The ceremony went really well, although it was excruciatingly long. I was graduating alongside about 80 students today, so before each person got their diploma, the speaker said a few sentences about them and then everyone cheered while music played as they walked down the stage to get their diploma. When I walked from my seat to get my diploma, I got special Turkish music and my classmates chanted, "I love you Annie!" It was such a sweet thing, and I realized how lucky I was to spend my year with that group of kids. I've always felt really lucky with the other exchange students I got placed with, it hit me I got really lucky with my school also when my classmates were including me in all their pictures and getting excited for me to walk across the stage. After the ceremony I found one of the girls in my class, teary eyed, so I went in to hug her and she said to me, "Annie, never forget me! I'm not going to forget you!" And then I did this....
trying my best not to cry, and I looked at my host mom, telling her not to cry, but then walks in my assistant principal who gave me a nice little speech about how I'm always going to have a home here in Bursa and they'll be waiting for me whenever I want to come back. That made me start crying, and I looked at my host mom, who was clearly holding back tears, and then we cried together for a minute, and I was able to make myself stop, partly because I spent more than 30 seconds on my make up and partly because I wanted to take a few more pictures. I made myself leave the graduation pretty quickly because I'm not good at long goodbyes, and Riad had surprised me by coming to my graduation and we were both very hungry, so we packed up my things and were off to another school's graduation (my host sister attended the school) with my host parents and to eat a late dinner at that school because all of the restaurants were closed at that point in the night.
Once we got there, we got some good ol' Kofte Ekmek, which is basically just a Turkish meatball sub. At first Riad and I were kind of bored, but then they started playing music, and so I decided it was time to have some fun, and I started dancing, singing and having a good time! We got a few strange stares, but I was enjoying myself, and I didn't really care about the stares; I'm used to them now. We started by dancing to American music, but then we started dancing Turkish style to the American music, then Turkish music started and everyone was impressed that we learned how to dance like Turks. It was so much fun.
I guess I really wanted to stress that I'm so incredibly happy with this year. Now that graduation has come along, my exchange is officially ending, and it really has been amazing. A month from right now I'll be on a plane from Chicago to Columbus, and I'm excited to see my family and friends again, but I don't want this year to end. I know it's not rational to be living in happy go lucky exchange land forever, but I can say that my exchange has effected my life in ways I can't even put into words. Though it's been hard at times, the people I've met, the sights I've seen, culture I've learned, everything has been worth it.
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Now I HAVE to go to bed, or else I'm going to be asleep all day tomorrow! I'm going to a wedding tomorrow, I'll post pictures soon... I'm too tired to now. My sister bought me a Photobucket account for Christmas, I need to start using it. Also, I'm safe! I know some of you may be worried with the Turkish protests... but I'm good! :) Night all. Hugs!