Friday, September 14, 2007

the job hunt saga

Istanbul, Turkey

A summery of progress so far. On Saturday I arrived. Sunday I went to a wedding. And Monday I started looking for work. I had made some conections at the lunch after the wedding. So I started calling and sending emails. I also went to Kadikoy and visited 5 languages schools there to ask about teaching English. At the end of the day I had filled out one application and sent in 2 cvs.

Tuesday I turned in my application to English Time. On my way to the boat to go visit Sam, I stopped at the Brittish English booth to see if they needed teachers. An american girl was sitting there and translated what I said to the turkish guys. I feel like asking for english teaching, I should ask in english, for some reason. The guys were helping her fix her shoe, which had broken. Turns out that she went to chapel hill high, graduated in 96, took time off, and then just graduated from UNC and spent a year at bogazici university. It's a very small world. So I took her with me to meet Sam. We had lunch at sultanahmet koftesi, and then wandered around the taksim area. Then we went to the internet cafe. I feel like I spend far too muchtime on the internet these days with job searching and all. I had an email from a friend of a friend. She had two job suggestions for me. I emailed my CV to one, and then called the other, Small Hands preschool. The guy there said that that the woman in charge would call me soon. Indeed, later that day she called me, asked me to send her my cv, and asked if I could meet her at the school in Etiler wednesday morning at 8:30. Thanks to russ my CV got emailed.

Wednesday I woke up at 6, and had to take a bus and then a boat to the other side. By the time I got there I had to take a taksi, because I didn't have enough time to take the other bus. I got to the school, to find it was the first day of school. Chaos. I met with the woman in charge, Leman. She's horribly busy because she's trying to run 4 schools. Turns out one of the two teachers of the yellow group 2 year old class hadn't shown up. So they asked me to work right away to try it out. And then kids started showing up. I tried. I used turkish I didn't even know I remembered. I played with kids, talked to their parents, helped feed them lunch. 2 year olds are super cute, but you can't reason with them. Leman asked me to come back the next two days and said we woudl talk on Friday

Thursday was more chaos in the preschool and getting up early. Wednesday night I had gotten a call from someone my mom knows and I had met once. So after the school day was over for me, I called her. She wanted me to come to Topkapi palace and send her a text message at 4:30. She must not have gotten my text message. When I texted her again at 5 she said I had just missed the performance she wanted me to see. I got all excited, maybe I could get a part time job doing theater stuff. I waited more while she did some errands. Turns out, she wanted me to work 2 days a week giving out flyers and convincing people to come to her show. I'm sure it's a fantastic show, but I hate trying to sell things. I emailed later to say no.

Friday, more preschool chaos. After I was done I waited around a long time, and was told Leman was busy, she would call me later. So I left. Then I get a phone call from my fellow teacher, Leman will call me Saturday.

Saturday I get sick with a cold. I go to some events with Aylin and Kubi. One of them is a ceremony for kids that are about to start primary school. Leman doesn't call.

Sunday I feel horrible and don't do anything. I call Jay, the mentor at the school. He tells me I can talk to Leman tomorrow morning.

Monday I wake up, drag myself out of bed and go to the preschool. Leman calls me into her office. She tells me she wants to speak to me personally and professionaly. She tells me I am a great person and work with the kids very well one on one, but I'm not that good with a group. If I want I can try out another of her schools on the asian side, but they only need a teacher in the afternoon. So if they can find me an assistantship in the morning, and if I work better with the kids over there, I can try it out for a week, and then maybe they can hire me. I said no. Maybe because I had started three days ago, didn't know turkish (I was supposed to speak enlish not turkish), the parents were still there, everyone was settling in, and I had no experience. Oh well. But I worked the rest of the day, and managed not to start crying. I did blow my nose every five minutes. They did pay me for the four days I worked.

Tuesday I call a woman at a private school who needs an english teacher. I heard about the job last week, but didn't call because I thought I had the job at the preschool. She said, can you come meet with me. Having thoughts of oh no, not again, another super busy woman, I went to her school. The school is nice, and she took time to sit down and talk with me. They want a native enlish speaker to go into each class's english class once a week and do conversation things. I would be working with kindergarden to 10th grade. But the english teachers woudl stay in the room with me. They paid well, and everyone seemed nice, so I said yes. She made me promise I wouldn't leave them.

Since then I've sent out numerous emails looking for another part time job in policy or geography, visited the american research institute in Turkey, visited the baazar again, and tried to get better.

Ramazan started yesterday here. It's weird to see all the food stalls open, but no one buying food. I think being in Turkey for Ramazan will be a very interesting experience. This morning I was woken up by drumming at 3:30am. Apparently guys play drums through the neighborhoods to wake people up so they can eat before the sun comes up and the first prayer. I reminded me of being woken up by the call to prayer the first night I was in Istanbul (that I remember).

