Dear friends: I’m really pleased about the interest in my blog! Thanks for following, and it motivates me to keep doing it! Tonight i’m feeling a little under the weather, perhaps a bit of Turkish stomach bug (I won’t go into the details, but everything’s fine). A lot continues to happen here, almost all of it good and interesting. This will be a mix of stuff at the school and out in the local community and Istanbul at large.
One of the orientation events last week was a discussion about intercultural aspects– issues/challenges and complexities/paradoxes about working and living in Turkey. For instance, we talked about the Turkish history curriculum, and how it only goes up till the 1950s or so– anything after that is considered to be politics (and there is always a lot of politics here). We also talked about difficult subjects, especially politics, religion, and sex(uality); I guess those are tricky in other places too, but it seems more so here.
On Saturday we finally went a bit further, and explored Taksim and the Sultanahmet. I think the public transit is excellent. We first took a bus to Taksim Square, and walked around Gezi Park. This area is the center of Istanbul, and Taksim is very important politically and culturally (you may recall events happening there in 2013), and is also very busy with lots of shops and restaurants. After walking around the square, we then walked down Independence Avenue (Istiklal Cadessi), which is a very long street with no cars (but there are trams). It was lovely to walk there and not worry about cars! (I keep thinking that Istanbul would be perfect without cars …). Here are pictures of Gezi Park and the Avenue:
We then had lunch at this great vegetarian restaurant, Parsifal, off Independence Avenue. This picture shows a small part of the very extensive vegetarian menu: what a delight:
After that, we walked some more, then took the tunel (second-oldest underground metro in the world!), and then the metro across the water to the Sultanhamet, well-known for the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, the Basilica Cistern (this is a place I really, really want to go to), and more … we only got a chance to briefly walk around, but we will of course go back later and see everything in their full glory. We ended up going through a small part of the immense Grand Bazaar. This is overwhelming, and you can get everything from chess sets to fur coats, jewelry, rugs, spices, and tons more. There are many young entrepreneurs trying to entice you in (one said to Dale, “wouldn’t you like a fur coat?” Probably not ever, but especially not in the August heat! You hear “buruyun” a lot, which means I think “come on …” Here are pictures of the Hagia Sophia and Grand Bazaar:
Getting back to school, Dale and I have been struck by the differences in the foreign teachers here, depending on where you live. Basically, the hill is very steep and it really does divide the campus. Those on the bottom of the hill, like us, living in Yali, tend to go out more– it is so easy to go out and walk along the Bosphorus, and Dale and I do this pretty much every night. Those further up the hill don’t always make the effort, because it’s hard to climb up this darned hill. There are pros and cons of both places– those up the hill are closer to the school and the upper gate, those down here to the village of Arnavutkoy (I’m going to devote one of my next blog posts to this wonderful place).
So speaking of walking on the Bosphorus, here’s a few pictures from a trip that Dale, Jahn (a new math teacher living in Yali), and I did last night, going from our place to the next district of Bebek (about a half hour walk). We first went to dinner at a really neat place where you go up to the front and order your dishes. We picked out a lot of food, and it was only 90 TL (about $30 USD) for three of us– it really is very affordable here. Oh, I forgot to mention that earlier this week we went to the weekly market (Pazar) in Istanbul– this was excellent, and really good practice talking with local sellers and learning Turkish (not to mention getting great fruit and vegetables)– in one of my next blogs I’ll talk more about that. So the first picture is from our dinner; you can see that Dale has a friend (but thanks to me feeding it) who was having a sleep on her pack. The second picture is the view from this neat coffee shop we found in Bebek, right on the water. These excursions, while fun, can still be a bit challenging because we don’t know much Turkish; but generally I think people have been very friendly and fair when we buy things.
To end this (it’s time to go for our nightly walk), I want to mention that we have found it enjoyable talking with the guards here, and it’s a good way to learn some Turkish. They are very friendly, and appreciate any efforts we make to speak Turkish (this is generally true here), and they like to learn some English too. It was very satisfying to find out where Uğur (which means “luck” in Turkish– one cool thing is that Turkish first names (and probably second ones too!) all have meanings– e.g., Tulu (who recently retired) means “sunrise”, etc.) lives, how he gets to work, etc. But I am still often frustrated with not knowing much Turkish …
And absolutely finally, I have also found it very good this week talking with my fellow physics teachers– they have been so helpful and so willing to share ideas and resources with Sean (the other new physics teacher) and myself. There’s lots to do, but it’s great to have support. More on teaching in my next blog
That’s really enough for now! Please follow and give me comments, and let me know things that you would like me to talk about … I hope everyone is having a good end to summer or fall, depending on where you are. And for my North American friends, go Blue Jays!
best wishes to all
Terry and Dale