The last few weeks I was in Turkey were very hectic and the first few weeks when I got back were the same which is why I didn't post anything. My last days in Samsun were filled with end of school events, celebrations, host family commitments and trying to say goodbye to friends. The last week I was in Turkey I travelled around with the other Americans and our AFS leader. There were sleepless nights where we travelled and every day was filled with touring and excursions. To sum it up we went to Izmir, Ephesus, Aphrodesias, Kuşadası, Pammukale, and our last day was spent in Istanbul. It was a great decision that we toured the last week because it was a week where we were in limbo; we finished up our year and got all of our last thoughts sorted out before we came home. It was filled with excitement and emotions to say the least.
Now that I have started college and have been here for a while, I can truly compare and contrast my experiences. There are some aspects of my life that I really appreciate about being in the US and in college, but there are others that I really miss about being in Turkey. Since this post is about Turkey and Samsun I am only going to focus on the parts that I miss.
One of the most obvious differences is çay and everything surrounding it. I drank it at least twice every day, if not more and I definitely had caffeine withdrawals when I got back. I went to a Turkish restaurant last week and when I had to pay for çay after my meal I was a somewhat surprised and little disappointed.
I also miss the sound of the ezan or call to prayer going off. Since I never heard it in the morning and it didn't wake me up it, it never bothered me in the morning. Hearing the ezan always reminded me that I was in Turkey and here it is so quiet. I met up with a Turkish guy last week and it was interesting how we contrasted the call to prayer to the church bells on Sunday.
In Turkey, when ordering ice cream at a stand off the street, you say the price you want to pay and the scooper gives you a certain amount of ice cream based on the price. I miss ordering like that because sometimes I just want a little ice cream for not that much money, but I end up paying more and getting more than I want.
Some other things that I love are the fact that guys dance. Since they are brought up dancing at parties and events, many people not only have rhythm, but they can really move. They don’t just jump up and down, fist pump, or wiggle awkwardly as many males do here. Obviously this is not true for all Americans or all Turks, or even a majority, but just a cultural generalization from what I can see.
I miss the big breakfasts I had with my host family on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Sometimes we would go to a friend’s house or have friends over, but we always had something special to eat on the weekends. I also miss visiting relatives and neighbors in the evenings. Although I did not get much sleep and often just wanted to stay home, it was a big cultural difference for me and I miss visiting in the evenings. I see friends all the time now that I am living in a dorm again, but it isn’t the same.
I miss seeing all elementary, middle, and high school students walking around in uniforms during the day. All public schools, and private for that matter, have uniforms that are unique to each school. During the school day students are seen all around town in their uniforms and it is something unique to Turkey that I definitely got used to.
One last comment now. Talking about differences, there is one tiny difference which was actually somewhat difficult for me to get used to. The light switch for the bathroom in Turkey is outside the bathroom on the wall. This does not seem like a big thing, but I constantly forgot to shut off the light when exiting the bathroom in the US and I would hit the wall outside the door expecting the switch to be there. Good times haha
I have been wanting to post this last post for a while, but as you can imagine, life has been crazy lately. I finally sat down and made myself finish the last post. I learned a lot about the Turkish language, culture, people, music and every other aspect of life, as well as a lot about myself. This year has shaped me in more ways than I realize; I discover that every day. I hope to go back to Turkey soon and keep studying the language and also visit my host family and friends because I miss them dearly. I hope that you have enjoyed reading this blog as much as I have enjoyed writing it :).