The Kara Deniz Tour Videos

Eastern Black Sea, Georgia, Turkey

August 25 Update: Check for additional videos, footage, and photos on the portfolio link, or here

Some were said to be waiting with baited breath. After a bunch more hours in my room here is the full vlog of our trip to North-Eastern Turkey in late May. I will try to post another short blog from Turkey when we are in Istanbul. I have more footage, but I don’t want to spend any more time editing, I prefer to be out enjoying the last two weeks. There will be at least one more video/blog coming in early July on the ‘portfolio’. Watch the Kara Deniz Tour videos below.

In pieces:

WATCH the rest of the Turkey Videos from my year

Kara Deniz, Seçım Mevsimi & The Beginning of the End

Batumi, Georgia, Izmir, Samsun, Trabzon, Turkey

And now where am I at? Yesterday was the election of the 25th National Parliament of the Turkish Republic, and as Turkey turns an uncertain new leaf I can’t help but feel it marks the beginning of the final chapter of our stay here. Yesterday evening I followed results from afar, ducking into tekels (convenience stores) to look at vote counts on televisions shop keepers were watching. I watched fireworks being lit off from a distance across Izmir’s bay. The menial amount of them indicated uncertainty. Every passing person was discussing the results and how they thought it would impact them. The level of political engagement here is a testament to a younger nation, one that’s identity was incredibly reliant on a fiery resistance to those who desire to influence and control anatolia for themselves. Izmir still retains its’ own category. It is the Castle of Ataturk’s founding Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi and a bastion of patriotism that can only be partially shown to someone who hasn’t visited like this:

But now the country dips into uncertainty. Does the result mean a fragile AKP minority government, a coalition between fierce rivals, or a new election? it remains to be seen.

From our perspective the election looks like millions of ads and vans driving around playing loud music. Building size posters proclaim the infrastructure programs that the ruling AKP have completed in their 13 years in power. The distrust of AKP doesn’t expand far outside Izmir. As we bussed toward Karadeniz on the far side of the country there was tremendous support. We crossed the entire country over our Kara Deniz tour, from Izmir to the Georgian port of Batumi. We traveled on a tour bus with Turks, us, and some Turkish Romanians, remnants from the old Ottoman Empire. We toured the sites of the Area and saw tourists and workers from Syria, Iran, and Iraq. I talked to a waiter who worked most of the year but every summer brought supplies and fought in Aleppo near his family home. Stories like this make Turkish work learning.

I hope you will enjoy these videos from our trip, I don’t want to take too much time away from my last 3 weeks to write out what video can describe far better and more efficiently. There are more posts to come over the summer as I work through footage and reflect on the experience. I can also now say that next year I will be studying International Relations at American University’s School of International Service Global Scholars Program with the aim of a Master’s Degree in three years. I’m excited to live in the capital and take advantage of the opportunities for me there. Before I go to school I will be in Bellingham from July 1st to August 21st.

Watch Part 1 of our Kara Deniz Trip below:

My approach to these videos was different from before where I took specific sites and made montages. These are truly video logs of what we were up to as I had time, memory cars, battery, and availability to film. In Part 2 and beyond I use a different camera (My Canon T3i) from what I’ve used the whole year (Nikon Coolpix s9500) up until this point. I promise it’s a good difference.

Click to enlarge pictures from the trip!

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Extra Video: Hiking and Biking in Izmir:

Izmir Air Show:

Read About My Year on NSLI-Y Interactive

Izmir, Turkey


Click on the Image Above to read an article I wrote on the education an exchange gives. It’s the least I could do to support the program that provides these scholarships to American Students.

As my birthday approaches and I head to Istanbul for the first time on April 16th I can’t help but be positive about the remainder of the year. The feeling of misunderstanding and disorientation has all but disappeared. It’s been replaced by a desire to get the most out of every remaining moment in the 2 1/2 months that remain. Time is flying by.

 – Noah

Antalya & Uludağ: Time’s Rapid and Confusing Acceleration

Antalya, Izmir, Uludağ

Where am I at? It’s been over two hundred days since I left home and on March 26th there will be 90 days left in the program. The whole thing is beyond believing. February was an absolute blur, the first week including a mid-year trip to Antalya where we spoke Turkish through all of our workshops and focused on our awareness of the programs mission and our personal goals. After that I spent time on the college process, the results of which I hope to announce in April. Also, I can now say I’ll be back in Bellingham on the afternoon of June 30th which is a lot more kesin (sure) than before. I have decided to try to stop writing in English almost completely to improve my writing and I’m sure you can see how now when I do write I struggle much more. We have tests every three weeks or so as we increase intensity of our focus on language. B2 here we come. Now let’s look at Antalya and Uludağ. You probably should too if you travel to Turkey. The videos say more than I could explain with writing anyways, theres about 8 minutes of footage down below.

