My Love/Hate Relationship with Teaching

It’s been a bit longer than a month since I’ve started teaching.

About 5 weeks since we got our books and started classes in earnest.

And I must say, I’ve developed quite the relationship with teaching.  Some days it is more love.  Some days it is more hate.  But it is definitely quite the mix.

As I had expected, the students are wild.  Wild-ish? Well, the ones who started out well behaved are being more and more naughty as the weeks progress; and the ones who were bad are learning how to behave.  What is this madness? For example, the second graders are now staying in their seats (mostly) instead of running around the room…but the 9th graders are fist fighting in the front of the room in the middle of class.

What is wrong with these people?

 Of course, having no real grade to give them, no tests, and not being on the “interactive” list on the computer doesn’t help.  Honestly, my class is a bit of a joke. No one takes it seriously, and I’m starting to not take it seriously either.  And the parents aren’t too helpful most of the time either.

But for some reason, when I see my students in the hall or outside of school completely, they pay more attention to me than they do in class! They will go out of there way to say hello, sometimes spending the whole lunch period trying to speak in English!

WHY!?!?

 When we have a good lesson, or when I hear them shout “HI TEACHER!” from across the street and run up to say hi, I love being a teacher.  The hours and pay certainly don’t hurt. But when they refuse to write the answers to their book activities, even AFTER I write them on the board…play with toys in my class…run around hollering…REFUSING to stop and listen to a SINGLE WORD I SAY.

At that moment, I really hate teaching.

It’s a big learning curve, moving from young adults (university) to children.  I hope it gets easier, and I find my own rhythm, because I want this career to work.  At least in Turkey, where it’s a very cushy job.  Man, but do you earn your pay in the war grounds…I mean class room!

NOTE: Follow me on Instagram tomorrow to see a day in the life of a teacher!

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My First Day As An English Teacher in Turkey

Another long title for yall, but what can  I do? 

I’m writing this while I wait for my hubby to get home from work so we can have dinner and talk about my first day, 

And what a day it was! 

For those of you who don’t know, 

1. I live in İzmir, Turkey 

2. My only experience teaching ENGLISH (I taught microbiology lab in uni) was my supervised teaching while getting my CELTA a few months ago… And I taught adults. 

So my stomach was doing little flips when I walked dutifully into my first 5th grade class with lesson plan and board markers.  I mean, we’re only doing ice breakers at first, so what’s the worst that can happen? 

OH but I wait. There was no board.  

That’s OK, we’re using smart boards (glorified TV screens mounted on the wall that runs as a touch screen computer).  OH BUT WAIT 

They deleted every dang thing off the system. Even paint.  Which was there before the holidays. 

So there I am, staring down a group of 10-11 year old, wearing bright red (I thought I’d be able to keep their attention with red) with nothing to do.  My entire lesson depended on the white boards being in. So what did I do? I pulled out some dash darn pieces of computer paper and stuck them on the bulletin board.  Because I am woman, hear me improvise. 

 I was pretty amused that I had planned 4 stages to my lesson and we only got through 2. But the kids couldn’t tell, they loved me anyway. 

The next period I had 9th grade.  I like teenagers, since I’m used to 19/20 year olds. The lesson was OK, not exceptional but not a failure. And I had a board so that was nice. The kids were pretty good. 

I had a break before lunch and had a minute to gather my thoughts for the 4th grade class after our meal. 

The meal we couldn’t eat because there was a line going down the stairs and they ran out of cutlery because they couldn’t wash it fast enough for the 500+ people trying to eat at the same time. 

So we went to the canteen and paid for tost instead of the free lunch we’re due.  I’m sure this hiccup will be solved soon. 

So I go to the fourth grade class and they were quite rambunctious! They got a big kick out of my drawing on the board. God they wouldn’t stop talking! In Turkish! I struggled to keep them on task, but with 15 minutes left they were called to play outside. 

Then I missed a class because of a communication error. But no one was mad.  They didn’t have a board in that classroom anyway.. 

Or the paint application! 

School let the primary kids go early to ease their adjustment, so my last 2 classes were canceled.  

I’m anxious to see what 2nd grade is like! 

Hello Turkey, Bye bye rights

Well well well, it happened again.

