  Luckily, he only has 3 friends on Instagram, so I don't think I have to worry about it going viral, but I am still trying to think of some plot for revenge...