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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Katrina - Ankara - Week 1

Hoş geldiniz! We made to Turkey safe and sound, and this week has been so busy and awesome that we haven't stopped to blog about it (and Richard's wifi senses aren't always tingling in Ankara).

Three of us got to Ankara last Saturday afternoon, and we were picked up by a driver from TOBB (the universty we are working at). He barely spoke English so he and I spoke in Turkish almost the entire half an hour ride to TOBB. We got our rooms, keys, and hung out at the dorm and had dinner at the cafe there, and waited for the other three students to arrive before we went to sleep.

On Sunday we went to the mall, called Armada, and went to a cafe and the grocery store there. At the supermarket we ran into a girl who goes to TOBB and she offered to walk us back and help us with anything. Her name is Dilay and we've hung out a few times since then. When we got back to TOBB we met up with Belka, a student who talked to our boss and arranged to be our unofficial guide at TOBB. She told us a little more about the school and Ankara. Later, we met and went to Kizilay with Berat, a friend of one of the students who went to Ankara last summer. He helped us buy cheap phones, and then we went to a few different places for drinks and dinner. When we got back to TOBB Murat, Berat's good friend, brought us Turkish ice cream.

Monday we met our boss, Ebru, and started working on a presentation for our first week of conversation classes. We have a group office, and lots of students came to visit us. During the week, we each hold six or seven conversation classes, where we give a presentation and speak with the students in English. The students we are teaching are all in the preparatory school at TOBB, which is what they call the year that the university students spend learning only English. They have to pass the TOEFL exam at the end, and they are put into classes according to their speaking ability. The classes each have around 20 or 25 students. Each class this week was pretty intimidating, because the students will talk to each other and across the room in Turkish, but then they are slower at speaking English. I understand the gist of what they are saying, but not enough to respond. Ebru told me not to tell the students that I speak Turkish, but the other UM kids said that apparently it's getting around anyway (I think I'll get over that). In most classes after I finished the presentation the students would ask me questions about my life and would give me recommendations for where to visit in Turkey. We also talk about things like the differences between Turkey and the US, but I can't see a whole lot of differences between the everyday lives of college students in each country. We talk about our hometowns, our departments (that's what they call majors here), our favorite movies, and what we like to do on the weekends.
After work this week we have gone back to Kizilay to shop, gone out to dinner with Belka (she read our coffee grounds at a cafe after), gone to the gym, and gone bowling with some girls we met.

We don't work on Fridays, so late Thursday night we packed our backpacks and headed to the bus station. Murat came with us, and he helped us buy tickets to Kapadokya on the overnight bus. Kapadokya is a town famous for caves and cave houses, as well as tall pointy rock formations. We got there at 6am, and went to our hotel that we booked during the week. Farouk, the owner, is a great guy and helped us with everything. We waited for a cafe to open and then had breakfast.
Farouk drove us to the foot of the hill where the famous castle is, and we hiked up through the town that sits on the hill. It took us a few hours, and we got separated a few times, but we all met up at the top. We were taking pictures when it started to rain, so we took shelter under an overhang. It let up a little and Jen, Richard, and Jay made a run for it, but Lilly, Eric, Murat and I tries to wait it out. Then, of course, it started hailing, and we were stuck for another twenty minutes or so.
When it stopped and we left the castle for the town, Lilly and I found a dog that looked really hungry and sad. We went to a restaurant and bought a piece of raw meat, but the dog was gone when we got back. When we were walking back down the hill, we found it again and gave it the meat. It was gone in 30 seconds, and the dog followed us for half an hour, so we named him Bunyamin.
We walked for an hour and finally made our way back (accidentally) to the same place we bought the meat from and got lunch there. We walked the two hours back to the hotel, convinced it would only take 25 minutes or so (we didnt realize how fast Farouk had been driving). After long naps at the hotel we went to a place called Anatolia Kitchen for dinner, and ran into a group of Michigan med school students who had just graduated.
Sunday we got up early and watched the hot air balloons for a while. There were about 30 up in the sky all at once, it was so cool. I went back to sleep after and then at about 9am we had Turkish breakfast at the hotel. I tried hazelnut butter for the first time (it's like Nutella without the chocolate). Farouk drove us to the underground city, which is where Christians lived during the Roman Empire because their religion was forbidden. We were in the caves for about an hour, and then Farouk drove us to the Open Air museum, but we decided to hike around the rock formations and caves instead. There were a few donkeys hanging around. We met a guy from Brazil who studies in London and is traveling Europe by himself. Again we got caught in the rain and had tea in a cafe while we waited for it to stop.
We got back to the hotel and hung out in the lobby while we waited for dinner to be ready. Farouk had promised us traditional clay-cooked food. Jen had asked about the clay pots that they cook food in and break open in front of you, and Farouk told us that mostly the restaurants just put cooked food into the pots, that it is just for show. His wife made us the real deal, with lamb and rice and peppers. There was also salad, soup, bread, and homemade baklava for dessert. Walking was a bit of a problem after that.
Sunday we took a bus back to Ankara. We could see salt flats and lots of rolling hills on the way. It makes me want to go to Montana (Big Sky Country, I think?) at some point, I'm not entirely sure why.
Monday is tomorrow, hazırım?

1 comment:

  1. Katrina,

    My name is Tammy Mida. I am interning in LSA International Internships this summer and I will be reading and responding to your blog posts.

    This is a really descriptive post. I really learned a lot about what you are doing at TOBB. I really appreciated the explanation of the "departments" and the type of work you're doing. I am anxious to hear how the first week goes!

    It has to be helpful that you speak Turkish, but I can see how it could be challenging when you are there to hold conversation classes in English. Where did you learn to speak Turkish? I'm glad that everyone seems to have been hospitable thus far. It is really great to have someone to show you around- especially the first week!

    I want to know more about the clay pots being broke open. I've never heard of that. Enjoy the baklava, hazelnut butter, and the many more foods you will discover this week.