When I entered this private school system, I was told I was free to wear my scarf.  Lo and behold, that wasn’t the case!  Two weeks into working and I’ve been hit with new restrictions:

  1. No black scarf, ever.
  2. Nothing but turban style is accepted.

Well, when did this happen I wonder?  And why? After filtering down the chain of command, the information arrived to my fellow English teacher.  The school principal told the English Dept chair, and they told my coworker, and she told me.  I mean, it was better coming from her mouth because we’ve already formed a relationship (and bless the English chairs heart, she did NOT want to broach this subject.  She knew right away how ridiculous it was).

So after four or five instances of wearing a black turban, I was told I can’t do that anymore because it’s seen as “political”.  I’m not sure how, but ok.  Turkey is pretty crazy so it’s probably true. And I wore a more traditional style (around the neck and down the back, not covering the shoulders) once because the turban looked bad with my outfit.  Apparently that was also unacceptable.  Um…?

While I am partially mad that this is an issue at all (after having a discussion before I even started that this wouldn’t be), I’m mostly mad because this wasn’t laid out at the very beginning. This is stuff I need to know from day 1.  Maybe this info was passed on from down high, I have no idea, but I can tell you now I don’t blame the English department crew.  They had nothing to do with it.  I just don’t like changes being thrown at me like this.

The Chair even called me to make sure I wasn’t upset or thought that anyone had complained or said bad things about me. She encouraged my right to make my own choice regarding covering vs not covering, but that she had to convey this information to me.

Like I said, I’m not mad at her.  Hell, I’m grateful for being able to wear my scarf at all in a school.  And I have no intention of quitting (even though some people live in a world where they don’t need to work, and assume I live there too), because there’s not much better that I can do right now. Most other schools (hell, even most industries) won’t let me wear a scarf at all.

Because when you’re in Turkey…it’s bye bye rights.

Kısmetse olur

If it’s meant to be, it will be. 

Hubby and I like to think that some things in life are just fate.  No matter what you do, you can’t escape it.  Or no matter what difficulties come your way, the good that is fated for you will arrive.  It goes both ways, doesn’t it? It helps us deal with the fact that, for a very long time our best laid plans never worked out. Because it wasn’t meant to be.  Right? 

Speaking of fate… 

We had our first “date” six years ago today.  

I don’t remember if I’ve ever told yall about how everything had to align for us to meet. How a guy from Turkey and a girl from small town South Carolina wound up in the same place at the same time under such circumstances that they ended up talking to each other. I probably have, but it’s been a long time. I might as well tell it again so you don’t have to go sifting through hundreds of posts to find it. 

I had a short blurb about it on my about me page, but I’ve taken it out because it deserves it’s own space (plus no one needs that much information in an about me. It’s just too much). 

The more I look around the more I see stories like ours, but it doesn’t make it any less special to me.  It just reinforces my belief in fate and soul mates. 

Hubby was born and raised in Turkey.  He went through his education in Turkey, took his undergrad in Turkey, then went to the US to better his education. He came to the US and started with ESL in Mississippi and Texas, later starting his Masters degree in Connecticut. 

Meanwhile, I was born and raised in South Carolina.  While he was starting his ESL I was roaming the halls of my high school during junior year,  sneaking wine coolers, and trying to balance my rebellious self with my southern surroundings. After graduating, I started my undergrad at a local campus of USC (as in, the University of South Carolina, not California).  

 He was in Connecticut, and I was in South Carolina.  Hey, but we were on the same continent! 

When things in Connecticut started going down hill, a friend of his suggested giving Clemson a try.  He thought about it long and hard, and said “what the hell”, and moved there for the winter term in 2010. At the time, I was still at USC trying to figure out what area I wanted to study.  Come to find out, my interests best aligned with food science. Only two schools in the state have that major (and SC residents get a sizeable scholarship at SC universities, so I was limited to my home state)… The best being Clemson. 

I moved to Clemson for the fall term, right after my birthday in August 2010. I had been working for a grocery chain in my hometown, so I transferred my employment to the local branch in Clemson.  The same grocery store that my future husband happened to live behind. 

Due to that graduate stress, hubby got sick in September (bless his heart!).  He took a walk with his roommate to the grocery store for some tea and otc medication. While perusing the aisles, a certain messy haired glasses wearing employee sat on the floor checking dates on some product or another.  She was cute, but he was too shy to say hello. 

After I was done pulling expired product and putting back items left by customers at the registers, I was called to clean up a spill at the front. 

