Since I last posted, I’ve had a lot of fun!
First, I’ve begun my language classes! These are pretty standard procedure for the last few months of a YES abroad year, but I think mine go above and beyond the norm. On my first day, I counted 15 different nationalities. Everyone came to this city for a different reason, and it’s wonderful hearing everyone’s story. Even better, the only language we all have in common is Turkish, so we get to connect and practice as a group.
In addition to the language side of things, the class arranges cultural activities. These have included a weekend trip to Laodecia, as well as weekly clubs. I’ve joined the cultural dance (“zeybek”) and singing groups, both of which have payed off in great ways.
Singing has been wonderful. Every week, 2 guitarists and a Turkish saz player comes in and we get to work one-on-one on both Turkish songs and songs in our native Languages. Listening to others is even better than working myself- my favorite is the Kazaki girls’. And we get to talk. We talk about everything from missing Malian food to what it was like growing up in a Pakistani refugee camp (I’m more of a listener in these things, a position in which I grew up opposed to and have learned to love).
Yesterday, the music teacher took the Kazaki girl, a Kenyan man, and me to work with a band downtown. It was great- the auditions took place in the back of a woman’s clothing boutique. We all made the cut, too!
The dance group is still very new (today was the first practice, but the teacher’s car broke and he never showed up), but it’s provided a lot of time to talk. While waiting, we watched videos of traditional dance from our countries (swing your partner round and round!), and even had a mini break dance show.
In addition to these, I’ve joined a “hat” course. Hat, for those of you who don’t know, is traditional Arabic calligraphy. Right now, we’re just learning the alphabet, but hopefully I’ll be able to read Arabic by the end of my exchange! It’s one of the oldest traditions there is in Turkey -the world?- and being connected to all of that history is breathtaking.
All in all, I’m really, really happy. 3 months left; time has flown! This country has offered me so much already, and I’m having serious issues wrapping my mind around the idea of leaving.