Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I'm in Turkey? You're in Turkey

The first thing I realized once I got to Turkey was that I had to eat meat or else I wouldn’t survive. I have been a vegetarian for two years and haven’t eaten red meat in over five. Three day’s in I eat chicken, six days in I ate lamb… let’s just say I am now a meat eater. (I try and eat cheese but we all know what happens when I do that. Not pretty)

After 22 hours of traveling across the world, I finally arrived in Ankara Turkey. I was taken to my (lovely) dorm room to find no towels or toilet paper and let’s just say I needed to use the restroom… Welcome to Turkey.

I was very excited to finally be in Ankara and begin to get settled in. The anticipation of what was to come was killing me. My dorm room at Bilkent University was probably half the size of my room at home and looked like a 1980’s pink hotel room (imagine small, pink, and being completely alone). I got out of there as fast as I could and moved into this great apartment in downtown Ankara with two American girls Holly and Jemma, and one Turkish dude Erman. Both of the girls had already been to Turkey before and Holly was returning for a second semester at Bilkent. She is the best, kind of like all my friends put together, including the craziness and Maggie/ Nikki D’s nasty face (I couldn’t believe it). We get along perfect and if it weren’t for her I would be having a much worse time.

The first week I was in Turkey I participated in the ESN (Erasmus Student Network) orientation program that basically showed me around Ankara, Bilkent University and gave me lots of fun things to do (like get my residence permit, register for classes, oh yeah and organize sweet parties).

During orientation I did the one thing that all Turkish people must do at some point in their lives, and visited Ataturk's Mausoleum. It was SO big. I have never seen something so grand and nationalistic in my entire life. I have pictures that I’m going to try and post or you can check my facebook to see them. When first entering the Mausoleum you have to walk up a million stairs to the walkway to see the actual building. There are two large square temple-like things with large statues of men and women mourning the loss of Ataturks life. Then you must continue down a walkway lined with lion sculptures for about 1-¾ football length fields. THEN, you find your self in this open area enclosed with big wall like structures with openings (you can see all of Ankara up this high) and if you look to your left you see a large square building up on a platform where Ataturks tomb lies. This architectures smells like Egypt and looks really fucking big.Inside the wall like structures and behind somewhere else there’s a museum where they basically kept everything of Ataturks from his cigarettes to his swords, cars and clothes. It’s pretty insane (they love him, so do I).

My apartment is right near Tunus (and super close to the bus stop, which I am thankful for every morning when I sit on the bus for 30 mins to get to school). My neighborhood is very friendly and safe. It’s pretty typical, filled w
ith apartment buildings, markets, small stores, bars, hookah places (called nargile) and Kabob restaurants. It has a quiet sound, although people are constantly bustling around. I feel very lucky to live where I do, only a 5 minute walk to the market and Tunali Street where many more stores and café’s are. I still have to explore this area more.

I attend Bilkent University, which is slightly removed from the center of Ankara. It's kinda suppose to be the Harvard of Turkey—aka it’s private and super expensive. My program (Fine Arts) is ok, pretty self-driven it seems.... and I’m just going to leave it at that. Hopefully I’ll do some cool things while I'm here. This time seems to be dedicated to more soul searching than anything else. My academic classes are awesome (Art History and Archaeology). I’m learning about the French Revolution and the Enlightenment in my Art History class and is turning out to be pretty fucking relevant ( Revolution anyone?).

Things about dat Turkey:

  • I am blond and stick out like a sore thumb
  • Everyone here is skinny (well not everyone, but hardly anyone is fat)
  • Smoking cigarettes is a part of life
  • Turkish hospitality and friendliness is the best
  • People drive like madmen
  • There are no clothes dryers- can you say crunchy clothes?
  • Only bottled water
  • It is gray here (reminds me of Michigan)
  • You must walk fast or else you’ll get run or pushed over--Walk with a purpose
  • Traffic between 5 and 7:30pm is horrible, no matter where you are in the city
  • You can get any movie pirated
  • Black clothes are in
  • Beer is cheap--liquor is expensive
  • My neighborhood has a very calm and quiet spirit
  • I go to the market almost everyday to buy fresh food (everything is organic here)

This is all for now, I gotta go shower for school (I am forced to shower here because all the girls I got to school with actually look nice and I stick out as much as it is)--

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