Hubby was having a hell of a time figuring out which medicine to buy.  In Turkey, you have to go to pharmacies to get your hands on any kind of medicine.  In the states (at least in SC and FL) , the actual pharmacy window in a Walmart, Target, or grocery store can be closed while otc products like Aleve, Tylenol, Thera flu etc is still available on the shelves for purchase.  Who could he ask? There was an old lady stocking the shelves in this department just a second ago… 

After cleaning the spill in the front, I pushed the mop and bucket to the back of the store, the double doors easiest to reach by cutting through the pharmacy department. As I passed down the toothpaste display, I heard an “excuse me”  from the neighboring aisle. 

The old lady he saw before was gone.  He had picked up two possible options, Thera flu and alkaseltzer cold. But which one would be better? Looking up, he saw the frizzy top of a girl’s red head, lead by a mop handle.  He called out to her, and when she rounded the corner he ran into the bluest eyes he’d ever seen. 

And the rest is history. 

It’s crazy to think about how close to not meeting we could have been.  If he hadn’t been sick that day. If I hadn’t been going down that aisle after mopping.  If my coworker had still been stocking shelves.  If I had applied for a different job instead of transferring to the local branch of the chain I had been working for (which, BTW, I hated that job). If he hadn’t said yes to going to Clemson.  If I went to the other university that had my major. 

If he would have gotten cold feet and never came back later to get my number. 

I don’t believe in coincidences.  

Throw Back Thursday: The End of an Era

 Yesterday I received an email telling me that my thesis has been accepted by the graduate school.

 My status has been changed to final clearance.

 What does that mean?

 It’s over!

The era of higher education, for me anyway, is done.  Complete.  Finished.  Beginning around six years ago, this month, my technical graduation will be August, but for all practical purposes, I’ve completed my schooling.

 It’s been a long journey.  Starting in upstate South Carolina and eventually finding my way to Florida, I’ve had many experiences as a student.  Realizing that my studies have completed, I became a little nostalgic.  There is so much I miss about my undergraduate experience… the city of Clemson, the friends that I had there, meeting the love of my life (and marrying him), summer Sundays at Lake Hartwell, and fresh fall Saturdays spent on the hill with 80,000 of my closest friends (only fellow Tigers know what I’m talking about).

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  Those are days I will never forget.  Let alone the less pleasant memories…my first failing grade, thinking my love was going to have to stay in Turkey right after meeting him, professors who couldn’t teach their way out of a paper bag…

But the good memories are so much more than the bad ones.

And then I came here.

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  Most of the memories I’ve made since moving to Florida revolve around married life.  Like I had said before, Hubby and I married a week before moving further south…so I wasn’t surrounded with the friends one can only make during their undergrad, but I did experience so many other things that only graduate school can provide.  That incomparable rush when you make an A in the hardest class in the department, spending every waking moment working on your research, forgetting what the outside of the lab looks like, and second guessing why in the world you are here.

 But I came.

And now it’s done.

  Of course there were lots of vacation/ beach trip memories to be made too, but those aren’t over.  There are plenty of beaches to enjoy in Turkey (can’t beat the Mediterranean, am I right?)…but school, formally, is done.  I can’t even wrap my head around it!  What will I do with my time?
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You never stop learning, really.  For instance,  I will be learning Turkish, sewing, cooking methods, etc (inshallah)…but there is something so heavy about finishing something you have been working on for years.  Six years, to be precise.  I wonder if I will look back on Florida the way I look back at Clemson…with fondness, and a pang of longing. Time will only tell, I guess…

 It’s the end of an era.

Holiday break, School to date, and Everything in between

Season’s Greetings all! 🙂

With the end of the semester comes SO MUCH TO DO as many students know far too well.  Alhamdulillah, there is one and a half weeks left of classes!  For my husband and I, that’s one and a half weeks left of classes…FOREVER inshallah!  We should both be done with our course work, as long as our grades are sufficient.  I can’t speak for him, but I have two exams and two papers left as assignments before the term is over.  I have actually finished those papers already, so all that I have left are finals in three weeks (Yes, we only have half a week of classes the second week of december, and then the third week of December is finals week, no classes and only exams.)

Additionally, my research is going in the right direction, mashallah!  I have sampling to do in two days, then another set next week.  If I am lucky (and inshallah I am), the sampling next week may complete my third set of trials (I have four trials total, two are completed and two are still running), with the last one not far behind!  If I stay on this path and hammer out my thesis in a few months, I could graduate in the Spring if my advisor and committee agree! THIS IS SO EXCITING!  And no, I’m not sure what I am going to do after I graduate. It all depends on what the hubby is doing.  There is potential that we could leave for Turkey permanently this summer, but that situation is always in a state of flux, so I can’t be sure.  I am planning on applying to jobs in the area so that I could get some work experience and a paycheck until we leave the country.