Anyways, that's the saga of the job hunt so far. Sorry if it was a bit boring. I start teaching not this coming Monday, but the next Monday, the second week of school. And by that time I hope to have a room in a flat and another part time job.

Happy ramazan and jewish new year

in which i enter the former ottoman empire

Istanbul, Turkey

I arrived in Turkey. It was a rather long trip from Prague. First I took the 6:30 bus from Prague to Budapest. If you're in the czech republic I would highly recomend student agency as a bus company. First they give student discounts. Second, they give you free hot beverages from a machine that makes very sweet slightly lemony tea, just the thing if you had to wake up far to early. And third, they show really random czech movies, including one about a guy who pretended to be a waiter during socialism, and everyone was so tired of waiting to pay they gave him their money. Called run waiter run or something like that. Another was called mountains of carpathia. On the bus I met a very nice woman who had been doing a medical rotation in the czech republic. She offered to show me around budaest, but feeling like I really needed to get to Istanbul I had to decline her offer.

After navigating the budapest metro I arrived at the train station. I really think the man behind the ticket counter had never written a ticket to istanbul before, because he had to consult all sorts of booklets and it took a very long time. But I had my ticket. I was too tired to do anything besides go to the grocery store. The 36 hour train ride I was about to take would have no dining car.

The istanbul bound car was half first class and half second class. I don't think I've ever seen a car split in half like that. Most of the rest of the train was going to greece, and other cars were bound for romania and bulgaria. A guy not wearing a uniform helped me onto the train, put me in a first class compartment and took my ticket. I was a bit concerned, until he took the tickets of other people coming onto the train. It turned out that there was one older turkish guy, two austrailian girls, one brittish girl named sam, me, and the conductor on the train. So we each got a compartment to ourselves. I ate some food and then folded down my seat into a bed and passed out. I was woken up at about 11 when we crossed into Romania. There was a passport check and 30 minute stop on each side of the border. Romania didn't take any time changing their passport stamp to the EU format. Places like the czech republic still have their own stamps.

Around 11 the next day we stoped in some little town in Romania. We were there for about 3 hours, so Sam and I got off and wandered around. Our car was the only thing on the tracks, sitting all by itself. It was pretty funny. There wasn't much in the town except for some big power plant. We had some too expensive coffee and then walked around. Later we found the austrailian girls and all had beer. By this point we had gotten better at negotiating with our euros. Fortunatly this time I didn't need any money in Romania, since I still wouldn't have been able to get any.

We left, and I spent the rest of the day sleeping and looking out the window. That afternoon we crossed into Bulgaria, and the scenery immediatly got more beautiful. To cross into bulgaria we went over the longest steel railroad bridge in theworld, or something like that. At 2 in the morning we left bulgaria and entered Turkey. On the turkish side, everyone had to leave the train. Then we bought our visas in one line, stood in another line to have our passports stamped and then I got back on the train and went to sleep, only to be woken up by an official checking passports to make sure that everyone on the train had a stamped visa.

We arrived in Istanbul at about 8:30 in the morning. Not having a hostel, I followed Sam to hers. They told us that check in wasn't until 12, but the guy let us take showers, and then leave our luggage. We went to the place that Efdal teaches, and had menemen for breakfast. Not much had changed. It's nice to be back.

Sam was visiting Istanbul on her way to a wedding in Bodrum, so I kind of showed her around that first day. We visited the baazar, and Hasan and Murat. She found some shoes there. Then we walked down the hill to eminonu to get some balik ekmek. Returning back up the hill we stopped at a cafe, and then she went out to meet some friends of a friend. I called Aylin. She said, why aren't you staying with us? and, Nazende is getting married tomorrow morning.

So after that first night in the hostel, I got up early in the morning, and took my stuff on the tram, boat, and bus to get to Aylin's house. That was the last time I am taking all of it on public transportation! Never again will I travel with so much stuff! Although my arms are stronger now. It was great to see Aylin, Kubi and Ali Kaan again. He's four and a half now! I had missed the religious wedding, so was only going to the civil part of it. It was in a building sort of like a town hall. Nazende's dress was beautiful. Cemalnur had designed it. Aylin hadn't told anyone that I was back, so they were all very supprised when I showed up. After the wedding was a lunch, that in usual turkish fasion was a bit chaotic from trying to include everyone. Then later that night was a zikir, a sufi ritual. While I had been to many sermons (sohbets) I had never been to a zikir. I think I was a bit too tired to properly appreciate it though.