Monday, July 31, 2006

Istanbul, Turkey

I've been really bad about this blogging thing. I swam across the bosforus!! We went on a boat trip this past saturday, and climbed up the castle on the asian side and then had an amazing lunch and then got to swim across while doging the tankers. It was about 30 minutes in choppy water, and at the end it was all I could do to climb up the ladder into the boat. But it was a really amazing experience

Class is going well. I know the past and present tenses, the forms for can you do something, and let us do something as well as all of the cases (of which the accusative is the most annoying). I had an hour long conversation with my friend Cat and a ceramics seller on Friday, which was super exciting. And watching movies I find myself understinding a lot more.

Last night we went to a concert to hear this pop star named Yalin (although there's not a dot on that i). It was held in an outside ampitheater and it was a bunch of fun. And it was exciting because we had been listening to his CD, so we knew some of the songs that he played. And he also played an obnoxious maroon 5 song, but it was crazy how like them he sounded. and for the first half he had a purple velvet couch that he sat on.

I've started my shoppping. If you have any requests of things that you'd like from Turkey you should send them my way and I'll see what I can do. Back to my odev (homework). I really want to get to the future tense!

Abreviated turkish version typed on an american keyboard

Gecen hafta sonu bogaz turuya gittim. Bogaz'da Asya'dan Avrupa'ya yuzdum. Kucuk balikle meze yedim. Dun aksam konsere gittim. Konser cok guzel, ve dans ettik. Sarkici adi Yalin. Bu aksam arkadaslarimle ben patlicanle domates pisirdik.

Ders iyi gidiyor. Oretmenlarim cok iyi. Ders kitabi cok ilginc, ve resimlar var. Benim en sevdim sozcuk gezmek.

Turkiye'den ne istiyorsunuz? Simdi odev yapiyorum. Cok odev var.

Monday, July 10, 2006

And the Winner is....

ITALY! May the team with the best ice cream win. I went with Jason, and he's fluent in Italian, so we were rooting for Italy. And the game was very exciting. I may end up a football fan yet.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Istanbul, Turkey

So I guess I said I would write and it's been kind of a long time. But I haven't been slacking! There's been lots of Turkish. We've done compound nouns, temporary and permanant posession, location, there is/there is not sentences, and there have been lots and lots of words. Some of them I find more exciting than their english counterparts, so I use them alot. My favorite word right now is salatalik, which is for cucumber.

Other things besides class...yesterday we went on a field trip to the asian side to this place where they make really good yogurt. And it was good. (Yogurt is a turkish word by the way). I had some balli yogurt (yogurt with honey). The day before that a bunch of us went with our TAs to get baklava. And that was also yummy.

I went to Bursa with the sufis last weekend. We went to all the important sufi sites and then they sang songs and prayed in them. It was very interesting, although I felt a little bit out of place. Bursa was very nice but very hot (cok sicak). The ulu camii was especially interesting because the middle dome is glass and it has a big fountain in the middle. I also got to see Ali Kahn (the son of Aylin and Kubi) which was very exciting. He's just as cute as ever, and when I said a few words of turkish to him he got really excited and started talking to me for the first time ever.

Mom and William were back in Istanbul for a few days and I got to see them which was very exciting. One day we went over to a professor's appartment and had tea. The professor was someone they met at the conference. His wife had chicken pox, which was sad. But they were very nice. We had an excellent dinner at a fish resturant under the galata bridge. They had eaten there before and all the people remembered them. And I asked for napkins (pecete) and got them which was very empowering. I've used the word a lot since. And the next night we ate at Devali, which looks over the sea of marmara and has amazing food. And then mom gave me her debit card, which means I've been able to get money. Which is always a good thing.

