28 September 2010

This weekend, and the effects of boredom.

This weekend consisted of 3 exciting things that happened.
1. I was shown around Ankara a bit by an actual Turkish person.
2. I wandered around the old part of Ankara and bought my first souvenir (oh my god!)
3. I finally left this area and went to Gordion.

On Friday a girl from my hall took Valentina, Hilla and myself to Ankara to show us where to get cheap, good Turkish food. Surprisingly, it was a chain restaurant, but a really good one, and I got to try lahmacun for the first time. It's basically like a burrito, so I must love it, since I love burritos. It was a large piece of pita-esque bread, topped with lots of minced meat, and then I was given a little plate with cilantro (which I usually hate), tomatoes, and lemon. Put all that on top of the bread with meat, roll it up into a burrito looking roll, and voila, lahmacun. I am now an addict. It might be because its the closest thing to burritos that I can get around here. Especially since I'm still pretty sure that the closest Taco Bell is in Spain. Anyways, I got a lahmacun meal, which consisted of 2 lahmacun (about 9 inches across each) a soda and a bowl of super chocolate-y pudding for...wait for it...8TL. Converted that's probably about 6$. Not bad. And it was legit tasty. I will go back. The bad thing was that it gave me weird dreams that night, which I can't even remember at the moment.

Following the lahmacun adventure we were then escorted to Kocatepe Camii (camii means mosque in Turkish), of which there is a picture of here
According to Sheyma (our Turkish friend/tour guide), it was built in the 1930s in the more modern style after the foundation of the republic. Anyways, it was gorgeous on the inside. And the best part was that, before we went into the mosque, and because Valentina (who is Muslim) and Sheyma could go in to pray, they showed Hilla and I how to do the proper cleansing ritual before you pray, which consists of a lot of washing of hands, blowing of noses, washing of feet, and for me that means WATER EVERYWHERE. After washing, with my pants half wet, they put our scarves on for us (since Hilla and I are incompetent at dressing ourselves) and in the end I looked like this
Look at how stylishly conservative I look in my fancy Gap scarf. Then Hilla and I amused ourselves by wandering around the mosque trying to be unobtrusive while some people inside did their evening prayers. I looked a little weird wandering around with my backpack on since I had come from class.

Saturday was spent wandering around the area of Ulus in Ankara. It's the older, and seedier portion of the city, but has a lot of cool things in it, as long as you go to see them when it's still light outside. I don't remember if I wrote about this in one of my earlier posts, but I actually stayed in a hotel in Ulus the night before I started orientation. I was not informed that it was a dangerous part of town until, when I asked the concierge where someplace good to eat was, he said "oh, this is a dangerous street". I then had to be escorted to and from the restaurant 30 feet away because there were sketchy people just hanging around. Anyways, I actually got to see Ulus when it was nice, so we went to the fortress, got some durum (more burrito like foods), wandered around the bazaar where I bought a hand towel for the gym and stared at these bizarre bedspreads that apparently everybody buys even though they're atrocious.
It looks like it belongs in a porno. And it's not just for wedding nights, its for all nights. Some even had little fake roses all over them like a garden. I don't know how people would be able to sleep on them. Do you think that husbands want to vomit every time they walk into their bedroom? Hell, I want to vomit just looking at it. Valentina says that Turks are obsessed with this kind of kitschy stuff. There is no excuse. That is awful.

Sunday Valentina, Sarah (other Sarah, I'm not referring to myself in the 3rd person), Hilla and I went to Gordion to go check out the tumuli and the citadel. We ended up renting a cab for the entire day since the local bus would drop you off about 1.5 kilometers from the citadel, and the cab waited for us at each location and then took us home. All in all the cab cost us about 100TL, so 25TL a pop, which ended up not being so bad. The Gordion museum ended up being really cute and surrounded by a "demonstration garden" which, in the springtime, has native flowers that grow around the area. The Midas Tumulus was cool, although not quite as spectacular as the Treasury of Atreus, although what it did have in the middle was a log cabin (no Abe Lincoln was not buried in Turkey, as much as that may surprise you), where they entombed the body, and then over which they dumbed a whole bunch of dirt to make the giant mound that we see today. And here it is!
Don't we just love that I can upload pictures now! So yes, it's basically just a giant hill with a log cabin inside. But even cooler is that the 3000 year old logs are STILL PRESERVED OH MY GOD. Even cooler than that, much like Stonehenge, the area around the citadel is COVERED in burial mounds. I don't think that I have a very good picture to show just how covered it was, but there are little hills all over the place. The museum said that there are approximately 88 tumuli in total, but only 35 have been excavated. That means that there are still probably 45 of them with bodies and stuff (maybe more log cabins?) still inside. It's the coolest thing ever.

