Sunday, January 16, 2011

Christmas/New Years!

For Christmas, the 4 of us (SALL - Samantha, Abigail, Lena, Lucas) did not want to stay in Samsun. We wanted to go to the AFS Christmas party in Ankara to celebrate it with other people that celebrate this holiday, in a country where very few people celebrate it. We finally got the okay to go and we boarded the typical midnight train to Ankara on the Thursday before Christmas. Our weekend in Ankara ended up being much more eventful than we expected, which was very exciting. We visited my host mom and brother from the 6 weeks I spent in Ankara last summer, went to the AFS Christmas party, walked all around the center, and visited a friend of Lena’s family. It was really good to see our friends, and we had a great time just relaxing in Ankara. Even though we just sat in cafes and talked, it was much more exciting and relaxing than being in Samsun. I ended opening up my Christmas presents the morning of the 26th because I wasn’t at home on the 25th, but that was fine with me. Thank you so much to everyone who made my Christmas enjoyable. It was definitely very different not being at home with my immediate family, but I was with my Samsun family of this year which is what really counts.
Our Christmas Tree for 2010!

Christmas picture with our AFS volunteer friend!
My New Year’s celebration was very relaxed as well. I went to Lena’s house to celebrate it with her, her host sisters, some cousins, and some friends. It was great to just relax with the girls. The holiday’s here are not as big as they are in the US, but it is great to celebrate them differently, especially since I will celebrate them the American way for many years to come! 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Whirling Dervishes!!!

On the night of December 16th, I boarded a bus with the other Samsunites to go to Ankara. We had really been looking forward to the trip because we would be going to Konya, stopping in Ankara on the way, but we were dreading the bus ride; we would take a bus back to Samsun the next night, therefore we wouldn’t be in Ankara/Konya for even 24 hours. We went to Konya to see a special part of the Mevlana Festival that happens once a year with Whirling Dervishes called Sema. Whirling Dervishes are known all around the world and the event that we went to is exclusive because it is so expensive, but luckily AFS paid for it and we were able to attend :). The festival itself was amazing! It is incredible how the men spin for several minutes and then are just able to stop without being dizzy, or that is how it appears. I like to believe that it is almost like a meditation type activity where they are concentrating, but are very relaxed at the same time. There was a band that played many traditional Turkish instruments and sang Turkish songs. Pictures are below:

I do want to say that I thought of my cousin Maura the whole time I was there because she did a study on the spinning and hopefully I will be able to put up a video soon, or at least on facebook! <3