The Destination is the Journey

Istanbul

Its five days into our 10 day Turkish orientation camp now, and some writing on adequate sleep is in order. Having been chastised consistently for my absolutely totally legitimate writing voice, I’ve decided to change nothing, possibly even double down on what I’ve known all along; I can write how I want. We landed in Istanbul and bussed over to the Ötel Family, which took about half an hour. It was a weird half hour, I was really tired. Since then Harry and I have had almost no time in the room where the photos were taken. We have breakfast 8 to 9 and class 9 to 12 and 2 to 4 with generous swimming breaks in between. We also have daily orientations with Turkish volunteers afterwards. We get phones and other logistics, for instance I know I will need to ferry for 30 minutes daily to and from TÖMER, but I can walk ten minutes to school easily. Selimpasa is beautiful though. We swam with the jellyfish today, Reagan has the GoPro footage somewhere to prove it. The saltwater pool is also popular among my peers. Food is important here, as meals are easy to miss and are on very specific times but are highly negotiable. Just like anything on Turkey time. If a teacher has a meeting or anything class goes until five hours are up, no matter how late. Which leads to class starting when the teachers get up. We have two classes, a more advanced and one that started at the bottom, but both are going extremely quickly, trying to cover a month or more of material. Homework or Ödev is a daily activity, luckily we all have balconies and one room has a massive one where we all hang. We do more than hang actually, we train. Two of us have college sports teams placements so we have daily routines at the mercy of Coach Brenna, a former Girls Lacrosse team captain from Chicago who is more than happy to make us run the hotel stairs daily, intertwined with push ups squats, and abs of all sorts. In her own words:

“Listening to Coach K is always a fun activity” – Brenna K

Back to the food. It has been delicious and is now fairly predictable for us as we eat every meal at the hotel restaurant. The salad bar has lettuce and grated carrots and normal fare, but pomegranate (nar) syrup is the preferred dressing accompanied by olive yag and vinegar. Meal have fried potatoes and onion rings occasionally, but beef and vegetable mixtures are a staple along with rice. Soups are also usually available, mashed potatoes and chicken sometimes too. The vegetables are all very sweet, I like the tomatoes even. Dessert is more interesting, people don’t really like it on the whole as it is all soggy and in syrup. I don’t mind it but it wouldn’t be desert in the U.S.  The soggy shredded wheat with coconut is the best. Meals don’t vary much between meals either. I also wanted to mention that everything is bussed. Every table and object throughout the hotel. It is five stories and built for conferences (there is an eastern european NGO conference here now and I have a name and place to stay in Azerbaijan now) so there is bottomless coffee and tea of several types. You see cups and saucers all over. On the radiators even. Water isn’t potable from the pipes, so all water is in tiny little cup things (picture enclosed) and bottles at dinner. Stockpiling water cups is a pastime I enjoy, there is never enough of them.

Photo Sep 05, 2 28 08 PM (1)Photo Sep 10, 12 57 58 PM

Cookies here are mostly unsweetened and dry but fairly good regardless.  In other news our embassy visit was scheduled wrong so we may have it later, but probably will have to fly to Ankara in a couple weeks. I’ll be sure to figure that out and report back.

Photo Sep 10, 12 28 03 PMI’ll add some more photos later, here’s class, the flight from the first post, and the water fridge.