Entering the Holy Land

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Today I will start my adventure in the Holy Land. I’ll be visiting my great friend Mike – whose also a fantastic blogger that you should check out here – in Tel Aviv, where has has also been teaching English since September. Although the plans for our trip are still a bit up in the air, he has to work unfortunately while I’ll be visiting, I think the Bahai Temple in Haifa and Jerusalem look in the cards for us. 

Meaning, of course, stay tuned for some (hopefully) sweet adventure posts and pictures from when I get back.

Welcome To Germany

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Today I’m kicking off close to three weeks of traveling to mark the end of my first term teaching English in Malatya, Turkey. For my first stop, I’m heading to Munich to meet up with my mom – from there we will travel to the Black Forest region together and explore Southern Germany for around a week. After this, she’ll head back to America and I’ll continue on my travels… Expect awesome blog posts when I get back at the end of January!

Anyway, since I will be in Germany for the week I felt it only appropriate to post some German music as my Friday refrain. Unfortunately, the only German music I know is Rammstein (and Falco, but I’ll spare you that), from back when they hit it big on MTV in the late 90s – enjoy!

Turkey in Review

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As 2012 wraps to a close, I feel compelled to give a special post of ‘Turkey in Review.’ I’ve been extremely fortunate with the amount I’ve been able to travel and see within the past four months and, although I’ve missed a lot, I can’t help but be happy with what I’ve seen. So, without further ado, here is a quick and dirty review of some hot-spots in Turkey for any of you thinking of traveling in this amazing country.

Mount Nemrut

Visiting Mount Nemrut (Nemrut Dağı) was my first major Turkish excursion, and it also featured prominently on my life bucket list. Built as a burial mound on top of one of the highest peaks for the king of the Commagene Kingdom in South Eastern Turkey, the mountain is definitely worth a visit, though maybe not necessarily for the reasons you may think.

Look On My Works

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Turkish Proverbs and Idioms (Part 2)

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Back by (my own) popular demand, here is part two of my series of posts about Turkish proverbs and idioms – exciting!

Sonuna düşünen kahraman olamaz. 

“The one thinking about the end can not be a hero.” I’m not really sure when you would hear this said. I don’t even really remember how I learned this, but I had it conveniently saved in my phone so here it is. I can just imagine some Turkish martial arts movie, though, where the old wise sensei encourages the young student with this droplet of wisdom.

Damlaya damlaya göl olur.

“Drop by drop it becomes a lake.” According to my student this is only ever used in the context of saving money. It is straightforward enough – save enough, and you’ll end up with a huge amount of money.

Hanım köylü.

“From the wife’s village.” This is just the Turkish way of saying that the husband is whipped. Whipped to such a degree, in fact, that he picked up and moved to her hometown.

Hayal kırıklığına uğratmak. 

“To arrive at broken dreams.” This is the idiomatic way of saying that you are frustrated with something. I love the imagery of how being frustrated is associated with a broken dream.

____ senin köpeğin olsun.

“May ____ be your dog.” Dogs are not very highly regarded in Turkey, or actually in Muslim society in general. As such, saying “may ____ be your dog” means that the thing is valueless to you. For example, if someone asks if they can use your car you can respond in this way. It essentially means “of course!” or “what’s it to me?” Apparently this phrase should never be used for food or money, though, as then it becomes offensive as they are necessary for survival.

Küçük Şeytan

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During my time in Malatya I’ve made friends with a few families living in my university neighborhood. For the most part they all have small children and work in the hospital on campus. In exchange for giving some free basic English lessons to their children, the families usually invite me over for dinner and provide some hands on Turkish practice.

It’s mostly the food that’s important, though.

Continue reading Küçük Şeytan

Under Pressure

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Between falling way behind on my lesson planning and scrambling to catch up, fighting off a bad cold, and – oh God, I was supposed to do this – figuring out what I’m doing with myself once this academic year ends, I think Under Pressure accurately sums up this week. Also, Jen is coming to visit in 2 weeks! I guess that’s giving love another chance? Or something… I need to go to bed.

Also, congrats to my brother and his girlfriend for having a healthy 8 pound baby, little Nicholas! Yay! 

Where History And Modernity Collide

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Our meeting with Fırsat on the bus to Hatay proved to truly be an auspicious start to one of the most enjoyable weekends I’ve spent in Turkey yet. Although, if I had to wager, I would say that it would be very difficult to not enjoy a weekend in the old city of Antioch – in very few places have I truly gotten the feeling of a vibrant city feeling right at home being the place where history and modernity collide.

For example, although being on the border with Syria and having a strong Middle Eastern influence, Hatay was extremely casual in terms of dress. Whereas Malatya is much more conservative with any inter-sex displays of affection or any sort of daring clothing, women in Hatay “commonly wear mini-skirts, if you’ve noticed” as Fırsat had earlier put it with a wink at me and Fabio over tea. This is all the more interesting when put into context – you’re almost as likely to see a Syrian rebel enjoying some R&R in Hatay in full combat fatigues or military boots as one of these modern ladies.

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The Eager Alawi

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Taking the overnight bus from Malatya to Hatay with Danielle and Fabio, I immediately cursed my bad luck as I was forced to sit next to a wide squat Turk who was expanding into my seat. No sleep for me, I thought to myself; of course, I was wrong. I fell asleep almost immediately and did not truly stir until we arrived in Hatay province.

Still with a half hour to go until we reached our final destination – the city of Hatay, formerly known as Antakya, the old city of Antioch – my seat mate and I made eye contact and started to chit-chat.

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A Modern Muslim

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“Do you drink?” Füsun asked me as I got in her car.

“Yeah, sometimes I guess,” I tried to respond coyly.

“Oh, wonderful! You’ll come over for dinner next week and meet my husband. Make sure to bring wine, though! We both drink.”

“Really?”

“Yes, yes! I am a modern Muslim! I don’t cover – I think covered women look so ugly – and I drink. A modern Muslim, I am a modern Muslim woman!” Füsun continued to rant like this switching between broken English and Turkish on the ten minute ride she gave me from the campus shopping market to my apartment.

“Really!” she insisted, bright red dyed hair glinting in the street lights in front of the apartment, “We would love to have you over for dinner next Wednesday. Okay?”

“Uh, yeah, sure” I smiled back at her.

“Wonderful! See you then, iyi akşamlar!” hung in the air as she sped away back to her own apartment.

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Turkish Proverbs

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Proverbs and idioms are something that fascinate me to no end. The sayings of a language contain much more information than a cursory glance would suggest, and really provide a handle in which to explore the underlying culture and beliefs of a society. In English proverbs and idioms seem almost regulated to a back burner of as a novelty or cliche; in Turkish, however, idioms are a major part of every day conversation and carry significant weight and wisdom.

So, without further ado, here is a quick list of some great Turkish proverbs I have tried my best to remember over the last three months:

Memleketin doğduğun yer değil, doyduğun yerdir.
“Your home isn’t where you are born, but where you eat to satisfaction.” A coworkers wife told me this last night and said it should become my slogan (which could be easy enough judging by how much I eat in Turkey). Originally being from Ankara, she said, it has already become hers too.
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Ah Be Kardeşim

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I absolutely love this song; I can’t stop listening to it, which is great since having Turkish stuck in my head is only beneficial. There’s something too about the interplay of Yalın’s lyrics and the sound of his voice with the horns that is just perfection. It reminds me, at least in content, also of some old Bloc Party tunes as it mournfully asks “Oh, my brother, what ideas came into your head?”

I never said this was worthwhile

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