It’s crazy to believe that I’m heading back to Turkey in less than two weeks! I’ll be returning to the McGhee Center in Alanya to work as the Residence Assistant at the villa. I expect it will be very different from my time there as a student, but I’m hoping to take full advantage of this chance to return to this place (and its beautiful beaches…).
Family and friends who have followed my travels for a few years now, you have probably heard my basic spiel on Turkey. If you want to step up their game and really get into the details of Turkish politics and culture, here are a few things to read:
- A timeline of major events in the history of the Turkish Republic.
- In a move similar to Vladimir Putin’s in Russia, former-PM Recep Tayyıp Erdgoğan (Reh-jep Ta-yip Air-doe-an, not Air-doe-gan) was very recently elected president. Last time I lived in Alanya, I didn’t know much about Turkish politics. I’ve followed national politics pretty closely for the past year, so it will be interesting to see how they play out at the city level.
- After my time in Alanya, I continued studying Turkish language at Georgetown. I’m hoping to keep up the language, which will probably involve listening to a lot of Turkish pop and watching soap operas.
- Turkish cuisine is to die for, and I can’t wait to eat heaps and heaps of içli köfte and mantı.
- An easy way to make friends (or frenemies) is to talk Turkish football teams. Everyone roots for one of three İstanbul teams (Galatasaray, all the way), but I also admire Trabzonspor for the color of its jerseys. I’m hoping to watch a few games and get to know more about players and support for local clubs.
- I’m often asked about what it’s like to be a foreign woman traveling and living in Turkey. Elif Şafak, a famous Turkish author, captures both sides of deep cultural differences in Turkey when it comes to gender and secularization.
I’ve got a few personal projects in mind, that I’ll pursue while not working in the day. One is related to geography and tourism: Alanya is hub for Scandinavian and Russian tourists. Walking down the street, you’re more likely to hear shouts in German or Norwegian than English or Turkish. If you check out Alanya’s city website, it’s almost entirely focused on tourism. I want to explore the way the tourism industry has (or hasn’t) shaped locals’ conceptions of their city.
The second is really random – I want to go to the local cinema once every week or two to watch movies, something I did only once while abroad the first time. I think it’ll be good for my Turkish, but I also want to experience the bizarre phenomenon of intermissions during movies (and I’m not talking at a conveniently timed transition-point in the plot, but breaks that come in at the height of a big fight or dramatic confession of love).
But most of all, I can’t wait for this to be my view again for four months: