Turkey "Firsts"

After a looong flight (10 hours) we finally made it! The flight was smooth (Hero slept through the whole thing, opening her eyes just as we were landing) and all 7 (yes, 7) of our bags arrived without any problems.

We arrived at Koç School by 8:30 and were welcomed with a Turkish dinner at the Social Center. We were then taken to our lojman. Our lojman (townhouse) is huge, with a kitchen, living room, dining room, 2 bathrooms and 3 bedrooms! We have an outdoor patio area and a balcony. Our frıdge was stocked with food to get us through the first few days (with GIANT peaches!). We are steps away from the Social Center (the teacher hangout and bar) and bus stop, which is very handy (and a little dangerous)! There are service buses that run several times a week to various hotspots in an around the city. So far we have experienced many shopping trips to places like Ikea, grocery stores and mini-malls. We have purchased the "necessities"... pots, pans, a water cooler, hangers, cleaning products, a tea pot/kettle (an odd Turkish model), plates, cups, an iron etc. We also managed to find Heinz ketchup, mustard, tobasco sauce, rice noodles, etc. at the grocery store. And of course, we managed to find cases of Efes, a delicious Turkish beer that comes in 17 oz. bottles! Alcohol is sold in grocery stores, which we greatly appreciate :)

Our days have been intense - long hours of orientation followed by trips into the city, but life is good so far. Denny had a lot of trouble sleeping at first. He would often wake up at 5:00 am, while I slept until 7:15. The trips to the city have been fantastic, as people can sometimes feel a bit secluded on the campus. The campus itself is about 10-15 minutes away from the nearest city, and about 30 minutes away from Istanbul if traffic is cooperative. On Friday, we went to Bağ dat street, which was full of lovely shops and restaurants. We had dinner with our new group of friends and felt very refreshed to just relax and enjoy what the city has to offer. The new foreign teachers group is very tight-knit, and the experienced teachers are extremely welcoming and helpful. We have made some great friends here so far!

Along with new experiences, we have had quite a few "surprises", including...

* Planes flying through our living room. (There is an airport close by, but we are adjusting to the noise.)

* Hero's "escape". (She managed to squeeze her way through a small hole in the screen door. Denny found her outside lounging on the front step in the sun as if she does it all the time).

* Turkish keyboards on our new school laptops. (Ş Ğ Ç Ö Ü ı i etc... it is a challenge!)

* Our washing machine. (We played with it for over 2 hours to figure out what the buttons did. We're still not completely sure...)

* General language issues. (Pronunciation of names, awkward translations e.g. "çamaşır suyu" translates to "laundry juice" [bleach!], and loooong Turkish language lessons in which Denny dozes off).

Although the language is tough, we have made some progress in learning survival phrases. Words/phrases we have used thus far are:

At Ikea - (Us) Question in Turkish: Çarşaf? (Sheets?)
(Employee) Answer in English: Under the floor. (He meant downstairs haha.)

Merhaba - Hello.
Teşeküler - Thanks.
Teşekkür ederim - Thank you.
Bir su istiyorum - I would like one water. ("please" is implied)
Daha fazla? - More?
Saat kaç? - What time is it?
Pirıinç - Rice
and of course...
Iki bira istiyorum - I would like 2 beers.

In summary, Istanbul is terrific so far. More to follow!

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