Life updates!

Hi y’all.

I’m sitting in an airport hotel in Dublin, Ireland writing this post. I said I wanted to take advantage of travel, and the last two weeks, I have!

I’ve been in four (five if you count Turkey!) countries over the last week and a half. Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, and Ireland. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind – thank God I packed light- but what a great way to experience the flavor of several different places.

Out of all the places, I will definitely return to Berlin and Bruges. Two vastly different places, but I fell in love with them both. I loved the gritty-ness of Berlin with it’s mix of historical and modern, sleek architecture. And the food was delicious. And the people were just great. And Bruges? So beautiful. So charming. A down-to-earth fairy tale.

I return to Istanbul tomorrow. Although the trip was good, I’m ready to return “home.” I even want Turkish food! (I love Turkish food, but there’s very little diversity in dining in Istanbul. Would you like Turkish or Turkish tonight?)

I’m returning to new challenges as well. I start a new job on Monday. While I wish I could have lasted at my previous school, there were just too many challenges to stay. So, I’m going from teaching pre-school and primary to teaching English at a university. A naval college, at that. I’ll be teaching mostly 18 year old boys wearing uniforms. Quite the change, but I welcome it. Wish me luck!!

I’m loving my new apartment in Moda. It’s not far from my old place, but it’s a lovely neighborhood with lots of trees and parks, cafes and fun little shops. I lost my water view, but am one street from the water, and a huge park that Clover loves. And I finally have a balcony! Looking forward to warmer weather to really enjoy it. I have room for guests (hint, hint!).

We had out first snow just before I left for vacation, and it looks like I’ll be flying back into snow tomorrow. I’ve learned how to dress warmly – hats are cute and functional!

Miss you guys. For those of you that I saw over Christmas, wow, it was good to see you. Hugs!



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.