I think it's been a long time. I went to a Turkish punk rock concert - the band's name was Athena. And the next night we went on a party on a boat. I'm having difficulty remembering other things that we've done, but there have been a lot. And there are always new turkish words, food words, clothing words, family words, words, words words. Excitement

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Day Two

Istanbul, Turkey

The second day of classes has come and gone. We're moving fast, and the four hours of class I have in the morning pass quickly. My teacher is really nice. On the one hand there are so many words it's hard to get all of them, and on the other hand I almost want to have class over the weekend because I want to talk to people now. I'm hoping that in a week I'll be able to actually make sentences and maybe have a semi-conversation. Today we did telling time, and numbers, including three digit numbers, as well as more of what we did yesterday, and we started with how much.

After class I went walking with Meghan, one of my roommates, so that she could get a plane ticket to fly to the east. And then a bunch of people were hanging out in our common room when we got back, so we joined them. And there was tea, cake and jam and cherries. The dorm here is set up with suites. Each suite has a number of bedrooms which are just big enough for a bed and a desk. And then there's a kitchen, bathroom, and a room with a table, chairs and two couches. It's definitely the nicest dorm I've stayed in.

Tonight we walked down the (very steep) hill to Bebek and found a cute place to eat. It was very yummy. And they gave us magnets. We walked by the water for a while. And then came the downside - going down a steep hill means going up that very same steep hill. We got up to our dorm in 15 minutes and I think I must have been bright red by the time we got here. Time to do my homework and learn these words

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Classes Begin

Istanbul, Turkey

So I'm in Turkey. The DC orientation was not that helpful but I got to meet all the program and stay in a fancy hotel. There was a lot of walking around DC and we went to the state department to hear one of the assistant secrataries talk.

For the first few nights we stayed in a hotel in Ortakoy. It was also a fancy hotel. But I was in the only room without two beds, and so I had to share a bed. The first day here we did a tour in the morning and went down into the cistern. Lots of the other museams were closed though because it was a Monday. We went to the kapili carsi and had some food. And then went up to ARIT to have more orientation and get maps and Akbil. That night four of us went up to Taksim to explore and walk around.

Unfortunatly, on the bus ride back from Taksim my wallet was stolen. Grrr. So I had to cancel my debit card and credit card. Fortunatly, all the people in my group are really nice and have offered to lend me money until I can get a new card.

Class started today. There was an introductory lecture (the fourth orientation so far) and then the beginers (like me) left and everyone else took the placement test. Our teacher didn't use much english. The books we got are exciting though. They're in color and have a story. These foriegers are supposed to find a copy of a hittite tablet that's somewhere in Istanbul. They get clues that are in Turkish, so they have to learn Turkish. There are also Turkish people and some bad guys. Most of today we did very basic stuff - hello, nice to meet you, how are you, etc. We seem to be moving pretty fast. We're supposed to get through volumes 1 and 2 of this book in the next 7 weeks. Time to go do my first homework assignment

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A New Adventure!

I've just finished packing one of my two bags, so that tomorrow I can leave on another adventure. This one is much more planned than the other ones. But I have no idea what to expect. If I haven't told you, I'm going to Istanbul to learn Turkish. It's with the Critical Language Program which means it's your tax dollars at work. I'll be at Bogazici University for almost two months, and during that time I'm supposed to learn a years worth of Turkish.

First though, there's an orientation in DC. The dress code is business casual, because part of the orientation is meeting an assistant secretary of state. And we get to stay in a fancy hotel. I'm really's like the first day of school.

I guess I should finish packing. I'll write more when I actually get to Turkey.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

If it were a year ago I would be on a plane right now, flying over the atlantic ocean for an adventure that would last six months and include 26 countries. As it is this year I am at home, in school, and not going further than Wisconson for the rest of the semester. It's been a very weird week, mostly because I did a play in the same space during the same weekends both years, but this year I wasn't getting ready to go after strike. And while my feet are getting itchy and part of me would like to drop out of school and go somewhere, the other part of me is also really happy where I am now. And I know that I am really lucky to have traveled as much as I have been able to.