In other news, I find that I'm very bored in the evenings during the weekday. My professors haven't exactly figured out that they can give us homework yet, so I end up with the afternoons and evenings free to do, well, not very much. As much as I prefer living on campus to living in the middle of the city (safety, convenience, Turkish people living next to me) I find that, because I'm on campus, that I have next to nothing to do once I get out of class. I'm still kind of waiting for my homework to start happening, although since it's already the 3rd week I'm not expecting it anytime soon. I guess its just weird since I'm so spoiled living in Berkeley and having everything going on, even when I was living in the dorms, that, when I have nothing to do here I just don't know what to do with myself. I find that I Facebook stalk a lot, and watch a lot of Mad Men. I also think that's why my blog entries have been so detailed now, because I have nothing better to do than to update. Not like its a bad thing. It keeps everyone informed.

23 September 2010

A brief photo tour of life at Bilkent so far

As promised in my last post, now that my camera works and I can upload photos onto my computer I will provide you all with a brief photo tour of life here. By "life" I mean dorm pictures, janky toilet pictures, roommate pictures, etc. I am especially excited about the picture of my room. Why? Because it is so small.

Here we go.
This is the H Building. It is where I have every single one of my classes. I believe it is one of the biggest buildings on campus and houses a large number of Humanities departments, including the Archaeology department (1st floor). It's kind of a boring building, but that's ok. I have come to accept the modern style. Or at least, more modern than Berkeley buildings.

This is my walk back from the H building to my dorm, which sometimes I make multiple times a day. Look at how green it is! I'm almost sad that it won't be as green as soon as summer is over, even though it's hot as all hell here and it's almost October. Most of the time there are people sitting on the little patches of grass on either side of the walk. It's also very full of stairs. I think when this picture was taken I had already walked up 2 other stair segments.

This is my dorm. Wait, I just realized that there are 3 dormitories in this picture. Mine is the one on the far left, sorta behind the trees. It's in a prime location because it's right behind the grassy knoll where people sit and hang out after class. What you really can't see in this picture is the French kid who constantly juggles. Constantly.

This is the super ghetto kitchen that I make all my food in. Notice the lack of oven. Also notice the fact that I will be COOKING OFF OF HOTPLATES FOR THE NEXT 4 MONTHS. Never again will I complain about the Hoyt kitchen. This by far takes the cake as most communist era kitchen. What you can't see in the picture is the microwave (which didn't work this afternoon), large refrigerator, and toaster thing that looks like a George Foreman grill. I am tempted to cook hamburgers on it.

Whoa, what the hell is this? More importantly, what the hell is this doing in my dorm? There are two of them in the bathroom across the hall from my room, which comprises half the stalls in that bathroom. And it's a girls bathroom. There aren't even boys allowed inside my dormitory building. And it's not like it's a hold over from some period when only boys were allowed at this school. This dorm was renovated this summer. All the facilities are basically new. So this was put in my bathroom because people actually use it. In fact, these strange hole in the floor toilets are all over campus. I had to pee in one this afternoon in the H building because the normal toilet was being used. Why do they even keep these things around? They smell funny. I guess they bring a whole new meaning to "squating" and "standing" stalls. Also note the decided lack of toilet paper because they don't give us any.

Holy crap its the official first picture of my room, complete with roommate! I told Valentina to look excited to be in our room, so she of course wanted to ensure that everyone knew that this room is a war free zone. I sleep on the top bunk with the treacherous and completely vertical ladder that I must scale at least twice a day, sometimes more, fearing for my life every time. My desk is the one that's the closest to the window. I'm actually standing slightly outside of the doorway if that gives you any idea as to how small this room is. What you can't see in the picture is our tiny wardrobe on the left and our mini fridge that is also on the left. I like the room so far. We'll see how much I like it by January.

So there it is. A small tour of my day to day life at Bilkent. More to come later.

22 September 2010


My camera decided to pull a Lazarus and resurrect itself from the dead. This means there's more than one piece of good news:

1) My blog will be much more colorful and full of pictures as opposed to boring and full of words.
2) I no longer have to spend the equivalent of $150 on a new Sony camera to replace the one that is no longer dead.
3) I can actually show you what my room/closet looks like instead of telling you about it (this will most likely happen in the next post).

In other news, which may not be quite as exciting, I'm actually learning things in class now. Yay! It was getting very boring just listening to the professors talk about class. And now I get homework! (that was not sarcasm)

Also, I decided to submit my honors thesis into the Berkeley Undergraduate Journal. Everyone cross their fingers.

