Edit Blog Post
Published: February 14th 2008
This photo doesn't have anything to do with the rest of the blog, but it's a pretty cool statue.
It is "Darlink's Day" here in Turkey, a capitalistic holiday during which people, motivated by love and guilt, spend lots of their hard-earned lira on their special someones. Large red heart-shaped decorations have popped up all over the place. What a change from Valentine's Day in the States it... isn't!
Why would I venture all the way to Kızılay on this of all days? I was on what I consider to be sort of a Robin Hood mission. I once paid $130 (USD) for an awful textbook for an awful class, only to find at the semester's end that the bookstore would offer me no more than $30 to buy it back. I'm also always curious as to why some subjects require new textbooks. I mean, have there been any major recent breakthroughs in Algebra? So I'm pleased to discover a brilliant alternative available here in Turkey.
It works like this: First, I borrow the book. Next, I take it to a copycenter and explain in broken Turkish that I'd like to copy, well, the whole book. Then the copy people say "Sure, would you like to wait for it?" and some other stuff that is too fast for
Kızılay, a pedestrian-friendly shopping neighborhood in the middle of Ankara, was festive and bustling today. This girl comes from the child-scaring school of clownistry.
me to understand. I say, "No, now walking around I am doing. One hour later, return I will." Then we both say "tamam" a bunch of times, which means "OK."
I come back to find that the book has been flawlessy copied, and nicely bound with thread and plastic. Am I an intellectual property theif? Of course, but I feel somewhat liberated after many painfully-overpriced semesters. I've done this with three books so far. This has set me back a total of 18 YTL, which (according to www.xe.com) is at the moment equivelant to 15.0244 USD. Five bucks a textbook - not too shabby.
So, how are classes, Jim? Well, they've finally started this week and they are all 3-hour or 4-hour once-a-week affairs. (Stop reading now if you don't want to hear me ramble on about it.) My Turkish classes are the only ones that really started - more on that in a moment... My Business Statistics class and my International Organizations classes went roughly the same way. My instructors came into the rooms, and rapidly introduced themselves and the classes, in Turkish. After I made it known that I wasn't understanding very much, they switched to
There's a street filled with flower shops which was particularly busy today.
immaculate English and assured me that the regular classes will all be in English - then they went back to Turkish. I assume that the classes will be a blend of the two languages. Tamam.
Since last summer I've been studying Turkish in preparation for this trip with the help of friends, a dictionary, and a massive textbook. My goal was to be able to test out of the basic Turkish class and start at a higher level here. The test was last Saturday morning. There were 8-10 of us in the room, and all of the other students spoke comfortably, at a natural Turkish-sounding pace. I speak like a toddler who has eaten too much lead paint.
The test started out with a three paragraph story about ducks, frogs, and peasants. There was a drought, the ducks flew around a bit, and the peasants said some things. I understood a bit, but not enough to answer the questions which looked something like:
Why did the ducks want to (unfamiliar verb)?
When did the (not sure, not sure) to the peasants that were (unfamiliar verb)?
Why was the lake (something, something, something else)?
I did better
on the short answers and fill-in-the case endings sections, but I doubt If I passed the test. The essay at the end was:
A friend will this summer be (unfamiliar verb). Write a letter to the friend explaining (what, I really don't know). Instead, I wrote a pitiful explanation that I had been trying to learn the language on my own, but was not really at the level necessary for the test. Two days later I saw the woman who had given the test and she politely told me that my Turkish was beautiful. Turks are generally very nice.
So, I found the instructor for the second class and explained my situation. In the end, we both decided that I should take both the first and the second classes this term. One will seem a bit watered down, while the other well over my head. Either way, it will mean 8 classroom hours of Turkish each week, plus plenty of work to keep me busy in the meantime. Tamam.
The second level class was yesterday. I and three other students showed up. Two were Polish girls, upset that the class won't be intermediate enough for them. They
How many Atatürk statues can there possibly be in Turkey? Answer: they number in the gazillions, methinks. This one has a famous quote of his at the bottom, which means "How happy I am to call myself a Türk." The foundation of the modern republic was centered around uniting different ethnic groups as "Turkish." This allowed the country to be strong enough to succeed and survive, but it has also has had some complicated side effects, most notably with the supression, at times, of Kurdish culture.
complained quickly and coherently and then left after 20 minutes to go to some meeting. This left me and Zeri for the rest of the class. Zeri is a feisty Iranian woman (26-yrs-old, wink wink - probably mid-40's), who is one of my new favorite people ever. She comes from the Azeri-speaking northwest of Iran, so her first language is almost identical to Turkish. (Zeri also speaks flawless English, Farsi, and she knows some Kurdish and Arabic). She is utterly dissatisfied with her government and is understandably sick and tired of organized religions. She is herself a professor, with a Master's from a university in Tehran, but she's completing another degree here in English literature, and she must take this class because of some silly formality.
To my ears, Zeri speaks Turkish as well as the professor. Thankfully both of them are very polite, helpful, and encouraging. I'm overwhelmed right now, but perhaps I will be able to catch up and make it through the class.
And on that note, I should go get some sleep for my Balkan History class tomorrow. It should be a good time...
Tot: 2.578s; Tpl: 0.057s; cc: 13; qc: 72; dbt: 0.0589s; 2; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb