Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Living with a Host Family in Turkey

Whenever I talk about Turkey, to anyone, I mention my family there. And then they say "oh, you're Turkish?" and I have to explain why I have family in a country that I don't (think I) originate from. No, not by blood, I explain, but there are two little families that took me in and I do love them (a lot) and they’ve shared my life for the past four months, almost every day. I can only hope that I have given them as much as they’ve given me. Who am I kidding, there’s no way I could repay Aysegul and Mehmet for bringing me into their home and letting me pretend I’m teaching English to their two adorable children, Zeynep and Ali, when they were all teaching me the whole time. I know I said two families, but I'll explain a little later--bear with me. 
Not only has my Turkish somewhat improved (sorry everyone, definitely not fluent), but these kids have definitely added a positive note to every single day I’ve been living with them. They’ve taught me things only children can: to not take yourself too seriously, to dance whenever possible, and to be silly whenever possible. They’ve single-handedly added some great bullet points to my life philosophy. 
Also, fun fact that no one tells you: you suck at cooking. Think you’re a good cook? Do you live in a dorm/house with no spices and three recipes? You suck. The first night I had a home cooked meal with my Turkish family was the best meal I had had in months. Restaurants are fine, yes, but nothing compares to the taste of a home-cooked Turkish meal made by a Mom with love, spices, and years of experience.
These are the two most obvious rewards for me, but on a broader, harder to put into words sort of reward: just being in a family. Going to pick up the kids from school, helping with homework, watching movies together, eating dinner together, going to the park, tagging along to go shopping, to English lessons, to piano classes…all these things have showed me what life in Istanbul is like for real people.
On top of all this, Aysegul is basically the most connected person in the whole of Istanbul, so when her friends wanted to test out having an au pair for one month: I was lent to another family. I know this sounds strange, and it was, but the opportunity to get to know and play with two more great kids (Nisan and Guney) and see what another “normal Turkish family” looks like on the inside.
These families have been so much more welcoming than I could’ve ever expected them to be, and they’ve given me a whole life outside of my university bubble in which I lived last semester. I’ve had the opportunity to not only get to know these lovely people, but also their extended families, their friends, their neighbors, and how they feel about their life here. I cannot possibly thank Erdem, Aysen, Aysegul, or Mehmet for everything they’ve done by welcoming me into their homes and letting me bother their children (Guney, Nisan, Zeynep, and Ali), but as I reflect on my time in Turkey after my return to the USA I can only hope they know they all have special places in my heart as my Turkish families. I can never repay them for all I’ve gained from them: both in experience, knowledge, and love. I will be forever indebted to them for their endless generosity and kindness.

Thank you all, and I know I will see you again.

Friday, July 15, 2016

My One Night stay at a Traditional Korean House (2-day Field Trip)

  It was an interesting experience, I see why people like these traditional houses now. However, I personally still prefer a bed, like the one I have back in Hawaii. It was a 2-day, 1-night trip, from July 7 to July 8. We ate lunch, walked around a bit, then we went to do the water sports. The water sports was actually really fun, all we did was sat on the floatie, and the floatie was attached to the boat that went extremely fast. Then we went to a convenience store, stayed at a traditional Korean house, ate dinner, made our own potato pizza for a late night snack, and played games until 11pm. Then the next day, we ate breakfast at the house at 8:30am, went to the Garden of Morning Calm, and then we went to Pizza Hut for lunch.
Restaurant where we went to eat lunch~


Place where the water sports took place :)

We took turns riding on these 2 floaties, and it was really fun! The green one can fit 6 people, and the orange one can fit 8 people.

We have to take these out of the closet, and lay it out on the floor. These were our mattresses and blankets (comforters).

The entrance to the bathroom

Restaurant where we had dinner


There was fish, but I did not feel like eating fish at that time. Therefore this was what I ate, and then later I got more of those fried tofu. I like the tofu best! :)

These are stairs