Hi everyone: I thought I’d share with you some of the stuff we’ve been doing since we’ve arrived in Istanbul, and give you a flavour of what’s involved in making a big move like this. I first want to say that Robert College has been absolutely fantastic so far– they have been incredibly helpful, organized, and supportive– after hearing some of the stories from other teachers, I think we have had nearly the best possible experience so far.
Tonight we were at a dinner hosted by the school’s Turkish Director, with us new teachers plus some of the other teachers and administrators. It was very interesting talking to her and her son (same age as our oldest son Colin) about living in Istanbul (she is new to Istanbul and Robert College as well) and adjusting to life here. She said that she has always had a dream about going to Canada and spending time at a cottage on a lake. I mentioned that Dale and I had been to a cottage just before we left (Dale’s aunt’s cottage on Weslemkoon Lake), and how struck we were by the contrast between the peaceful tranquility of the lake and Istanbul. Here’s a picture of the lake and of Istanbul to help you better appreciate this:
Today was the second day of my school orientation, and was very busy. In the morning we heard about school procedures from the Academic Director, and then the Turkish director gave us the Turkish context. We were told that several topics are considered sensitive in school, including: politics, religion, the Armenian and Kurdish “situations”. Those topics aren’t going to naturally come up in my physics teaching, but I still need to be cognizant of this. It’s so interesting learning about a new country …
In the afternoon we had to take care of a bunch of things: getting pictures taken, going to the tax office to get a tax number and to register our mobile phones (Turkey seems to be one of the few countries where you have to do this), and registering our addresses with the police. Thank goodness we had a driver and somebody else from the school to take us to those places and to help us with everything– having to get there ourselves and do all that would not have been possible. Dale and I have no desire to ever drive in Istanbul– it’s crazy with such high traffic, fast driving, and narrow roads. Several times I thought we wouldn’t be able to get down a street, but our driver managed to do it. You have to be quite confident and aggressive to drive successfully here. I wouldn’t say that Turkish drivers are rude or dangerous though. The next things we will do is actually get onto a phone plan (much cheaper than Canada) and to get a bank account; we’re nearly there …
Let me leave you with a few pictures. The first two are taken from the “plateau” area of the school, which has pretty amazing views of the city below and the Bosphorus:
The last picture is taken from our balcony this morning. If you look carefully, you can see a cat resting in the tree– cats are everywhere! One of the school staff found a young kitten that had been abandoned, and Dale was very taken– I thought for a while that we would be adopting it, however I think one of the other new teachers will take it.
That’s it for now everyone. Now I need to do a little reading for tomorrow and call it a night.