Friday, October 28

school and.. well.. school - Istanbul, Turkey
4 Stars This place was Great visited Oct 28, 2005
After a few weeks of working 35 or more contact hours a week, my hours have finally dropped to something reasonable, and I might even have time to write more often! I'm now working full weekends - at school from 9 til 7 saturday and sunday, but during the week I only have 3 evening classes - each three hours long, so I practically feel like I'm on holiday during the week. The classes are mostly allright though - each three or 4 hours long and all beginner, elementary or pre-intermediate. I prefer the beginner and elementary classes - it's nice to know exactly what your students know and don't know, pretty much, because you've taught them everything they do know! I've also started turkish lessons, just for fun. My colleague Suzanne and I thought it would be interesting to be on the other side of a beginners immersion language lesson for a change. And of course, turkish might be useful in the next few months. Unfortunately we started with a completely crap teacher, and pretty much failed to learn anything useful for the first week (8 hours) of classes. I don't know where they found this teacher, but she didn't seem to have any discernible teaching skills at all. She arrived over an hour late for our first lesson, and 40 minutes late for the second. On the third she brought a friend who sat next to her at the front of the classroom, and they conversed in turkish occasinally during the lesson. In front of us. The lesson content consisted of random lists of words - apparently whatever came into her head at the time. In the second lesson (that's after about 4 hours of class) she decided to teach us every verb tense that exists in turkish - all the suffixes that is. Of course, she didn't speak any english, so she was explaining entirely in turkish, which of course we didn't understand a word of, and we didn't actually know any verbs to add the suffixes to anyway. Mercifully, that teacher couldn't come at all for the 1st lesson in the second week of our course, so it was taken by the school director - the woman we had arranged to take the course with. And in those 4 hours, we actually learnt to say things! Whole sentences! And questions! We (the three of us in the class) had pretty much determined to ask her for a different teacher that day anyway, so it was a nice surprise. We begged her to continue teaching us, and, by changing the days of our classes, it was possible. It just means I have to go in to Taksim on my 2 days off as well every day that I work. But that's worth it if I'm actually learning something. The course will run about 8 weeks in total, so it won't be forever anyway. I'd better go get ready for today's lesson. I'm sure there was some homework I had to do... Kat

Thursday, October 6

On the second day of Ramadan... - Istanbul, Turkey
3 Stars This place was Average visited Oct 6, 2005
There is some sort of big national festival. The largest Turkish flag I've ever seen has been hung from a building just accross from the school. And there was strange chanting in the streets, and the schools all have a holiday (but apparently no one else) and the usual impressively/oppressively strong police presence in the Istiklal Caddesi has been supplemented by other uniforms. Something to do with independence from something, I'm told. Turkish keyboards irritate me.

Wednesday, October 5

The Hammam - Istanbul, Turkey
5 Stars This place was Amazing visited Oct 5, 2005
We finally got there. After weeks of planning to go to the hammam and having to postpone the plan, we finally took ourselves to the Turkish bathhouse. We chose Cemberlitas, an expensive touristy one, as we were told it was probably best at first, just because they are used to silly foreigners who don't know what to do! Next time we'll go to a locals one. It was also strongly recommended to pay for the full treatment the first time around - again so that you know the drill next time! After paying your money, you go into the dressing room, to remove all your clothes and wrap a thin cotton bath sheet (like a sarong) around you before progressing into the bath room - or rather the steam room. It's all entirely segregated, of course, and men and women don't see each other at all after the entrance. The bath themselves consist of one great big room with no actual bath or pool in it at all. In fact, there is are no pools in a turkish bath - only taps and basins and lots and lots of steam. Cemberlitas is a historical hammam - about 500 and something years old, and the steam room is large and round with a domed roof with small stars and circles cut into it so you can lie back and watch the sky. The main feature of the room is an enormous raised marble platform which occupies most of the room. This is, as far as I can work out, the source of the heat. Everyone lies on the platform and soaks up the heat, and it's also where a nearly naked attendant washes and massages you, if you've paid for the full treatment. The wash and massage can get a bit personal, but it is relaxing - and you certainly get exfoliated! It's all done with mountains of sudsy foam that they produce by trapping air in a wet soapy pillow case and squeezing it through the fabric. I wonder if it's the traditional way... After getting washed, you go back to lying around with all the other naked women for an hour or so soaking up the steam and occasionally being dripped on from the ceiling. All in all it was a wonderful experience and I really wish I had more time to go more often. I wouldn't want to go back to the touristy one, but I've heard about one in Besiktas, which is near us, that is the hottest in town! And another not too far from my school that is the largest in town! Both sound worth checking out, and both are a whole lot cheaper than the most touristy one in town!

On the first day of Ramadan my true love sent to me... - Istanbul, Turkey
3 Stars This place was Average visited Oct 5, 2005
an sms asking if I had clothes to wash. But enough of my domesticities... Ramadan has started. For a secular country, this still seems to be having enough effect to disrupt things. Perhaps it won't be so noticeable after the first few days, but my evening classes will be starting a half hour later for the whole month, to allow the students to eat first. I have just been told this - 4 minutes before I was planning to be in class, and they tell me i have an extra half hour. mildly annoying. And we aren't supposed to eat in the streets. And this morning I had to change the planned lesson that was all on buying food in a cafe. I had planned it for just before lunch (that's my sadistic tendencies showing) but found I couldn't do it when most of them hadn't eaten since dawn and wouldn't til sundown. 3 mins at the photocopier, and it turned into a lesson on clothes shopping instead. We are also told we should expect a drummer in the streets at about 3 in the morning - to wake us up in time to eat before sunrise. Just what I need. Haven't these people heard of alarm clocks? More entries await uploading on my computer. If I ever had more than 5 min at home at a time, I would do it! soon, I promise. Although Nathaniel and Carolyn (of all people) arrive tonight, so computer time might not happen much this weekend...