İnşallah in twelve hours I will be heading back to the states! It’s been two years and long over due…
Hopefully I’ll be getting a new computer this week so I can get back to blogging (?)!
Wish me luck
İnşallah in twelve hours I will be heading back to the states! It’s been two years and long over due…
Hopefully I’ll be getting a new computer this week so I can get back to blogging (?)!
Wish me luck
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…!
I’m still here guys! Don’t worry! Got some posts coming up soon that are worth a read. I try to save you from my constant moping due to my loneliness during the holiday season, hence the lack of posts.
But I’m alive, and they are coming! Don’t lose faith in me just yet
I’m way overdue for a Turkey lessons post…So I’ll bring out one of the most important topics any lady living in Turkey for any amount of time is going to need.
Especially if you’re married into a Turkish family.
And that’s how to host guests.
If you’ve been here for five minutes, you’ll know that Turks are all about socializing and having guests over to their homes. If you’ve been here for 20 minutes, you’ve probably been roped into helping clean and prepare for them. It is an event.
Especially if you’re guests are Turkish (neighbors and distant relatives in particular!).
Here are some guidelines for how to be a successful host by Turkish standards. Show your mother in law what you’re made of!
Unlike in the US, guests will not try and make your life easier. It is ok for them to make you miserable and make your life hard as anything. Like a boy scout, be prepared.
And put on your war paint.
Because hosting is a hard core job, but someone has to do it (and if you are a gelin, its gonna be you!)
44 Odd Things You Don’t Know About Me…why not!
I have to post some thing, and I don’t have much to say right now so… Tags it is!
1. Do you like blue cheese: yes!
2. Have you ever smoked: yes
3. Do you own a gun: no
4. What is your favorite ice cream : fresh made strawberry
5. Do you get nervous before going to the doctor: no
6. What do you think of hot dogs: love them! As long as they’re beef 😉
7. Favorite Movie: changes with my mood, but right now I’d say Wall E
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning: coffee (which yall probably guessed based on my recent posts haha)
9. Do you do push ups: LOL right…
10. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry: wedding ring
11. Favorite hobby: drawing (even though I’ve been inspiration-less for a while now)
12. Do you have A.D.D: no
13. Name something you dislike about yourself: I’m very Moody and short tempered
14. Middle name: My maiden name
15. Name two thoughts at this moment my neck hurts. It’s hot
16. Name 3 drinks you can’t live without: coffee, water, juice
17. Current worry: living situation
18. Current annoyance right now: also living situation hah!
19. Favorite place to :…?
20. How do you feel: tired
21. Where would you like to go: home 😦
22. Name three people who will complete this:
23. Do you own slippers: yes! This is Turkey. Come on now.
24. What color shirt are you wearing right now? White with navy stripes
25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? I don’t know, I’ve never tried it.
26. Can you whistle: yes
27. What are your favorite colors: turquoise and red
28. Would you ever be a pirate: probably not
29. What songs do you sing in the shower: I don’t sing in the shower
30. Favorite girls name: Melissa
31. Favorite boys name: Colton
32. What’s in your pocket right now: nothing haha I’m still in my Pjs!
33. Last thing that made you laugh: my husband being silly
34. Best toy as a child: my pirate ship with little pirate guys. My brother and I would play for the whole day with that!
35. Worst injury you have ever had: like, a Bruise? I’ve been blessed masallah
36. Where would you love to live: I love it here 🙂
37. How many TV’s do you have: 0
38. Who is your loudest friend: I think that I’m the loud one…
39. How many dogs do you have: 0 here, 3 stateside (I claim my mom’s dogs)
40. Does someone trust you: yes
41. What book are you reading at the moment: whatever I find on the Nook store for free…
42. What’s your favorite candy: gummy bears 😀
43. What’s your favorite sports team: Clemson Tigers
44. Favorite Season: spring
Well well. How time does fly. And what a busy week of celebrations!
As of right now, it has been exactly one year since we touched down in Turkey!
We came with so many expectations- none of which actually happened. I’ve also improved my Turkish dramatically (I now know to say nasip değilmiş to my previous statement), and I think I’ve had about as many culture shocks as I’m going to have. But that remains to be seen I suppose…
Am I home sick? Of course. When your past 25 years were spent (for the most part) in one culture/on continent, you’re going to miss what once was. But I’m not losing any sleep over it/crying over it. Hell, even hubby is “homesick” for America, and he only spent 8 years there. But after its been a bit longer, I’ll probably be missing Turkey whenever I go home to the states.
Anyway, here are 12 things I love and 12 things I hate about Turkey, now that I’ve had a year to let it all sink in. I reserve the right to recycle concepts from my previous love/hate lists here and here, since it’s been a year! Keep in mind, some of these things may be unique to Izmir (but I wouldn’t know, since I’ve only lived there!)
1. The food/ food culture! No matter where you are from, you can’t deny that Turkish food is on point.
2. Pazar. We have something similar in the US (farmers markets and flea markets), but the Turkish Pazar is on a whole different level. Check out my descriptions of pazars and pazar etiquette here.
3. Celebrations. Ain’t no party like a Turkish party, ‘cuz a Turkish party don’t stop! The last Turkish celebration I went to was a wedding, and I had an amazing time! The dancing, the singing, the laughing when my hubby tried to do some traditional Turkish dancing… It was great.
4. The cost of living. Compared to the US, the cost of living is quite low. But the standard of living is also lower. Food, clothes (from the pazar), and non – electric things tend to be pretty cheap.
5. Public transportation. This may vary in different cities, but the public transportation in Izmir is top notch. I can get anywhere without a car (which is good for me, since I never got my drivers license changed and I can’t drive stick anyway).
6. Turkish hospitality. Despite the drama, Turks are very nice. They are always eager to give you something and provide you with lots of snacks and goodies. You will never be hungry or thirsty if a Turk is around!
7. Ice cream. I don’t know why, but the ice cream here is better. I think it has more vegetable oil in it, but I like it better. Even the ice cream from Burger King or McDonalds is superior in my opinion. In the states, I could barely consume a small milkshake, but here? Give me the large. Hell, give me two! Maybe they aren’t as sugary? I’m not sure…
8. Fruit juice options. This may seem silly, but I am all about the fruit juice here. There are so many (cheap!) options that are very good. I remember trying to find a decent juice in the US that didn’t taste like the watered down version of whatever I bought. Plus there were like, 100 orange juice options and almost nothing else. Here? Peach juice, sour cherry juice, apricot juice, ATOM (the best mixed juice ever in LIFE), and then the standard orange, grape, apple… And I personally reach for the nektari (nectar/thick juice).
9. Snacks. Speaking of consumables, Turks know how to make a good cookie/biscuit/ snack. The chip flavors here are so good!! Not to mention the dozens upon dozens of cookie/biscuit types that I consume like an addict. Again, in the states cookies were just too sweet and I almost never bought them. Here? Come at me with that Eti Cin, Yulafli biskuvi, bademli kurabiye…I’m waiting!
10. Rules don’t apply. This can be good or bad, but for the most part it has benefited me since I’ve gotten here. In Turkey, rules can be applied very unevenly, at the whim of whomever you are dealing with. This can make your life easier or harder, but so far it’s been easier for me. I like how I know that no matter what rule comes my way, I know I can wiggle out of it if I try hard enough (yes, this even applies to the government).
11. Haggling. Haggling here is a way of life. You are expected to do it, be it at the pazar or at a job interview for a better salary. I appreciate the fact that it isn’t taboo.
12. Majority Muslim population. I like how I blend in here as a hijabi. With the majority of Turkey being Muslim, I don’t have to worry about being singled out like I do in America. If you’ve seen my previous posts, I’m not one to apply religion to politics and what not. Hell, how I practice Islam is often pretty different from how people here do…but I do appreciate how I remain anonymous in a crowd.
1. Nosey nosey nosey neighbors. Or should I say, nosey everybody? It doesn’t matter if it’s the corner store owner down the street or the family friend of xyz years. Every dang body thinks they need to know all about your business. To the point where you rethink leaving the house if someone is on the street.
2. Not using brand names. Ok, so I’m American. In America we call thinks by the brand name most of the time (honey, I need a Kleenex. Hey can you get some Fanta and Lays? We are running out of chlorox!). Not so in Turkey. Just the other day I asked for sarıkız (a soda), and the cornerstore owner had no idea what I was talking about. I pointed to it and he said “oooo you mean soda”. No, I don’t mean soda! I mean sarıkız! I dont want Uludağ. I don’t want sırma. I want sarıkız! Ugh! This leads to a lot of confusion, especially when I can’t remember the general term for something (like a cleaning product) but only remember it by the brand name!
3. Family-centric culture. I’m about to sound like a terrible person, but I’m going to be real with yall. I love my family (Turkish and otherwise). I like to be around them and do things with them… To an extent. What I don’t like is when people get offended when you just want to do your own thing. Or when they think they have a right to make your life decisions for you. I miss the level of independence from family that is normal in America.
