Thursday, September 30, 2010

Going Away... In Turkey

So I am going away for the weekend in Turkey. I will go with a group of other teachers to the area known as Cappadocia. I haven't gone yet, but I am eager to go and see it as I was there as a small child. It's a place of fairy chimneys and cave dwellings. It has a unique history, landscape and importance in the culture of Turkey. Oh... and I get to stay HERE!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Settling In Process

Now that I've been in Turkey for 6 weeks, I am finally beginning to really settle in. Sure, I was settling in before too, but it was more about settling my belongings into their spaces in my new apartment, settling my clothes into the closet, settling the money into a budget, settling the newly discovered foods etc into my diet etc. It was a physical settling, if you will. But now that I have most of my routine set and I am focused on how to BE here in the physical sense, I am beginning to allow myself to settle in the more emotional and psychological sense. I am making friends (and I have loved sitting back and allowing the personalities unfold... there are really GOOD people here), I am finding my way around the city and the beginnings of the culture (the tip of the cultural iceberg, to quote my administrator), I am allowing myself to unfold. I know from my past experiences in other cultures and countries, that this can often take a year (sometimes less, sometimes more... but generally a year), and it feels good. I feel some of the old parts of me (that I thought died in my last experience... not because of the place, but because of me), parts that I really liked and missed, are awakening. Sure, the bloom is furled a little tighter in some ways than it was when living internationally was my only norm... but, it's undoing... I'm blooming again into the person I was becoming a few years back before I allowed myself to get side-tracked and shut down. This settling in process will be so much more sweet than bitter and it's good to know that it's happening.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Night Skys... No words necessary

All I want to say, is this is what it looked like tonight as I walked home... just beautiful.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Language of Exercise

So when you move to a foreign country where you don't speak the language it can be a challenge to figure out the things you'd like to do. Here at Bilkent University, we are offered a plethora of things to do for free or little cost because we are university employees. We even get regular emails from the university in both English and Turkish. This makes the decision process very helpful.
One of the great things that we can take advantage of while here is the sport facilities for free and a ton of classes for the same rates that the students pay, which is pretty little. So... to make a long story short (is it too late for that? maybe), a bunch of ladies that I work with and I decided that we wanted to sign up for a class in the gym closest to us called Aeromix Pilates. The description for the course was something like: a combined class of aerobic activities and pilates with interesting teaching techniques. Not knowing what to expect, we decided to throw caution to the wind and give it a whirl.
Today was the first day of class. I was the first of the foreigners there and I laid down mats for my friends and waited as it filled with Turkish female students and my friends... and we waited... and we waited. It started about 10 minutes late (no biggie... this is Turkey, it runs on it's own time it seems). The instructor breezed into the room... a male instructor and he got right to work explaining how things go... ALL IN TURKISH!! Hahaha. The rest of us had a good laugh because we couldn't do anything until we saw someone do it. But it's great! The workout is awesome and just 50 minutes long and I was hurting by the end for sure. I think the instructor gathered that we didn't quite follow because he took more time and really demonstrated stuff. See, exercise is like a language of it's own. It was like that in Korea when we (three other friends and I) took Tae Kwon Do... those lessons were all in Korean and we still ended up with black belts!! I don't think there is a black belt in pilates... I am sure that black belt worthy abs are in store for me!! That and learning some more Turkish... oh, and, did I mention that the instructor was hot? Fun times... ;)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Beauty of Bilingual Education

So... my new school is a bilingual school. The students immerse in English for pre-school and kindergarten. Then in grade one they focus on evening out their educational experiences with a push to develop all academic and social skills in both Turkish and English. There is also language support for their mother tongue if it isn't one of those languages... Can you imagine?! Of course in the first grade, this can lead to a lot of confusion and a stilted start with some things as some kids are naturally stronger in one of the main languages. However, as my students were playing some math games to strengthen their understanding of numbers today, it was a beautiful thing to be in a bilingual system. My partner teacher and I shared the instructional time and the idea of the games. We taught the students in both languages so that they had full understanding and then we enjoyed watching and listening to them as they swapped languages to play. Even though all of our class is ethnically Turkish, they used English and Turkish as they communicated together. I LOVE INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION and I am falling madly in love with bilingual education too!!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bones, Bones, Dem Bones!!

So every once in a while my friend Charity and I meet up and go for a walk. It's a great chance to wander the campus, get some exercise and just talk. I really enjoy her company and it's good to get off my duff and just get outside. So the other day we took a new route and just wandered this big loop, which was really cool. As we were making the return part of the loop we noticed a little something odd... bones. Yep, bones! They were huge bones like the one in the picture and they were strewn about the area. This isn't the first time I've seen bones like this... I also saw the remnants of a ribcage of what can only be a cow or animal of that size. Now, don't get all freaked out people. There are packs of wild dogs in the area and we can only assume that they killed some animal and then took it in parts to different areas to eat them. No, the wild dogs aren't scary or a problem. We have one who lives on east campus with us. He's called Lira and people often feed him. He's really sweet and runs off all the other wild dogs in the area.... so he keeps it safe for his people here. He's also captured once a year and vaccinated (his ears are tagged so that they know he's been vaccinated and when). Some of the other dogs have been vaccinated the same way too...
Anyway... just thought I'd share one of the more random moments here in Turkey with you!!

