Monday, October 11, 2010

Another week with no school...

Two weekends ago was when we had our super long language classes! Before class on Saturday we went to TÖMER to go a little sightseeing with our Turkish teachers. We went  to a model of the boat that Atatürk sailed when he landed in Samsun on May 19, 1919. It is a museum inside and it was interesting to learn some of the history that is important to all of Turkey, but especially Samsun. Sunday was Lena's 18th birthday so we went to her house on Saturday night for hers and her sister's combined birthday party. Since it was a girl's party there were only girls there, friends and cousins, and Lucas was the only boy. On Sunday in class we celebrated Lena's birthday with other classes and all had cake. On the weekends is when most of the Turkish kids go to English class because they have free time. Every classroom was filled and everyone wanted to meet us. It was great at first, but then it was extremely overwhelming. The only time Lena, Sam, Lucas and I have to talk to each other is during the breaks and we wanted to just talk a little about our weekends. After a few breaks we had to just shut the door and stay in the classroom because we were so overwhelmed by everyone wanting to be our friends. It was great, but it just came to be too much! This is what it is like wherever we go. Being a foreigner is a novelty, but being an American is even more of a novelty! Even though it is overwhelming I still love it, but I am glad that we go to class during the week and not on the weekends.
our teachers and us sightseeing
Boarding the boat that Atatürk sailed to Samsun
all of the girls and Lucas at Lena and Neşegul's birthday party
Lena's Birthday Celebreation at TÖMER
Last week was another week with no school. Luckily I am starting Wednesday and I am very excited, but last week was a great week even with no school. Since classes hadn’t started and our Turkish teacher didn’t have her classes either, we had language classes earlier in the day so that we could go home earlier to be with our families. I either met up with Sam/Lena/Lucas or walked around before language class. We normally got together to have lunch.

On Thursday though, we had language class at the regular time, 4-7, because I went to school with my host sister Almila. She is in ninth grade so it was a big change for me to be there. Her classmates, especially the boys, look so little. It’s weird to think about how every year they get smaller and smaller! I kept telling her how the boys were so cute, as in younger and little cute, and she kept correcting me to say yakışıklı whıch means handsome. Then I had to explain how everyone seemed very little. I’m pretty sure the whole school knew there was an American there because during break time large groups of students came to our classroom to look in or stare at me while in the hallway. I was definitely stared at a lot that day. Since I don’t have the uniform I tried to dress close to it, but I definitely stuck out. Even if I had the uniform on I would have stuck out. We had Biology, which I understood when the teacher wrote words and drew diagrams on the board, English, which was a piece of cake, Health, which I got nothing of because the teacher lectured us and spoke very fast, and Geometry, which I understood. It was a good day for me to be there because I was able to follow most of what was going on. In English class I stood at the front of the class and the kids asked me basic questions to practice their English. One of the most common questions that comes up everywhere, especially with boys is What is your favorite soccer team? Or What is your favorite basketball team? Then it is Who is your favorite player? For those of you know me, I am not an avid sports fan and don’t know many teams or players. My favorite basketball team is the Celtics, but I have no idea who my favorite player is. Also, when they say soccer team, they want to know which Turkish soccer team is my favorite, and there is a lot of rivalry over this. There are about 3 or 4 major soccer teams and people definitely stand behind them. Since I don’t want to pick any fights I just say Real Madrid and they all agree with me.

Lunch was the best part of the day because I got to see how the Turkish teenagers interact and I got to talk to many of them. The boys in Almila's class were definitely freshman boys. They fought during some breaks and all tried to talk to me as much as possible. During lunch one of them said he wanted to talk to me in English and I said sure. He did this pretend cocky thing and asked me What is your name? How old are you? Where are you from? And that was about it. There were about 15 kids crowded around me and we were all laughing. The girls were all very nice to me and wanted to help me as much as they could. Apparently, one of the girls was jealous because a 10th grader who she like was talking to me and she wanted to talk to him. Also, as soon as every upperclassman boy that came into class to meet me walked out of the room all of the girls turned to me and said He love you. This is a cultural thing because all of the high schoolers believe that they are in love. There is almost no distinction between like and love, and having a crust and like, therefore having a crush and loving someone is ordinary. Us Americans just crack up at it. After 1 day of knowing someone they confess their love for them. It is just the Turkish culture. I have already had many people tell me they love me, and the same goes for the other American Samsuners. Luckily my host sister was there to explain why I was in Turkey because I got that question a lot.

