Life lately has been a mix of high-intensity studying mixed with lazy weekends at the beach and loud music and dancing. We finished our second week of classes, and the amount of reading and work we have to complete for each class was initially overwhelming. Each day, I easily read 150 pages for my classes. Although it’s difficult, I find all my classes to be very interesting, so fortunately the books have not been incredibly painful to read.
I’m in a theology course called “Adam and Eve.” The professor is so wonderful, and our three hour sessions go by in a flash. We watch videos, listen to songs and radio recordings, and read poems – I had never realized just how important the Adam and Eve story has been for gender relations, sexuality, genetics, economics, social order (and the list goes on and on). I’m also taking two CULP (Culture and Politics, a major at my college, which is the existential opposite of my major) courses: Eastern Mediterranean Cultures and Society, and East & West: Cultures of Popular Perception. We talk a lot about “interpretive paradigms” and “culture” and “patriarchy,” (the terms are in parentheses because, in reality, anything we label is not necessarily real) – I did not expect to, but I totally love these classes. Finally, I’m taking a seminar called “Oil, Water, and War.” This class is really great as well, and I’m learning a lot about the Gulf region, which is an area I have not studied in depth before.
Outside of class, I’ve been enjoying September in Alanya. It’s starting to cool down, which means that some days it dips below 90 degrees. I love the afternoons we spend at the beach – one of my friends bought a scuba mask, which has enabled us to peer beneath the surface of the water and see the fish population hovering near the bottom of the sea. If you stand for too long in one spot, the brave ones nibble at the dead skin on your toes (very romantic imagery, I know). There’s a nice man who owns the water and cola stand near the beach who I think has come to recognize our group. Last week, he gave my friend and I a piece of gum when we bought our water – a sign of true friendship.
Through the program, we have been introduced to local families in Alanya. Yesterday, another girl from my program and I went to have dinner with our host family. They live on the top floor of a hotel that the man owns, and we had a wonderful time sitting and chatting on the balcony. They have a two-year old daughter, Melisa, who is the cutest thing in the world. I’m really excited to get to know the family better, and they have been a great resource for getting to know local Turkish culture better.
Our program director has also set us up with a charming group of young Turkish friends. On the night we all met, we had chay (tea) and go to know each other for several hours. This weekend, some of us went to a Turkish pop music club with our Turkish friends. We danced for hours on end to Turkish pop – my legs hurt very badly the next morning from the constant movement. It was really fun to pick out recognizable words from the music and try out traditional Turkish dance moves.
If you were wondering, yes, everyone in Turkey dances incredibly well.
Yes, so this is a fairly accurate description of my life status in Turkey. I eat very well, try to use Turkish as often as possible, and wake up every morning thankful to see the sun rise over the Mediterranean. Life is so wonderful here, and I’m enjoying every minute of it (even the long walks up the steep hill every day).