Global Responsibility

If there is one thing I have learned from all my years overseas, it's that the world is indeed a small place and we are blessed to share it with one another. The more I travel, the more I feel aware of this and how much of a responsibility we all share in caring for the planet and for each other. Regardless of our race/religion/creed/ethnicity or whatever else, it all boils down to this: we are humans, we bleed the same and have the same basic needs for survival (yes, I am aware that those needs can look different based on where we are). One thing that has made be really aware of this is all the disasters that have been happening. Sometimes it becomes overwhelming to think of all the suffering and being so far away from those places, I often wonder what I can do to help out. Well... the answer came from a good friend of mine. Sherilyn is doing her part to help by shopping! WHAT?!?! Yes, that's right. She is shopping in such a way that proceeds go to places where the need is great, you can even purchase aid for the people in those far reaching places. So this year, when you think of what to get friends and family for different celebrations, think about visiting these sites:

Made By Survivors

The Hunger Site

Ten Thousand Villages

Thanks Sherilyn for posting these sites and for helping me be MORE aware of my responsibility to my fellow humans and as someone who shares this earth!

Monday, September 13, 2010


No, no... not like THAT tower!! Hahaha. You know that several cities all over the world have great big towers. Well, Ankara is no different and the other day, my friend Merve took me there to get a great view of the city and to just hang out. It was AWESOME and we had a great time. Check out the pics of the tower itself and the view from the top:

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bayram Bus Adventures

Today is the first real day of Bayram here in Turkey. It's the holiday that celebrates the end of Ramazan here and it's a time for feasting, seeing family and generally having a good time. While I am a little on the impoverished side of things, I did want to get out into the city a little and my good friend Christina invited me over for breakfast/brunch or whatever you want to call it. I decided that after being here since the middle of August, it was high time that I gained some independence (Christina did offer to come all the way out to my place and escort me on the buses so I wouldn't get lost) and made my own way out there. She lives in an area called Umitkoy (there are two dots over the u and the o in Turkish) and it's not that far from me. I just have to transfer buses once ad it seemed straightforward and easy. Take the free university bus to Cepa mall, cross the street and then take the 163 to her area. Got it... no problems. I even have a little ride pass card called an EGO with 4 rides left on me (thanks for the free rides, BLIS!!). So with confidence, I stepped out of my house, down the street, across the busy road to the bus stop. Like cake... easy. I waited for the bus but the 111 city bus came first and I knew it went to Cepa mall too, so I thought I'd hop on that. I hop on, pull out my handy little card and the driver looks at me and says, "Hayir! (this means NO!)" I stop and think it must be one of the cash only buses and I have to cash so I tell him "Tamam (which means okay)" and try to get off. This sparks more shouting from the driver and complete confusion from me. I tell him that I don't speak Turkish yet and that I'll just wait for the university bus. I step off the bus and suddenly another passenger is off with me, telling me to get on the bus, "today no card, me no card, you no card" I guess if I can use Turklish, so can the locals. So I get back on the bus, completely confused when the Turklish speaking man tells me that because of the bayram holiday all city buses are free for the next 4 days! HOW SWEET IS THAT?!?!?! So, thanks Ankara for being a really great city with free buses for the holidays, thanks BLIS for the ride card, and thanks Turklish speaker for the great info!! Iyi Bayramlar (Happy Bayram)!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010


Here in Turkey, the Muslim time of fasting is called Ramazan instead of Ramadan. The concept is much the same though. You fast from sunrise to sunset and then eat etc after the sun goes down. One thing that I notice that is different here in Ankara is that not everyone fasts. In Oman, pretty much all Omanis were fasting. Here, it's not quite like that. Just goes to show that you can't lump all people of a particular religion into a box. It's good to learn that lesson time and again!


Here is a non-descript shot of my students. They are listening to my partner teacher in Turkish at the moment. What I can tell you is that they have a TON of energy and smarts. They ask good questions, have great ideas and are willing to share those ideas. They are adorable and we are learning all about each other... they aren't just my students, as always, they are my teachers. I am learning more patience from them, how to be more positive, how to be more gentle, how to be more giving and understanding and how to speak Turkish. It's going to be a great year!!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Food, Fun and Coffee

I love this city.... okay, I love almost every city!! I think there is just something to be said about the energy and anonymity of busy city streets where people are going about their business. Today my friends invited me to go to dinner with them and even though money is a little tight at the moment (my own fault of not budgeting properly... but I am learning), I decided to go. I'm so glad that I did. We went to Tunali. It's a bustling neighbourhood of shops, restaurants, pubs, clubs and cafes... just what I LOVE in a city. So we ate, we wandered, we shopped (no, I was a good girl and kept the purchases to the barest of minimums) and we drank Turkish coffee... mmmm!!!!

The Classroom

So I am sure that many of you are wondering what it's like in my school. I've been busy and without internet for a couple of days at home, so I've been a bit lazy about posting. Sorry for that, but can I use the excuse that I've been busy soaking up the experience? Would that satisfy? Below are some pictures of my classroom without the kids in it. I do have pictures of their sweet selves in it too, but I need to check on how okay it is to post those before I do.

This is from the student area looking towards the carpet and teacher desks.

This is the corner stone of what we do. We teach these kids to exhibit all these characteristics so that they become more internationally minded people.

In the student desk area looking towards the board and my slightly crooked word wall.

In the student area looking towards our bilingual Unit of Inquiry board where the kids put up all the stuff they are learning. It's awesome!!

From the carpet/teacher area looking towards the student area.

Our room is one of the smallest in the school but it's just right for my teaching partner, Nilay, and I. It's cozy and easy to monitor the students. There is a wonderful amount of light and open space for the kids and for us. Some of the rooms are huge and really lovely, all have loads of windows and lots of natural light. And some even have balconies!! It's a great place to be... so come and visit me!!! ;)