Saturday, November 6, 2010

AAL – Atatürk Anadolu Lisesi = my new favorite place

School logo

my class! left to right: our English Teacher, Me, Çağla, Ezgi, Selen, Cansın, ourLiterature Teacher, Methmet, Taha, Erdem, Talha, Taner (hidden), and Umut
I absolutely love going to school because it gives me something to do, I get to practice my Turkish and I get to see my friends! Everyday something new happens and feel as if I am still surprised by so many situations and things that happen! Here are a few of the most interesting:
Every Monday morning the whole school gathers outside and lines up by class. The columns of classes all start on the same line on the ground in the front and are all of different lengths based on how many students are in each class. My class is one of the smallest, and the lines next to us are much longer than mine. I find this quite entertaining. We stand with “at ease” and they we stand straight up with our legs together when the teacher in charge for the morning yells for us to. Then we all state “Sağol!” which means Thank you! After, we all sing the national anthem. I haven’t sang it yet because I don’t know it so I just stand there. I printed the lyrics out though and put them in my backpack so I will be ready for the next time we sing!
getting ready to sing the national anthem
For Cumhuriet Bayramı, the national republic holiday, there was a lot of preparation before hand several of my classmates participated in running the school gatherings. Monday morning before lunch we all stood outside lined up by classes while Selen, Erdem, and two other students from another class read from papers about the holiday. I’m still not quite sure what they did there. Then we sang the national anthem and listened to some other historical Turkish songs such as “Onuncu Yil Marşı” the Ten-year march, which was composed 10 years after Turkey became a republic. After lunch we went to the “Conference Room” to listen to a panel of students discuss the history of Turkey and how Atatürk changed the country. As I have said before my class is one of the smallest, but we ruled the activities that day. Erdem and Ezgi were on the panel, Selen read a poem, Talha was the announcer, and Taha did tech. The rest of us in class got to watch this panel speak twice, once for the 9th graders and once for the 11th graders. For me it was good because I understood more of what was said the second time I heard it.
the panel of students for Cumhuriyet Bayramı
There is a basketball tournament going on that started during my first week of classes. The first round finished and right now we are on the second round. Each class has the option of playing, but classes can’t mix. This is unfortunate for my class because there aren’t enough players, but some of the boys love basketball! The boy who is pretty much in charge of the tournament, has refereed some of the games, and keeps track of all the scores and who is playing is in my class. Some classes have more energy over this than others, but it is really interesting to see how the crowd reacts. There are cheers that everyone knows and they scream them at the top of their lungs. During free throws, the girls from the opposing class shriek really loudly and high pitched in hopes that it will mess up the other team. I always enjoy watching the crowd because some classes have a lot of spirit! Also, many of the boys wear American basketball players’ jerseys, many of them Boston Celtics so I always smile at that. The Celtics are huge here and people have sneakers for them along with sweatshirts, and of course jerseys.
the crowd watching the basketball game during lunch

Only boys play because girls don’t play sports here. I wish I was really, really good at basketball and could play with my class so that we could play. I think it would be interesting to see how the students would react if I was as good or better than many of the boys that play. The fact that only boys play sports here is a little frustrating for me. I am not very talented in athletics, but I do enjoy playing sports for fun, but none of my female classmates do anything athletic. During gym class we are allowed to play any sport that we want or do whatever we want. Therefore, half of the students just sit on the side and talk. Last week we played badmintonin gym class and apparently I am super good at badminton, because I was actually trying! This week I was determined to sweat during gym class because it is the only time during the week that I have to exercise. I got a basketball and started shooting by myself in hopes to improve my skills. Then the “basketball fanatic” from my class came and joined me. I was hoping his skills would rub off on me, but I wasn’t that lucky. After a little while the other girls in my class came to join us. They needed one girl to go play and then they would join. Later we ended up playing a really small and quick match, just the girls. I scored one basket and another girl scored one basket, and that was it, but it was a lot of fun and we were running around. After the girls decided to quit because they were so tired, I joined the boys in soccer shooting on the net. Yes, I wasn’t on target, but hey I was still playing! My classmates got a kick out of the fact that I actually wanted to move during gym class. I was determined to not sit down, and I didn’t so walking to TÖMER that afternoon I was really happy as I felt tired! I am going to do this every gym class because I am not going to just sit and chat during a “class” that I actually understand and can participate in. :)

Tests. This is always interesting to witness in different schools, let alone different countries! My classmates have 1-4 exams per subject depending on how important it is and how often we have it. For example, the only have 1 for Religion, but at 4 for Math since it is much more important and often. These exams run from now until mid January. They have about 3 a week and they are just scattered randomly throughout the classes. This is very interesting for me seeing as I only had 5 or 6 classes in high school per semester and just 1 exam per class. When I told this method to my classmates here, they were all very surprised and agreed that the method in the US was better because after the exam you were done. They still have class after they take the exams, so I’m still confused about why they do it the way they do it here. I am exempt from taking exams because the teachers know that I can’t read the questions, let alone answer the questions. Teachers are allowed to make simpler exams for us foreigners, but since I am the only one at my school, they don’t seem to want to. Also I don’t know that they know they can do this. While my classmates take their exams I read, study Turkish or go over vocab. It is a good deal for me. The other students always tell me that I am so lucky because I don’t have to take the tests or do projects, but I always want to respond saying “I already finished my 4 years of high school, and I worked hard then. If you do a fifth year of high school in another country it will be the same for you.” 

My class all gathered around our Turkish Language and Expression teacher for a discussion

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