So here it is, what everyone's been waiting for *drum roll*
THE PICTURES FROM TURKEY FROM THE PAST MONTH (warning: there are some pictures of my sprained ankle. You don't have to look at them)

Turkey, The Beginning

Just click on the picture and it will link you to the photo album

19 September 2010

The school update

I finally started school on Thursday. Finally. After 2 1/2 weeks of orientation hell complete with sprained ankle, cast, no cast, spraining the other ankle, apartment searching circus, moving into dorms, going on fieldtrips, figuring out how internet/buses/life works in this country, never stopping, etc, I have actually begun the school year. It feels like its taken forever and a day just for classes to start. So far this is what my schedule looks like:

Monday: Turkish I, 10:40-12:40; Latin III, 1:40-3:40
Tuesday: Vernacular Architecture, 8:40-10:40; Turkish I, 10:40-12:40; Museum Practices and Theory, 3:40-5:40
Wednesday: Paleolithic Archaeology, 12:40-2:40; Latin III, 3:40-4:40
Thursday: Turkish I, 9:40-10:40; Vernacular Architecture, 10:40-11:40
Friday: Museum Practices and Theory, 1:40-2:40; Paleolithic Archaeology, 4:40-5:40

I say "so far" because in the first week this whole schedule is subject to change hours, especially since the professors are assigned 2 hour blocks from which they decide when to put their classes. However, most of my classes are only 3 hours in total so there's an extra hour when they get to decide whether or not they want to put the class during the first hour or the second hour of that block. It's kind of complicated. My (not) favorite part about this scheduling plan is that there is no consistency to the timing of classes. Note my Museum Practices and Theory class. It is offered Tuesday and Friday (odd), but not at the same time on those two days. I'm so scared that I'm going to forget when my classes are just because they're all over the place. I constantly carry around a schedule with me in the hopes that I won't miss any of my classes. Especially since, if you miss 9 hours of class you fail the course. It's nice that attendance is mandatory since it forces people to go to class, as opposed to those irritating people at Cal who never show up to class and then expect to do well on the exams.

I'm super excited about my department. The Archaeology Department at Bilkent is unbelievably small, with something like 7 professors in it. Of the two department classes that I've taken, the maximum number of people in my class has been 5. The other class only had 3 people in it. Two of my classes have fieldtrips, one to Ankara museums and the other to neighboring villages so that we can survey different styles of architecture. The department itself also organizes fieldtrips for the students, particularly for the Intro to Anatolian Archaeology class that is offered for all first year students, although they let people tag along. There is also a student group led by one of the professors that goes hiking to offroad archaeological sites and camps and all that fun stuff. This is so awesome and so much better than the archaeology programs back in the states, especially since we get to actually visit the places that we learn about as opposed to just looking at pictures of them in our text books.

More exciting news. I met with the professor that I'll be working with while I'm here for the semester. It looks like I'll be doing my usual database management for her since she has a whole bunch of paper catalogues of loom weights that absolutely need to be digitized. Unfortunately, since its an old department with a lot of older people in it they haven't really entered into the computer age for all of their cataloguing. So that's what I get to do, use FileMaker Pro and create computerized databases that are more aesthetically pleasing than Excel spreadsheets. The funny thing is that, during my meeting with Prof. Gates (the woman who I'm working for), she found an edition of Filemaker Pro that she had bought back in 1994 during the original push to digitize (look how long that lasted) so it was on a floppy disk and therefore unusable. She said that she would ask around the university for a more up to date version for me to use. Thank god because Excel is not exactly my favorite.

During this meeting Prof. Gates gave me a brief rundown as to how exactly the university system in this country works, which sort of explains some of the bureaucracy of this place. When students apply for college they have to take a college entrance exam, which sounds something like the SAT. However, this test alone determines not only what university they will be attending but also what department they will be in. Students are not allowed to chose their major, their score chooses it for them. Thus, the people with the highest scores are put into majors like computer science and physics etc, while, unfortunately, those with the lowest scores study things like archaeology and other majors that are deemed less important by the government. My dad explained it to me pretty well, that the government wants the best and brightest to be studying things that are more important for the development of the state. It makes me feel a little bad for the students, especially since I entered into college intending to be a molecular toxicology major and switched midway through. Apparently its very difficult to change majors, so if you get selected for computer science you are staying in computer science whether you like it or not. It makes me really appreciate the American university system so much more.

So I guess I should probably give my usual day by day update, especially since yesterday ended up being an...interesting day.