4. The cost of electronics. In a world where computers and smartphones are considered a luxury.. You’re going to cry when you see the bill after purchasing something as small as a clothes iron or coffee machine. For example, a standard iron (like a sunbeam brand one) can cost upwards of 70₺. A basic coffee machine with nothing more than an on button can cost 100₺, let alone one with a timer. Basically anything with a plug is prohibitively expensive.
5. Being unable to communicate. While I am perfectly capable of getting around, buying these at the shops, and haggling at the pazar, I still can’t fully communicate. There are some complex concepts (like emotions), and other topics that require a delicate tongue. When I’m upset, I can’t explain why to someone who doesn’t speak English without sounding like an idiot. If I want to have a stimulating conversation, it certainly won’t be in Turkish. I want to be able to express myself to those around me, beyond simple daily tasks! But sometimes it’s better that I don’t speak Turkish so well, since some things I’m thinking are better left unsaid….
6. Still not being independent. It’s been a year and I still haven’t achieved the level of independence I had in the US. Some of it comes from culture, some comes from my inability to pass my plateau of Turkish language, and some comes from my own fear to continue to push my current the boundaries. Certainly this will improve in time, but for now I hate it.
7. Being sweaty…all the time. Being sweaty is basically a part of life in Turkey. Even though I lived in Florida and South Carolina (both hot and humid states), AC/”klima” are a common fixture in my country. Every house has central heat and air, the buses and other transportation are nearly refrigerated, and you need to carry a jacket in the summer for the rooms you will be in. But in Turkey? Nah, man. I have never seen central air, only the window units (klima), and even those aren’t always available. With the massive amount of public transportation/ walking comes massive amounts of sweating. You need to get used to it.
8. Lack of deodorant. I think this is an issue more for the older generation, who uses “kolonya” (a scented alcohol rub thing. Its not like cologne as we call it). Combine being sweaty/hot with not using deodorant…and in most public places, there is a horrendous body odor.
9. The cost of meat. It’s just…insane. Compared to the comparatively cheap cost of meat in the states. Fortunately I’m a “zeytin yagli“(olive oil based food) kind of person 😉 so it isn’t that big of a deal I guess…but I find it hard to make some of my favorite things. On that note…
10. Lack of other culture’s foods. Where’s my chinese? Japanese sushi? Italian? Mexican? When you do find foods that aren’t Turkish, they are crazy expensive! All you can eat sushi for 60TL? When I used to eat it for 12$? Are you insane?
11. Franchises are NOT the same. When I roll up to a Burger King, McDonalds, or Dominos, I expect the food to be as it was in the states (since these are American franchises). NOPE. The menus aren’t even the same! So when I get that hankering for something familiar…tough luck.
12. Culture clashes. As much as I try to adjust my expectations, there are just some cultural differences that I can’t get over yet. For example, women are expected to take a (in my opinion, EXTREME) service role in the house, particularly for guests. To a point where, in the US, it’s considered rude/degrading to be expected to do what you are doing. This wasn’t a problem at first, because I was foreign. But after a year, I’m not foreign anymore…and these expectations are falling on me. Maybe I’m just too prideful, but I very much struggle to meet the societal expectations here. Fortunately, my husband doesn’t put them on me. And when we get to move out, we will have more control. But for now? ugh.
Hubby brought a whole sack of lamb home the other day; apparently someone he knows had a kurban (sacrifice) and some of the meat came to us!
At first I was pretty intimidated, I had no idea what to do with it! it was roughly butchered (as in, whole large cuts of meat), and some parts I couldn’t identify. Some of it was very fatty too (as lamb is prone to be). But if I’ve learned anything, it’s :
When in doubt- stew it out!
So I decided to take some good old fashioned dry beans, and make it even more traditional by throwing in some cubed lamb, specifically the super fatty parts!
Between you and me (I would never admit this to anyone), I used to not be able to cook dry beans. I wanted to be fancy and add too much to it. But when you add, it just takes away from the flavor!
There’s nothing like a good ol’ dry beans. Even in the dog days of summer, it’s always welcome on our table! When I make beans, I make A LOT! Plenty enough for five people or more (even though it’s just the two of us right now).
2c dry beans
2 onions (one whole, one diced)
4 peppers (spicy or not, as you like)
3tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp oil
2c lamb meat, for stew
salt to taste
pepper to taste
Serve with pickles and fresh bread.
Sometimes, regardless of the weather, you crave something.
Today, it was yayla corbasi for me! Despite the hot weather, I was dying for some soup! This one happens to be a favorite of mine, featuring egg and yogurt (of all things)! Also, it was a good way to make use of that leftover water I strained out of the pasta I boiled earlier.
Yeah, that’s a thing!