Thanksgiving break was VERY well deserved, and today is the last day.  We had off school Wednesday through Sunday, but unfortunately I had to be in the lab for experiments every day except today.  However, I only had to spend a short amount of time (less than an hour) there daily, so it wasn’t too terribly bad.  Besides that, I haven’t done much of anything school related these last five days!  I should probably run my current data sets through JMP and obtain some statistical results to show my advisor before leaving for the Christmas break, to further encourage him to give me the green light for Spring graduation… but vegging out on the couch while playing video games is so great ;).

After finals we plan on returning to the home state for a week, inshallah.  I can’t wait to see some old friends and enjoy a bonfire in the backyard!  We both wait all year for this trip to see my family, it has been a whole year since we have been home! I miss my family! Most of the Christmas shopping is done before we go this time, alhamdulillah.  Last year we tried to purchase Christmas presents in the three days before Christmas, and I have no idea why we thought we could manage that. It was a mad dash, for sure.  We purchased a leather jacket (as requested) for my brother, I’m drawing a portrait of my grandparents in their 30s for them, I’m thinking a spa-treatment style hand cream for my mother (she works at a dog grooming salon and spends her whole day with her hands in dog bath water), cologne for the hubby (Dolce and Gabbana The One for men…go, smell it now if you haven’t had the pleasure) and possibly a dressy watch or new wallet, and I bought boots and a new scarf for myself 😉 Can’t forget my Christmas gift to me  ;D.  I still have to determine what to buy my friend(s) for Christmas, but some of them read this blog so even if I did know what I was getting them… IM NOT TELLING!

Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking.  Why would muslims celebrate Christmas? Isn’t that haram?  Well, technically, celebrating the birth of a prophet is not allowed.  Mohammad SAW explicitly told the muslims not to celebrate his birth as the Christians do for Jesus.  Well, Christians believe Jesus is God, but the concept of birthdays is the same.  So why do we do it?  Well, it’s a family and cultural tradition.  Do I believe Jesus is God? no.  Am I spending time with my family and buying them gifts to commemorate his birth? No.  Christmas break is the only time I can see my family, and I love them and miss them so I am buying them gifts. So am I buying gifts for Christmas? I guess not really, I’m buying “I missed you guys so much, here is a token of my love” gifts, but since it is Christmas time and I have been celebrating Christmas my entire life, I guess the term just stuck. I feel completely ok with doing this, and if you don’t then you don’t have to 🙂

Happy (maybe?) New Year!

I know I am a little late for the well wishes, but I have been thoroughly enjoying my holiday.  By enjoying, I mean laying in bed, using my new coffee maker to get me out of it, then baking and cooking all the day long.  It is so sad that this wonderful vacation will soon be ending.  I suppose I can relive it by a quick recap.

We drove from sun up till sun down (literally!) two weeks ago to visit my family in the best state there is.  I really did miss it!  What a difference you can see though, when driving north.  From lush green grass that enjoys the belated winter to dead white grass and stark naked trees!  Ironically it was gloomy and gray our first few days there, but that’s ok!  We stayed for Christmas and it was great spending time with my grandparents, mom, and brother.  Incase you were wondering, I got everything I wanted for christmas ;). We left and headed south on Dec 30 and actually got back earlier than I anticipated, despite the heavier traffic (I think it was my strategic speeding). We brought in the New Year by my husband waking me up twice in a ten minute time span to give me my New Years kiss.  I am getting old!!

For christmas I received a baking stone from my mom, and I must suggest everyone invest.  It made a huge difference for the frozen pizza we bought the day we returned (poor broke us).  Also, my husband commented that it made my fresh baked french bread better, but I may have been jadeed on that because the bread went flat when I tried to pick it up and put it on the preheated stone…I bet it will make pita bread delicious!

Also, my brother bought me some fancy-schmancy markers that are supposed to be similar to copic (these are called spectrum noir).  I will post my first attempt at using those bad boys separately.

