So many things to describe...
After an eight-hour layover in Istanbul, we boarded our first Turkish Airlines flight. In the background was Turkish instrumental drifty uod music, which (I think) is supposed to make you feel more relaxed. To me it said, "Alan, you're definitely not at home anymore." As I settled into my seat, I tried to make an effort to tell myself that this is going to be the soundtrack of my new life.
Oh my word, the food was awesome on Turkish Airlines. Lots of fresh veggies and olives with feta cheese. Dates and baklava for dessert. Although it wasn't my favorite I ate the pureed eggplant. It was kind of like savory applesauce.
Did anyone else play Sim City 2000? In that game, you can build high-rises. Lots of them. And you don't have to limit them to a central area like the end of Manhattan or downtown LA. Okay, so imagine those spread out high-rises are apartment buildings (just add balconies to every level and make the roof a little more rounded, rather than blunt), and that's what Kayseri is like. Tons of tall apartment buildings in a valley. There's a snow capped volcano very close to town as well, which is similar to Flagstaff. You can see the ski runs on it as well, which reminds me of Utah.
The city has approximately one million people. We've heard that there is a very low and possibly nonexistent joblessness rate. It seems like a safe place. Around town, we have seen more men than women. No one wears shorts, which might be important for me to remember. About half the women cover their hair, and about half of the women don't. These ratios of men and women and hair-covering and non-hair covering women seem really familiar to me after working at the PIE.
The school where Jena and I will be working is small and in the hillside suburb of Kayseri called Talas. There are about 2,500 students, and the English program will have about 800 students this upcoming fall. This size reminds me of my undergrad college, although the campus is quite different. It's on a hill, and there isn't a lot of shade. It's a very new school, only four years old or so. The building we're teaching in has classrooms with projectors and audio systems. This is something I was hoping for since I make an effort to supplement a lot of my teaching with technology.
We will get free lunch every day in this very nice dining room for faculty members. Red table clothes. Chairs with high backs (I think). We're told the food is Turkish, so we can look forward to one authentic Turkish meal a day.
We will be living in an apartment building that isn't quite finished yet. It will house people working for Melikşah Üniversitesi, so we'll probably see our co-workers quite a bit. I think it'll be a ten to fifteen minute walk to campus.
Call to Prayer
On our first night in Kayseri, I awoke to the Call to Prayer from the nearby minaret. Again, it was a "You're not in Kansas anymore." feeling since previously I've only heard the Call to Prayer from my Muslim students' cell phones when they forget to put them on silent before class. The Call to Prayer certainly adds a layer of mystique to the air for me. It's actually quite pretty.