2015 has been one hell of a year and will probably forever be one of the most memorable years of my life. I made the decision to move halfway across the world and it has changed my life in ways I never could have imagined. At times it has been challenging and frustrating, but mostly it has been humbling and has taught me a lot about myself, even in just these first few months. From the very first day of 2015, I knew it was going to be a year of change and evolution – there was just a feeling in the air.
So far, 2016 has started on a high note. School was cancelled due to a massive SNOW STORM that covered the entire campus in a beautiful blanket of snow, which soon led to several students and teachers (including myself) engaging in an epic two hour snow battle (“fight” is too tame a word to describe what happened). We had a midday break with our friends to warm up with some coffee and Bailey’s (my personal winter fave) and play an intense match of Settlers of Catan before getting ready for the evening festivities.
I noted several strange things about New Year’s in Turkey. It seems to have somewhat been merged with the traditions of a commercialized Western Christmas, as they use Christmas decorations and eat a massive Christmas-esque dinner (not a bad thing, because it was delicious). The interesting part was the evening party. The students and the teachers had separate parties, and apparently Turks have a really different idea of what constitutes a party, at least at this school. Even though we’d already had a huge dinner, people were bringing more food, but almost no alcohol, save for a couple bottles of wine. People just sat around in a circle passing around a guitar and singing old Turkish songs for THREE HOURS. Sober. My fellow foreigners and I really tried to get into the spirit of it and chat with our Turkish friends, but I really didn’t think I was going to make it to midnight in the thick of that snooze fest.
It finally perked up just before midnight, when we all invaded the student party for some traditional Turkish dancing. With a little help, I learned how to wave and snap like a Turk and also how to do the halay, which is a traditional Turkish wedding dance and TONS of fun! We all counted down to midnight and then, much to my surprise, changed the channel to the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, which apparently is a tradition in most Turkish households. Nothing says growth and renewal like a parade of scantily clad women wearing angel wings.
Personally, I hope to see 2016 to become a year of knowledge. Since I am working at a school full of incredibly talented people, both students and staff, I have become really inspired to keep pushing myself in all that I do. I want to dedicate myself to becoming fully trilingual (yikes), learning Turkish well enough to get around, and making more time for personal interests such as writing and fitness. I also hope to do a LOT more traveling this year…gotta plug away at my 30 by 30 goal.
Here’s to the start of another great year!