As is true to form, I don’t measure anything…so this is just an approximation 😉
1c orzo (arpa sehriye)
1 chicken buillion cube
1 heaping tbsp butter
2 c yogurt
2 tbsp flour
Drizzle of olive oil
salt (to taste)
dried mint (to taste)
1. Put approximately 6c water in a pot and bring it to a boil. Cook orzo noodles in the water with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. If available, use whatever leftover water you have from boiling noodles too, nixing the added salt and oil. Cook until the orzo is soft.
2. Add butter and bullion to the boiling water, making sure it is thoroughly dissolved.
3. Temper flour with 0.5c cold water, or enough to make a slurry. Mix water slowly into the flour, making sure to eliminate clumps. Once the slurry is prepared, add spoonfuls of the hot soup water slowly to the slurry, bringing up the temperature. After 2 or 3 spoonfuls/stirs, slowly pour the mixture into the pot, stirring well as you do (this also prevents clumps). Let it boil for a few minutes.
4. Whisk together yogurt and egg very well. Add approximately 0.5c of cold water to the yogurt and egg, diluting to a slurry. Again, make sure that everything is homogenous! Add spoonfuls of the hot soup water to the yogurt mixture, stirring well (I use the big mixing spoon for this). After 3 or 4 (large) spoonfuls, pour the mixture into the pot, stirring well. Let it boil again. This time, it should produce foam. Boil for only a few minutes.
5. Turn off the heat, and add salt and dried mint to taste.
I don’t know about ya’ll, but my family isn’t very close. I barely speak to my own aunts and uncles, let alone cousins and whatnot.
So imagine my surprise when a wedding came up (on the Turkish side!) a little like this:
So and so is having her wedding and we are invited!
So and so, you know, your husband’s grandmother’s sister’s granddaughter’s child!
…right. So, family.
But it was amazing!!! Unfortunately I missed the kina gecesi because I was dead on my feet after traveling back from the beach all in a hurry for the festivities. But the wedding was fantastic!
Fantastic, and very different. Let me run you through the events to show you just how different a wedding in Turkey is from an American one! Honestly, I think the only thing in common is the white dress, the throwing of the bouquet, cake, and signing a piece of paper!
Let me start by saying that we were related to the bride, so everything I witnessed is from the bride’s side.
First off, the close (ish) family met at the bride’s mother’s house while the bride was getting ready at the salon. Both men and women from the bride’s side were present, and dressed. We were fed pide and ayran (I guess you could be fed anything?) while family members trickled in as they finished getting ready. The last to show up was the bride, in her full gown and makeup/hair. She was ready to go! She sat in a chair in the middle of the room and tried to eat a bit while we waited.
What were we waiting for? THE GROOM! (check out my instagram for the video). Lo and behold, I hear drums and some kind of woodwind instrument. I was rushed to the balcony to see the wedding party (grooms side) and the groom in his full suit coming with musical accompaniment.
He entered the house and the bride’s uncle (because her father is no longer with us) tied a red ribbon around the brides waist. They both gave him the respectful kiss of the hand and pressed his hand to their foreheads, as is tradition. Then the bride dropped her veil and was led from the house. Before getting into a car decked out in wedding goodies (much like the car our couples drive away in, but at the end) they danced together in Turkish fashion (instagram video). As the bridal procession started to drive away, an auntie on the bride’s side splashed a gallon of water after them, and another threw coins.
Then we piled into a rental bus and off to the wedding salon we went!
After the huge salon was filled, the bride and groom made their entrance.
Everyone danced- A LOT. Sometimes it was brides side, sometimes grooms side, but everyone danced! My favorite part of the dancing is that there is a guy with a big drum that gets in there. I wish I had a picture. It was great. Sometimes he would be on the ground banging the hell out of the drum. People would throw paper money (some real, some fake) over the bride and groom, which was collected for the MC who was managing the music (and the very lively drummer!).
After some dancing (slow dancing and also Turkish style), a pause in the festivities was taken for the legal bit. The couple were sat at a table, and asked if they wanted to be married (like vows, but it didnt sound like our kind of vows?). They both said yes, music played, and they signed their marriage booklet. Then they cut a cake (like we do), and some more dancing happened.
Eventually the bride and groom stood wearing sashes for money and gold to be pinned on them. The guests lined up and pinned money, hung gold bracelets and jewelry, etc. on the couple.
More dancing, woohoo! Including cultural dances that I didn’t know how to do…
Finally, at the very very end, after dancing for around 3hrs straight, the couple held a large Turkish flag, and everyone sang the Turkish anthem (except me! GOD BLESS AMERICA! :P)
My ears rang all night, and into the next day!