In other news,  on this gloomy, rainy, horrendous day that should only be spent under a blanket, I must drag myself to the University to sign my letter of assignment.  Basically, it is stating that I understand my scholarship and will stay here and do my TA work fror the semester (or they can make me pay back the money).  I find it very frustrating that my advisor got a hold of these letters the day I left for vacation. Coincidence? Probably.  I need to go to the office and fix an error in my schedule before tomorrow anyway.  The new semester starts on the 6th and I am quite anxious…

Finals week 2013

So very ominous…

My first finals week of grad school is upon me, and yet I feel as though I couldn’t care less.  Perhaps it’s because only two of the three courses I’m taking have a final?  Perhaps it’s because I’m taking “research planning” (not even sure how to describe what that is…grad school 101?) and my advisors course?  Both of which I’m doing well in.  I am not going in blind, by any means.  I’ve studied over the materials…maybe three times.  These are not the most difficult courses offered in the department.  It is so hard to motivated at this point! Fake it till you make it…

In other news, I had a beautifully planned out course work list for the rest of my stay here.  HAD is the key word.  I tried to opt out of taking Advanced Food Processing, since I took a processing course at my undergrad university…but it seems they are trying to push me back into it.  Unfortunately, it is the same time as Waterborne Pathogens, which is what I really WANTED to take…Boo.  Now it seems that I will have to take an 8.30a course instead.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, I will be taking statistics in the summer…an 8.30a course that meets EVERY SINGLE DAY…until June.  Still, that’s no fun.

I am in the process of defining the methods for my masters research.  I will be making a little field trip (literally) to the research fields that the university has on the week after finals.  My husband and I are planning to load up the car and drive back to my home state for christmas break right after that.  Like, the next day.  I can’t wait to go home!  I’ve never attended university so far from home (which has pros and cons).  The pro here is that when we leave for break…we REALLY leave for break.  Can’t wait to disappear!

Whirl Wind Week…

  If you were to sign into my wordpress account at this moment, you would find one saved draft of a post from two days ago describing our decision to return to Turkey this coming summer…

  And now I am deleting it.

  It seems my husband has once and for all decided that we should stay here and work our hardest to complete our respective degrees.  I am incredibly proud of him.  This decision has been a struggle for over a month, with so many repercussions to consider.  On Monday afternoon he sent me a message saying that his decision was to leave.  I told my advisor and he explained the procedure to withdraw from the program, and how sure I was this statement was the final decision. 

I said “I dont even know…” and its a good thing I didn’t do it.

The following day the hubby expressed his hesitance to give up his chance at obtaining his PhD.  Around 1.20p, while I was in class, he texted me saying “Let’s do this”…lets stay.  I got back to my advisor that day and I could see his smirking as I walked in his office, as if he knew what I was going to say.  

  Today we met regarding my masters project.  Next semester will be hell.  I will be taking two classes, TAing the most labor intensive lab, and driving 1hr north of here to an extension research facility on a weekly basis.  And it is all a blessing. 

Final projects and exams are coming up…and I better recover from the laziness I have enjoyed whgen I thought my grades wouldn’t matter…!! Hayirlisi olsun!

And here we go again

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And right when you though it was over, it starts again.  This time with more to lose.  Things have been going well for me on the academic side, even a little on the personal side as well.  My classes are challenging but interesting, my advisor seems great, and my labmates are all friendly and easy to get along with.  This is a much better start than I had in my undergrad, where I was basically a loner for about half of my time there and struggled to get a foothold in the university system.  I suppose that’s the good part of graduate school, you know how school works and the department is smaller.  I wish I could say the same for my husband though…

Now his advisor has basically refused to give him any more intellectual support. “Oh thats not my area really…you’re on your own”.  What the hell is that?  Why did you tell him to change his area if you were going to turn around and say its not your area and not help him?  That is the only reason he changed- so that he could get the support he needed from his advisor.  Now the hubby is saying he is going to talk to the international office lady (who has helped him through all his paperwork and problems) about whats going on and if there is something more that can be done.  Doing a PhD on your own is…ridiculous.  So will it be here? Or Turkey?

The thing is,  I’m not sure he realizes that there is very little difference.  Seeing as the classes are not his problem, its the people.  People have been his problem since day 1, even during his undergrad experience in Turkey.  Sure, when we think of Turkey we think of sunny skies, picnics, the beach, delicious food, and spending time with his family…because that’s what we did two years ago when we visited last.  Turkey was a vacation.  If we leave now, however, it won’t be.  Turkey will be life again.  Same people, same problems, different language.  He’s too busy here to go on picnics, go to the beach, go to see my family (that are now 7hrs away)…the story will not change when we go to Turkey. Working in his PhD there, he will be too busy for fun and his family, also, will be around 7hrs away.  It seems to me that Turkey as a solution is not all it is cracked up to be.  I hope he realizes that before he makes a decision that changes both our lives completely.  Maybe for the better. Maybe for the worse.