MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!
I spent this Christmas in a Muslim country, so as you can probably imagine, it was a lot different than an American Christmas. On the 23rd of December, I packed my bags and took a bus to Izmir! I met up with my friends in the evening, and we all gathered at one of the houses to just hang out and eat pizza. It was my first real pizza in four months. It wasn't my brother's homemade grilled pizza good, but it was better than nothing. After hanging out with my friends all night, I returned to my host family's house for the weekend, and SLEPT. (I made myself stay up really late the night before so I could sleep on the bus, but then I didn't sleep on the bus, whoops. So I was really tired.)
I spent much of the morning and early afternoon of Christmas Eve out with one of my friends shopping. The night before all of the girls kept saying, "agh, we spent the whole day shopping for the Christmas party" and I was like, "Why...?" and they said, "Because apparently we have to look nice for the party and wear a dress." All of my nice clothes were 6 hours away in Bursa, so I had to go buy something new, and so I bought a nice new dress and shoes. The shoes were especially fun to buy because the man at the store didn't know any English and my friend and I had very limited Turkish, but we got them and everything was good!
I spent the afternoon and evening with more of my friends, just hanging out at home. We talked about our families' Christmas traditions and about Turkey and how we're getting fat (hehe). We also mixed up some sugar cookie dough, and it was absolutely delectable!!! After hanging out for a few hours, we got ready for the party and were off!
So, as I said before, I had to buy new nice clothes for this party. I'm an exchange student, so money is kind of limited, so I had to buy clothes I would actually wear again. Red dress and black patent leather heels. So, I was walking down the street, we had to walk maybe a quarter or half a mile to get to the restaurant and my friend says to me "Annie, what's wrong with your foot...?" And my shoes gave me blisters that completely broke the skin and my foot was bleeding! I was like "Oh my god, what do we do?" and I took off my shoes, and I was (stupidly) walking around barefoot looking for a store that sold Band Aids and tights. Thankfully one of my friends took off his shoes, gave me his socks, then wore his shoes sockless so I could wear socks rather than walking around on the nasty sidewalk with cigarettes all over the place barefoot.
Two of the girls went off to find Band Aids while Max and I went into a store looking for tights because I needed something between my feet and my shoes. I found a store with tights, bought my size, then asked the cashier if there was a bathroom or somewhere I could change. There wasn't. And there wasn't in the next like five cafes we passed on the way to the restaurant. Two of us just eventually just went into a store and into their dressing room, hoping they wouldn't notice I was leaving with extra clothes or accuse me of stealing their tights. They didn't do either, so once I got my Band Aids and tights on, I was good to go to dinner!
We met more exchange students and Rotarians at the dinner, and had a wonderful night of just talking about the Christmas spirit. I didn't miss my family too much, I was happy to be with my friends. At Thanksgiving I was pretty homesick, but this didn't happen at Christmas, it was actually surprising that I wasn't homesick or missing Christmas. We sang songs and just hung out together, while eating a "Christmas dinner" of salad, turkey, rice and some fruity Turkish dessert. Although the food wasn't nearly as good as any Christmas dinner my mom has put together, I was happy I could be with my second family, and I had a really, really great time. After the dinner we all went our own ways to get some rest before Christmas day!
I woke up on Christmas morning alone at home because all of my host family was at school or work, but to my surprise, they left me a present for Christmas next to the breakfast things! It was SOOO nice. I've stayed with them for a total of three or four days, and they really didn't need to get me anything, but it was so thoughtful, so thank you guys. I ate my breakfast, then I headed to Starbucks to meet with the other exchange students.
At Starbucks, we continued exchanging Secret Santa gifts, we'd been exchanging throughout the weekend, and then we had a little White Elephant (an exchange of bad/strange gifts) and I got some insanely creepy cat toy. My friend said believed it was like a demon cat, so now I'm playing jokes on him and I think he actually believes the cat is possessed (I hope he doesn't read my blog) by saying I had the cat in my lap, but then it disappeared, but in actuality I put it in his bag while he went to get hot chocolate, then by lying to him when he told me to check if it was in his bag, then by letting him find it while we were at a restaurant eating lunch. No big deal. I gave Play Doh as my gift, the girl who got it really liked it.
After our gift exchange, we had lunch, I got Turkish pasta, then we returned to one of the homes so we could just be together for Christmas. We baked our sugar cookies, then we tried to make a gingerbread house, but it just fell through (haha, puns), so we just broke the house up and ate it for fun. After hanging out for awhile, I had to go back to Bursa because there was school in the morning. Once I was home I Skyped my family, and it was actually really nice. I wasn't homesick. I was happy they were all happy and I was happy I had a wonderful little Christmas here in Turkey. I know it wasn't the best Christmas I've ever had, but it was a very memorable one nonetheless. The Turks celebrate New Years similarly to the way we celebrate Christmas, so now I'm looking forward to that and being able to see the way they celebrate their holidays. I'll try to take lots of pictures and keep you posted about that. Happy holidays everyone :)
|Me buying tights because of my little incident with my shoes.|
|FAMILY CHRISTMAS PHOTO :)|
|My friend and I were twins and we didn't even plan it!|
|I love you guys!|
|My friend got a scary Santa mask and a water gun at the White Elephant exchange. We got a lot of strange looks while he was walking around like this.|
|I know I couldn't be with you guys this year for Christmas, but I love you and I couldn't have asked for a better set of parents or siblings to be supporting me this year and throughout my life. You guys really are the best.|