January was a pretty chill month. The kids in my class were studying very hard for their exams at the end of the semester, but since they were all in Turkish I was allowed to be excused during exam week at school. Luckily, my friend Quinn was excused as well so we were able to take the week off. Our initial plan to set up a daily tour for ourselves to see more of the city failed miserably, and we basically ended up doing the same old things we usually do. Though we did find an incredibly delicious restaurant.
After a rotary meeting that week where I gave my presentation about the US, we noticed hockey players in the lobby. It turns out there was a conference in Izmir that week that high school age students from around the world were playing hockey against each other. There were teams from New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico, Belgium, and many more. Since Quinn is about as Canadian as you can get, she was practically jumping off the wall at an opportunity to actually watch hockey in Izmir. The game was actually really fun to watch, and being some of the only girls (and along with that being blonde) in the stadium, we were kind of the stars of the jumbo-tron that day.
After that weekend I switched families and now live in an area of Izmir called Guzelbahce which is in a land far far away from the main part of Izmir. This means that when I want to meet up with people, I'll have to take a hour and a half long bus ride, but that's a very small cost for the amazing family that I've been put in. I have a sister named Egemen who went on exchange to the US in Washington state last year and a younger 12 yr. old brother named Baris. The whole family is very nice and active, and I also find my Turkish is improving because my parents don't know as much English as my last family, and Egemen's always helpful with teaching me Turkish and insisting to other people that I'll understand if they speak slowly, since most people want to give up the second I have difficulties, which is often.
During the semester break my family is going on a trip outside of Izmir. We left this past Saturday and went to Kutahya, where my host dad's parents live. It's famous for it's porcelain plates and designs, so I simply had to get a few souvenirs from there. The next day we all left for Eskisehir, which is about 40 minutes from Kutahya to stay with my host dad's brother. I've been having a great time seeing more of Turkey with my family.
|Some Turkish candy that was very good (I should really be better about remembering the names of Turkish food)|
|A new miniature disneyland in the making at Eskisehir|
|We were able to see some really neat art exhibitions|
During the rest of our trip we'll be going to Istanbul, then skiing in Bulgaria! I'm so excited and grateful to have an opportunity to go to a new country during my exchange.
I also have recently heard about the new outbounds from my home district getting their country assignments, and it brought back such flashbacks! Waiting all day for that call, where would I go, I don't care, I just want to know, then being so excited that it was Turkey! Then realizing crap, what do I know about Turkey? I literally don't know how to say anything in Turkish. Then to have come to hear, where I'm almost half way through my exchange. at a slow conversational level of Turkish. I can't even begin to describe how fast time flies.
*On a side note, my cello, FINALLY came in the mail, 2 days before we left for a trip, but I'm glad that it won't be a literal year long break from my instrument.
*On a more depressing side note my magical number is 5, the amount of kilos I've gained since coming here. Yikes. Hopefully everybody back home is right about how they'll simply fall off as soon as you come back home. That would be very helpful.