The Real Turkey

An American in Istanbul…or how I became a Turk

So we made it back to Moda the very next weekend!

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We grabbed Yucel’s Mom and daughter Ceren and headed down to the historical Moda Pier Restaurant at sunset.

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The views were unbelievable for such an inexpensive and unpretentious place.  The narrow one-way streets (those are the only kind of streets in Moda) lead to one with garden cafes in tucked away places.

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Free blankets were provided by the restaurant as the early fall breeze can whip right through you.

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Mama was stunning, imposing, beautiful.

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The grilled koftes were sizzling… We tucked them right in.

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An after dinner stroll along th Moda boardwalk offers up a chance to do some exercises and watch some tennis…

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Then it was time to head back to Moda’s garden cafes for dessert of course…

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with some very patient bystanders hoping to freeload…

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No, they didn’t get any dessert.

Thank you, Moda, for a lovely family night out!

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My desk partner is a fashionista…. or a girly-girl blogger

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She’s a sweet girly-girl, my work neighbor.

I look at her desk when she steps away.  A sign in front of her says “Keep calm …and love fashion”.  Another sign calls out “Butun Kizlar Toplandik” or Turkish for “All Girls United”.

My desk is bare and looks boring next to hers…

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My sweet neighbor is all of 20-something, recently married.  Last Friday, we danced like it’s our last care-free weekend (it was…)

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Three weeks have come and gone.  Orientation for us rookie teachers is done.  We’ve been assigned our co-teacher and our classes.  We have our entire semester’s curriculum and course materials.

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 We’ve prepared lesson plans and brainstormed ideas for Week One.  We’ve even had our suite Turkish breakfast party on our last no-student-on-campus prep day.

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The office-mates/teachers are all there promising support and teamwork….

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It’s Time.  To.  Meet.  The.  Students….

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Hello, everyone!  My name is Wasfiyah and I’m from New York!

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BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

Dancing Elephants by Heinrich Kley Dancing Elephants by Heinrich Kley

What nobody tells you as an artist is that every project starts at the beginning. Not just the blank page, the empty stage, but that you have to re-establish your credentials and your quality every time. You can coast on reputation a little, but it doesn’t last long if you don’t deliver.

What nobody tells you is that praise—a standing ovation, a good review, your teacher’s approval—makes you feel good for a day, but one line of internet criticism from a stranger reverberates in your skull forever.

Frankly, I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

(I tried to feel bad when that critic killed himself the next year, but I didn’t.)

What nobody tells your boyfriend is that writing 3000 words in a calm, soothing, supportive environment still leaves you too tired to call home at the end of the day. So does…

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Rediscovering Kadikoy — Moda, where have you been?

All these… in one day of a self-improvised walking tour….

Korfball!  I never knew there was such a game until today.

Korfball! I never knew there was such a game until today.

A walking tour of Kadikoy and Moda in broad day light (versus night time bars and clubs) turns up korfball…. a Dutch game similar to netball and basketball… except it’s played on sand.  This one was on a public court along the Kadikoy coastline.  Who knew??

Tarihi Moda Iskelesi -- Historical Moda Pier

Tarihi Moda Iskelesi — Historical Moda Pier

…. an inexpensive restaurant with a priceless view — right in the middle of the Marmaray Sea in the backyard of Kadikoy — right next to the exclusive and historic members-only Moda Denis Kulubu (Moda Sea Club) envisioned by none other that M.Kamel Ataturk himself….

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..a tea garden with $1.25 cups of Turk tea and grand water views…

Cay Bahcesi, Tea Garden with $1.25 for a cup of Turkish tea overlooking the water

in Moda — Cay Bahcesi, Tea Garden

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…discovering a historic TramVay (TramWay) other than the famous one in Taksim Square… this one right here on the Asian side of Istanbul…

The old historic TramVay (Tramway..yes)

The old historic TramVay (Tramway..yes) in Kadikoy-Moda…there’s another in Taksim Square

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 …..rifle practice over Moda…

Target shooting balloons over the water

Target shooting balloons over the water

…crowd control police at a Fenerbahce football game at Kadikoy, home of Turkey’s no. 1 football team..

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…..graffitti art of Kadikoy’s street scene on the walls of a Kadikoy church — yes, there are churches in 99% Muslim Turkey — drawn during the Gezi Park protest of June 2013….

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..and a garden cafe that could have been right out of Williamsburgh, Brooklyn/New York….

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We are going back to Moda!  Wouldn’t you?

University professors can party too

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Can you believe these are all university professors?

It has been two weeks since I started my new job on Sept 1 as an English Language teacher in a university in Istanbul.  And last night I saw how hard my colleagues can party.

A teacher’s husband is performing with his band at a Taksim club and the performance starts at 10:30 p.m.  We were there promptly at 10:30 — first ones to get there…. no band, no friends — yet.  How did I know?!

Our first foray back into the night club scene in Taksim in what feels like an interminably long time...

Our first foray back into the night club scene in Taksim in what feels like an interminably long time…

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Yucel grabs a bite on a doner

So, we decided to grab a bite on the way to the party… next to the snoozing kitty and some old photographs…

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Through Istiklal Street in Taksim Square…

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However, at about 10:45 or 10:50, not only did the band show up but EVERYBODY else did too — and the dancing started immediately!  No warm ups needed.  Everyone was ready to go!  Did we miss the pre-party?!

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Throughout these last two weeks, I have been filled with admiration at my colleagues’ energy, intelligence, English language mastery, professionalism, dynamism and serious skills and knowledge of their profession.

I now know they can also party hardy.

Somehow I also know that I will continue to be bowled over by these beautiful engaging young women — and men (although I only saw women dancing) — and their dedication to delivering excellence in the classroom teaching English language to fresh incoming Turkish former high school students who have no idea of what university life is all about, much less the degree of English expected in this Turkish and (mostly) English-medium university.

Wish us all luck!!  One more week to go before we open up the campus and welcome 1,000 students…

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2014-2015 School of Languages Faculty, Ozyegin University, Cekmekoy/Istanbul