Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Living and working......the first month

Well, I've officially lived here a month, as of yesterday! Unfortunately, just in time for this anniversary, I came down with a nasty, cruddy cold, and had to miss two days of teaching. I figured it would come sooner or later, judging by past experiences, I just figured it wouldn't come until it was colder. So here I am, sick, with beautiful sunny skies, and 80F/26C weather. Anyways, my first week of teaching went well, though I did have a few difficult students. One student in my first class was laughing so hard he was crying, and when I asked him what was so funny, he just laughed harder. I'm pretty certain he was laughing at me, but I have no idea what for. Most of my students are great, friendly, speak pretty good English, and understand what I'm saying most of the time. I've also realized that lessons need to be in the form of competitive games, because the students are more motivated to actually participate if there's a tangible objective.
Aside from teaching, life is pretty good so far, although the weather is too hot for my tastes. Hopefully that will change soon. Here in Ankara, I keep seeing things that are completely bizarre and crazy! A few weeks ago, while I was waiting for the bus, the bus pulled up, the driver got off carrying a computer tower, he pulled an air hose out and started blasting the crap out of the inside of the tower. A huge cloud of dust came out, and it took him about 15 minutes until he was satisfied. The ironic part.....he was smoking while doing all this, and dropping ash back into the tower. Everyone here seems to smoke all the time: cab drivers while they have a customer, bus drivers while driving, students at every break in huge groups, EVERYONE! Another crazy thing: yesterday, I saw an armed guard coming to put money in the ATM in a building on campus, and he was carrying a machine gun.....yep, no pistol/side arm thing, a machine gun. A few other things I've noticed: orange juice tastes more like an actual orange, the 6TL wine is better than the 12TL wine, old men stare at foreigners, Burger King tastes pretty much the same and they deliver, everyone asks you if you like Turkey and what food you've tried, most people in Ankara cheer for Istanbul football teams, and chicken schnitzel tastes nothing like my mom's ;)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Never trust a dolmus......

I know I haven't posted in a while, but I've been really busy with work and figuring out my life here. Anyways, today I took a shopping trip to one of the many malls in Ankara, thinking it would be a nice afternoon. Well, to get home from the mall, I had to take a dolmus (for those of you who don't know, they're little bus/van things that cost almost nothing and stop at various points throughout the city, those points being listed on the outside of the dolmus). So a dolmus pulls up to the curb, and I see it says Bilkent on the side, so silly me thinks I can take it home. A few miles down the road, I realize that this dolmus is going a different way than all the other one's I've taken since being here. The thing ends up driving way west of where I live, and is driving around these nice residential neighbourhoods for a while. Eventually, the dolmus pulls up to a parking lot full of buses, and the guy turns around and asks me something in Turkish, which I don't understand (BTW, that part of living here is getting really frustrating), so I tell him I speak English. I think he then asks me where I'm going, so I tell him Bilkent, to which he says what is quite possibly the only word of English he knows...."no". He gestures for me to follow him, and for me to stand in front of another dolmus. He comes back a few minutes later with another driver and explains to me that he's driving to Bilkent. I thank him profusely (in what little Turkish I know) and hop on. After about 15 minutes of driving around, he tells me "Bilkent [something I couldn't understand}" and tells some other guy getting off to help me out. This other guy, thankfully, is a student who speaks a little English, and tells me the best way to get back from here is to take a cab, then asks me where I'm from (the ubiquitous question to all foreigners in Turkey). All in all, I got home safely, none of my eggs were broken, and I found a new pair of black pants that fit AMAZINGLY!!! So the moral of my tale is....if you're foreign and you get lost, smile and tell them you don't speak the language, and Turks are ridiculously nice!