Week 4: A Ferry Ride, A Second Home, and A Fish Market
I’m gonna jump right into it, since I have a lot to catch up on. Monday (October 4th) I went to work with my host mom instead of going to school. I got passport pictures taken at a studio for my residence permit. Since I’m attending school here and I’ll be living here for an entire year, all exchange students are required to go to the police department within the first 30 days of their stay. I needed a document from my school saying I was enrolled there, as well as my passport. On Tuesday morning, we went to the police office and took care of all the paperwork and everything, so after 10 days, I can go back and retrieve my passport and my residence permit (which works like a passport and an ID while I’m here). Later on Tuesday, I took the ferry boat with my host mom to a neighborhood called Karişyaka (pronounced roughly “Kar-shyeh-kah) for her dentist appointment. The ferry ride over was beautiful and very relaxing. You can see almost the entire city, the mountains, everything! When we returned back to the neighborhood my host mom works in (the downtown area, called Alsancak), I wandered off on my own to collect my monthly allowance from the Rotary office. On my way back, I walked past Maggie’s host family’s Sandwich Store. I glanced over to the cafe across the street and I saw a head of blonde, fluffy hair. My only thought was, “That has to be Hannah.” And, of course, it was. I joined her, Diana, and Maggie for a frappe and chatted for a while. Quite a strange coincidence!
Since I had skipped Monday and Tuesday to take care of my police business, I forgot that it was Wednesday, and therefore, a day we don’t wear uniforms at school. So, of course, I was the ONLY one in the whole school who wasn’t wearing “normal clothes.” Oh well, I stand out enough already, it can’t get much worse! Wednesday was also the day that Steve Jobs from Apple Inc. died. The news didn’t spread around Turkey until Friday, but I saw the notices on the internet. There are several Apple products used here, so it wasn’t a completely foreign thing for people here.
On Thursday, I had a very interesting wait for the bus. While I waited for the bus, a taxi driver came up and started talking to me. The corner I wait on is also where several taxis park and wait for customers, so they’re always around, but usually don’t pay attention to me. I told him I was American and didn’t know Turkish, and yet he kept on rambling in Turkish! I think he was trying to tell me he could take me to school, but I really didn’t understand him, so I stayed put. Early evening, I packed my bag and went back to that corner to wait for my host mom’s friend Canan (pronounced “jah-nan”) to pick me up. My host mom left Thursday morning for Antalya, a city in the south-eastern part of Turkey, for a work conference. While she was gone, I stayed with her best friend, which I can’t say was that big of a problem, because Canan lives in a house. And when I say “house,” I mean 3 stories, in-ground pool, fancy rich house. Like I said, I was by no means suffering there. She’s quite the chef, so I indulged myself in a lovely dinner, and afterwards, we attempted to find a channel on TV with English on it, but all the channels I have here in my home weren’t working on her TV. The only channel we found was called Fashion One. So for at least two hours, I watched runway shows, model interviews, luxury cars and celebrity home decor specials. After a while though, I had had enough.
On Friday, we watched 2 movies in school. The first one was “A Beautiful Mind” with Russell Crowe, and it looked great. I say “looked” because it was dubbed in Turkish and didn’t have English subtitles, so I didn’t really understand the plot very well. Later in the day, we watched “Planet of the Apes” for English class (so it was in English, thankfully), but apparently they had started watching it when I wasn’t in school, so I only caught the ending of it. It was still good, but I was a little lost. Later on at night, I went up to my room and plunked around on the piano. I know I can’t really play at all, but having such a nice one right there just made me want to play something! So, YouTube to the rescue! I looked up “Hallelujah” from Shrek, which occupied me for at least an hour. I can’t say it’s anything to be proud of, but oh well! Then, Canan walked in with something glorious: a guitar. I was SO happy to finally see and play one that I could play to my heart’s content. She even let me take it back home with me, which is very exciting for me.
Saturday morning, I woke up needing to take a shower, but the shower in my bathroom was broken I guess. So I hopped into the tub next to it and used the spray head above it to “shower” the best I could. It was probably one of the most complicated ways I’ve ever washed myself, seeing as I had to constantly keep the shower nozzle from spraying upwards and all over the bathroom floor. Shortly after, I took off for my second Turkish lesson with the other exchange students. We learned how to conjugate verbs in the present tense, as well as expanding our library of verbs to use. The exchange students spent most of the rest of the day together, like we most likely will do for the rest of the year. It’s great that we have such an awesome, diverse group to make lifelong international friendships with. Luckily, we were all home in our beds when the rain started. And it didn’t stop.
The rain and wind woke me up early Sunday morning, and I had trouble falling back asleep with all the noise, so I didn’t end up actually getting up and starting my day until... well late. After I ate breakfast, I went with my host mom’s friend and her husband to a fish market. There were tons of different kinds of fish and seafood, all still looking like at any moment, they could spring back to life and flop onto the floor. And I think you can imagine what that would smell like, especially if you’ve ever gone fishing before and have smelled your “treasure” at the end of the day. That smell was all over that market, but I seemed like the only one who cared. They had lots of fish to choose from, sardines even, but they still looked like fish. I’ve only ever seen sardines sold in cans... and I kinda prefer it that way now. There was also calamari, which still looked like the squid it came from sometimes. But all that seemed to be worth it when we ate dinner later that night. We slow cooked the fish (I don’t know what kind of fish it was, sorry) in the oven while we watched “Forrest Gump.” They also bought some calamari for me, which is quite expensive in the US, but here they get it straight from the sea, so it’s not bad at all. The fish was delicious, as long as I looked at my own plate. Canan had the head of the fish on her plate, and yes, it looked pretty much like it did when we bought it, just crispier. Apparently, the meat from the cheek of the fish is really good, as are the eyes. Now I tried the meat from the cheek, but I was NOT about to put the eye of another animal in my mouth. Canan did though, and said it was great. I can’t promise you I’ll ever try that.
Haley Drozdowicz is a Craig High School student who's visiting Turkey. She's studying there as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. Haley is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. Her opinion is not necessarily that of the The Gazette staff or management.