Thursday and Friday school started, as stated before. For the first time in god knows how long I don't have homework the first week of school. In fact, my Museum Practices class was completely canceled this Friday because the professor had a friend visiting. Classes were good, small, and sound really interesting. We'll see how the semester progresses.

Yesterday was when a whole bunch of stuff started happening. Hilla and I decided that we wanted to go see a movie, so we planned to take the school bus to the Sıhhıye stop in downtown Ankara, hop on the subway which would drop us off in front of AnkaMall, which has a huge movie theater inside. However, we missed the stop and ended up having to walk about 1 1/2 kilometers to the metro station. I did manage to order both subway and movie tickets in Turkish and luckily the guys both a) knew that I spoke English and b) spoke English as well so they responded in English. The subway ticket man seemed to be pretty excited about it and asked what movie we were planning on seeing, etc. So we ended up seeing The American which was not good. The plot is slow, there's not much action, and even though it seemed like it had a lot of potential for something really good it just never got there. Again, there was a 10 minute potty break in the middle of the movie while they switched reels, like in Bursa.

After the movie we decided to go back into downtown Ankara to get dinner and then see a live band play in this underground music hall place. When we were waiting for our train, all of a sudden the train on the other side stopped and no trains came for probably about 5 minutes. Then we were told, I think, that in order to go downtown we would have to take a train in the opposite direction and wait at the stop there for another train to come going towards downtown. This all seemed really strange, and then we found out why once we got to that stop. Someone had committed suicide by jumping in front of the subway train and they had shut down the track going towards downtown. However, they did not shut down the track going the opposite direction, so while we were waiting for the other, rerouted train to come and get us, we sat on the platform and you could see some of what had happened underneath the train across from us. Luckily you couldn't see everything, but there was definitely blood all on the track and you could see the guys legs. It was really gruesome. Why they didn't just shut down the entire station, I don't know. Sometimes this place confuses me.

Once we got to downtown we ate at this really good fish restaurant which, although pricey, still wasn't quite as expensive as we thought it was going to be. We were preparing for a 100TL bill, at the very least, to be split between the two of us. Instead, for a huge salad, calamari, sauteed shrimp, and a swordfish kabob that we split between ourselves it was only 71TL. That's 36TL per person, or about $24 with the exchange rate. And to top it all off it was delicious! I hate shrimp and I liked this shrimp. It might also have to do with the fact that it was basically swimming in butter.

After dinner we went to the live music show which was a steal for 10TL. There was a live band which played some cover songs in English, which was nice to sing along to, and we got a beer with the ticket price. Then, before the show, I befriended the sound engineer who was really excited when he heard that I was American and had to tell me all about how he went to a 5 week intensive recording school in Columbus, OH and insisted on showing Hilla and me the sound equipment that he had. He had this really cool record program where the turntable is connected to the computer, and you put on a record that only has data on it, no music, so you can scratch the record and run an MP3 through it. Thus, you don't damage the record itself, and you don't have to keep on buying new ones. It was pretty awesome. And because I thought it was so awesome he bought Hilla and I beers. And then we got to have a table in the place that previously had a reserved sticker on it. Hopefully my befriending the sound guy doesn't end up like my befriending the student guy. He seemed really nice though, and he didn't come and bother me during the show so I hope that's a good sign. And he doesn't know where I live, which is also good.

So all together, a fun/productive week and a half. Much better than the past 2-3 weeks.

14 September 2010

Things that sometimes confuse me about this place

1. Why are there so many cats around? They're all over campus. And they're not gross, ratty looking cats. They're huge, and well fed, and amazingly tame. There's one black and white cat that really likes to sit in my lap whenever I sit on the grassy hill in front of my dorm. Last time, it just sat there for 20 minutes doing that weird cat kneading thing that cats do. It helps me miss my dogs a little bit less.

2. Why is it so difficult for me to get the interwebs in my room? I was told at orientation that there is wireless all over campus, but nobody told me that by "everywhere" they mean "everywhere except your room". At first I couldn't even get wireless since I wasn't registered for a dorm room. Then, upon registration, I found that I could only get wireless internet right outside the dorm and in the kitchens, but I needed an ethernet cable for my room. Then I discovered that there was no wireless in the kitchens for some reason. So I go to get my ethernet cable at one of the DormNet offices in the lobby of another dorm. They tell me that I can't pay for my cable there, that instead I must walk to the administration building about 15 minutes away, pay there, receive a receipt, bring the receipt to the DormNet office, and then get my cable. So I walk to the administrative office to find that it's closed. The next day (today) I finally pay the 3TL for my cable, head to the DormNet office and find that, not only is it closed 40 minutes early but that it continues to be closed 20 minutes after they're supposed to come back from lunch. So I head to another DormNet office in another dorm and get my cable. But then I find that the cable that they have given me is too short, and that when you pay for the cable you must specify cable length, and that I can't pay them for a longer cable at the DormNet office but I must walk down to the administrative building again and give them more money. So I finally said fuck it and traded cables with Valentina (the roommate) since she's closer to the ethernet outlet and she has a longer cable. I don't get why this had to be so hard.

