Saturday, January 22, 2011

Groceries... delivered!!!

I've come to view Turkey as the place of great deliveries. There is a website that allows you to order from just about every restaurant in the city and it organizes that it is delivered to your door. And it is in English too and VERY efficient and helpful (especially on the nights you just can't be bothered to cook). And then a colleague introduced me to online grocery shopping! And, guess what? It's in English too. You have to sign up, but it's fairly simple and once you sign in and shop, you can pick a delivery date and window of time that works best for you. Since it was my first time, I chose a Saturday morning (allowing me to sleep in a little, get some cleaning done and read). They arrived right in the window of time (just about smack dab in the middle of it) and the man carried all the bags up to my door. There were a few items not in stock, but that's okay, they take it off your bill if that is the case. And they let you pay by bank card at the door!! Oh! And there is no delivery fee... just like with the restaurants. In fact, there are often better deals and discounts online. Um... LOVE IT! So, if you live in Turkey and want your groceries delivered... leave me a comment and I'll email you the details. It's an awesome service.
Now I gotta go and load my fridge with all my new, yummy goodies (I even ordered produce and they brought some amazingly good selections!).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Very Excited!!!

One of the very best parts of being an international teacher is that we have all those teacher holidays (and we do deserve them... we often put in more than 8 hours a day) and that we can travel!!!! I've been pretty slim on the cash and haven't been able to do too much of foreign travel while being here in Turkey, but that is about to change!! This spring, I am going to Paris, France for the first time ever! I booked my ticket today and I am thrilled at the opportunity to see another culture and place. Life is good in the international teaching world!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lost in Translation and Other Giggles...

I love living overseas, it's where I am most comfortable. I know that seems strange, people expect you to be most comfortable in a place you easily understand, can easily get around and in a culture where you know what is going on. But, not so for me. I am far more comfortable where I don't know all the ins and outs, where I am learning the culture and the language. But, even so, there are times where I have to throw back my head and laugh out loud because it's not always comfortable and lots of times the translation just goes haywire. It helps that I teach six year olds and they just say the best of things. Below are some little excerpts of the life I lead in Turkey... please feel free to add any of your own funny lost in translation moments in the comments section.

1. One of my students has perpetual issues getting her coat zipped and unzipped. She is also very new to the English language and so when she formulates the question for help this is how it comes out:
May me you help? or the occassional variation: May I help me?
Hey, at least she knows to use the word may, which is more than I can say for a lot of grade one students, regardless of language issues!! ;)

2. Another one of my students has lately become very interested in London. I don't know if their family is planning a visit or what the deal is, but the other day he approached me with this:
Miss Angela? In London, they speak English?
*sigh* I had a good giggle over that.

3. Just today I went to the housing office to get my apartment inventory checked and sign off on it. After completing the inventory, I asked about getting a clothes drying rack for my apartment. It was listed on the original inventory emailed to me, but I've never had one. After some humming and hawing, they agreed to see if they had one around that could be delivered to me... they did and a phone call was made to one of the workers to deliver it to my door. After I got home the doorbell rang and I, very excitedly, answered it (don't laugh at my excitement... you have no idea what it's like to hang your clothes all over your apartment in order to dry them each week... or maybe you do!). When I opened the door, what do I see? A man and 3 plastic coat hangers. I suppressed a giggle and asked for a drying rack and he said, "Ah... buyuk" Which means big. I gave a nod (not trusting my voice) and he smiled, nodded and walked away. I closed the door to hear him on the phone laughing and laughed out loud myself. He then brought me a proper drying rack.

4. I've recently signed on to online grocery shopping and delivery... I love this country. They LOVE to deliver... as I was perusing the aisles (so to speak) for a soy milk that I've found and liked, I began to notice the English translations under some of the items.... under the milk for babies it said "feed bag." Um... okay, I guess!

Okay, there are some of the more recent ones. I keep telling myself that I need to write this stuff down and I really must start. So enjoy and please do add your own tales in the comments section!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Report Cards...

Do you hear the scary music in the background?! I do... it's like the theme song to Jaws or some other action/horror flick. I hear it every time that the word report cards are mentioned! haha Actually, I enjoy writing reports. I enjoy finding ways to tell parents about their children's successes and challenges. I like sharing about what my students are good and capable of in my classroom and social observations. I am that teacher, the one who loves parent/teacher conferences and who loves to write report cards...

Well, until this year that is. You see, I am used to working in Microsoft Office and am super familiar with the programs and formatting etc. But my school does not use Microsoft products (unless you are at the administrative level, and then they don't even all have it). The teachers and students use a free office program called Open Office and it comes through a program called UBUNTU (I know, fun to say... one of my friends confesses to having a secret crush on the name of the program and in my incredible frustration I disagreed... but if I am honest, I do too). I understand that schools pay a HUGE amount of money for licensing fees with companies like Microsoft and it can be a crippling factor to budgets etc, but I am here to tell you that UBUNTU is not the answer! The two programs are not compatible, even though they look fairly similar in the word processing document stage. Their formatting is different and it can be very difficult to get a word document to print out properly once you've opened it with open office.

Why am I giving you all this background? Well... it's report card time (there goes the music again) and I have been typing like a mad woman into our report card templates. It works out to about 14 paragraphs per student and I have just 16 students (thank goodness for small class sizes here). Here is where it gets "interesting." The report card template created by the administration (and I can't even blame them for this because if I had Word, I'd use it too... it's better) was created in Microsoft Office Word. And it is a lovely template and straight forward to use, until you have to use it in Open Office from UBUNTU (which I have to do). Every time I save one of my gloriously written reports some strange merging of cells takes place and ruins the whole document. Yesterday the tech guys at school had a look and were as confused and frustrated as I (although, perhaps not because they hadn't written all this work and reworked the documents a minimum of 3 times each to try and solve the issues). So what it comes down to is this: I have to create a new document for each student and cut and paste all the text from the reports into the new template. *sigh* That's a lot of extra, meaningless, busy and frustrating work when if we all had Microsoft it would have been fine... or if the admin used UBUNTU like the rest of us...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Ah.... İstanbul!

So this past two weeks saw me playing tour guide to my friends who blessed me with their presence for the holiday. I LOVED it!! I think my favourite time though was in Istanbul. We just had such fun seeing such amazing places. That city is beyond wonderful and magical. Please enjoy the photos and small explanations. I am hoping to make more entries about Istanbul and our other adventures soon, but gotta wet your appetites first!!

One of the places that we visited that I liked the most was the Basilica Cistern. It was built around the 6th Century as an underground water source. It's simple beautiful when you go. It costs about 10 Turkish Lira to get in but it is well worth the price and you don't even need to stay all that long. Morning time is best, it opens around 9. That way you miss the hordes and the school groups. It rains in there and there is a ton to see. Unfortunately, my camera doesn't do so well in dark places, so you just have the shot above and the one below to get your imagination going.

This is one of the Medusa heads that help hold the cistern up. They say it was placed on it's side on purpose and the other one is upside-down. They also think that they may have come from another location and were brought to Istanbul.

Raymond and I eating at our favourite restaurant, Pasha. It's just on the main street and it's wonderful... best coffee (although that was expensive... the other items were reasonably priced and it was the best seat in town for watching people).

Inside the Grand Bazaar... oh my... the shopping to be had here, but like the guide books tell you, shoot for paying 1/2 of what they first quote you. I don't think we paid more than half of their asking price for just about anything we got. You gotta be prepared to wheel and deal in there!!
The crowds entering the Grand Bazaar... one shop keeper told us that there are 4,000 stalls in there and about 25,000 workers in total. YIKES!!!

One of the mosaics inside the Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia). It was remarkable how well maintained they are. They were stunning and will remain to be stunning if more tourists would heed the signs NOT to use flash photography. I was shocked at how many people ignored it and used their flashes... angry, angry on the inside was I...

More of the frescoes inside... and even though my old, decrepit camera really needs the flash to make it clear, I didn't use it... so deal with the blur! ;)

Looking down from the second floor. The Aya Sofya was built in the 6th Century also as a church. They say it was the greatest seat of Christendom at the time and that no building anywhere else in Europe (yes, this is on the European side of Istanbul) could rival it. I believe it. Once the Ottomans came into power, they converted it to a mosque (camii) and covered many of the paintings and mosaics with plaster. It was Atatürk who then converted it to a museum when he came to power and now the place is under constant restoration. It costs 20 TL to get in, but it is worth it.

More mosaics inside... simply stunning.

Aya Sofya from the outside. Best to hit this in the morning if you can too, it opens at 9 and is fairly empty for the first hour or so.

Inside the Blue Mosque. Here you can't wander all around like you can in Aya Sofya, but it is worth a visit and it is FREE!! Bear in mind though, that it is a working mosque and people are praying and worshiping there. So come dressed respectfully and don't take pictures of those praying... that's a no-no.

The Blue Mosque from the outside.

Sorry it's sideways... but I am sure you need to stretch your neck to the side right now anyway!! ;) This is part of the Hippodrome. There are only columns left and this Egyptian import was brought at the time of Alexander the Great, I think... my memory for these little facts is disappearing. There were other columns to see, but this was the best one... and I love the fact that the minaret is right behind it!

Cat man... just near the Hippodrome there was a little park and this man had a bag of cat food and was putting out food for the street kitties. They are everywhere in Turkey and they are well loved and cared for by locals and tourists alike.

My first picture of the beautiful city... I highly recommend the place and winter isn't a bad time to see it. There are still crowds, but less of them and it's easy to get around.
Look for more posts to come... I haven't even started with the Spice Bazaar, the trip up the Bosphorus and the food... yum!