Saturday, May 25, 2013


This year, the 2440 Rotary District Conference was held in Fethiye, a city along the Mediterranean.  On Thursday the 9th, Riad and I took the bus to Izmir, then on Friday all the exchange students got together to go to Fethiye.  The bus ride was about four or five hours, but we spent the time leaning a Turkish song, then all the girls talked about our future weddings and kids' names.  Once we were in Fethiye, we were all amazed by how beautiful the sea and the resort we'd be staying in were. Everything was really nice, and we spent some time preparing for the conference, then we had dinner and Riad and I worked on our speech some more.


On Saturday, we were all up bright and early for the conference. Riad and I gave a speech in Turkish to all of the Rotarians about our experience as exchange students, and how we've changed over this year.  The speech went alright, I'm not very good at speaking in English, so Turkish was a little bit scary, but I didn't mess anything up too badly.  After we did our speech, a video with all of the exchange students' experiences was shown, and then the kids in Manisa and Izmir did a traditional Turkish dance.  The video was so nice.  It was amazing to look back on all the things I've seen this year, but also really sad to know that it's almost all over.  Everything for the conference went really well, then we were off for the rest of the day to explore our resort.

Riad and I speaking

Saturday was mostly spent on the beach.  For some reason, Rotary keeps sending me on exchanges to these Mediterranean countries, and I'm definitely not a big beach person.  I mean, I think nice beaches are really beautiful, but I really don't like swimming (beaches are salty, pools are chemical-y), and the beach in Fethiye was a rocky beach rather than a sandy beach, so my feet were definitely killing me after walking along the beach.  Anyways, after spending a few hours at the beach, all of the North American girls got together and went to the sauna.  We wanted to go to the hamam (Turkish bath), but it was 60 Euro, so we didn't do it. There were so many tourists in the resort, it's funny the way exchange students view tourists.  Even though I'm not Turkish, I see tourists and call them "foreigners" when, I am in fact a foreigner.

Monica and I on a boat

On Saturday evening all of the exchange students got all dressed up and went to a fancy Rotary dinner. There was three or four courses, and live music.  We all sat in a table in the corner, but we had a good time nonetheless.  My friend Emre and  I had a staring contest throughout the night, and when people wanted to take my picture, I'd frown and say "THIS IS ME SMILING!" 

It was a good night and once it was finished we all retired to our rooms and got a lot of rest because Sunday morning we were back on our way to Izmir.  We stopped at an old Greek village called Kayakoy, and we climbed up a giant hill to see an old Greek Church, and the view of the entire village.  Although all the exchange students felt terrible after climbing the huge hill, it was really beautiful, and I was glad we were able to go to the village. It was a really nice weekend spent with all the exchange students.  Thanks Rotary for giving us this trip!

A few of the exchange students making "silly faces"
The church was on top of that hill, and I'm taking this picture on top of another hill.  It was a long walk!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

It's Been Awhile...

So, yeah, it's been awhile.  After having Rotary weekends nearly every weekend in March, April was kind of slow because I was spending my weekdays at school and my weekends just hanging out in Bursa.  It's not that it was boring in any way, but I never really got around to blogging because I was keeping pretty busy. I had some fun little things happen.

During the first weekend in April, all of the exchange students from Manisa and Izmir came to Bursa for a Rotary weekend.  One day we were able to go to Uludag, the mountain in Bursa, so I was able to hang out with my friends there.  We also did a tour of Bursa, saw a traditional Turkish pre-wedding ceremony drama and my friends and I hung out together in a park one night.  It was nice, but also kind of weird to have everyone in Bursa when I'm so used to leaving Bursa to see everyone.

Fun in the snow! Left to right, Max (Mexico), Felipe (Brazil) and Riad (Indonesia)
Women dancing at the wedding drama
I got henna on my hands during the theater. I left it on too long and my hands looked like this for about a month.  Oops. 
One day in April, all of the twelfth graders at my school got our cap and gown graduation pictures done.  It was really funny, and really Turkish the way everything went.  My friends and I all got together in the morning and we went to the salon to have our hair and make up done.  I'd never had my make up done before, and let's just say that was an experience.  I have pictures with me and my four classmates. 

Cagla, Elcin and me
Sevval and me
Ozdemir and me
The Group Study Exchange group from Australia came to speak at my Rotary club.  Rotary in English! Yeah!

Riad and I went bowling for his birthday.  The computer didn't work, so I bowled like a 30. Oops....

Riad bowling for the first time!

My host family took me to a dance put on by a group of children for Children's Festival.

I went to a jazz concert put on by my Rotary club.  

Drummer of the jazz band signing CDs after the concert

I had Turkish Breakfast with a group of Rotarians.  Ahhh, I absolutely love Turkish Breakfast!

The Rotary sponsored the deaf school in Bursa to put on a play.  It was really one of the coolest things I've ever seen. I'd never seen anything like it before, the students signed while someone translated what they were signing over the microphone.  The girls even did a dance and they can't even hear the music! It was really awesome. 

My host mom and some of her relatives threw a baby shower for her nephew's wife (I think that's the correct relationship, something like that at least).  Baby showers aren't very normal in Turkey, but she's foreign, so they surprised her with the party!

A few weeks ago I went with my host mom to a picnic dinner with her friends from her sewing class.  There was a lot of yummy food and a bonfire, so obviously it was really fun!

Are there American mezes or tapas?  I'm going to miss Turkish food!
My host mom and me. She's the sweetest :)
Before the bonfire a few women were making sausage wraps. 

And, for my last little bit of information.... My family is officially coming to Turkey on June 23, and my best friend whom I haven't seen in two years will be joining them!  I'm very excited to be seeing my family again, but the thought that I'll be back home on July 8 at 9:35 is kind of freaking me out.  I've experienced just about every emotion with the thought of going back home, and you can probably expect a blog post about my thoughts in the future.  

The past two weeks I've spent with other exchange students, traveling to Fethiye, Izmir and then to northeastern Turkey. I'll be blogging about those soon and posting a lot of pictures.  I had a really great time and I'm so happy I've been able to become an exchange student!  Goodnight for now, because tomorrow I have to be up in the morning to be an exchange STUDENT.  Iyi geceler :)