But…now I kind of want one too.
After one long month of training and a 10 day bayram…
Now I can finally, FINALLY, catch ya’ll up on everything that’s been going on. Which, I guess, wasn’t all that much from an outside perspective. But for me and the other CELTA candidates, it was a whole lot!
So let me rewind. I started my CELTA course here in Izmir earlier this summer, and it lasted for one month. CELTA is a teacher training course/program that, after completion, results in a certificate from Cambridge saying you are certified to teach English as a second language. This is basically accepted everywhere (except in the US and maybe Canada, because we ain’t having none of that British English!), and it never expires. To learn more, check out the course online. The thing that I liked about CELTA vs other TOSEL or TEFOL or what have you is that CELTA is accredited by a well known institution, is accepted worldwide (besides the exceptions I gave you), and also gives you hands-on experience. Also, CELTA mostly focuses and works with adult learners, but it is also acceptable for young classrooms.
You don’t need a degree in English or anything like that, in fact you only need to have passed high school or an equivalent. But everyone I worked with had a degree of some kind. But there were a variety of people, from engineers to tourism and business graduates to actual English Teaching graduates and experienced teachers. And then me, the Food Scientist.
Let me go into a bit of detail about my experience, for those who are considering CELTA…
When they say it is completely consuming, it absolutely is. On day 3 we started teaching. Well, by “we” I mean someone in our groups. At the very beginning we were broken into groups of around 6 and assigned a teaching level (elementary or intermediate- the students we would teach, I mean) and a tutor (certified CELTA trainer). Then, those groups were split into two groups of three, group A and group B. Groups A and B rotated teaching days (myself, as a B, taught on day 4, while my friends in group A taught on day 3. Then I would teach again on day 6, while they taught on day 5…etc). Each person in their respective group were given a 45 minute slot of teaching time, and the three would teach to actual students (ranging in number from 3 to 10, but that was just our classroom. Others had 14+ students) in the mornings. After that we would have a break, then the teachers would be taught something by the trainers (teaching methods, observing certified teachers, etc). It was an all day event, going from 9am (prepping for the 10am class), to 5.30 pm at the earliest.
No wonder I wasn’t blogging!
Aside from teaching (8 lessons in total), we had four assignments to complete. The assignments were word-counted, some in essay-ish format, and some in other formats that you would have to see to understand. Between planning those lessons and completing the assignments, we were running at full speed!
But assignments are boring, lets talk a bit more about the teaching…
Our first lessons were basically planned for us. They told us what our aims and sub aims were (teaching grammar/vocabulary/speaking skills/listening skills), who would teach first, and basically word-for-word what activities you would do, the materials needed (in a course book), and when in the 45 minutes you would execute them. As we continued our lessons, however, the amount of info decreased. In lessons 3 and 4 we were given our aims and some suggestions on what to do, and pages in a book. In lessons 5 and 6, we were given aims and a page number, then by lessons 7 and 8 we had to choose our own aims, what were going to do in our time, who was going to teach at what point in the day, etc.
While we taught and interacted with real-life students (ranging in age from 20 to 38, in our classroom), our trainers observed us in the back of the room, taking notes on our technique and whatnot. Unsurprisingly, I talk way too much (but to teach you need to talk right? Maybe not…you’d have to take the CELTA to find out!) and often too fast. I developed my own teaching style and classroom habits tremendously in only 8 lessons!
Half way through the course (starting with lesson 5), we changed teaching levels (I began in intermediate then went to elementary, still adult learners) and continued teaching. When going down in skill level, I found myself struggling to appropriately grade my language. Even monitoring the tenses you use can be a challenge! But at the same time, it was quite fun. The students got a real kick out of it, and the teachers did too!
I know I still have a long way to go in actually learning how to teach (don’t even get me started on the G word…), but this course has given me a whole new boost of confidence when it comes to teaching. I’m so glad I took this course, even if it ate up a month of my life! Besides walking away with a teaching certificate, I met some awesome people (some who live here) and have gained a huge new level of independence that was introduced to me through navigating Izmir on my own. Now I can take on the world!
So long story short…should you take the CELTA as opposed to other, online courses? In my opinion, it is absolutely worth the money and the time.
I want to give a special shout out to the folks at the CELTA training program in Izmir. They went above and beyond to make sure we would succeed…and we did!
life is not a bed of roses.
Navigating the world of stepmama-hood and life, one step, one moment, at a time
Confessions of a Delusional Maniac
"i" before "e" except when I'm feisty!
Beyond an HDB flat
a story of a blended family and their journey in Vietnam and around the world
NSLI-Y Summer 2015 in Bursa, Turkey