3. Why do I leave the states only to be back in the states again? Yesterday, after applying for my residency permit at the police department, I had to spend about 3 hours in AnkaMall next door, waiting for everyone else to finish with their permits. This mall, which I was later told my the archaeology deparment coordinator is medium sized, is 5 floors and god knows how long, filled with high end stores, has a huge supermarket called Migros 5M which rivals a Walmart in selection of stuff, and even has a little pool on the bottom level near the kids play area that has bumper boats. I thought excessive shopping malls and monster grocery stores was a distinctly American characteristic. There's even another supermarket called Real that is down the street from Bilkent. Sometimes it makes me forget that I'm even out of the country.

4. Why do I have to cook off of an electric hotplate when I use the kitchen? I really don't think that needs any explanation.

5. Why does even my dormitory bathroom have the gross hole in the floor standing toilets, even though its an all women's dorm? I just don't understand why they even put them in. I've only ever seen them in rest stops and bus stations. I don't get why they're also a part of dormitory bathrooms, especially since they also have normal toilets as well.

6. Along the toilet vein, why doesn't my dorm provide me with toilet paper? There is a constant supply of cleaning ladies who clean the kitchens and floors, but the dorms refuse to put money into supplying us with toilet paper, so instead we must buy our own. I would rather have toilet paper than a daily cleaning crew.

Sometimes I ask myself these questions when the bureaucracy of this place completely overwhelms me.

12 September 2010

The Joys of Fethiye

This weekend, in celebration of the end of Ramazan, ESN decided to take all of us exchange students to Fethiye for the 3 day holiday (for a fee of course). Holy shit, was it cool. The following is a semi play-by-play of what all happened. Alas, there are no pictures up yet, which I will explain about at the end.

Day 1: We arrive in Fethiye at around 8:30 in the morning after spending the night on the bus since it's about a 12 hour drive to go from north/central turkey to southwestern turkey. They divided us into 2 buses for the drive down, The Party Bus (aka The Drunk Bus) and The Sleeping Bus (my bus). Unfortunately for The Party Bus, The Sleeping Bus ended up with more action as there was a fight between the Palestinians and the Azerbaijani's, who were on The Sleeping Bus, at one point during the car ride and The Party Bus ran out of alcohol about 2 hours into the drive. Sucks to be them. Luckily nobody peed on The Party Bus this year, which apparently happened last year. There are no bathrooms on these buses. That means that someone peed INSIDE the bus. Drunks are gross.

Continuing, we got to Fethiye at around 8:30 and had to wait around The Party Bus's hotel for a couple of hours since The Sleeping Bus's hotel was not allowing check in for a few more hours. Thankfully we were supplied with breakfast and were able to look at their pool and water slide that was inhabited by a group of heavily tattooed and overweight Brits in their 50's. Finally, after about 2.5 hours of waiting around, exhausted, and still wearing underwear from the day before, they took us to The Sleeping Bus hotel, which was the nicest hotel that I've been in out of the country for a long time. Not only was there a swimming pool, but our rooms were in apartment style with 2 rooms for 5 people, a kitchen, bathroom, and living room with a television, they fed us both breakfast and dinner, and there was live music in the evening. After checking in they took us to the beach for the rest of the afternoon, where we swam in the stunningly clear and blue water that was warmer than the swimming pool back at the hotel, and where we wandered around town for a few hours trying to find something to do other than get sunburned. Because Fethiye is famous for its paragliding, people were landing their parachutes right on the beach, and the sky was filled with them. The really bizarre thing about the town of Ölüdeniz (the beach town next to Fethiye) was that there are so many British tourists there that all of the menus are in English, all of the prices are listed in pounds sterling, and all of the pubs play UK soccer matches and advertise traditional English breakfasts (you know, complete with baked beans).

