Friday, January 20, 2012

And I'm off!... almost. In less then 24 hours Ill be taking my first bus on the way to about 10 days of not worrying about real life.  It's vacation time, when exchange students get together to check out the more "touristy" parts of Turkey.

It always blows me away how much history Turkey has lying around.  Reading a history of Turkey is like reading about all the most important events in the ancient world. Civilization got it's start in Turkey. Greeks and Persians clashed in Turkey.  Alexander the Great, Mark Antony, and Julius Caesar all visited Turkey, and made their mark in one form or another.  Some of the first Christians were converted here, and of course you cant forget the Ottoman Empire.  Then there are the things that might have happened.  Mount Ararat is a possible resting place of Noah's Ark.  Could the battle of Troy have happened here? There was certainly a King Midas (more than one!) in Turkey, could he have had a golden touch?  Many people believe the virgin Mary was brought here by the apostle John after Jesus's crucifixion.

Basically the country is swimming in historical sights.  I couldn't hope to visit them all. but Ill get some of the major ones out of the way on this trip.

However as I'm packing I can't help feel some sadnes, because in not very long Ill be packing up this bag again to change families, then Ill pack it up again when I have to leave.  I have only cried once since I've been in Turkey, but the idea of leaving my host family brings tears to my eyes.  I've had a lot of great memories here and gained some new sisters along the way (can't have to many of those!) It almost doesn't seem fair that I have to leave this second family.

Despite my fears, I know this is what exchange is all about.  Leaving behind your comfort zone and being forced to discover who you are.

I'm leaving behind a loving family. I don't know where I'm going. I don't know who I'm going with or if I'll like it there. Hmmmm.... this sounds familiar. That's right I did this same thing almost five months ago.  So, Ill save my tears, and get ready for my next adventure. Right now that adventure is a hodge-podge of historical cities around the Agean.  In a few weeks or a month it'll be a new family, and in six months it will be to Eagle River, Alaska.

I guess this is kind of check out. Ill be enjoying my next adventure blog free, but I'll let you know how it goes.  Check back in two weeks for the next installment, I'm off!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Even in America, I wouldn't exactly have called myself "good with kids"

However, As the oldest of three, I pretty much got the basics down. Kids need to be fed, watered, and you can't let them kill themselves or other people. You get extra points if they don't break anything.

These skills were all I needed to  to hold down a regular babysitting job for two years or so, and had a few other engagements on the side (okay, more like two)

However, Despite my stunning credentials, I was no where near prepared to handle the children of Turkey
All it takes is a cursarary google search to learn about the legend that is Turkish parenting. Any discipline before five is basically considered child abuse, and Turkish children have collectively earned the title of "little sultan".  In my opinion, it's well deserved.

Watching me interact with my host nephews, my family has come to the conclusion that I'm just not good with kids. As Karem and Irfan scream, tackle each other and destruct the house I just stare, overwhelmed. My host sisters didn't try to hide their surprise when they learned people in America actually trusted me alone with their offspring.

"Wow, you can take care of children?" Tuba asks

"I can take care of American children," I correct her. I'm only a little sarcastic

"What, you mean my children aren't angels?" Merve teases

After asking what I was payed in America, Merve says she could pay me to babysit Karem and Irfan. I couldn't tell if she was  kidding.

I politely refused "Oh, I couldn't take that away from Asli...." Apparantly, what they got out of that is that I didn't want to be payed to babysit.

One day, all of the responsible adults of the household had things to do, leaving my host father and me to look after Karem and Irfan.  My host mother seemed worried, but nonethess, she locked the four of us in the living room with the tv and wished us luck.

This arrangement worked for approximately four minutes. That's how long it took Karem to figure out how to  unlock the door.  He hightailed it to the kitchen and I followed apprehensively.  Irfan toddled behind as I pictured the scene of destruction the rest of the family would come home to in a few hours.  I cringed as Karem opened the refriderator and said something in Turkish.

"Oh, mercy, God perserve us" I thought, until I realised the kid just wanted to make orange juice.  of all of the crazy things I've had kids suggest while I'm on duty, this was probably one the tamest.  In short, I was happy to oblige.

I hauled the orange juice press to the counter and held Irfan on my hip while I sliced oranges for Karem to press into the colorful mug he had helped to pick out. At one point, the other reluctant baby sitter came in to make sure any damage we were inflicting on his house was reparable.  I think he was pleasantly surprised.

After the mug was full, I let him squeeze a few more oranges into another cup, until I put my foot down. Surprisingly, he stopped without any screaming, crying, or throwing. However, he did not actually want to drink the orange juice.

That was fine, "more for me" I thought.  Karem led us to the hallway where we played spies. (this is played by hushing each other and watching my host father sleep).  Once this got boring we moved on to playing dinosaurs. Well really, I played dinasour while Karem played "kid scared by dinosaur" and then "kid comforting crying dinosaur."

eventually all the running and acting practice got tiring and Karem snuggled up in bed with his gameboy (Do kids these days still call them gameboys). Since Irfan had plopped himself infront of the tv somewhere in between "spies" and "dinosaurs", I fell onto the couch surprised at my luck, in a few shorts minutes the resposible adults arrived, valiantly atttempting to hide their surprise at my apparent success.

"Did you have any problems?" Merve asked

"oh, no" I replied

"It was just boring?"

"It wasn't bad."

I decided the fun we had was, perhaps, best kept a secret between me and the boys. After all, I wouldn't want anyone to think I was good with kids.