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Some parts of this video I like, some are terrible stabilizations, take a look at the Antalya Film Experience:

Mid-Year Camp

AFS Turkey’s NSLI-Y team, us, and YES Abroad

NSLI-Y Turkey Year, February 5



Uludağ is not tough skiing but absolutely empty past the bunny hills. All of the photos are mine unless I’m in them.DCIM100GOPROtumblr_nkpgh2Wcrp1rz9fuho8_1280tumblr_nkpgh2Wcrp1rz9fuho9_1280 I would love to share my same experiences with visitors to the United States, If you plan to come from Turkey, make sure to keep your papers in order. To learn the documents you need and get them in order you could try

applying for ESTA to visit United States.

Noah in Turkey: A Month In The Life

Izmir, Turkey

I am writing a couple sentences every day as we move into only speaking Turkish. The adventures of every month have been sometimes busy and exciting, and sometimes equally sparse. This is a sort of ultra realistic blogging approach. not really digestible. Yet not writing it down has left a lot of it to the imagination for you; so here in long form is Ocak 2015:

New Years! January 1, 2015: After a long night with CKAL friends (I’d dined with them at the school dinner of a boat on Dec. 30) that included a mass of cake-pops, rescuing Harry, Mert, four pieces of Baklava, and losing my coat we returned home and slept until 5pm. Followed by a watch of the Interview (an act of political protest) and an analysis of it’s analogous Lord of the Rings subplot we Skyped with my friend at home while eating mail order pizza and home-fries.

Jan 2: Harry stayed over but left early allowing the first family breakfast of the New Year and an incredibly low key day where I watched Interstellar, Skyped a bit, and enjoyed the last of my unlimited computer access. I plan to limit myself to 2 hours a day, including weekends, or Turkish content only starting Jan 5. Last week and until Jan 1 we had no internet at all for a week, so playing catch up was vital before the pledge comes into effect.

Jan 3: Slept until noon, enjoying the New Years Holiday from language and school classes. In the evening my host uncle, or dayI’s birthday was celebrated at a restaurant with the family. He loves space, and having just watched Interstellar I was steeped in Turkish and theoretical physics. AKA down to converse. Later in the evening a host cousin stayed over and we played GTAV.

Jan 4: Writing something everyday will generate a lot of content it looks like. Tomorrow the pledge goes into force. It include the rule I can’t say a single word of English unless the person I am speaking to cannot understand Turkish. This is self imposed with the help of the group, who have mostly joined in. Today we had a late breakfast and went to Urla, toward the edge of Izmir, to visit Elcin’s friends new Patisserie, there we had delicious croissants, biscotti, and Chai. The atmosphere was amazingly French and relaxed as friends and family came by, we discussed attitudes on Turks abroad as well as politics and Ahmet Davutoglu’s personal song had just come out. We bought a lot of tatlIler and at Bratwurst at home.


Jan 5: A return to routine. Up in the morning and school from 8:30 to 2:45 followed by Tomer from 4 to 6. School is dominated by talk of New Years adventures. No one is talking about the HDP Kurdish party’s decision to run as a party not independents in the election sometime before June. If they don’t get  10% they’re seats go to the AK Party. Risky move. (link) Today is the first day I haven’t spoken a single English word (I defined some vocabulary technically). It’s 11pm now so I think I made it.

Jan 6: Snow came to Izmir today! A dusting of snow came down through the day and on the hills it stuck. Another day of school and I was already exhausted. The days are long and speaking only in Turkish makes it hard to fall asleep for some reason? A female suicide bomber attacked Istanbul in one of the first bombs there in years. No organization has as of yet claimed responsibility but a nearing victory of YPG forces in Kobani could be related. Earlier in the year the protests stemming from Kobani were visible for about three weeks here.

Jan 7: The cold is here to stay and it was negative 5 celsius this evening. Host mom made apple pie and we worked online on several upcoming press events for NSLI-Y. Today was the attack in France, and Turkish people are extra hopeful to express how peaceful Islam is. These people are right, Islam doesn’t create a lot of violence here, politics does.

