Turkish Alarm Clocks

I’m nearing the end of my second week in Turkey, and I haven’t yet had a chance to put all my thoughts, impressions, and musings into blog form yet. So, here’s my first effort in what will prove to (hopefully) be a very informative and fun collection of pictures, stories, digressions, anecdotes, and reflections on life as an English teacher in Turkey.

I’m not yet sure who all will be following along with me, so this first post will shed some light on what I’m doing, where I’m at, and what the upcoming year looks like. For those of you who already know the background information, please bear with me.

This is round two for me
During the summer between my Sophomore and Junior years at Santa Clara, I had a fellowship in Istanbul, Turkey for six weeks to work with the Turkish Cultural Foundation and Turkish Coalition of America (two non-profits working in the U.S. and Turkey). I came to love Turkey and dearly wanted to return after college.

In the fall of my senior year, I applied for a Fulbright grant to be an English Teaching Assistant at a university in Turkey. I found out that spring that I would indeed be returning to Turkey, this time to teach English at Kırıkkale University (KU) in central Anatolia.

Now two weeks into the long year ahead, I can provide a bit more context about what I’ll actually be doing while in Turkey. I, along with two other fearless Fulbrighters here, will not be assisting but actually teaching full English classes in the University prep school. A brief interlude about Turkish education is in order:

Unlike in the U.S., students in Turkey must score in the top percentiles on their placement exams upon graduating from high school in order to attend most four-year public and private universities. Students whose scores do not place them in the top percentiles must study at technical or vocational schools. As I understand it, KU is a public four-year university set up through the Turkish Council of Higher Education, but students in some fields lack the necessary English language skills to start at the university, so they must take a year of prep English (24 hours a week for two semesters) before they begin their degree courses. At KU, these students will study political science, economics, and international relations, and some of their classes will be in English, hence the required year of prep.

So, I will be teaching three classes of about 35 students each this semester, and my focus will be speaking and listening. The students will learn reading, writing, and grammar in other classes taught by native Turkish speakers, one of whom is my roommate here (more on him and my living set-up in a later post).

Other than teaching, I will be visiting cities all over Turkey (and staying with other Fulbrighters who are teaching at universities in those cities), I will hope to travel regionally a bit as well (though steering clear of geopolitical hotspots, I assure you), and I will attempt to learn the basics of Turkish while also indulging in many a kebab and glass of tea or Rakı.

In an effort to keep these posts brief (and to distance myself from my previous verbosity and longwindedness), I will end the formal introduction here. I hope to blog at least once every week or two, but I plan on posting a few more short ones later this week to get things started. Up next: my first (well, second) impressions of Turkey, my FIRST impressions of K-town (make sure not to miss this one), and some updates on my living/social situation and first week of classes.

Please tune in whenever you wish.

Before I go, I’ll leave you with a quick anecdote that I’m borrowing from one of the other Fulbrighters in Kırıkkale because I just loved it so much. We live in spacious apartments that are stacked together with balconies that look out at others on our streets, and in the mornings we are greeted by particularly Turkish alarm clocks–the echoing ting-ting-ting of little spoons stirring sugar cubes in hot cups of tea rings out across the streets as the teyzes (old Turkish women) start their morning. And as they start their mornings, so too for us begins another exciting day in Turkey.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are my own, and they in no way reflect the views of the Fulbright Commission, the United States or Turkish governments, or any other affiliated agencies.

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One response to “Turkish Alarm Clocks

  1. Brother

    Enjoying this, brotha. Can you post newer blogs at top rather than at bottom…for us lazy scrollers? XO

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