Hi everyone! I applied for the Turkey 2012 Summer with NSLI-Y and I am wondering who else out there is too. I am so fascinated and awed by the spectacular Turkish culture. I have seen the Turkey 2011 discussion page but I would like to start one for 2012. If you have been to Turkey please tell me about your experiences, I would absolutely love to hear them!!
I went on the summer program this past summer to Turkey! I stayed in Ankara with AFS, what all do you want to know?
Hi Oliva, thanks for replying! Thats so awesome you got to go to Turkey last summer!! I have several questions to ask you, what was a typical day for you? what was the weather like? And do you know about how many people go to Turkey?
In Ankara, the weather is really nice. I come from Houston where it gets really hot and humid and Ankara was not too hot nor was it humid so I really like it.
As for a normal day, those who go with AFS have 4 8 hour days for the first 4 weeks then 4 6 hour days for the 5th week and then we had a week to ourselves. On Friday, we had "cultural excursions" which are really fun.
8 hours was pretty long, but our teachers were sooooo awesome. One tried to take us wine tasting, but then when we got there, they said they weren't doing it till August. Other days, they would take us to libraries or parks, etc. I think they felt back for us being in there for so long. Turks really like it when you speak the language, but a lot of people responded badly to the classroom setting they wanted us to be out exploring Turkey (and many teenagers say Ankara sucks, but it's not bad.) You learn a lot at TOMER (where you will/should be taking classes) and the atmosphere is amazing. There are people there from all over the world. It's really awesome.
Besides class, I woke up at around 7:30-7:45 to get to class by 9 (I actually got there early and had some kahve at the cafe on the top deck of TOMER.) My host family actually changed houses a week after I was there so the first week I went by dogmus then bus to get to school and for the rest of the time I took to the metro then bus (except for sometimes I walked because it saved money and was really easy from the main part of Ankara - where all the public transportation intertwines.)
In Turkey, teenagers like to hang out at cafes, restaurants, malls, etc. If you're in Istanbul, you'll be able to preoccupy yourself with tons of tourist traps/attractions/historical sites, but if you're in Ankara, that won't be the case haha I'm not hating on the Istanbul kids, Istanbul is a beautifuuuuuuul city (AFS took there for 2 days at the end of our trip), but it has a lot of difference from the rest of Turkey.
Hope this helped :) And I love love love talking about Turkey so ask me any questions :)
Ahhh that sounds so great!! What was your host family like and did you get along with them? So it sounds like you went out on a lot field trips how often was that and then how long did you spend in TOMER?
Sorry I haven't replied, I was on vacation haha
But, yes, I loved my host family <3 I still communicate with my host sister (since we're friends on facebook, it's easy.) My host mom was a single mom (they were divorced), my host brother was an architect in Azerbaijan although he was there when I was there, and my host sister had just graduated from high school. My host brother has scoliosis surgery and it was messed up so he was in the hospital most of the time while I was there and my host mom was with my brother the whole time so basically it was my host sister and me most of the time, but I still loved them, they were so nice and welcoming.
So, the schedule we had for our trip was that we were there a total of 6 weeks, and 5 weeks of those were language classes. In each week, 4 of the 5 days of the week were classes then Fridays were the field trip days. The first 3 or 4 weeks (I've forgotten exactly) were 8-hour classes (+1 hour for lunch.) It was really long... but, like I said, our teachers were awesome and took us places haha The next 1 or 2 weeks are 6-hour classes. Overall, we did 130 hours of language training.
TOMER itself is actually really cool, it's a language school for foreigners to learn Turkish but it also has a lot of other languages it offers so there are people there from all over the world. It was really cool.
Your host family sounds great! Was your host brother okay? After you came back from Turkey how much Turkish did you know? And in Istanbul what did you do those two days you were there? Did you like it better than Ankara?
Thanks so much for answering these questions!! It is so interesting to hear about your experience! :)
Yes they were great! And, yes, he was okay, my host mom just spent a lot of time with him while he was recovering and it wasn't really possible for him to come home because we lived on the 4th floor (3rd by Turkish standards) without an elevator.
Hmmmm... I probably could understand 15-20% of most conversations (everyday conversations - not ones on politics or anything.) When you get back, you will have to take an OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview) over the phone and mine said I was really low, but I think it wasn't exactly accurate because they asked me to like count (this was easy haha) in Turkish, say the weekdays, months, etc. But, those weren't what we were focusing on when you're in an environment with people just talking about day to day events.
But, if you don't already know this: Turkish is hard. It's nice that it now uses the latin alphabet (it used to use the Arabic alphabet, that was one of the many reforms of Ataturk.) I went to Japan the summer before and Japanese is way easier than Turkish (besides writing.) The structure is completely different, there's vowel harmony (this sounds really intimidating at first, but before you know it you'll be writing/speaking English and trying to change the vowels to fit the ones before them haha), and every time you want to use a clause or something, there's a different way to conjugate verbs.