For me today seems much more to define the end of a year than new years eve did. While last year seems so recent, it also seems so far away because I think I've changed a lot in the past year. I'm happier now than I was last year, I feel like I appreciate where I have more, and I have a better idea of what I might like to do with my life. Spending that much time alone, I learned how to be happy within my self, instead of always relying being around others to make me happy. I discovered (or maybe rediscovered) my love of maps, and learned the best way to know a city is to walk around it for days. And maybe most importantly I have more faith that things will work out; that it's okay for plans to change, or to not have any plans.

While I went alone, I didn't travel without the help of others. So I feel like I need to thank all the people who I haven't specifically thanked. Thanks to my mom who was always supportive, and whose worrying I feel must have kept me safe. To William, who was always supportive, gave good advice when I was tired and hungry, and kept mom from worrying too much. To Ian who let me kidnap him and didn't complain when I had to visit doctors. To dad for calling me. To Margaret and Peter, Richard, Anna, Rashmi and Subir, Sahar and her parents, Gamze, Hasan and Umran, Ulgen, Ceren, Aylin, Kubi and Ali Kahn, Erol and Reidar for taking me into their houses and making me part of their families. To Canguzel, who provided the connections to my sufi family. To Efdal for showing me around and having rooftop adventures. To my sufi family for making me feel the I belonged. To Richard who helped me when the atms hated me. To the french students in Bulgaria that let me stay in their dorm room. To all the strangers that gave me directions when I was lost. To Anne for eating lots of ice cream and wanting to see everything with me. To Emily for meeting me on a dark corner and drinking in the square with me. To Henry and Megan who happened to be abroad and run into me. To everyone that operates an ice cream store, an internet cafe, a bookstore with a bathroom, or a public transportation company. To everyone in eastern europe, turkey and egypt (with the exceptions of a few sketchy guys in egypt) that I met.

"Not all those who wander are lost" Some of us like the road, and any new destination is exciting.

Monday, January 16, 2006

back home

Chapel Hill, USA

I just thought I'd let anyone still reading know that I got home safely. The last couple of days in Turkey were a little bit crazy but still good. I went to a couple of sufi gatherings and did my christmas shopping. And then I left Monday morning, although at 1:30 in the afternoon, not at 9 in the morning as I had thought. So it was good that I got it mixed up that way instead of the other way around, but I still felt stupid. It was snowing on my way to the airport! There were no missed flights, and no lost bags and they didn't discover the honey that I was bringing back so I have to say it was more sucessfull than the last time I tried to enter the country. And no I did not get bird flu.

I think that I have a good amount of interview data, documents, and statistics and now I just need to wade through the documents and statistics and write it up. Easier said than done I guess. If you want to read the finished product you should let me know after April 21st.

I have no plans to leave the country again...although I recall thinking that in August and I was gone again less than 6 months later, so I probably won't be writing much this semester. Thanks for reading.

Friday, January 06, 2006

the rooftop adventures of Efdal and Katie - part II

İstanbul, Turkey

I had my last interview today. It was with some officials who work for government of the greater municipality of Istanbul. And since Istanbul has a population of maybe 15 million, they influence the lives of more people than the governments of some countries. Anyways, since the people I was interviewing didn't speak english Efdal kindly agreed to come with me to translate. Waiting in the 6th floor office with a great view for the guy to get back from lunch Efdal asked if they might let us go up to the roof to take pictures. I told him to ask, but only after the interview so they wouldn't get mad.

The interview went really well, Efdal is a really good translator and they talked to me for an hour and a half or so. And then, they did let us go up on the roof. No ottoman chimney's on this roof, but it had an amazing view, and the sun was setting which made it even better. After a couple of weeks spending hours a day on busses and getting frusterated with the city, all I needed was one look from the rooftop to remember that it is one of the most (or maybe the most) beautiful cities in the world.

On the way back to the asian side we visited on of Efdal's friends. The first time we visited him I whacked my head on his very short doorway. And he still remembers me by that it seems. Anyways, this time in addition to his workroom I got to see the room where he puts his finished artwork which was amazing and really peaceful.