Jan 8: A late starting day as there was a Religion test and I got a workout in. Went and got a haircut with the host dad and ate some delicious Iskender before a night alone that ended in a food coma.

Jan 9: Walked the dogs this morning and got really tired. The power went out at Tomer after dark but class got out early and we got Tavuk Durum wraps. The attacks today ended in two hostage situations in France as the outpouring for freedom of speech rightly continues i have to make a point: The media here has made a point of not covering the Muslim nature of the attacks. The initial videos of the killers executing a police man were played for hours but were cut from the air as soon as the connections to Yemen and a French terror cell were established. This has elements of press control and censorship that would not be accepted in the U.S.A. It is worrying to say the least the level of control the media has on what people know, even with the internet. The initiative to not only go look at news from other countries not designed for your cultural sensitivities, likely in another language is unappealing. Imagine watching dead U.S. soldiers in the streets but having no coverage of dead Muslims for example (U.S. television does the opposite of this). Much like watching Al-Jazeera or Russia Today in the U.S. the way the opinions confront you, but in amongst the usual cable ambiguities there is valuable analysis on the United States and the world.

Jan 10: Fitness day after family kahvalti I ran an hour and rowed for 30 minutes, followed by lifting. Ata had a soccer game, we are planning to watch Russell Crowe’s new film Son Umut tommorrow. Harry and Brenna came over and we shared stories and talked with Ata in Turkish before working on some concepts for our press work this month. We got some pide and I walked them back to the Izban. I plan to have a midnight bowl of cereal tonight but aspirations end there.

Jan 11: We went for kahvalti with Murat and his friend and had a long political discussion with Ata that spanned the whole day. Ata and I saw the Water Diviner and it was a solid three star film with really amazing cinematography. The editing was done by Turks with emphasis on turkish, so the American version will be different but also worth watching, there’s depth to it.  Still think halftime in movie theatres is good. Ata and I continued the political discussion on the unneccesariness of Imperialism. Then we went to Murat’s grandparents home for dinner and had amazing soup and dolma (from dolmak – to wrap). We stayed a while and had Turksih Ice cream. [Imagine the Acme Ice Co. in Bellingham kinda.]

Jan 12: Absolutely exhausting monday led me to cave and read some magazines in English on my iPod, our Tomer teacher was sick, it rained all day, and I forgot a raincoat. Moral is low but Host mom is on her fourth night duty in a row so I can hardly complain. EuroNews stopped by working on their NSLI-Y feature with Regan who we chose to represent the program for us. I’ll post it here as im in the background some.

Jan 13: Went for an exhilarating morning run, this place is pretty and I hadn’t seen that hour before here. Got Gevrek and breakfast and had a conversation with the street seller. Arriving at school we started watching American History X???? but quickly abandoned that for obvious reasons. Tests are over at school and teachers don’t show up at all.

Jan 14: Another school meal, this time with Chi Kofte’s in three cesitleri ve Erkim’in “mole Cake” with banana layering a banana frosting with chocolate coating. Can’t really explain it in words but this cake was the days highlight along with watching Gattaca and Orphan dubbed in Turkish. They got extremely emotional during Orphan and screaming about what characters should do went to an unprecidentedly high level. I’ll fondly remember the movie though now.

Jan 15: Six people came to school today. Played some basketball. Rumors of new social media blocks grew today following the Jan. 2nd stopping of Turkish (Intelligence Agency [MIT]) trucks carrying weapons on the Syrian border. The courts and media were issued a gag order on Jan 14th after the related court documents leaked from the prosecutors office. The arms were stopped at a checkpoint leading to ISIL territory.

Jan 16: Tomer had a Konusma Exam to check our progress today, so I’m writing after that. Toward the end of the month we will be doing Q&A and presentations on the experience for promotion of studying abroad. Working on editing video and slides now.

Jan 17: Lazy day with an hour run and the viewing of two Nolan Batman films with Turkce Doblaj. Also went to Erkim’s birthday and had a chocolate waffle. Got into some good conversations in Turkish met a bunch of knew people too.

Jan 18: Got up at 12 as it is a day of rest. Also a day of Seahawks playing, at what i think will be 10:30 tonight. I’ll find the result in the morning. We went out to Yakakoy and had a long breakfast with the family from 1 to 4 and the proceeded to ice skate, lord knows I wasn’t prepared but it came back after a while. Watched the Seahawks game and fell asleep in the third quarter in depression before the miraculous turn around. Damn.

