Mark Twain

Mark Twain

Saturday, February 8, 2014

First Week of Class

Turkish class started on Tuesday morning this week at 9:00 AM.  I'm in class Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM until 12:45 PM for the next three weeks.  Usually after class, some of us students go and get lunch somewhere cheap.  There are maybe 15 of us in the beginning Turkish class, and we are a mix of nationalities.  We have some Syrians, a Libyan, a couple of Germans, a few Brits (a Scot, an English woman, a British-Jordanian dual national), a Dutch guy, a Polish woman.  I'm forgetting some I'm sure.  There are a mix of occupations.  There are a couple of journalists, an artist, someone who works with the Turkish community in Germany, and people who work in the oil industry.

There is a lot of studying required to stay on top of everything, so usually after class I come back to my room, do homework, and study.  Learning the vocabulary requires a lot of rote memorization, much more than if I were learning something like French or German, which has common roots and many similar words with similar meanings.  To help myself learn I decided to make flash cards with index cards.  The problem is finding index cards here.  Apparently, they are not well known here.  Maybe they are not generally well known in Europe because my classmates do not know what they are either, as I found out when I was complaining to them about not being able to find them.  After much searching around in stores that sell notebooks and such I found some index cards earlier this week.  The store had one package of them and they cost 10.50 TL (which is almost $5 US - not cheap).  I used those up pretty quickly.  Today I found a fancy stationery store that sells larger packages of them a little cheaper.

On the theme of trying to find things in stores, another thing I was having trouble finding was a sewing kit.  One of the pairs of quick try trousers that I bought at REI is not holding up so well (probably from the constant washing, since I only have four changes of clothes) so I needed to repair them.  At home I would go to CVS or Target.  Here, drug stores sell only drugs, and supermarkets do not sell these kinds of things either.  There is no equivalent (at least in the city) to large discount stores like Wal-Mart or Target.  Eventually I found a little store that sells an assortment of junk (cheap glassware, cheap plastic toys, etc.) that had a few sewing kits.

Today it was nice to have a day off.  I took the boat over to Üsküdar on the Asian side of the city, mostly just for the boat ride.  It takes about 10 - 15 minutes to get there from the European side, probably longer sometimes, because there is a lot of traffic going through the Bosphorus.  These boats are essentially like city buses.  People use them to get around the city.  The fare is the same as the bus and they use the same ticketing system as the other public transportation.  I came back to the European side on the train.  Last year they finally completed and opened Marmaray, the rail tunnel under the Bosphorus.  On the train it takes just a little over 5 minutes to go from one continent to the other.
Salep - a hot winter drink made from orchid tubers.  Good!

Selling simit (bread rings with sesame seeds on them) to the fishermen on the bridge.

I did some walking around the old city after getting back to Europe from Asia.  One of the places I went was the Arasta Bazaar which is a market adjoining the Blue Mosque.  One of the places I stopped by was Jennifer's Hamam, a store that sells really nice bath towels and other bath related things.  It's owned by a Canadian woman from Alberta.  She was there and we talked a bit.  She's been here for eight years, after living in Thailand before coming to Turkey.

Chestnut vendor

Cats in a cemetery

A sultan's tomb

In a tea garden

Shoe shine guy outside the tea garden

In the blue mosque

In the blue mosque

In the blue mosque

The Aya Sofya

The blue mosque (from the Arasta Bazaar)

In the Arasta Bazaar

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