This week was rather mundane – in the best sense of the word. One of the reasons I applied for a Fulbright was to have an extended stay in a country so I would not feel like a tourist or someone merely passing through. It took me a month and four trips to the police station to get my residency permit and I am now official. I live in a small high rise apartment just across the road to campus and have neighbors from the US, China, Turkey and Iran – all visiting professors in various fields. You can see the view from my bedroom window below. There is a great deal of construction going on in town and the economy is healthy.
I walk to work along with large numbers of students, faculty and staff, and follow them out of the front gate of campus in the early evening. I shop the local farmers market on Mondays along with hundred of residents. I head to the nearby Espark mall or small shops on my street for items I need, including fresh baked bread. I can walk to most everything I need, and there is a great tram system around the city with lovely little green wrought iron ticket offices, when someplace is too far to walk. I enjoy the cafés that are packed with people enjoying chay or turk kavhes most the day, then perhaps beer, wine or raki in the evenings.
I had a good teaching day on Thursday, which happened to be Halloween. I put on a tiara and wand and gave out candy while trying to explain why we celebrate this weird holiday. Yesterday, I went to a Halloween party where the four Eskisehir Fulbright ETAs (English Teaching Assistants) hosted a number of ETA’s from around the country. Some of these young people are in very small conservative towns, so Eskisehir, with its college town atmosphere, is a real change of pace and with a much more familiar feeling.
When I went to the mall (there is a large food store there as well) I noticed Christmas decorations were up as I headed to Starbucks for my usual cappuccino. I had not expected the decorations as there is no holiday on December 25, but I was later told the decorations have to do with News Years, which is a holiday here.
Other activities this week include an opening of photographs by a retired faculty member. He shot beautiful pictures of potters in a folk pottery town not too far from here. I also attended the English-speaking presenters at a Materials Engineering Education symposium. I have made some great connections and friends with people in this discipline through my faculty host, whom is a Materials Engineer teaching in the Ceramics – Glass Department. What an amazing resource to have in the area! I also enjoyed coffee with some of his colleges on Saturday.
One of the most important things I am learning from my Turkish colleagues is that stopping the work day for a bit of conversation over a cup of tea or coffee is important to one’s life balance and a way to really get to know people and find out what they do.
Disclaimer: This is not an official Department of State website, and the views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the Department of State.