Sunday, September 13, 2009


Hi All,
Though it's a rather strange title, it's kind of what I felt like when I met my new family. However, I'm getting ahead of
myself...And please pardon any spelling/grammar/whatever mistakes - I definitely have a touch of jet lag.

I Saw the Sign

Well, I actually didn't. I was very excited when my flight made it to Istanbul 20 minutes early - 5:20pm local time. However, when I saw the Visa line (I entered on a Tourist visa...20 US dollars for 90 days, multiple entries), my hopes sank. After a 40 minute wait, my 5 second turn at the window was done...and then it was on to Customs. The man gave my German student alien visa a rather dirty look (why?) but stamped me through. I was worried that the family may have given up waiting for me at this time, since it had been over an hour. Sure enough, as I walked into the meeting place (my baggage had arrived goodness knows how long before), I was assaulted by a huge crowed cordoned off - all waving signs with names. I slowly walked back and forth. Not seeing my name - or even sure there would be one for me - I decided to check the "meeting points" and if necessary call from a payphone. As I walked behind the crowd I suddenly saw him- my new host dad! (HD) He's a great big guy (played some serious basketball in his time) carrying a great big sign with my name across it. He immediately said "I knew it! I saw you and I knew it! But you didn't see me! How could you miss my great big sign? It is a souvenir for you now!" Yep, he's a teaser.

First Taste of Turkey...
Was from a Burger King. Lol. Host Mom (HM) wasn't very happy with HD that my first meal was there - but he wasn't sure if she had cooked or not. She, in fact, HAD cooked - and a very large meal, too. I was very fortunate that their home is a bit of a drive from the airport (about 45 minutes), as I'm sure I would have offended her by being full. My first Proper meal consisted of something that is pronounced Doe-ma, which was assorted vegetables stuffed with a meat/rice/tomatoes mixture served with yogurt. I was relieved to make it through the three she heaped on my plate. So, I was a bit dismayed (but faced it stoically), when she then proceeded to start heaping pasta on my plate. My weak protest that I wasn't very hungry mercifully cut down my portion size to a mere half-plate full. Urg. Then, I was told (in the truly excellent English that HM and HD both speak) that I simply must try the beans. I had three and then firmly declined anything else. HM's Mom was there, and she and a family friend assured me that they'd have me speaking Turkish in 3 months. Here's to hoping for that!

The Family - MY Family : )
My new family consists of HM, HD and my two new brothers - G and K . G is 11 and going into the 6th grade. School started last week, and he seemed pretty determined tonight that he wasn't feeling all that well and shouldn't go to school tomorrow...we'll see what his mother thinks though! K is almost 6 (I believe) and is quite the monkey. Unlike G, K has very little English (which is why their mother preferred a Nanny from the US). However, we still managed to have lots of fun playing today, and not so much fun when he turned the hose on me...It will definitely be easier with G around, who understands quite a bit more of English. However, K learned at least two words/phrases today: "Thank you" and "Tickle". : )
In addition to the family, there is another nanny/housekeeper: J. I've been warned she is mostly very easy to be around, but can be temperamental. I shall endeavor to stay on her good side. The house is quite large, and my room is just a bit smaller than my freshman dorm room. It has lots of drawers set up, a TV (enormous) and windows that are on ground level. I will try to take pictures, especially once I get enough hangers to unpack my suitcases. Oh, and there are also the family pets.

One Tequila, Two Tequila...
Nope, not Three Tequila - Floor. And technically, the dog's name is actually spelt "Tekila" (I think - it's pronounced closer to Tiki-la) and she's a roly-poly golden retriever who loves any sort of attention. In addition, their cat Minosh (sp? - Me-nosh pronunciation) and HM's Mother's cat - Barbie - were also present. Barbie is a deaf long-haired white cat, which makes me a bit nervous to have around, but it's only temporary as HM's Mom's basement flooded and they needed to clean it out. However, that's the extent to which the flooding effected my family.

On The Go
This has been my theme since arriving here. Within the last 24 hours I have: arrived at the airport, eaten at Burger King, eaten my body weight in yogurt (ok, not yet, but it seems as though it won't take me long to), played basketball, Deal or No Deal, gone out to a traditional restaurant, Visited two neighbors' houses (once for tea after "lunch" and another to celebrate a retirement with champagne), toured the gated community they live in, heard more Turkish then I've heard ever in my life, and learned "yavru kedi" - my first word. It means kitten. I also "learned" - read, not any that I can actually remember-
some other words. Fortunately, "Thank You" is both long and complicated. I also had the most interesting shower of my life. Interesting being a long euphemism relating to the fact that I'm not the brightest bulb. I couldn't get the spigot to switch to the shower head (I was unscrewing it...and I was too afraid to pull. Luckily it's just extremely hard to pull up), and HM had a good laugh visualizing what my shower must've been like (I'll try to take photos tomorrow, and I'm sure you'll be amused as well).

HM is a strong believer in the fact that I should not be allowed to get bored. She and HD are thrilled that I've decided to learn some Turkish and first thing this morning she was scouting out language institutions for me. The one she found that will be most convenient started on September 7th, so she's going to call to see how feasible it would be for me to start late. However, she doesn't want to risk my boredom tomorrow and has me coming in to work with her (at quarter to 9) where the family driver, F. (I know, I'm sorry...way too many abbreviations) will pick me up and show me around some historical sites until he picks the kids up at 3:30. F. apparently knows some English and is very trustworthy and dependable. So. I will charge my camera tonight then! Anyhow. It's getting on towards midnight, here, so I should probably get going. I plan on updating as often as necessary when things get interesting.

Thanks for reading, your comments are welcome!
Hoping all is well,

PS. I almost forgot to mention that the Black Sea is less than 1 km away. Crazy!


Mom said...

Sounds like you are off to a wonderful start, Steph! WE know that they will love you!!!

scgustaf said...

Thanks for the update ~ looking forward to seeing your pictures too! Hope talking Turkey comes well for you and all the other adjustments too!