About the Blog

I recently accepted a position from Teach and Learn with Georgia, a Georgian Ministry of Education program designed to bring native speakers of English into classrooms around the country. I will be moving to Georgia in August of 2014 to begin my assignment.

Before this latest adventure, I studied at Bogazici University in Istanbul Turkey and at Azerbaijan University of Languages. I speak English German Spanish, Turkish Azerbaijani and Uzbek and am currently trying my hand at Georgian.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A week in Istanbul

I think I've done it again. I am going to be madly on top of blogging and keeping all my friends and family up to date on the goings on in this wonderful city of Istanbul. And then I forget. But I'm back now, so here come the updates.
First update: classes. I had my first day of classes at Bogazici University today. Or I was supposed to. I showed up nice and early to my Contemporary Issues in Anthropology class today. I was so ready, with my pen and my notebook and my planner. Note-taking and introductions here I come. And then I waited. And waited. After 20 minutes myself and everyone else in the room who I was chatting with had decided that this thing was definitely not happening so we left. So overall, pretty intense. Tomorrow I have chemistry though, which I suspect will mean business. Especially since it's a grad course. I therefore am going to appreciate my gentle reentry into the academic world. Even if it did not consist of anything. My schedule has also been finalized, approved and gotten a great big star put on it, so I think I am good to go there. I will be taking the aforementioned contemporary issues course on Monday, Regional Studies on Thursday, physical chemistry on Tuesday and Thursday and advanced reading in Turkish (for foreigners) on Tuesday and Wednesday. So yes, I have Fridays free. Also Monday mornings. And Wednesday afternoons. So my life will be an arduous once during my sojourn here, as is no doubt apparent. However, I have every intention of finding things with which to fill the great chasms of free time that currently seem to exist in my schedule. Like say, actually updating this blog.
Now, in terms of what I have been up to since my last post. Looking back, I had gone through the torture of registration and was preparing for a lovely little walk along the Bosphorus. The walk turned out to be exactly that, lovely, as well as breathtaking, windy, a little cold but also filled with excellent company. I wandered with some friends down back streets and alleys on the way there, with the general view that as long as we kept heading down, all would be well. And it was. We walked along the water and then decided to explore Rumeli Hisarı which is a castle built by the Ottomans during the seige of Costantinople. It still has some of the best views in town. We perused, snapped some picks and tried very hard not to fall of the edges of staircases that are not guarded by anything since apparently litigation it not a pressing concern to the Turkish Cultural Council. Tuesday I waited impatiently for consent requests and in the end went into Sultanahmet, the historic heart of the city for the day. I went with Hannah and Elaina, both of whom have never been to Istanbul before. I felt a bit like a tour guide as I took them from the Haghia Sophia to the Blue Mosque and the Basilica Cisterns, all the while providing anecdotes that I picked up from tour books and the for-hire guides outside that I occasionally unscrupulously follow and listen in on. The Haghia Sophia is undergoing restoration work (what else is new) but the workmen were happily hammering away, ruining the tranquil atmosphere that the place seems to exude otherwise. It was also at the Haghia Sophia that we got our museum cards, a 15 TL (Turkish Lira, or about $8.50) privilege given to Turkish citizens that allows them into pretty much all the museums in the country for free or a steeply discounted rate, as often as they want for a year. Naturally I wanted to get in on this and so I presented my form identifying me as a student at a Turkish university. After approximately every single person who worked at the 3 ticket booths had looked at the thing a young man walked over and said “No problem”. I was in. Oh Turkish museums, we will become great friends, of that I can promise you.
At the Blue Mosque we decorously covered ourselves (not all the tourists did, which I thought incredibly rude) and looked around, but again our atmosphere was tainted, this time by an imam giving a lecture about Islam in English to everyone at the mosque. I wouldn’t have minded Turkish, that would fit the place, but someone the English seemed so foreign, so strange, that it put me off and made me want to curl up or put in earplugs or similar. I wanted to marvel, not get schooled. But I appreciate being allowed in so I must not complain. Sunday we went to Topkapı Palace, which is in the same neighborhood, right behind the Haghia Sophia, where they have recently reconfigured their armor display. The reenactor inside of me was about the shout for joy, but I managed to keep myself in check as a perused the various types of blinged-out weaponry available to the Sultan for smiting his enemy. He was not at a loss for choices, I can tell you that. The adventure on Saturday was a walk from the dorm to Ortaköy and then on to Beşiktaş and across the Bosphorus to Kadıköy on the Asian side. The walk took us in total about an hour and a half and it was freezing cold. We got off the ferry and I started to wonder what on earth we were going to do on the Asian side to prevent hypothermia. Luckily, I remember that the Asian side of Istanbul is a shoppers paradise. The first stop was, naturally, a book store. I managed to keep myself from buying the entire place up, even though they had some amazing sales, starting at 1 TL books and 2 TL posters. I ended up deciding on a volume of Sherlock Holmes short stories in Turkish. I’ve already started the Scandal in Bohemia. I’m glad I’ve read them before and I still don’t know all of the words, but I am getting more than I suspected and I know that they longer I’m here, the better I will understand. That and I keep seeing words that I recognize from class, or from Azerbaijan this summer and it makes me happy. We then perused the various clothing options and came to the conclusion that during this semester we will all be completely replacing our wardrobes. I started with my shoes. I bought a lovely pair of absolutely-positively-sure-to-be-authentic Converse for about $10 and have been wearing them since. It was also a great chance to figure out which European sizes we wear. The European numbering of everything has been throwing me off, especially the fact that the ground floor is below the first floor and so I consistently think that I am done with stairs only to realize that my dorm on the fourth floor is one more up. The walk is good for me anyways.

The gang with the view from Topkapı     Photo Credit: Random Turkish guy I asked to take the picture

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