Jan 19: Meetings today on the presentations we have to give before the practice livestream tomorrow. Went to the gym and set a new personal sauna record at 17 minutes. I don’t really want to beat that though. I’ve been rowing a lot actually.  Took a long breakfast today and we learned a lot in class -arak, -mayyip here we come.

Jan 20: Headed to school and no one was there so I had a lazy day and watched Cem Yilmaz films like G.O.R.A and A.R.O.G. with Ata. We went to Subway too for the first time in a year or more. Stayed up until 4am to watch the state of the union.

Jan 21: I really don’t understand why anyone would read this far but it’s officially the start of the last two years of Obama’s term today. No one at school again, but an extra learning turkish through drama experience is happening at Tomer before class. 5 1/2 hours there today counts as a tough school day for me.

Jan 22: Lazy day with Ata and friend Boran who came over and DJ’d. Went on a massive 4 hour fitness binge and we are preparing for both our NSLI-Y presentation and the B1 test next Tuesday. All work and no play makes Noah a dull boy.

Jan 23: Still not sure why anyone would read this far. Looking back on the experience as we prepare to present ‘A Day In the Life in Turkey’ (link) writing this ‘Month in the Life’ demonstrates it is really just life. New King of Saudi Arabia today, Salmam is probably going to be about as good as his father, though new Crown Prince, when he ascends the throne may actually have different views.  Today was a half day at school and the last before the 2 week school break! Went bowling with class this morning. Also, Elsa from YES, our sister program, made an awesome video, see if you can spot me:

Jan 24: The first day of break! We have 5 hours of Tomer Mondays and Tuesdays (Pazartesi ve Sali) but are otherwise as free as we are going to get! We had the NSLI-Y online presentation on Turkey today and over 53 computers with who knows how many people tuned in. For more on that: Today we had breakfast with the extended family and i unveiled me Turksih as some did not know I’d learned this much. Then did some car shopping with the family and Ata left to Switzerland to go skiing. NSLI-Y forbid me going with him to visit the Turkish family I have there. Here’s the video I made for that: 


Jan 25: Went to the gym early then we went to the ancient Agora. A site in Izmir which I had somehow not been to yet? We took a detour by KemrAlti and the Bazaar which led to a meal and Turk Kahvesi. After that we headed to the Konak Pier for an excellent…Waffle. With creme, chocolate, caramel, ice cream, kiwi, strawberry, banana, three types of nuts, and more it was real solid. Lots of studying for my exam on the 27th in the evening as well as dinner guests in the newly quiet home. We ate fish cooked in our built in grill, Murat came over and we rounded the evening out with exceeding food, and we ate bal kabagi tatlilar (pumpkin)

Jan 26: First of the break Tomer days. Slept in after a long night. The 5 hours of Tomer means leaving at 12:30 and getting home around 7:45. Say all you want about a ‘free gap year’ but we are grinding. Work is getting done. This evening I’m home alone with the dogs this evening studying and preparing some Norwegian Rice Milk cornflakes.

Jan 27: The test happened and I brought a cake, we ate it. Harry and I stopped and got some durum and i went to bed early. This is brutally honest here.

Jan 28: A beautiful day allowed us to get up late and have a wonderful breakfast. Menemen eggs: like something out of Homeskillet, tomatoes and lightely scrambled eggs. It’s good. We moved to the coast and walked through the Beautiful Bostanli Pazar that happens every Wednesday. There’s alot of photo and video that was taken keep eyes out, I forgot my camera. Buying some dried figs and walnuts, we went to the theater. The film we saw might not show up in the U.S. it was Mucize (miracle) and followed a disabled man find opportunity as a school was built and a village was educated. 9/10. Tavsiye ederim. Then Harry and Brenna came over and we made Turk Kahvesi, at Ice Cream, and talked for some time.


