Friday, November 19, 2010

Cappadocia/AFS Camp

Last week I spent 5 days at AFS Camp with the other NSLIYers in Turkey. Normally all of the AFS kids in Turkey from all around the world get together, but since I am on a scholarship and some things ate different for me, I had camp with only the year students in Samsun who I see everyday and the semester students in Trabzon who see each other each other every day too. Normal AFSers just see each other at camps if they are in different cities or maybe more often if they are in the same city, but we see each other every day for language class. It was great to see the Trabzoners because although we are two small groups, together we feel like one group. It will be weird when they leave in February and I have AFS Camp with just the Samsuners since I see them a lot anyway. 

As usual, we took the midnight bus from Samsun to Ankara and arrived around 6:15am. From the bus station we got on a minibus, which is a little shuttle bus, with one of our AFS leaders and waited in a parking lot for about an hour outside the airport for the Trabzoners' flight to arrive. Actually, I'm not exactly sure where we waited since I was sleeping and so were Lena, Lucas, and Sam. After they came on the bus, we drove between 4-5 hours to Cappadocia, stopping only once for a bathroom break. On the way there we all chatted and caught up since it had been a while since we had really talked. 

Once we arrived at our destination, the 5 star hotel that we were staying at for the week, we ate a large lunch and were able to rest a little before our first "session." For the next 2.5 days we mostly stayed in the hotel and had many sessions jn the conference room with breaks in between. Since we are only 8 people and we are all native English speakers, the sessions go by much faster and we were always ahead f schedule. When AFS does camps they are held in English because everyone speaks it. Therefore, for our AFS leader he loved having all Americans because it was much easier and he didn't need to explain things such as "stereotyping" which can be very hard if you don't already know what it is. When I say "sessions" it sounds like therapy, but in a way I guess it is a little like it because we felt so refreshed with no pressure at the end of the week. We talked about our childhood, our families (both host families and natural families), culture differences, differences in schools, any problems we have had, along with many other subject along these lines. It was basically about our lives, adjusting, and solving any problems we encounter while in Turkey. In our free time for the fist few days, we chatted a LOT, played soccer, took naps, and just rested. We went into town on Wednesday afternoon since we were ahead of schedule and explored some rock formations and the town. We also went to the hamam (Turkish Bath) at our hotel one night. There were two packages to purchase, and we got the cheaper one. In a normal hamam there are men or women to scrub you and give you a massage, but since the “hamam” at the hotel wasn’t a real hamam and we had bought the cheaper package, we didn’t have anyone to scrub us… so we did it ourselves! There weren’t many people in the hotel hamam so we had the bath part to ourselves, and it was a lot of fun!

The NSLI-Y Group in a Cave
Thursday was our touristy day. We had a tour guide with us all day and we saw all of the sites. There were a ton of tourists everywhere we went, but that was normal because we were tourists too. There are some amazing rock formations and sites to see. I went there last summer and we went to some of the same plats this year, but it was even better the second time around. Look at pictures below:

Danielle, Sam, Lena, and Me
Fairy Chimneys

On Friday, we got up early and left the hotel. Our first stop was to a supermarket where to buy food for the trip, but since AFS was paying we completely filled up on junk food! I mean, it was vacation :). We drove between 4 and 5 hours to Ankara where we had a meeting at the US Embassy again. One of the women who talked with us last time and I guess is in charge of NSLI-Y in Turkey a little met with us again to see how our Turkish had improved, and to see how we were all doing. The best part of the meeting was when she brought in Milky Ways, Starbursts, and Skittles as Halloween candy. Even though in the US I don’t eat much candy, it is weird how much you miss things when they don’t surround you all the time. After the meeting, we took a quick bathroom stop at the AFS Office, and got dinner to eat in the bus. Then we drove to the airport to drop off the Trabzoners before continuing onto Samsun. It took about 6 hours, but it was much better than taking the public coach bus. If we needed to stop to go to the bathroom we were able to and there were so many seats that we were all able to lay down. We also could talk as loud as we wanted, and talk we did for a while. You would think that we have run out of topics to talk about, but surprisingly we always come up with more. Much of it consists of venting, but we are also very positive. If someone were to listen to us they would think that we are very unhappy and are always complaining about our lives here, but we do need to get it out and we are the only ones who truly understand what each other is going though. It is a good method, and it works out really well that not many people can understand us fully. 

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