Day 2: We were taken on a chartered boat trip around the "12 Islands". Booze was free, drinks were free, lunch of freshly caught fish was provided. The boat would toodle around the islands surrounding Fethiye and would periodically stop off in little coves so that we could jump off of the boat and swim. I was brave and jumped off the top floor, thereby making myself look braver in comparison to the stupid European girls who were too busy tanning and bitching about how hot it was. At one of the islands that we stopped off at we were able to get off and hike for a while. And my ankle was feeling good enough to walk around in sandals and without any sort of wrap! Hurray! After getting back from the boat trip and eating dinner almost all of the other students went out to a karaoke club, but since I'm an old person and get tired really early I went to bed at 9:30 instead. Luckily I had Hilla as my roommate, who is also an old person, who went to bed at the same time as me so that I didn't feel like too much of a loser.

Day 3: Holy fucking shit adventure day! We started out the day going to Tloss, which is a huge shit storm of an archaeological site complete with Roman amphitheater and stadium, Ottoman era fortress, Lycian tombs, and cult shrine to Belerephon and Pegasus. It has these awesome tombs just carved right into the cliff face that looks like a building facade but made out of cliff. Think Petra but not quite as cool. I just sorta drooled all over the site while the rest of the students looked properly bored. Luckily I had Hilla tagging along all over with me, and Sarah (other friend, also American but from UCSB) mountain goating all over everything so I didn't feel like the only person enjoying myself.

After Tloss we were taken to by far the strangest restaurant that I have ever been to. It was a trout farm, but it looked like a real rainforest cafe. The seating was all outside, with big leafy green trees everywhere, waterfalls, pools with giant trout in them, really delicious fresh fish that was probably swimming around 2 hours before, and these elevated tree house looking things were you could sit on rugs with cushions and eat your food. They even had a bar where they had carved a channel through the middle of the counter that had water and small trout swimming through the bar. But the channel wasn't covered by anything so you could just stand there and pick the fish up. I think I stood there for like 15 minutes trying to pick up a fish. I kept walking around saying "What the fuck is this place?!" I think that whoever takes this idea to the states is going to make bank. James said that it would probably never fly because there are no health codes in Turkey so the fish bar would be out of the question in the US, and if it was able to open in the States that you would have to sign a waver to eat there. But I can still dream, can't I?

Following the strange trout farm experience and on our drive to Saklıkent Gorge The Sleeping Bus broke down. Apparently, whenever the driver stepped on the gas pedal the bus didn't go, but it felt more like the bus was jerking and moving slower than I walk. So we had to stop off at this little restaurant/tea house on the side of the road while they fixed the bus. It was another one of those bizarre moments, where 40 some odd people all of a sudden flood this tiny little tea house and just sort of milling around waiting for our ride to be fixed. At one point 15 of us just sat on the curb, transfixed watching a woman making these crepe things. I felt a little bad for the poor people, especially since less than 10 of us actually spent money there. But then finally the The Party Bus came to retrieve us and take us to the gorge while The Sleeping Bus got fixed.

The Gorge. Holy. Fucking. Shit. Awesome. Most of it was just walking through the river/stream that ran along the bottom of it. Because there is apparently no such thing as a lawsuit in this country, part of the hike consisted of wading thigh deep across a river that had just come off of a rapid. And the water was freezing cold. And it rocked. The rest of the hike consisted primarily of walking through the shallow stream that went through the gorge and periodically climbing over slipper marble rocks that obstructed the path. This was all well and good going up, since you could stay relatively dry. The hard part was going back to the entrance and having to slide down the rocks, with the stream. Almost all of us ended up soaking wet, especially since usually you would end up stepping into a pool that would be knee deep in water and you wouldn't realize it until you had already stepped down into it. At one point I fell backwards into a pool so that the front of me was dry but my back was drenched.

Now for bonehead Sarah move of the week. At the end of the hike, after managing to keep my back relatively dry to preserve the state of my camera, I decided to ask someone to take a picture of me while I was standing thigh deep in the river. As I was handing my camera to the guy to take the picture, the string for the camera got caught on my finger and I dropped it in the freezing cold water. Luckily the memory stick with the pictures is fine, but the camera is completely shot. So this is why there are no pictures up yet, because I was dumb and broke my camera.

And that ends the story of the Fethiye trip. After finishing at the gorge we were able to change into dry clothes and drove back to Ankara. I managed to dry my underwear on the seatback table in front of my during the drive.

05 September 2010

And the orientation week of hell only continues...