Jan 29: Watching ‘Birdman’ with the Turkish Doblaj for the first hours of the morning. Woke up at 11 and made myself turk kahvesi followed by an intense squat and push up routine and two hours of Turkish news. Dinner with host mom and a midnight walk with the dogs. sadece dinlendim. I also put my feature on NSLI-Y Interactive:

Jan 30: After the passing of my host mom Elcin’s kuzeni we went and fetched the elders of the family in our car and went the mosque. Thirty years ago women couldn’t participate in Islamic funerals, but now, in Turkish Islam at least, they can. They stand outside the mosque and don’t participate but say prayers also. The traditions are centered around an altar with the coffin and lines of prayer rugs. Roughly and hour speech in Turkish and half an hour of the Arabic prayers, followed by the allahu akbhar’s even the most ignorant person in the west knows as the conlcution of prayer. I was glad I went and had the experience, to family ‘Başina Sağol olsun’ or ‘Allah rahmet eylesin’ diyebilirsin. Today we sold the Ford and are getting the new Audi soon. We washed the dogs and the Murat and I went to 01 Adana for some individually wrapped Adana Kofte.

Jan 31: Slow day working towards nothing really harry and Brenna came over after i ran and did 300 squats for no real reason. We made amazing grilled chicken wraps and drank chai. I walked the dogs for half an hour at 1am with no leash. It was therapeutic.

Feb 1: The superbowl is happening at 1:30am tonight. I plan have some Turkish friends over and share the magic of nachos. No one can stay that late as busses don’t run, ancak, Fox SPORTS 2 Turkiye broadcasts the game. Çok mutlu ve heyecanlıyım.

Note: The last day of whatever this thing is I’ve created. Maybe I’ll try a weekly version next month, as this is too much. “Never tell me I didn’t blog enough.”

Addendum 12/3: I’m going to go ahead and walk back that promise, I have two big videos on the way and both will be posted the week of March 16 with accompanying text.

– Noah

Videos of Bergama, Foça, and More

Bergama, Foça, Izmir

The long promised video of last month’s trip to Bergama (Pergamon) takes you to a location brimming with ruins, despite the German’s best efforts to remove the main temples and reconstruct them in Berlin. Also included is the Ottoman city of Bergama’s wisely built intersections and a Byzantine Church (Islamic, and pre-Islamic sites are also on the grounds) under reconstruction.

Foça, and a doomed from the start blog where my camera dies as pod of dolphins (yunus) passed right by us. Me, with a dead camera, failed to capture this majestic and tremendous moment. Imagine it for now though. I will go fishing again and hope for a similar occurrence, or have Ata jump in the water and film that.

Behind the scenes of the ball and other random footage as promised, cleaning out the hard drive, delivering content, it’s a win win. win.

Bergama & Thanksgiving

Bergama, Izmir

In the past weeks the schedule has been changed slightly and life has become more routine. This is good for me and worse for blogging. Highlights are fewer and far between as the long term results of language and cultural learning slowly develop. I’m also working on college applications and keeping in touch with those at home. We just took our test and I passed, we are now studying european level A2 in Turkish until the end of January. There’s two videos I am editing right now, one of the Bergama ruins, and one of miscellaneous things, click portfolio for those (karaoke, feasts in the classroom, and behind the scenes at the Republic Ball var). I’ll get these out this month. Next month I want to write an important story from every single day of the month and then post them all. Maybe I’ll do it every month. Check out the links for other blogs for the amazing stories of the other students along with me!


Thanksgiving at Regan’s house, with kofte and a 22lb turkey.IMG_0767

The view from the guest house were we barbecued a week ago. Sunday’s with the host father are always special. DSCN2305

Bergama’s streets reflect a time that was taken from Izmir by the burning of the city in the final battle of the war for independance.


Watching my video from the last blog in class!IMG_0674 IMG_0673

Normally when someone passes in the USA it is a private and secretive affair. Traditionally less celebratory than somber. In Turkey the loss of a loved one is accompanied by a Lokma truck that gives free donuts and prayers for the lost person to each student. Thinking about how death is video uniquely negatively in the United States is important. Remembering the positive aspects of a person is more important than focusing on the suffering.


Turkey is developing wind farms in Ege Bolgesi in a big way, here trucks carry windmill blades. DSCN2304 DSCN2280 DSCN2271 DSCN2247 DSCN2248

Bergama’s vast sites from Roman, self rule, and Byzantine times dazzle. The majority of some sites were moved piece by piece to Berlin but what remains is worth seeing. Keep an eye out for my video, it’s better at expressing the vastness of the place.

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For the second month we all met for brunch, down from a camp after the first month and this month there was only a meeting with counselors. It reflects that we have found community and support on our own now.

