Friday, December 17, 2010

Santa Lucia

Santa Lucia is the saint who brings light and food to the poor. She is celebrated on December 13th in Sweden, but we celebrated her today and taught the other students in our school about her. It was really sweet. Check out the pics!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

School Spirit

I think that is the first international school that I have worked at where a sense of community and school spirit is lacking. It's not lacking between staff, but between the students and the connections between students and staff... and not all the way around either, I hate to make that grand of a generalization, but there you go, I have! Anyway, myself and the other girl's basketball coach had our team over for dinner tonight. It was a blast and the girls are simply wonderful!! We ate, we laughed, we shared and what they shared was and overwhelming sense of no school spirit. They want it but are looking to the staff and administration for some direction. I know that the staff and admin have it, but somehow we aren't connecting to the kids. What can we do? I felt like today was a nice first step, but there has to be more and I know several staff and making inroads and outreaches to the kids, but we have to do more, we have to build the fire, start the spark and fan the flames. The school wants to be more international and struggles to produce and environment that appeals to international students and parents and I think this is a big part of that...
Anyway, just some random ramblings... any thoughts or suggestions or past success stories at other such schools would be SO appreciated!!!

You know you are overseas when...

... that packet you get in the mail has one of life's essentials in it: deodorant! It's not that you can't get it here at all, it's just that it's not the brand that I like or am used to. So when my Christmas packet arrived yesterday and there were 2 clinical strength deodorants in it, I just about cried for joy!! Also, there was a book that I can't get here because it isn't as popular mainstream as some of the NY Times bestsellers, a vest that my mother made by hand and a card that was so full of love that it brought tears to my eyes.
In all my years overseas people often ask what I miss most and there isn't a lot generally, but when I get a package like that from home that has things that take me back there and help me to be comfortable here, well, that's what I miss. Most other things I can get or find a suitable substitute for... So what are your "you know you are overseas when... " moments?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!!!

This is the sites that greeted me just after 7 this morning (December 13th) as I walked to school. It was beautiful but pretty icy!! The weather is calling for more snow this week and the temperature is currently -5 C out there!! So it looks like winter is finally set in and here for the long haul!
Enjoy the beautiful scenery....

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Weather Outside is Frightful

But the radiator is so delightful... I know it should be fire, but let's be real here... there is no fireplace in my lojman, so I am working with what I have. The radiator... and it's pumping out some good warmth and I will take that for sure!!
So there is one more week of school left before the holidays and the kids were so excited because the weatherman said it would snow today, Saturday. All the foreign teachers held onto some hope that it would, but our western ideas of how often weathermen lie had us skeptical at best... and then guess what happened?! It SNOWED!!! So maybe Turkish weathermen are just better... Or maybe the belief of loads of little children helped bring it on, I don't know.
Generally, I am not a snow loving person, but when I came home last night, I was in love with it. It's a pretty heavy snow and so it weighs the branches down (several have broken off the weeping willow near my lojman... scary) and so they look a little magical.

This is the view from my window in my living room... yup... all tree, all snow... all pretty!! ;)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like New Years around here...

In Turkey, they don't celebrate Christmas (with this being a Muslim country and all), but it sure looks like they do. Turks do celebrate the coming of the New Year in a big way. They put up trees, they decorate them like crazy and they have lights and all manner of other Christmas like decorations, complete with Santa and wreaths. Gift giving is also big, but saved for the New Year. It's wonderful for those of us that celebrate the Christian holiday because it's easy to get the decorations, spices, mulling spices for wine and all the other stuff that we like to use to make merry for the holiday season. And they are even expecting SNOW!!!! For those of you who know me, you will know that even though the white stuff is pretty, I am just not a fan!! hahaha

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ulus, Ankara

So yesterday it was time to get my shop on (I have people coming to visit me and some VIPs at home to send things too-that's right family... you are the VIPs) and so the girls, one of the boys and I hit up the older section of the city called Ulus. If you remember my post about Roman Ankara, it is the same general vicinity and there are some pretty cool museums over there too. However, yesterday was not about seeing the sights, but about purchasing a few goodies for the people I know and love. Even though I wasn't playing tourist, there were just some great photo ops and I wanted to share them with you... you know, just in case you ever wanted to come out this way but thought there wasn't much to see in Ankara as opposed to Istanbul or one of the more famous touristy areas. So enjoy the photos and my little commentary on a day of shopping in what is becoming my favourite area of the city:

This was taken near the end of the day, but I love the view that the Ulus area offers of the rest of the city.

Some of the gorgeous lanterns that they sell. There were tons more and I loved them all.

I am not sure what this is exactly, but looks like some pretty nasty dog collars to me. Just seemed so out of place with the other shops around it. Ulus sells lots of artsy stuff, lots of antiques and traditional wares, but they also have all your basic household stuff covered too.

Looking up the street. I love the cobblestoned streets in this area. Actually, lots of the smaller streets in different areas of town are still cobblestone. Also, this is a well traveled two way street for cars... It's a zoo!!

A nice way to recycle that old shoe!!

Simit!!! This man was carrying warm, bagel like bread treats on his head, through the streets and was kind enough to let us all take a picture. He was so sweet and so we bought some of the simit from him. They are so tasty!!

Looking down one of the streets that is filled with shops.

This street is on the way up to the citadel/castle. It has some really need little shops that I really liked.

This is a typical store in the area. Loved it, but this particular one was quite expensive.

Friday, December 3, 2010

My Own Personal Concert

The weather has been really mild so far. We've had a couple of rainy and stormy days, but overall, it's still light jacket weather in this, the first week of December. I am LOVING it but not just for the weather. This kind of weather keeps all the little birds around and while I think birds as pets is just a bad thing (don't get me started with all the dust, the poop, the noise etc, my mom has birds so I know!!), I love birds in the wild. I love the sounds of them chirping and making music in the mornings as I am getting ready for work. I love that their sweet songs accompany me on my walk to work and I love that when I pass by an evergreen shrub it seems to take flight as a multitude of birds begin shrieking and flapping away. It's like poetry in the mornings right now and it makes me glad to get up and go to work early in the mornings... it's just me and my personal concert of birds everyday.