So my retardedness only gets better and better. Last night, while boarding a bus after getting dinner in town I sprained THE OTHER ANKLE while stepping off the sidewalk...again. Luckily it's not half as bad as the other one, as it isn't even swollen, just painful when I walk. And I've decided to baby it for the next couple of days in the hopes that it will get better faster, so I have a frozen water bottle that I plan to use to ice my ankle twice a day, I'm trying to walk on it as little as possible, and I've been actively elevating it when I sit down. But now I'm sporting the ever stylish 2 ankle wraps which draw even more attention, so now I'm really known as the crippled girl who's retarded and can't walk down the street without hurting herself. Although I have to imagine that this wouldn't have happened if the first ankle wasn't already sprained because I've been favoring it a lot plus my balance is already off and add on an absurdly high curb that I have to step down from while I'm tired because its midnight does not make a very good combination. That, and I have to think that my brain cells that would have otherwise gone towards helping me walk down the street and feed myself without getting food all over me were allocated to more useless areas of my brain, like the place where I remember random information. The good news, though, is that my really bad ankle is getting a lot better, and if it weren't for the bruising and stiffness I would be able to walk pretty comfortably. The swelling has almost completely gone away as well.

So the extra little bit of hilarity to this otherwise hilariously tragic first week of orientation is the gem that I woke up to this morning on my facebook. So a little bit of background story: A couple of days ago I was walking from the computing center after checking my email, and it was dark, and I noticed that another student (male) was walking about 20 feet behind me as I hobbled up the hill. After a while he caught up to me and asked if I needed help carrying anything, which I told him that I didn't, and we started making small talk and discussing what we major in, and he apologized for his relatively broken English and I apologized for my extremely limited Turkish. At the end he walked me up to the road that lead to my dorm (not even to the door) and we both agreed that we should get coffee sometime. I walked away, excited that I actually made a Turkish student friend and might be able to have someone to practice my Turkish with. Then, this morning I wake up to find this in my facebook messages:

hey Sarah. how are you. Tonight ı was at party (radio Bilkent) and ı decided to invite you. ı came to your dormitory but you were not there. well ıf ı had seen you, ı would have told you something. actually ı wanted to talk about an issue face to face with you. however you will be busy because of orientation. so now ı am writing here to you. little girl, ı am captured by your beautiful eyes already. well ı like you finally ı succeed to explain .Sarah, you are in my mind since we have met. ı cant forget your eyes and your simile. you were in my mind even at party. sarah please be my girlfriend. be my angel. thanks god ı met with you.
ı will wait for your respond impatiently. ı like you sarah. iyi geceler.

Jesus. H. Christ. This is NOT what I asked for. I was so excited to have a friend, and then I find out that not only has he sent me what's basically a love letter, but he went to my dorm looking for me AND fantasized about me all night. Ew. Creeper. Stalker. Ew. After I found that this morning I just sorta banged my head against the keyboard a few times. It's like "Welcome to Turkey! Here's a cast! And a stalker!" Luckily he thinks that I'm going to be living off campus during the year so he won't know where I live during the semester.

In much better news, I decided to live in the dorms for the semester instead of find an apartment. The whole search was just turning into a shit show, especially after I got ditched by the one group, and then I found two other girls who were looking but they were getting really picky and a little bit unreasonable about what the price of apartment would be, so I just kinda gave up on that. I'm much happier now because I registered for my dorm today, and I believe that I'm going to be living in a double with an Italian girl named Valentina that I met yesterday on our fieldtrip to Beypazarı who is also an archaeologist (although she studies pottery) and is going to be taking some of the same classes as me. That, and living on campus is going to be so much easier since I discovered that I'm going to have a class at 8:40 in the morning. So now I can just roll out of bed and down the hill to my classes instead of waking up at 6:30 in the morning to catch a bus in the hopes that I'll get to campus on time. And I'm still going to have a kitchen so I'll be able to cook for myself during the semester. Also, I realized that one of my arguments for living in an apartment was the whole 12:00 curfew on weekdays was ridiculous because I'm in bed by 11:00 anyways. In the end, the dorms were a much better idea.

More good news! I made friends! I've been hanging out with a Finnish girl named Hilla who was actually one of the girls that I had mentioned I wanted to live with but was living in the dorms for the semester. She's great because we both joke about how we are like old people because we both get tired really easily, and hate going to night clubs, and all those other things that make me an oddity among the "normal" 20-somethings. This became especially apparent when I came to the conclusion that, unlike myself, most of the exchange students here are in the country to party most of the time, since they're out drinking almost every night, where I actually had a specific reason to be here, which was to study. Anyways, Hilla's cool. Plus, she ends up saying things that end up sounding really funny because of a) the Finnish accent and b) the sarcasm that she couples it with. Oh, and also, neither of us can dress ourselves so it works out pretty well. She was saying that sometimes her mother tells her that her clothes don't match, and I was like "in the winter time, I get made fun of for looking like a hobo". I also make fun of her because she's from Lapland. Like, Santa.