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“Good luck with finals guys”

Cumhurriyet Balosu


For the celebration of our school’s 10th anniversary and the 91st anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Republic, our school had a ball. Star studded with the students in full suiting and veterans of the Northern Cyprus and Korean Wars attended, as well as the school’s founder. Traditional dances and music from our region, Ege, were performed by my classmates. We practiced all week but I elected to just video the result. I’m liking keeping these blogs media heavy and letting the country speak for itself.


Veterans sing along with the anthems.

My class performs a waltz.

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A student dressed as Ataturk reenacts his landing at Samsun that began the War for Independance.


The tables we set up during class Friday.

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Our principle speaks in front of the ‘Bandirma’ and bouquets given ceremonially to Ataturk.


The Efe warrior dance is performed in the style of warriors getting into the mood for battle.



I was there too.

Ephesus Video and More

Ankara, kapadokya

Now it has not been long. But I’ve taken and stabilized some video from our tour of the ancient Efes ruin in Selcuk, Turkey. Below I also have some extra footage from the Ankara kale, climbing through the underground city, and the restaurants in Kapadokya.

Never one to be shaken, I slept through the 4.1 Magnitude earthquake epicentered in Izmir, Turkey this morning. Though Regan fell out of bed. Below are even more group photos from our trip. We are back in school now and reunited with our routines and friends. That’s more than enough from me for a while.

10506992_10152534909639016_4943076496844891031_oThe new U.S. ambassador is received in Ankara on Oct. 19
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Perspective on Ephesus, Ankara & Kapadokya


Now it’s been a little while. The adventure in Turkey is six weeks old and we finally got to do the tourism. I have travelled to Ephesus, Ankara’s sights, Cappadocia, and it’s underground city. There is no time or way I can explain the feelings and experiences that we went through. I have taken some of my photos and put theme here but in no way will this fully communicate our adventure. Not shown here are a trip to Cheshme with my host family and a stay at a beach house with the Swiss part of the family. Swimming in the ocean and making avalik tost with them was wonderful. The photos from many places are on other cameras, but it is worth posting a summary now. I’ll be sure to add another photo post as well, videos are also being edited. Work and homework continues to be vast here although we missed a week of school.

There is a new Ambassador in Ankara who arrived days after we left, but in meetings and conversations with the various personnel I can’t help but feel like these are people to aspire to be more like. This program seems to have future nurses, archeologists, and business people. In reality it’s mostly future foreign service workers. Ankara itself is a circus, with the largest police and military presence i’ve seen in a city. It is more beautiful than expected anyway. The massive history of the great civilizations of the Anatolian Peninsula allow Turkey an unimaginable cultural wealth. It demonstrates the endlessly strategic position and importance of the country and the Bosphorous.


Ali Amca gives the customer before me a rinse.DSC08836

Ankara kaleDSC08844

Ishmet Ionu, 2nd President of Turkey’s grave.DSC08847

Ataturk’s Mausoleum DSC08853 DSC08857 IMG_0539 IMG_0540

Hittite and Pagan Artifacts from central AnatoliaIMG_0546 IMG_0547 IMG_0549

Malaysia’s NATO attache visits with us.
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the architecturally stunning U.S. Embassy (last Bombed Feb 16 2013)

A Salt LakeDSC08888 IMG_0247 DSC08908

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smiling with the eyes is hard
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Incredible restaurant i have video.
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Hittite style vazoler


Orthodox Christian cave art from the 3rd century. DSC08988_2 DCIM100GOPRO DSC09004

Bayram Mubarek Olsun


The Kurban Bayrami or Eid al-Adha has begun in Turkey. The holiday began today and continues until October 7th. We have been extremely busy with the first two weeks of school and getting used to not only the new schedule but the absolute effort required to communicate in another language for 10 hours a day. Studying is taking the majority of my time and I have built a massive library of flash cards and notebooks to write down words i hear, words i need, and grammar. In school we learn how people talk in the street using the ‘Argo’ street language. In language class we learn tenses, grammar and conversation. Vocabulary is our responsibility. The last few weekends we have taken small excursions to restaurants and I went fishing to the north toward Manisa outside Izmir. We took a small fishing boat owned by my host brothers father out onto the sea and began catching fish as the sun fell on the incredibly greek mediterranean looking town. On the shore apartment buildings were built above ruins of ancient buildings no one remembers the name of. I caught five and we went out to delicious seafood dinner where we chose a fish and watched it cook. Salads here are shared by everyone on one plate, and you eat condiments as bites instead of putting them onto food. There are also meal combinations that are fairly strictly dictated. You gotta eat fistulye before main courses of meat for instance.

