School’s out for…ever?

 This Friday was the last day of school for this academic year! Woohoo!

And it was the last day of school for me, for hopefully a long time.

 In order to not mince words, I will be quite blunt.  When called for next year’s contract negotiations I was not asked to return for the next year.  I guess that’s a polite way of saying I was fired?

Unlike other teachers who were also “not asked back”, I did not shed a single tear.  Maybe they could see how unhappy I was (doubtful), but I didn’t want to continue next year either.  However, since I am a responsible person, I wasn’t going to quit.  Being “asked to not return” is better actually, since I’ve put in enough hours to get a severance pay.  We will see if it actually gets paid, since the school I worked for has been doing shady stuff since day ONE.  When I asked why I was being let go (genuine curiosity), the answer was “performance problems”.  When I asked for more details (seeing as I had never received one warning about any kind of performance problem I might have had), they couldn’t give me any.  It seems all teachers were given this excuse.  Meaning, no reason.

 How funny is it that I thought this place was respectable.

Since I’m not fully out of the woods yet, I will refrain from the full dress-down that they deserve.  Keep your eyes peeled!

 Now you may be wondering, what’s next for me?  To be honest, I’m not fully sure.  One thing I know for certain though,  I don’t want to teach at a private K-12 again.  Maybe at a university? Maybe something else entirely.  I have a few leads on something I’d be much more interested in…but I don’t want to make nazar (jynx it)!

  I’ll have a more detailed post in September, including how I left things at the school.

 I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t leave with a bang!

But for now I’m going to enjoy my summer the best I can.  Everything else can wait.

Advertisements

5 Signs You’re Actually Turkish 

1. Guests in, ikram out

*ding dong* Put on the tea! Grab some biscuits! Where’s the fruit? We need ikram, STAT!

Oh heeeey dear neighbor, do come in!

2. Jay-walking is the only walking you do

I’m pretty sure that red hand sign ten meters down the road means play leap frog across the street right here.  Just saying.

3. Turkish sayings applied to English conversations

When you are texting with your American friend and she makes some kind of big declaration and you’re like, “hadi bakalim“.

4. You reach for Turkish brands

Because who needs Lipton loose leaf tea when Berk is tap taze?

5. The grape-vine is where you get ALL your intel

So Ayse told me that Fatma heard from Gizem that spoke to Cisem directly that she’s trying to get pregnant ASAP in order to shut up her mother in law who said…

 

ikram: snacks and tea or coffee given to guests (also has other meanings)

hadi bakalim: Let’s see/ let’s do it

tap taze: very fresh

 

So much life, so little time

Just popping in again!

Wow, I love how I say I’m going to do something, like, you know, post more…but then I disappear for months again.  God knows it’s going to stay this way.  School is almost over, Ramadan is around the corner, and life is as hectic as always.  SO MANY STORIES to tell, but now is not the time…

Work contracts are up for negotiation tomorrow.  Let’s see if I get canned or if I’ll be back next year.  There’s really no telling, since several spontaneous firings occurred on Friday and Saturday.  Whatever happens, it’s in God’s plan.

Where I’ve Been

Soooooo, it’s been a while hasn’t it?

I’ve been off and on without any regularity since last year (thanks to a broken computer keyboard), then went to the US for the summer (where I bought a new computer), and yet I haven’t posted anything..!

Where have I been?

Well, to put it simply…I’ve been in my own head.  I don’t want to be a Debbie-Downer out here, but my struggle since last year has been real.  I think this ennui is something that every foreigner goes through (so says my husband), but I can’t seem to shake it!  I just don’t want to do anything anymore.  I don’t enjoy cooking like I did (hence the lack of recipe posts), I can’t be bothered to take pictures of my day (hence the lack of instagram posts), I don’t care enough to pick up art products or draw a picture…let alone write on my old blog.

There are so many things I could spill right now, but I have a feeling this space isn’t as anonymous as it once was- and some things are best left private while they are still in motion.

