Several people have recently told me that they have read and enjoyed my blog. When this happens I feel a rush of joy but also a pang of guilt because I haven’t written for a while. There two main reasons for that. (Excuses, excuses!). Since it’s our second year here many things that seemed exotic this time last year are now ordinary. Also, I always seem to wait for some sort of events to occur to blog about, but then get daunted by describing the whole thing and give up altogether. Add to this the usual madness of working, going to yoga, studying for an exam in December, cooking etc. and there’s precious little time remaining to sit down and ponder what to write about. But today the stars have aligned in a way that motivated me to sit down and write. In fact, I`m already sitting down, wrapped in a souvenir poncho I bought in Cappadocia, with a cup of tea and the radio playing at the background. The exam practice is done for the week, I`ve done some revision with Mike’s help and even though there’s always more to be read/revised, I decided I`ve had enough for one day.
So here are some bullet point updates from the last few months:
1. We got a car! With the help of Michael’s wonderful colleague, Bekir, and it only took 3 days and 3 different notaries and we are now proud owners of a tiny black Suzuki! Technically, I`m the owner since Mike’s residence permit was expired at the time so we registered it to my name even though I don’t have a license and have never driven in my entire life. I felt very grown up and proud, having just bought my first car at which Mike scoffed and said that he’d been driving since he was 15 but I`m still pumped! So now we can go on this little drives all around Kayseri and today Mike dragged me away from studying because he’s been wanting to drive up Mount Ali. Well, we didn’t manage to find the way up Ali, but we did found ourselves on the road leading up Mount Erciyes so we decided to give in and just go there. Except that it started raining so we couldn`t even see Erciyes for all the clouds so we took a ride in a cable lift (a bargain at only 3 lira ($1.5 or so)) and drove back into the city.
2. A new academic year has started and we are now coming to the end of the first quarter.
I`m really enjoying my students this quarter and I`ve been very motivated to come up with new ideas to challenge them as they are two very strong classes. I`ve recently created a lesson based on a story about my grandmother, which was a great success with the students. Here in Turkey students are very interested in your life, and, justifiably, have very little interest in the fake stories about fake people presented in the textbooks, so I decided to capitalize on that while still making sure to cover what the textbook was supposed to cover. Here is the photo of my grandma Alisa I used for the lesson. The students also tricked me into taking a selfie when I tried to combine revision with some exercise with a bit of TPR (Total Physical Response, an approach to teaching based on the coordination of language and physical movement). After my command, Stand behind the teacher, they shouted that we were in a perfect position for a selfie, someone whipped out a mobile phone and I couldn’t resist.
And as always, I remain inspired daily by my colleagues, old and new alike. This year we were joined by 8 new instructors and I`ve moved to a new office which I`m now sharing with 3 American colleagues and 1 Turkish one. One of my American colleagues used to be in the military which led to a lot of jokes about sharing your office with an enemy (me!) and I`ve also found out he can do a better Russian accent than me.
On September 1 we spent a few fun hours playing Tetris with our desks, trying to turn them so that everyone would get access to the light/door/other people in the office but in the end we reached a compromise and we can now enjoy our new offices and office mates.
My snack drawer – all healthy except for the emergency pack of Oreos.
I`m still bringing packed lunches and even though I miss socializing with all my colleagues in the staff canteen, I am enjoying lunches with my two good friends, Jackie and CeAnn. In fact, I was ill last week and they took turns bringing me soup for lunch. I`m so lucky to have such good friends!
3. We moved to a new apartment. Well, kind of. We moved up to the 10th floor from the 4th, hoping to escape the relentless traffic noise and the loud neighbors. The apartment has an identical layout, all identical furniture, the only difference being the position of the furniture – so things are all the same, but different. Since we are staying here for a few years, we`ve been adding little touches to the apartment to make it more homey, like buying beautiful sofa covers in Cappadocia, hanging up some pictures and throwing some rugs on the floor.
4. We are continuing with our attempts at healthier lifestyle – we are making fresh juices almost every day. It’s always interesting to see what sort of concoction we can come up with – some recent masterpieces included ginger, beetroot, carrots, cucumbers, spinach, broccoli, parsley, lemon and apple. Yep, all those things in one juice! And I`ve been going to yoga – I wish I could do it every day, both for the physical and mental benefits it provides. A lot of the enjoyment is down to our wonderful yogini Asli.