I was going to end this post, but then I remembered that I went to Beypazari yesterday on a field trip. The city was pretty cool, as it had a bunch of really old Ottoman style houses that were winding down a hill on little cobble stone streets. We actually passed by a woman who was making homemade tomato paste in a big vat in the middle of one of the little streets that we were walking down. I was told by my Turkish teacher that the city is known for it's carrot juice, so I bought some which, surprise surprise!, tasted like I was drinking a carrot, complete with that sorta dirty taste that one gets when eating a carrot. There was a little museum that we went to that was put in an old house in the city that tried to preserve the traditional way of life for the Beypazari people. I got to make a cool traditional painting out of these paints that are all natural but mixed with cow poop to get the right consistency so the place smelled a little strange. To make the painting they make a water mixture with a special root, then drip the paint into the water and swirl the water around to make different designs for the background and add additional drips and swirls on top to make pictures. My picture was of a gold fish. The lady doing the demonstration did most of the work, but I got to put on some drips so it's still kinda mine. I'm going to give it to my mom and write "Sarah Giffin Age: 22" on the bottom.

During the fieldtrip we had to hike up a hill to get a good view of the city, and I was congratulated by one of the ESN members because I have a bum ankle and still beat almost all of the other students up the hill. Mainly I was trying to get away from them because they kept on bitching about how hot it was outside, which was pissing me off. I felt proud of myself for making them look like complaining idiots. And then later that day I sprained the other ankle, so I guess that showed me.

03 September 2010

Hurray the cast's off! I went back to the doctor two days ago at the urging of the ESN (Erasmus Student Network, they're the exchange student people) coordinator because the cast was starting to turn my toes a funny color. That and I absolutely didn't need it since my foot isn't broken. So now I'm back to the original soft elastic bandage that I started out with. Even the swelling is going down, and it doesn't hurt quite as bad. I only have a bunch of bruising, especially on my three middle toes, some minor swelling, and a lot of stiffness in the foot. I'm supposed to go back next week so that the doctor can give me some rehab exercises to do.

Orientation has been hectic. We're constantly doing things, and it totally does help my foot since it needs to be resting and elevated and not constantly walked on on uneven ground. My day consists of:
1. Wake up at around 7:50ish, shower, eat breakfast, get ready.
2. Walk (or in my case hobble) to Turkish class from 9:30-1:00
3. Eat lunch for 1.5 hours. Usually I finish before then so sometimes I hobble back to my dorm and leave my backpack.
4. Go on field trip somewhere. Yesterday it was to Ataturk's mausoleum, today it was going to the house of Parliament, although I didn't go because I'm resting my foot for an all day field trip that's tomorrow in Beypazarı.
5. Get talked at in some sort of presentation.
6. Eat dinner.
7. Try to internet. I only recently figured out how to get it in my dorm building, although I still can't get it in my room.
8. Go to bed

A couple of nights ago I went out to a bar with a big group of people, although I was only drinking a single beer and trying to offset the fact that I hadn't had dinner by chowing down on the Doritos that were on the table. I wish they had nachos.

So I'm scared shitless that I'm not making any friends. I don't remember welcome week freshman year being this hard for friend making. I think its because I basically missed the first two days of being here because of my foot and I also seem to have next to nothing in common with most of the exchange students. Plenty of people know who I am, considering the fact that I had a HUGE cast on my foot for the first three days, and I basically limp around everywhere, and everyone always asks how I am, but nobody is really my friend. It doesn't help that we didn't get cell phones until today (which I payed 165TL for which I think is excessive but that's all they had for a shit phone that doesn't even have a color screen and only has 10 minutes of talking time on it right now). For example, there was a group of girls that I met on the first day, was getting along fine with them for a while, then realized that we had nothing in common with each other (i.e. they've been going out every single night which isn't my thing, plus one of them skipped Turkish class because she didn't like being called on. Lame.), and then about 15 minutes ago I was informed by the one girl of the group that I actually really liked if it's OK if I look for an apartment with someone else because one girl's parents want her to have a single yadayadayada. So now I've been voted off the island in the apartment search. And then the girls that I actually do want to live with are living in dorms for the semester. I'm almost thinking about moving into a double dorm room just so that I don't have to live with people that don't seem to want me to live with them. It's really super frustrating/stressful. I can't wait until school starts in 2 weeks because that means that this whole hell will be over with. I would just like not to be miserable and alone for the entirety of the semester. It really makes me miss home...a lot. This is not the way that I was wanting this whole thing to go.

I can only hope that this whole situation only gets better from here on out.