All I can say is, living in Turkey is hard guys.  Way harder than I anticipated.  I feel so silly for claiming that happiness is a choice, as I did when I first got here (and was generally happy).  When you are stuck in a mire with no feeling of moving forward, it can be hard to dig out a pebble of happiness.

Hopefully I will find more to write about soon.  If anyone can drop some questions/suggestions below to help me find a topic, that’d be great.  If I have any following left…!

#expatproblems

What Happens in the Hamam, Stays in the Hamam.

*again I sincerely apologize for a lack of posting.  I’ve snatched my husbands computer for a bit so I can type up something…it may not be the best writing, but that’s because I have to finish before he gets back!!

True to my blog name, I finally was able to “do as the turks do” in the truest sense…

I visited a hamam!

I was only somewhat sure of what to expect (thanks to movies), and I was a little anxious to see how it would go.  Especially since I am a little weird about people touching me (I loathe manicures/pedicures!).  Well, to make a long story short- I loved it!

Lets go through the play by play.

Arrival

Upon arrival at this super fancy hamam (newly built, more like a typical spa from the outside), the whole building was divided in half. One side said “women” and the other side said “men”.  Right out of the gate, I was pleased.  Guys aren’t even allowed in the female reception!

At this hamam, we paid for all of our treatments upfront.  Since there was a package deal, I went for the two massage and entrance packet.  All in all, it added up to 99TL (around 30$ that day). They gave us an electric bracelet to open our lockers electronically, and then rubber wrist bands that corresponded to the treatments we purchased.  I went for a coffee massage (I have very dry skin) and the kopuk/kese massage.

Kese is a special mitt used for exfoliating dead skin.  This beats anything else I’ve ever used in my entire life.

7570ed31ce80e7c027145926b64061c1_1390763179

Kopuk (with dots on the o and u) means foam, so basically they used soap suds.

 

Hamam

If you know nothing about hamams, let me give you a super fast explanation.

They hail from the Ottoman Empire.  They were a form of public baths when indoor plumbing wasn’t a thing.  Typically marble, they are completely closed and very hot, with fountains all around for pouring water to clean yourself.  Sometimes (normally, now) there would be workers there to help clean you (wash your back etc).  They have a long history in the Ottoman Empire, including lore such as men smashing their hands on the marble to increase their fist size and strength for battles.  Maybe longer than the history are the proclaimed benefits of the hamam!

One thing crucial to the hamam experience is the pestemal (peshtemal), a thin towel used to cover yourself in the hamam. Usually you wear a swim suit these days, but back in the day it wasn’t so!

pestemal

I don’t want to say all, since this is my first hamam experience, but most (if not all, based on movies etc) hamams have the same layout. A raised platform in the middle, with sinks and fountains on the outer edge, along with a bench.  Here’s a general idea.

ab-zen-spa-hamam

The one we went to had a different color scheme (white, grey, and blue), but generally it was the same.

Along with the hamam room, most places have the typical sauna, steam room, etc.

So we set ourselves around a fountain and threw water on ourselves (and cold water on each other!) until it was time for the kese.

Massage and spa treatments

So removing half of my swimsuit wasn’t as traumatic as I thought it would be, since everyone else seemed pretty cool with it! We were taken to another room just off the hamam (no door) where the platforms were table sized, and situated beside a sink.  This is where the magic happened!

The workers (all old-ish ladies, maybe in their 50s?) got to scrubbing! They rolled you around like it wasn’t even a big deal. Starting from your back, down your legs, to your feet, then they turned you on your side and did the same, onto your front, on your remaining side, and scrubbed all the way down to your fingers and toes. I felt like a rotisserie chicken! But a clean chicken.  You thought you were exfoliating back home- oh no! I don’t want to describe how much they managed to scrub away, but I think I could form a small child from what remained behind after the kese.

