As I write Justo and I are sitting down to a lunch of rice and yellow lentils, and cucumber red bell pepper salad with a yogurt dressing. It has been two and a half weeks since we arrived in Turkey and despite our busy schedule, we are settling down.
Our TÖMER language classes are five days a week from 9-1 in Kızılay, Çankaya, which is the downtown Center in Ankara. One week after arriving in Turkey we moved into an apartment on Kennedy Caddesi (street) in Barbaros, Çankaya, 1.3 miles from school. We are getting good exercise walking there and back each day. Additionally our apartment is on the 4th (top floor) of our building and there is no elevator :)
We have a great language teacher who is easy to understand. Of the 17 students in class there are many countries represented: France, Norway, Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Palistine, Korea, Australia, and the US. Most of them are young college students. There are five of us who are a bit older and married, and also a 12 year old boy from Iraq. We are all becoming friends despite the language and cultural differences. Learning Turkish is another matter! While I’m starting to catch on to the grammar, keeping up with the vocab is really hard for me. The class is very fast pased and I’m so glad for Justo’s help. Prayers appreciated!
We envy those coming here to work at an embassy or for other work, who have help with the settling process. We have learned that we do indeed need to know some Turkish in order to get anything done! We found out that we cannot get internet until we get our residence permit. We are reduced to getting wifi while eating dinner at a restaurant, and then anytime we walk by the restaurant, loitering outside to check our email on our phone while the waiter glare at us. Hence the lack of communication. We are going through withdrawls and of course find it hard to get stuff done. Bus routes are online, and you have to make your residence appointment online, go figure! We had an appointment at the police station yesterday to start the resident process (which we are required to do within a month of being here) but they did not accept two of our perfectly good documents and so we are scrambling to find something they will accept. We have opened a bank account, no easy feat, and have figured out how to put money on our gas card so we have hot water at home. Grocery shopping is also coming easier as we learn more Turkish. I know how to avoid wheat (buğday) but have yet to find baking soda. We are taking things one day at a time. When we first got here and were starving, I decided to attempt bread, as I had heard that some people can eat gluten in Europe when they can’t in the US. This however did not prove true for me and I was sick for several days. To a gluten-free vegetarian’s delight, there are Kumpir restaurants that serve nothing but baked potatoes with all the toppings. For 10TL I can have a very filling meal.
Every afternoon after class we have had to travel to different parts of the city to get documents or talk to officials for one matter or another. It has not been condusive to studying or unpacking. I’ve still got one duffle bag to go.
What else can I share? They do not drink the water in the city and so everyone buys large 5 gallon bottles with attachable hand pumps. We are very happy that we brought a Berkey water filter with us and it is working really well. No need to haul water up the stairs every week!
We are getting used to doing laundry without a dryer but are looking forward to drying out on the balcony once the weather improves. We fell in love with our apartment for the large balcony that runs around three complete sides. It’s so nice to have somewhat private outdoor space in such a crowded city. We are looking forward to a balcony garden too.
It started snowing yesterday and this morning we walked to school with the snow coming down in giant flurries. It made for a slippery trip and I wished I had brought snow boots with me. The mountains we can see from our balcony are covered in snow.
I look forward to showing you more of our city life once we are residents and are allowed to sign up for internet (crazy, right!). Until then, I’d be happy for any news from home and will reply when I can.