Its a strange thing to transition from tourist to visitor to having somewhere be your home. I’m somewhere in the middle of that, working to develop the 8:30 to 3:30 school and 5pm to 7pm routine. Homework takes several hours and thats without school textbooks and workbooks to attempt to join the classes. Soon I hope I will, and with friends at school i feel comfortable although exhausted everyday.

This wednesday we went to the Foreigners Police Department and worked on getting Residency Permits but we remain on temporary visas, albeit newer ones. This was the first time I’ve seen Syrians in large amounts. Only women and very young children. The millions of Syrians in Turkey are the worlds fastest growing humanitarian crisis and it would serve us well to our spend money on them rather than military actions.


My daily subway stop


Konak and the ascensor tourist landmark.

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The quintessential Izmir photo from the top of the Ascensor in Konak.

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Kelly stands among the thousands of Bayram shoppers in the Bazaar.

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Alsancak and the nightlife areas near the Tomer school photographed on badly my ipod. Time to take photos is scarce especially when walking in crowds I don’t like to carry much. I’ll try to bring it more often but there’s no hurry. I’ll write a longer post by October 15 with the Bayram details and our Ankara trip.

Below is the song extolling the city’s beauty written by the Izmir greek native Dario Moreno which plays endlessly in the ascensor.

Function Precedes Form


I might actually be able to say we are settled in now, the journey to Izmir and our host families is complete, we have beds and rooms and kinda know what tomorrow will bring. After another period of classes and workouts we packed up and prepared to move on. Our final night in the hotel we walked the streets and witnessed yet another circumcision party at the hotel: a is video included below.

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Us and YES Abroad with language teachers. Nothing has been heard from them since. By me.

 The plane trip was just an hour, and we parted ways with the students heading to Gaziantep and elsewhere.

DSCN2034 the hotel view at sunset

Our host families met us at the airport and we headed home. Here’s my room:

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Ody, one of our dogs

It is more than enough and I am incredibly satisfied, I like my home and my family a lot. My host mother is a coordinating doctor and my host brother is 14 studying German at the moment in a Germany sponsored immersion school. With their knowledge of english, communication is available if we need it and turkish is available to me as much as possible, with clarifications simplified. Their knowledge of learning english allows reciprocal explanations of the process of sentence structure and grammar. I am speaking whenever possible and need turkish often in my daily routine, although I am barely a functional speaker. The first day I was incredibly sick, which I knew would happen at some point, and I spent a day without food, mostly without water either. Recovery was quick and I attended language classes at Tomer in Alsancak which required a 30 minute walk 35 minute ferry ride, and another 5 minute walk twice a day. I’ve done this all week so far alone and it has helped me appreciate the city and gain incredible independance. Timing ferries, paying and getting the right one is initially concerning but becomes easier.

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On my route are parks and an Ataturk monument with a square where the ‘rollerbros’ (my nom de spor) are rollerskating. They are skaters in every way but rollerblade. There is also real skateparks and a huge farmers market on my way. I also pass rustic fisherman before and after the days catch. Traffic is good in Izmir, you can drive anywhere quickly, and I plan to try the Izban today to shorten my commute. I will say though that conversely, there are no crosswalks in the entire city, and pedestrians have to run between cars, they do not slow or brake for you ever. This is just Turkey. In our neighbourhood, although we are on the second floor in an apartment, we have two amazing dogs. Stray dogs here are no very common and are mostly tagged and spayed, but stray cats travel in herds. Kittens too. This is a new concept for me. An area is measured by the friendliness of the stray cats, if they are treated and fed well by homeowners in an area they will approach you.

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Other new concepts are no processed foods, a lack of grains compared to americas engorged grain consumption, and slippers on inside at all times. Homes here are exceedingly clean. I also attended a birthday of Ata’s cousin, ate banana cake and other awesome sweets, the european influence in the area is great. Dessert though is not daily at all. Sugar is fairly limited to tea in the home. Towels also are replaced by robes. None of these things are remotely bad, they are just change. As we do homework and await residence permission forms we need to go to class, we study Turkish and tour the city alone and together with families and friends. Today I bought a dictionary and notebooks finally. They will excel flashcard production nicely. Thanks all for reading, I’ll update this thing for sure when Bayram Holiday gives me some free time!

The Destination is the Journey


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.

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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.