I've been meaning to blog for a few days now, but I haven't been home since Friday morning, so I haven't had access to WiFi to make that happen! Anyways, right now it's Wednesday night and I'm typing up a blog post now to post when I go to a cafe and can connect my computer to the WiFi.
So, you are probably asking yourself “What has Annie been up to since Friday and why isn't she at home?” (I know, the suspense is probably killing you, because my life is so fantastically exciting. Also, it's super weird to be saying the word “home” and have it mean somewhere 5,000-ish miles from Hilliard, OH) I have been in Izmir! I came to Izmir with Riad, the other exchange student in Bursa, on Friday for an RYE (Rotary Youth Exchange) Orientation on Saturday. I'd been looking forward to Orientation all week because exchange student gatherings are the best! Well, Riad and I rode the bus to Izmir, and it took about six hours! We pretty much just slept the whole time, and when there was about an hour or two left, I was awoken by someone's cell phone. Anyone who has been around me when I'm tired or I've just woken up knows I'm not the most pleasant person when I'm not fully rested, and I woke up and was thinking, “Jeeeezzzz, turn off your phone!” I then fell asleep, but then ten minutes later I woke up again to the same phone, and I thought again, “Pick up your phone!!!” I then fell back asleep, and naturally woke up again about ten minutes later. I looked at my phone to see I had two missed calls and a text message. OOPS. :) It was just our ride from the bus station trying to figure out when Riad and I would be arriving at the bus station.
Once Riad and I got to the bus station, we were at first a little afraid to be going out into a random bus station without any Turkish because we didn't know who exactly would be picking us up, but it's pretty easy for someone to spot two exchange students. We usually look lost and if you say something to us, we do a blank stare then slightly nod, then smile. Riad and I quickly found Emre, a past exchange student (a “rebound”) and our ride to the Rotarian's house, and we were off! It was my first time in a taxi, it wasn't very exciting, not like the movies :( (It's like I was expecting Ranjit to say "HELLO!" from How I Met Your Mother) On the way to Emre's house, we were making conversation, and I was like “Oh, I know someone from Izmir, his name is Orhan, he went on exchange to Ohio” and Emre said “I know him! He went to my school!” You have many “it's a small world” experiences as an exchange student. We then got to Emre's house to have dinner and I met two RYE coordinators of district 2440 (Rotary is separated into districts, multiple Rotary clubs make up a Rotary district). After dinner Emre took Riad and me out to show us Izmir. It was dark, so we couldn't see the sea, but he told us many good things to have on our minds while in Turkey, such as how to read people and also to never EVER trust the cars while crossing the street. We then found a cafe next to the sea and we had Turkish Tea and Emre taught us how to play backgammon, people play it a lot at the cafes here. We had a bunch of teas, and we decided that the tea has something addictive in it because it truly is addicting and we think it makes you see things. I swear I saw a shooting star Friday night. Emre and Riad both think I'm insane. After our fun night by the sea, I went to a different Rotartian's house for the night to get some needed rest to prepare myself for Saturday!
Oh my goodness, Saturday is in my “KEEP THIS DAY IN MY MEMORY FOREVER” section of my brain. I can't stop smiling right now thinking about it. It might sound non-memorable to some of you readers, but I thought it was wonderful. The morning started off by watching BBC World News and hearing about America for the first time in two weeks during breakfast. It was strange to be watching European's (excuse me, Britain's ;) ) side of American news. It wasn't bad, just different. After breakfast Goskin (the Rotarian) and I went to the RYE Orientation where I met all of the other inbound exchange students in my district for this year. There were a few other Americans, and also Canadians, Mexicans, Brazilians and Indonesians representing their homes. I didn't deeply think about it then, but right now I'm realizing that I'm spending my exchange with these kids, and I knew absolutely nothing about them when I first entered that room, but by the end of this year, they will be my family and I will be keeping contact with at least one or two of them for the rest of my life. (WOW! I love exchange students.) We started off the orientation by going over the Rotary rules, and by looking at last year's exchange students' videos of their year. We then went out for lunch and had a mini tour and history lesson of Izmir. It was history of 10,000 years packed into 20 minutes. Good stuff. On our tour, we saw about six brides getting their pictures taken! They're are brides EVERYWHERE.
The Rotary portion of Saturday slowly ended and we said our long goodbyes, and about 10 exchange students (inbounds and rebounds) went to a cafe for dinner. We laughed and talked about American TV and maple syrup (there was a Canadian at the table) while listening to Glee Christmas music. Ya know, normal stuff. I can't even remember everything we did, but I remember it was really fun. After dinner, I went to Ahenk's, a rebound, house for the night. It was a little awkward at first because we didn't know what to talk about for the hour long bus ride back to her house, but we talked the whole way without any too awkward of pauses. We then got off the bus and walked to her house, and even got free ice cream from the man who ran the shop next to her house! He tried to speak English to me, it was nice.
Ahenk and I were sitting around in her room without anything to do, and her mom had earlier asked me if I'd ever had Turkish Coffee, and I hadn't so we decided to go out for some Turkish Coffee. I will start this by stating that I am a tea drinker, not a coffee drinker, so when the waiter asked me how sweet I wanted the coffee, I had no idea what to say, so I said medium sweet. It was not sweet at all, I ended up putting two packets of sugar in it so that I could get it all down. I ended up spilling it all over my hands trying to stir it, and Ahenk, her brother, Ahmet, and I could not stop laughing. I eventually drank the whole cup, I had to take it all in one gulp because it wouldn't have gone down any other way. Apparently it's weird to drink coffee like that. (Duh, Annie) After the coffee was finished, I put my cup upside down on my plate and waited for the liquid part to drain out so Ahenk and Ahmet would be able to read my fortune. Ahmet said, “Okay, I'm making all of this up, it means absolutely nothing. The people who do this are crazy.” So he ended up seeing random shapes, like a bug and a car and told me about his past experiences going to a fortune teller. He said (keep this in mind, those of you who go to Turkish fortune tellers), the fortune teller will say whatever they want, and if they don't like you, they will say “oh...” and tell you a bad fortune; they usually give bad fortunes to be dramatic.
After the coffee incident, Ahmet drove Ahenk and I home and we began to get ready for bed because it was nearly midnight. I got my journal and Turkish books out and I showed Ahenk my Turkish books, and she found some Turkish-English flash cards and gave them to me because she no longer needed them. We then sat on her bed and she wrote down Turkish bedroom vocabulary, then we went to the kitchen and she wrote Turkish kitchen and food vocabulary for me. We quietly moved on to the living room to get living room vocabulary. We also went through the vocabulary in my Turkish book.
After about an hour of Turkish, we began to get tired and we started laughing at everything. The book starts very basic with translations of “cup” then “a cup” then “the cup” then “five cups” and other repetitive things like that. The name Ahmet is used a lot in my Turkish book, so we were making up scenarios with Ahmet, Ahenk's brother, and laughing at all the crazy things we were making him do. At about 2am Ahmet was still not home, so we wrote a script for me to say when he walked in the door; it was all very simple silly Turkish. My Turkish book even taught me how to say “I am not a child. I'm American” They were both random examples of when not to use an indefinite article that were randomly placed next to each other, so it's my new catch phrase. We even got crazy and watched a YouTube video teaching slang words. It was really funny. We were up a little past 3am learning Turkish and laughing, and we then decided it was time for bed. I don't think I've ever laughed that much with anyone I'd known for less than 12 hours. I don't even remember the last time I laughed that much, it was so funny. But everything is funny after 2am.
The next day Ahenk and I went to the mall and laughed at all the inappropriate shirts in English that the majority of Turks cannot read and therefore understand and we tried on many crazy, outrageous dresses. I had on a sparkly party dress with like 5” sparkly heels. It was insane. The Turks really love high heels. Also, the mannequins in Turkey look unnaturally real. They're like the mannequins at Macy's because they have faces with makeup and fake hair. Anyways, We eventually got yelled at for taking pictures in the store, I wanted to just pretend like neither of us knew Turkish, but Ahenk responded. There are many fur coats in Turkey, and I think those are so strange, so I got pictures with those too. I have pictures with lots of clothes. I continued marching around saying, “Çocuk değilim. Amerikalıyım.” It means, “I'm not a child. I'm American.” We then returned home for lunch and then we napped for hours on end. It was so nice to have a nap, I'd been tired for the past two days, but being an exchange student, I cannot sleep this year away! That's what the past 17 years were for.
After my nap I met my host mom at the bus stop and we headed to Karaburun, the city her summer house is in. We've been here since Sunday, and we will be here until this Sunday and I will start school on Monday! I haven't been to school since May. I need to go to school and do something productive, but I'm afraid I will not feel productive when I just sit in class all day bored to death. We will see! I don't know which classes I'm signed up for, and if I'm in science classes I'll definitely be bored, even when I'll be able to understand the language, but I hope I'm in language classes. The Rotary suggested exchange students be put in language classes, but I let the principle sign me up for whatever classes she thought fit before I talked to the Rotary... so it will be a surprise on Monday! Tomorrow we're finally off to the seaside, it's not really a beach, just a bunch of rocks and shells, so it's like a rocky beach. Nevertheless, it's seaside. I'll try to post this as soon as possible! :)