Saturday, October 30, 2010

I made it

Merhaba!! I made it safely to Turkey even though my flight was pretty horrendous. I had 2 layovers, no in-flight entertainment, hangover and stuck in the way back in the middle seats for each leg of my flight!! I didn't have the normal feelings of excitement and anticipation that you usually get before an international trip, just a headache and the feeling that I was in way over my head.
After a few moments of panic that no one was going to pick me up at the airport, I spotted Ali! He and his two friends came to pick me up and the first thing they did was take me out for a beer. That's when I knew everything was going to be okay.
My new Turkish mates !

I spent the first week running from job interview to job interview. I had like seven appointments and one demo lesson in my first four days in Istanbul. On day five I signed two contracts with two reputable language schools. I will mostly be teaching young Turks and business professionals. I am already working six days a week and building up my hours so hopefully in a few weeks I will be working full-time.

The street I work on and my school.

I have been communing to work from Ali's house. He lives about 30 miles outside the city center in a nice little gated community with his older sister. She is sooo cute and only speaks Turkish and a lot of it!! She will just comes and sits on my bed and chats with me at breakfast and I just smile and nod but I am pretty sure we understand each other like 90% of the time.

It’s been a great experience spending the last two weeks in a Turkish home. I am already addicted to Turkish breakfast: fresh whole wheat breads, tomato spread, jams, an array of cheeses and grapes and of course Turkish tea. It also doesn't hurt that Ali and his friends love to talk about San Diego, which makes me feel right at home. Ali has been so gracious and really shown me why Turkish people are famous for their hospitality. We have become fast friends and he has really saved my ass in Turkey. I am scared when I move out that I wont eat (I hate knowing the local language at restaurants) or know how to get anywhere or know who recharge my phone or talk to anyone. I feel like a baby bird leaving the safety of the nest but I am stoked for my own flat!

Some of my first observations about Istanbul:

The traffic is pretty much the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. My 40 km commute to work can take anywhere from 45 minutes to over two hours. The streets look a lot Bangkok minus the motorbikes and New York City minus cars staying in designated lanes plus pedestrians running in and out of traffic. We sometimes sit in gridlock traffic for hours barely moving when it's not even rush hour. I hoping to not really have to deal with when I move and I can walk to work.

One of my favorites things about Istanbul is seeing the turrets from all the Mosques scattered every few blocks through out the city. I also really like hearing the Adhan, the call for pray, five times a day from the Mosques. It always makes me stop for a minute and be grateful.
Its surprises me every time I travel to a new country how much you can learn. My first day here I thought my brain might implode from learning so much in one day. I hadn't really prepared myself mentally for this and It all became very real when I arrived. I hadn't really spent much time thinking about the language barrier or how I would learn Turkish but within the first hours I remembered all to well the feeling of listening to people talk for hours and not having a clue what's going. I also realized how much I talk in America and maybe almost dominate most conversations. Now that I can't share my every thought I have a lot of time to think, even when I am surrounded by a group of people. It's nice to have so much time to think, but sometimes I feel like I am constantly making mental notes. I hope this forces me to actually try and learn Turkish. I can at least read the letters but I defiantly have a lot of work to do on my pronunciation.

I recently read a quote that summed up my thoughts exactly;

"Once I leave the US, I am not bound by the rules of my culture. And when I am a foreigner in another country, I am exempt from the local rules. This extraordinary situation means that there are no rules in my life. I am free to live by the standards and ideals and rules I create for myself." - Rita Golden Gelman

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thai Love

Once again .. I was asked (or bet yet pleaded) to make a little montage of our last trip to Thailand and Cambodia in February 2010. It was an awesome a trip and I actually did stuff this time in Thailand!


Here is a video a made a few months back for my little sweetheart Eunyoung. I travelled to Sydney, Australia for 3 weeks in March 2010 and oh what a journey it was !

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The next chapter

So after 6 months back in America, I got the travel itch. I started looking for jobs all over the world: Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Egypt, Argentina and everywhere in between. And then one day I decided Turkey ! And ever since then I have been asked why Turkey?
My answer is really long actually ... First I didnt want to go to Asia again so that rules out China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. Then I was thinking Southeast Asia but i have already been to Thailand so many times .. then I was thinking about South America but most of the work there is volunteer and you need some money saved up before you go. Work as an English teacher in Europe is usually reserved for EU citizens. The Middle East was another option, the pay is good but the Women's quality sucks. So that leaves me with MIDDLE EARTH or more precisely Turkey.

Istanbul is literally both in Asia and in Europe. Istanbul has a population of 12.8 million people. Turkey is 99% muslim but the most secular of any majority Islam country. Isanbul is also home to one of the world oldest bazzar. The nightlife is suppose to be insane and the mediterranean food phenomenal.
I began searching for work in istanbul about a month ago. I was offered a job at a language school (which prompted me to buy my plane ticket to Istanbul) but after some investigating I learned about the schools bad reputation. I decide to decline the job but continue on my mission to Istanbul. For the past two weeks I have been sending my resume to English schools and Au Pair agencies all over Istanbul. I have had several skype interviews and I even have some lined up for next week. So I am hopeful that with some charm and hard work I can land a job right away.
By some chance luck, a friend of a friend living in Istanbul has offered to pick me up form the airport and let me stay with him until I am settled in. Sweeeett!!!
So what is boils down to is, I packed up my life in San Diego, left the love of my life (Brittany), bought a ticket across the world in hopes of finding a job, finding a new place to live, making new friends and surviving on the $400.00 in my bank account. I can only guess which countries I will visit and the new experiences I will gain. Stayed tuned for new posts and let the new adventure begin!!!