The kese was followed by a coffee massage, which sounds exactly how it was.  Coffee grinds steeped in hot water were rubbed all over, ALL over, over the course of 20 minutes or so.  They were tugging on my arms and hands and feet, I thought I would pop apart!  They were not gentle. But in a good way! (picture is for an idea, obviously not me or the place I went lol)

coffee-chocolate-massage-procedure-woman-beauty-salon-spa-48338077

After the coffee massage came the soap suds massage.  This one was much more gentle, in my opinion.  I was amazed at how they used a large, very thin towel to whip up huge soap suds and squeeze them onto you.  This took another 20 minutes.

After all was said and done, I was sent back to the hamam room to wash myself with my own soap and shampoo.

The aftermath

Ya’ll, my skin was beet red!  I looked like a tomato!  But after sleeping, I woke up and my skin was refreshed and bright, even my face (thanks to the coffee treatment)!  Unfortunately, I ended up having a worse head cold than I started with (I guess sitting in steam for hours then going into slightly brisk weather will do that to you?)…but it was worth it!

Definitely will go again!! Maybe now I will have the strength to finish the school year?

Sihhatlar olsun!

*Disclaimer: Not all hamams are created equal. Be sure to do your homework about the services offered, the hygiene of the facilities, and what you need to bring vs what they provide for you!

 

 

Reverse Culture Shock? 

I have great news! 

Finally! 

I’ve bought my plane ticket to go home this summer! After two years, I finally will step foot on American soil, and I will tread it for two months (insallah). 

Let’s skip the political drama and go straight to the fear of reverse culture shock. A term for when you’ve been out of your own culture so long, when you return you experience a shock as if it were foreign. 

 I’ve read that culture shock comes in three stages. 

First, the honeymoon stage. Everything is sunshine and rainbows, and butterflies fly out of every crevice you can find. I personally call this the vacation stage. Where all the new things are exciting and you just gobble it up. This is very well documented at the beginning of my “in turkey” posts. 

Second comes the homesickness. The feeling of vacation has worn off because you’ve been away from your country long enough that you must put down your roots here. This is when the every day convenience of knowing- you know- everything, becomes glaringly obvious. You never even realized how something as reactive as checking out in the grocery store line was until you are forced to do it in a country where you barely understand the language and don’t recognize the money. You’re frustrated and angry. This is also pretty well documented on my blog. 

The final stage, much like the stages of grief, is acceptance. You accept your new home for what it is. That some things are good, some things are bad, but you are able to function and generally have a life. It’s gonna take many years to get to the comfort of your own country, but it’s a process. 

I guess that’s where I am? I don’t know. But that brings up the issue of reverse culture shock. 

Now that I’ve basically adjusted to Turkey, will America be the same as I remember it? Or will my Turkish tinted goggles make everything look different? Again not getting too deep into the politics, but will things be harder for me as a hijabi than they were before (side note: it was easier in America when I left than it is now.)?

Since I came to Turkey I’ve become more patriotic. I wave my invisible American flag and recite the national anthem every Friday after school (right after the Turkish one is recited at school).  Every time someone does something ridiculously Turkish I roll my eyes and say “no one would do that in America”.

Maybe I’m a stick in the mud for Turkey, but I am how I am and I prefer my interactions as I prefer them. 

But what if America isn’t the way I remember it? What if I have nowhere to aspire to anymore…

The thought makes my stomach hurt.  

A Warm Wind is Blowing (So stock your freezer!) 

Yay! Sunshine! 

So dlst ended yesterday in the states, or started, or whatever… All I know is: sunshine! All the sunshine! 

But it has been raining here… 

Rain and warmth, it must be spring! 

Almost, anyway. 

So while the students prep for their exams, I start prepping my favorite winter veggies for the freezer! Since Turkey is keen on selling products according to season, some things are nearly impossible to find when the weather changes. 

 And if there are rows and rows of frozen veggies, I haven’t seen them at bim or şok or migros! So I guess it’s up to me… 

Over the last two weeks, I have prepped and frozen spinach (Stems separately), Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and celery root. Yeah, I know most people prepare food for the winter, but sometimes you crave something different. 

If you’re curious how I prepped these, scroll down! I took the advice I found on the web and combined it with my own knowledge of food science to, hopefully, succeed in a prep method that will keep my veg intact for summer use! 

 Celery root and cauliflower

1. Chop up roots/cauliflower to create a uniform size (I usually do around thumb size).  

2. Rinse it.  

3. Bring a pot of water (enough to submerge) to a hard boil with a pinch of citric acid. Throw it in. 

4. Boil for about three minutes or until all pieces are slightly soft, but not mush. 

5. Strain out veg from the hot water and plunge into ice water until cool. 

6. Strain and pat dry with a paper towel. 

7. Spread veg out evenly on a tray (celery pictured below) and put in the freezer for about two or three hours, or until hard. 

8. Scrape veg off the tray (they should mostly pop off) and put in a freezer bag (air tight is better, but I don’t have a vacuum sealer). 

Brussel sprouts/spinach

0. For spinach, chop leaves and stems separately. Both should be washed very well to remove all grit (I use the submerging method). Leaves and stems should be processed separately. 

0. Quarter or halve Brussel sprouts to create a uniform size.  Rinse the sprouts. 

1. Bring a pot of water to a hard boil (enough to cover the bottom third of the veg). Throw it in. 

4. Stir occasionally to pull the bottom bits to the top and visa versa. Boil for about three minutes or until all sprouts are bright green and slightly soft. Spinach will be wilted but not slimy.  

5. Strain out sprout1. Quarter or halve Brussel sprouts to create a uniform size. 

2. Rinse the sprouts. 

3. Bring a pot of water to a hard boil (enough to cover the bottom third of the sprouts). Throw sprouts in. 

4. Stir occasionally to pull the bottom sprouts to the top and visa versa. Boil for about three minutes or until all sprouts are bright green and slightly soft. 

5. Strain out sprouts or spinach from the hot water and plunge into ice water until cool. 

6. Strain and pat dry with a paper towel (let the spinach wait in the strainer and press it with a paper towel)

7. Spread veg out evenly on a tray and put in the freezer for about two or three hours, or until hard. 

8. Scrape veg off the tray and put in a freezer bag. 

Bereketli olsun! 

Return of the TMJ

Oh noooo! It’s back! 

For those if you who aren’t familiar with Tmj, let me direct you to my old posts about my first diagnoses back in Florida almost 3 years ago (check out the tmj tag). 

But for those who are, I had surgery for it while I was in Florida (athrocentesis) which didn’t perfectly fix the issue, but I was eating and speaking just fine. 

Until recently. 

Because of the stress of teaching (I’m sure many of you are familiar with that tightness in your forehead and jaw when you’re pissed) and overusing my jaw because of constantly yelling to be heard over the noise, my tmj is making a comeback. 

So much so, I was in tears from pain and anxiety. 

I don’t want to go through this again. I don’t want another surgery, I don’t want to go 2 months on a nearly liquid diet, and frankly, I can’t.  Not in a job where my sole purpose is talking. 

So as my jaw clicks and pops at almost every movement, I wait anxiously for the day it totally locks again. 

Great. 

Settle down 

Oh my lord. 

Moving plus school starting up again sure is a hand full! 

And yes,  even though we are  just downstairs, it was still a hard move! Because we are literally starting from 0. You have no idea how much you collect through years of living until you start from scratch again. I can’t say this enough. 

But I must admit I’m all about those new appliances (even if the bill made my eyes tear up a little). 

So, deepest apologies for not posting, I know I should be better… But I’ve been swamped with house projects after coming home from work.  

But I am alive and relatively well! Nothing a little chocolate can’t fix…!