Arriving in Ankara
The gruff, grey-haired man took my passport and began flipping through its pages. He compared me to the photo, and then skimmed over the visa I had received before leaving Senegal. With a few quick stamps, I was ushered through to the baggage claim. I rocked back and forth, anxiously waiting for my one piece of baggage to appear on the conveyor belt, knowing that through a set of glass doors, my family waited for my arrival. Finally, my bag slowly made its way along to where I stood, and I made my way to the doors. They opened and almost immediately I heard my parents’ voices calling out my name. I turned the opposite direction, confused as to why I couldn’t see them. Eventually I saw them leaning over the barrier with my brother. Being with them again has made me so happy.
That was Sunday afternoon. Now, just one day short of a week since my arrival, I feel completely settled in and ready to share all that I have been up to.
Seeing my family: When I figured out where my parents were calling me from in the airport, I did not wait to get around the barrier before giving them hello hugs. My brother got one too, though he probably would have preferred it had I not been one of those obnoxious people leaning over the metal barrier, blocking other people’s paths. My dad took my suitcase, I put my arm around my mom, and we walked to the car together. I got to use my Worcester winter experience to tell them that the weather outside was delightful and not cold at all.
Drawing: Though Ankara is seven hours ahead of Worcester, I used my standard technique of denying jet lag’s existence and resuming a normal schedule. This worked well, and I slept the entire night. The next day, however, I felt a touch of travel fatigue, and spent its entirety relaxing at home with my mom. I have relished this time to relax, and have used some of it to do some drawing. I drew a bit last semester, but it is refreshing to be able to sit and draw for hours without nagging thoughts of required reading and papers bringing me out of ‘the zone’.
Grandma: A couple days after me, my grandma arrived in Ankara. So far, she has visited every place we have lived. I saw her last Christmas, and it is wonderful to spend some time with her again. So far, we have drank a lot of tea, like the good British and half British individuals we are.
Food: While I have not yet consumed any ‘proper’, savory Turkish cuisine, I have eaten some excellent baklava, and a square or two of Turkish delight. As a precautionary measure, I restricted myself to two pieces of pistachio and syrup laden baklava as not to over-indulge. I also went on an intense search for some “Doritos a la turca,” tomato and poppy seed flavored Turkish Doritos. The last time I had them was in fifth grade, and I’ve dreamt of them ever since. They are the most amazing chips.
Exploring: I have made several excursions since arriving here last Sunday, and have discovered neat things each time. The more I go out, the more Turkish words I recognize (I think it is 3 now), and the more I understand about what my parents have told me about their daily lives here. Taking a taxi, for example, is an interesting experience. Outside the apartment building, there is a button, and a few minutes after pressing it, a taxi will appear. Many of them have meters in the inside mirror of the vehicle, which I find both fascinating and strange. I have learned the conversion between Turkish lira and dollars, and I now know that at some popular fast food venues in Ankara, like McDonalds, one does not clear up their tray when one leaves—people come and do it after you have gone. This obviously won’t apply to all fast food restaurants in all of Turkey, but it certainly does to some of them.
Prepare for Christmas: Today, after doing some grocery shopping, we decorated the Christmas tree. We listened to some Christmas classics—‘Christmas at Ground Zero,’ and ‘I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,’ to give you an idea—and hung ornaments on the tree with the peaceful crackling of a virtual fireplace on the television. This, combined with the warmth of the baklava we’d just eaten, created a wonderful Christmas ambiance that permeated throughout the apartment. In the spirit, I gathered up the presents I brought home with me and put them under the tree. It is all so exciting!
I love it in Ankara, and I am quite saddened that I do not actually live here. However, having a great time with my family now will only increase how much I will be looking forward to coming here again over the summer vacation. Though I have not experienced separation anxiety from Clark, every single story I tell concerns it, my classes, professors, and friends there.
Ankara is my world now, and will be for the next couple of weeks, but I am sure that upon my arrival on campus, people will get tired of me talking about my holiday in Turkey as quickly as people have grown weary of my Clark stories here.