The research is done. There offices are all closed this weekend and then I leave. Hopefully I have enough information.

Monday, January 02, 2006

oh the library

İstanbul, Turkey

Today was one of those very frusterating days. It mostly has to do with my trip to the library, more specifically the Atatürk library in Taksim. I managed to find it easily which was exciting, and then after asking people found the small room with the İstanbul collection. So far, so good. The librarians didn't seem to speak any english, but the student of one of the librarians did and so they gave me the catalogue (or book listing the titles) and let me look through it. I found a bunch of things that looked interesting after going through the entire catalogue. But then they closed for lunch and made me leave for a while.

Upon returning from lunch I figured out their shelving system and found most of the things I wanted. After skimming all of them I had decided that 5 were really good. But at that point I had already spent 4 hours there, which had used up an attenion span or two, was feeling ucky and couldn't concentrate, and didn't really have time (since I now have four more research days) to really read them and take notes. So I asked if I could photocopy things. Simple request right, the books are all available to the public, nothing private. So the nice old man librarian went off to find the form and about half an hour later I got it. They wanted not only my name and university and project, but my place of birth, the names of my mother and father and my passport number. Since I haven't memorized my passport number and I didn't have it with me they made dissapoving sounds and told me that maybe if I brought my passport in tomorrow they might let me photocopy some things. So I may be able to get permission to photocopy, and even if I do they might not let me photocopy as many pages as I would like. Darn the beurocratic library! gahhh!

My mother tells me that this is unfortunatly normal for doing research in Turkey, and that I have now been initiated. I guess that makes me feel slightly better. And apparently without knowing it I visited one of the hardest libraries for foreigners to get into when I was here last year and Efdal took me to the library at the Sulimaniye.

And I've just had two people call me because they heard I had a frusterating experience and one knows someone at the Atatürk library and is going to go back with me, and another has a friend that worked for the municipality that I can talk to. I guess maybe I'm getting back on the up part of the research rollercoaster. This is crazy. I really need another week. I think that toward the end of the week I'll finally have contacts in the municipality and then I'll have to leave. Ah well

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

Istanbul, Turkey

Happy New Year to one and all! I have a cold and so I haven't really done much at all in the past few days. For new years eve I was at Aylin's house and another family came over and we had dinner and watched a Turkish new years program and then they went to bed before midnight. So I stayed up and watched more tv (although this time in english) until about midnight when I switched back to the Turkish station to see the countdown. I'm not good enough with the Turkish numbers to count down in Turkish. There are some advantages to being in an appartment on the 14th floor of a building, one of which is that it gives you a great view of the city and the fireworks that people shoot off. For a while they were going off everywhere I looked. It was exciting since I love fireworks.

And now because it is a new year I feel the need to be political (something I've left out of my blog). Friday I met up with a guy that is an activist in Istanbul as well as a graduate student working two jobs on top of that. He and others have been working for five months to organize the European social forum, and then they hope to have the first Turkish social forum in November. They are talking to farmers and workers all over the country and getting them involved. But he told me that they can only do so much unless the US changes its policies. The words he's like to share with people in the US - "break it, smash it!" - *using nonviolent means*. Talking to him and hearing his energy and enthusiasm was really inspirational for me, because sometimes I forget that activism is more than sitting in meetings and talking about process without ever doing anything. And it gives me hope, that if we can all leave our egos in last year, that we could really make enough changes in the US to let the people in Turkey (and everywhere else in the world) make changes in their countries. Talking to him also reminded me that activists in the US are not the only ones. We often fault leaders in the US for putting us in places where we don't belong because we are supposed to right the wrongs of the world, remove the dictators, etc., but as sometimes I think that as activists we also forget that people are organizing in other countries too. We Americans are not the only ones trying to change the world, people across the world are trying to change the world and we can be more effective if we remember that.

And I know I said it once, but I think I'll say it again...Happy New Year!