In Istanbul, we did a lot of sightseeing. Our group was really slow so we didn't get to go to everything on the list, but it was still really fun. We went to Topkapı, Ayasofya (Hagia Sofia), the Cistern, Istanbul Modern (the big modern art museum there) and we did a tour of the Bosphorus.
If someone asked me where I'd rather live, I would say Istanbul over Ankara, but I would say Izmir over Istanbul haha There were two summer 10 returnees with us who had been selected again and they were placed in Izmir and said they liked it a lot more than Istanbul (when you go with AFS, you're group is divided into two: one group goes to Ankara and the other to Izmir.) Istanbul is a huge cosmopolitan city, but Ankara is more of a working-class city. Even though I'd rather live in Istanbul, I'm glad I was placed in Ankara. Like I said before, in Istanbul, you'll be able to see more and when you're bored, you have all of these historical sites to go to, but in Ankara, you can't escape to those because sometimes life gets, well, boring and you have to figure out what normal Turkish teens do when they get bored and go do it. I'm not saying exchange students in Istanbul don't get a Turkish experience because they do (I mean, of course, Istanbul is prized by Turks -almost- everywhere.)
My advice is to just take advantage of the time you're there. Six weeks sounds like a long time (especially to parents haha) but it's so short and it goes by so fast. Always speak Turkish and if you're at home with nothing to do and no one can go anywhere with you - just get up and go walk around or go sit at the park (this is very popular in Turkey) even if you think you just want to stay home. Tell yourself to snap out of it and go do something - hell go see a movie in Turkish haha Even though this was aimed at year kids mostly, a Rotary volunteer told me that she always tells kids who are preparing to go abroad to go to a move by themselves and go out to eat by themselves because you're leaving everything behind you knew and it's hard to fit in and you're not always going to have someone to go out with you, you have to be proactive and do it yourself.
This may sound scary, but you'll appreciate every one of these experiences. You'll appreciate how much independence you've gained and you'll find yourself not being scared of doing things you might have talked yourself out of before. Don't expect to have host siblings who will be willing to take you around all the time (I had this in Turkey, but in Japan my oldest host sibling was 14.) Just tell yourself before you go that you'll love the time you're there under whatever circumstances and you'll do your best to learn as much as you can while having the most fun.
Wow... that was really long haha I really hope you get it! And I have no problem answering questions - you can add me on facebook if you want I have lots of pictures of Turkey (Ankara and some of Istanbul and the other places we went.)
Turkish is hard! I've trying to teach myself (with little success...). You went to Japan! Cool I'm half Japanese I go to Okinawa every summer, where did you go in Japan? Istanbul sounds so amazing and from the pictures I've seen in books it looks gorgeous, especially the mosques.
I've several other questions, sorry. But I want to ask about the food. What was your favorite what do they most commonly eat? And somethings in their cultural that really stood out to you, that you found particularly interesting.
Thanks for that long post, it was informative and it was interesting to read! I will add you as a friend on facebook and exchanges connect if you don't mind.
I definitely recognized you were Japanese in some way because of your name, but I guess I forgot when I was writing that post so of course you know a lot about the Japanese language.
I went to Tokyo and only stayed in Tokyo the whole time (because, you know, all of my host siblings were attending cram school in the summer, etc.) I really want to go back and go all over Japan because, although I loved loved loved Tokyo, I know there's so much more to Japan.
I think what was most shocking is how welcoming everyone was - I mean, everyone had told me, but literally my host family told me they loved me within five minutes of meeting me. They were like "we haven't even met you and we already love you!" Turkish people are just unbelievably warm.
Also, the whole conflict of the headscarves in Turkey is really interesting (of you're looking for a good read on this, check out Snow by Orhan Pamuk.) Mustafa Kemal Ataturk really modernized Turkey and one of the on-going debates is the one of the headscarf. Turkish women are not allowed to wear the headscarf when they go to a university or into a government building. There have been numerous cases where women walk into government buildings and they are fired on the spot. The current leader of Turkey is rather conservative and my host sister told me she didn't like him because he wanted to allow women to wear headscarves in college and in government buildings and she didn't like that his wife wore a headscarf because she thought that she gave a bad impression of Turkish women. It's heavy stuff, really, and I still don't understand it all (hopefully one day I will, though.)
As for food... mostly everything haha But, my favorite Turkish dish is iskender. It's so delicious. As for everyday foods... I really love poğaça and yaprak sarmasi. The thing is, I can hardly find most Turkish dishes in the US. There are a couple of restaurants in Houston, but they mainly offer kebab and the only desert is baklava. I love baklava but, come on, where is all the kunefe?!
And, yeah, that's totally fine!
Hi, Keiko! I'm Anna and I went to Istanbul, Turkey with ACES during the summer of 2010. .
If you want to know more about the more traditional aspects of Turkish culture, UNESCO just released the "Intangible Heritage List" with a couple of Turkish customs that they're trying to preserve.
Here's the link: http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/index.php?lg=en&pg=00011&...
Hey Anna thanks for that link it was a very interesting site! Since you have been to Turkey may I ask you a few questions about your study abroad experiences?
Sure thing. Ask away! :)