At the beginning of each class, the students stand up when the teacher walks in the class and the same thing happens as the teacher walks out. In many schools the students sit in rows by 2 and girls only sit next to girls and the same goes for boys. It is okay to have boys as friends, but more is off limits with parents. Of course all of the teenagers have secret boyfriends and girlfriends, but its all kept underground. They have to go through a lot of trouble to just talk to their significant other and they almost never see them. It is a a completely different concept. The teenagers aren't allowed to have boyfriends or girlfriends so they create secret facebook accounts, have cell phones that their parents don't know about, say they are going to buy their uniforms and then come back 5 hours later because they met up with friends, and unfortunately aren't able to actually see their boyfriend/girlfriend with their parents or any adult for that matter knowing. Then the students are allowed to sit down when the teacher tells them too. Right after lunch when we had Health, the teacher walked in and 2 of the boys did not have their shirts tucked in so the teacher had them come to the front of the class and hit them on the head with a book. I was shocked. There were many times during the day when things were so different that I had to cover my mouth to keep myself from laughing.

At the end of the day we took a school bus to the center of the city because I had TÖMER and Almila had other classes in the city. That night when we went home we had much to discuss because I now knew the people she was talking about.

The next morning I went to school with my host mom who is a 4th grade teacher. Even though I was much older than the oldest students there who were 13, I thought it would be interesting to see how an elementary school works. My host mom told me that she has 5 kids with mental disabilities in her class that truly impact how they learn and almost prevent them from learning. Also, these students have experienced a lot and so they are not in great shape to learn in that environment. It is difficult for her to teach everyone because of the setbacks she has. The most interesting thing for me was that I got to see what the teacher perspective is. During breaks I sat in the teacher's room. They all drink çay, lots of çay, and chat.

After the breaks, some kids would knock on the door, open it, and peek in just to see me. I was a novelty... again! During class the students kept looking at me. It was a typical 4th grade class but there were about 30 kids in each class on little desks. After the second period, the English teacher took me to her class to introduce me because she had told her classa about me. pretty much the only thing they could say in English was What's your name? and I think that every student asked me that about 5 times each. As breaks began and ended they would crowd around me and ask me questions in Turkish and what my name is in English. When they spoke to me it was very fast and they didn't use words that I understood, and they seemed upset when I told them that I didn't understand. I don't think that they truly understand why I wasn't understanding them. At one point my host mom told them that I would sing them a song in English if they were well behaved, but unfortunately I left while they were in art class because I had to catch a dolmuş (a small bus, something between a bus and a taxi) to get to class on time. Apparently the kids cried when I left because they didn't get their song :(.

The weekend was relaxing and pretty low key. We chilled at home on Saturday and the only time that I left was to get bread across the street. On Sunday we went to downtown Samsun to drop Almila off at classes and then Fulya, Melis, and I went shopping for Melis. After picking up Almila from classes, we went to the swimming pool to see Melis and then go home. The only thing I really had to do was homework which took me a really long time because our teacher gave us a lot! Apparently what we are working on now is the most complicated thing for foreigners to learn and if we understand that then everything else will be easy.

Monday we went to class early to visit the level 12 morning English class. Then we had class really early so that it would fit into our teacher's schedule. After class we decided to go to Dominos because we wanted somewhat American food. It was unlike the Dominos in the US but it was still very good.

Today, Tuesday is my last day before school. I am going into Samsun at 2 to go look for the city library with Sam and then we are going to go to lunch with Lena. Tomorrow is going to be very interesting and I will update with how school is as soon as I can!

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