my first week in Istanbul
01.09.2010 0 °C
The jet lag has faded, I think I've got the time straight and the currency no longer feels like Monopoly money. It actually feels real that here I am in Istanbul. I started work this week...after my arrival on Tuesday I had a couple days to feel like a normal human being again until I was brought into the office to do my residence permit paperwork, contract and all those logistics. Over the weekend I started classes. The way the classes work is that they are in 120 hour blocks. To start off my classes look like this:
Saturday, Sunday 3:00-7:00 (Intermediate)
Monday Tuesday Wednesday 7:00 pm-10:00 pm (Advanced)
I'll probably have more classes starting up soon but I don't mind being eased in. Especially because I'm looking to move apartments ASAP.
Their ages range anywhere from 18-60. Which makes for an interesting dynamic in class.
I've found so far that Turkish students aren't shy. One of the first few questions I always get is "Are you married?"
My favorite quote of the week came from one of my intermediate students. When asked to give an example of a present future sentence she responded with :
The U.S.A. will have destroyed the world in the future.
Gotta laugh it off. I've had some intense politial discussions going on in class as well. Some students got in a heated argument about the Turkish/Kurdish issues. At least it was all in English but I had to cut it off before it got too out of control. It's quite a change from China where I was forbidden to discuss anything slightly controversial.
Most of my students have been extremely welcoming. I've been asked to a fish dinner by the Bosphorous with a group of ladies, offered a tour guide, and even had some marriage proposals
I arrived in the middle of Ramazan (Ramadan), a Muslim holy month. Those that observe it fast for the entire month from sunrise to sunset. That means they cannot eat, drink, chew gum, smoke...nothing passes their lips not even water. Naturally, the students who are fasting in my evening classes are pretty wiped out so as soon as we hear the muezzin, or call to prayer we break for iftar, the breaking of the fast. Actually there's a mosque right by the school so we can't possibly miss it.
The call to prayer is something I'll have to get used to. It's 5 times a day and since there are many mosques in the city it's a very significant sound. I think it's a beautiful sound and it reminds me how different this place is from home.
At the end of Ramazan there is a holiday called Seker Bayram (Sugar Festival). It's a national religious holiday so our schools are closed. I'll get a chance to be a tourist in the city and see all the historical sights.
First, I need to move out of the lojman. I won't feel completely settled until I get an apartment, unpack and start feeling like I'm actually living somewhere. It might be as soon as tomorrow, we'll see!