Hey, y’all.  So, Oct 12th was my 5 month anniversary here, can you believe it?  Most days I can’t.  Some days – oh, my – I certainly can.

Overall, life is good and I am still just so happy that I did this crazy thing.  I’m definitely getting more homesick, though.  It’s funny, most articles you read about culture shock and expat “stuff” say that the first big wave of homesickness hits at 6 months.  Now, of course I missed you all, Houston, normal life, etc., as soon as I got on the plane to Turkey, but now that I’m (somewhat) settled, I have more time to think about,  and acknowledge my pangs.

But I’m coming home for Christmas and can’t wait!!  I don’t know how long I’ll be home yet – it will depend on the job – but I want to see you lovely people.  And eat Mexican food, Italian food, big juicy Texas beef burgers and steak, and my favorite sandwich from Whole Foods. All of those meals will involve pork products, by the way.   And there will be drinking of margaritas and nice red wine.  That isn’t Turkish. So, if you want to see me, be prepared to eat.  And drink.  And don’t judge me when I eat way more than any person should.

Some good news to share – I have a job!!! Finally.  If you read one of the last blog posts, you know that I thought I had one, then didn’t. Now I do.  What I’d ideally like to be doing is working at one of the many private schools here as a native English teacher.  But I didn’t figure that out (whole blog post on how to move here correctly coming soon!) until it was too late, and all the teachers were hired. So, what I am doing is working at a language school.  I’ll be teaching English to adults of varying levels that have paid money to come to this school and have a brilliant native English speaker teach them perfect English.  Little do they know – suckers!  Ha, just kidding.  Sort of.  The pay isn’t near as good, but it’s something.  And if I continue to give private lessons, I’ll be OK.

I’ve been working very hard on my Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification over the last couple of months.  I chose to get the 120-hour certificate, which has been quite difficult and very time consuming, but wow, am I learning.  The only bad part is that it is completely online, so it doesn’t include actual classroom practice.  So, I start tomorrow (Saturday) and my first ever classroom experience will be a two and a half hour lesson to adults.  This is somewhat terrifying. But, there is a book, and a workbook, and the school wants me to use it.  I’ve spent a couple of hours reviewing the material, doing my lesson plan, and praying.

In other news, autumn is here!  It’s been raining all week long, and has cooled down dramatically.  Today’s high was 60.  I don’t know if this is the norm, or if we’re in the middle of several cold fronts. What I do know is that I need rain boots, a heavy waterproof coat (for when it gets much colder) and a lightweight, waterproof coat.  Stat.

Mom came to visit week before last.  We had such a great visit, and managed to see all sorts of sights, but have some relaxing down time as well.  We visited the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia, shopped in the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market, ate at my favorite restaurant (which she loved, of course!), and had two meals at friends’ houses.  One is a fellow expat, Sam, who made a delicious meal and, and one was at Ozen’s parent’s house.  They made us a very traditional meal from the Black Sea region, featuring delicious fried anchovies (hamsi).  On Saturday night, I had a small party, and Mom got to meet most of my good friends here.  I was so excited to share my adopted city with her. And it was incredibly hard to see her go.

My Turkish has really stalled.  My teacher went on a month and a half vacation (nice, huh?) and when he came back I didn’t have a job, so didn’t have money for lessons.  I’m bummed about that because I should be much further along by now.  I am still learning, just by being here, but not fast enough.  A neighbor invited me to have dinner with her tonight.  She doesn’t speak English.  God knows what we’re going to talk about.  🙂

Oh, and my apartment!  Well, I still love it, but have decided to move when the lease is up in December.  It’s just way more than I can pay.  So, I’ll be looking for a place  in Kadiköy, which is basically one town over, and where most of my good friends (expat and Turkish) live.  It’s a great place, where I do most of my shopping, dining out, and going out.  I love it.  I’ll most likely have to get furniture, so will have to be creative buying secondhand items.  It’s funny – when I moved here, I assumed I would only be able to afford a crappy apartment.  I had an amazing place, with one of the loveliest views in the whole city, and I can be grateful for that. And, when I get a new place, be grateful when I pay a much reduced rent!

Well, this has gotten long.  I really do intend to write more posts, and will make a sincere effort to.  I have tons more I want to share. Interesting, quirky things about this city, and the lovely people who inhabit it.  So, here’s a sneak peek!  Coming soon:  The Top 10 Sounds of Istanbul.”

Miss you all, my friends.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. elaine
    Oct 14, 2011 @ 10:41:07

    We miss you too Jessica but am glad things are working out! Hugs & kisses to you and Clover & good luck with your classes! I know you’ll do great!


  2. Melanie
    Oct 14, 2011 @ 16:28:29

    When will you be here? Hope I will get to see you. We have space if you need a place to stay before we go away.
    Good luck with the job and apt. Too bad you cant share with a native. Then you could teach each other languages and share cost of rent.


    • houstonchick
      Oct 18, 2011 @ 02:43:09

      Thanks, Melanie! Would love to see you, too! On the apartment – I already share it with Ms. Clover, and I think that’s enough for me. I’m adjusting to so many things right now, I don’t know if I want to adjust to a roommate! Ha!


  3. Mom
    Oct 14, 2011 @ 18:59:39

    I had a GREAT time in Istanbul!! Jess looks fantastic and, don’t let her fool you, she is holding her own with the Turkish language! I, on the other hand, with the few phrases I learned before I went, said “Good Morning” to people every time I should have been saying “Thank you”. Got some strange looks….What a fabulous city with warm and welcoming people. And the markets!!! What fun! i remain amazed at your passion, Jess, at your zeal, and your “go for it” attitude. Hurry, Christmas.


  4. Vincent
    Oct 17, 2011 @ 20:20:43

    So happy that you have found work and will be moving closer to friends. Hope to catch a glimpse of you on your visit. All the best!


  5. Bill Shirley
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 09:21:52

    Back in ’92, while I otherwise was fully employed at NASA, a friend of mine came into a bind. She was running the Computer Science dept. at HCC-SW and had to fire a lecturer who was incompetent and whose class had protested en masse.

    So as a favor I took over a course that was 3 hours of lecture once a week. It was daunting but it was an area I was highly skilled in. Many of the students were older but quickly accepted my leadership because they perceived my competence.

    Which is a drawn out way to say: you’d do great. Just be prepared. If someone asks a question that you don’t know the answer to, the correct answer is “i don’t know, but I’ll find out for you.” Don’t talk for more than 15-20 minutes straight.



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