Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Turkish Lessons

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I took four weeks of Turkish lessons when we first moved here and it was less than ideal. The teacher didn't speak much English, so I was often left confused.  I also think that I was overwhelmed with my new home and wasn't quite ready to commit to learning a new language while still trying to navigate my new home.  Regardless of the reasons, I didn't finish my four weeks of Turkish lessons any more fluent or proficient in Turkish. In fact, I think I walked away with almost a mental block about learning Turkish. Mike also had a frustrating time with the lessons for the opposite reasons.  He felt that the teacher didn't know what to do with him because he had mastered most of the grammar concepts, but needed help with vocabulary. She was unprepared to teach this and didn't know what to do with him.

After those four weeks, we took a break from Turkish lessons and traveled.  It was a nice break, but now that Mike is in school and I have started working, we both wanted to resume Turkish lessons.  We chose not to go back to Royal Turkish, where we were before.  Mike began classes at a place that gives discount to people affiliated with NATO, which he is.  It meets every morning for four hours.

We found another class, through a local university that met three times a week and was offering beginner classes.  It sounded ideal, right?

Don't forget we are in Turkey.

On Saturday, I got an email saying that I was to meet at 8:45 for registration on Monday. I thought it was a little weird since the classes were meeting on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, but figured it didn't really matter.  I'd be willing to go full time if it ended up that way.

So, when Monday rolled around, I was up bright and early and mapped out where to go.  Luckily, it was less than 20 minutes walking distance from our house, so I was able to get there easily.  As I was walking, I turned the corner to the street the school was located on to find a construction site.  When I say construction site, I mean bulldozer tearing buildings to the ground. I did see a sign for the school though, so I walked over to it and the building that was still standing next to the sign.   I figured they were just doing construction on some other buildings and that we'd meet in this building that was still standing.

A man came up to me and started speaking Turkish.  I looked blankly at him and said "Ingilizce?" which he said something back in Turkish (obviously I didn't understand....).  He then pulled out a chair and I sat, not sure what else to do.

Not long after, a car pulled up and a man got out.  He and the Turkish man spoke to each other, although this man sounded like he had an American accent.  Sure enough, he was from Dallas, TX! He translated for me and said that the Turkish man didn't know what was going on.  So, we waited some more. Another man arrived around 9:00, which was 15 minutes past the time we were supposed to be there.

He pointed to a sign that was on the side of the building that said in both Turkish and English that the classes had been moved to Buca, another area in Izmir. Todd, the man from Dallas, called the number listed on the sign and didn't get much more information. Since he had a car, he said he was going to go and check it out, but was frustrated that the classes had been moved all the way to Buca, which is pretty far out.  I had no idea what to do, since I still don't have a cell phone.  I ended up giving Todd Mike's phone number so that he could let me know if he found out any information and headed home.

Mike ended up talking to Todd on the phone later that day and getting more information about the location of the school.  Todd said he wasn't going to do it and, after looking up how to get there, I'm not either.  It would be over an hour on multiple city buses, plus a little bit of a walk. I've never navigated the bus system by myself and don't really feel comfortable doing it without a phone to call Mike if I got lost, especially since I still don't speak any Turkish.

Later that day, I was telling my students this story and when I finished, they laughed and said "Because...Turkey."  Thanks, guys, that's really helpful. :)

I think the plan now is for me to just go to the same school as Mike.  It's more expensive and meets every day, but that is sounding like our best option.  The new class starts next month, so I guess I'll begin then.  This whole lifestyle of getting information and not being sure if that is the correct information baffles me.  I've never had to second guess an email or think that information that is provided might not be correct.  I guess I just have to follow my students and just sigh and say "because....Turkey."