Archives - ‘Turkey’

Reflections on my last days here

August 5, 2015 | Nicolas, Organizational Development Intern

My time in Istanbul is coming to an end soon. This has brought up contradictory feelings for me. On the one hand, I’ll miss this place and the people I’ve become close with, but on the other hand I want to go back to Ottawa. It almost feels like I was living a double life where I had one life in Istanbul and my real life back home in Ottawa. It felt like I could forget about all of my responsibilities and anxieties back in Ottawa and substitute them for new ones in Istanbul. Unfortunately, my life in Istanbul has an expiration date; the real world awaits me in Ottawa.

This internship was an experience that I will never forget. On a personal level, it was a learning experience having to live in a foreign country away from my family for the first time. Adapting to a new country is not an easy thing to do, especially one with a difficult language barrier like Turkey. The language barrier did force me to figure things out on my own because I was too embarrassed to ask for help at times. You want to fit in so bad, especially when you first get there. But eventually you start to get it and you get over your anxieties. I learned a lot about myself during my stay in Istanbul. I learned how I handled certain situations and how I adapted to new environments and being around different people from different backgrounds on a daily basis.

It was also interesting to live in a country like Turkey where there’s always something going on (which is not always a good thing). There was an election in June which was interesting to witness and talk to people about the election and the socio-political situation of the country. There were also a few protests over different issues during my stay here. It was the first time in my life I was told not to go somewhere because it could be dangerous for my safety. That never happens in Ottawa.

The internship itself was also a challenge. The biggest challenge I faced was the amount of work given to me by my organization. On many days, I didn’t have much work to do, and some days any work at all. That was definitely a challenge for me because I had high expectations for myself heading into the internship and I wanted to work hard. However, I had to get over my frustration of not getting enough work and adapt to a slower pace. It’s almost like being on a sports team where you have to accept a lesser role. Having said that, the organization I worked for was very classy and professional. It was a good experience for me just being in a professional work environment for almost three months. I am very grateful to them for hiring me and accepting me into their organization.

What will I miss the most from Istanbul? That’s a hard question that I will inevitably get asked many times. It’s hard to pinpoint one specific thing that I’ll miss. Is it the ferry rides every morning on the Bosphorous where I get to admire the beautiful city landscape?  Having breakfast almost every morning with my host-father on our commute to work? Having an endless possibility of things to do on the weekends? I don’t know really. It’s a combination of things big and small that I will miss.

See you next time, Istanbul!

History Lesson

July 7, 2015 | Nicolas, Organizational Development Intern

I have been living in Istanbul for about 8 weeks now and I’ve really enjoyed my experience to date. Living in such a big, cosmopolitan city has been like nothing I’ve ever experienced in my life. Recently, I was fortunate enough to see a different side of Turkey when I went to visit the region of Cappadocia in the middle of Turkey in central Anatolia. My surroundings drastically changed as I went from a sprawling urban environment to a rural area where history was preserved in time. I was lucky enough to go with my host-family. From Istanbul, you have to take a flight to a city called Kayseri. And from there you have to drive about 50 minutes to get to Cappadocia. There we saw underground cities, ancient caves, and old churches located inside these caves. It was absolutely fascinating to see old murals that depicted stories from the Bible. You can find some of the oldest churches and monasteries in Anatolia dating from the early beginnings of Christianity. It is particularly remarkable to find this historic treasure in contemporary Turkey where Christianity is now almost non-existent as a result of the genocides perpetrated against the minority Armenian, Greek and Assyrian Christians during WWI. Going to Cappadocia reminds one that Turkey was home to many different empires and many different peoples and civilizations throughout its history. This trip also reminded me that people living outside of major cities like Istanbul have vastly different living standards and lifestyles. Seeing rural Turkey was almost like seeing a different country. We drove through small villages where they had probably never seen foreigners before. It was there that I felt most like a foreigner. Although I love Istanbul, it was nice to get away from the city life and go somewhere a little bit quieter.

This trip to Cappadocia, along with visits to museums in Istanbul has helped brush up on my knowledge of history. I’ve appreciated a recent visit to the Jewish Museum of Turkey where I learned about the history of the Jewish people during the Ottoman Empire and up till present day.  In addition, I’ve also been lucky enough to go to the Istanbul archaeology museums. These three museums, all located side by side, was one of my favorite things I’ve visited in Turkey. The museums displayed artifacts from the Cradle of Civilization. For example I saw artefacts from Mesopotamia to Ancient Greece to Ancient Egypt and more. Even though I sauntered through the museums for almost three hours, I still feel like I wasn’t there long enough. In my opinion, these museums are right up there with Hagia Sophia and Sultanahmet mosque as must-sees when visiting Istanbul. Doing these activites has helped learn more about the culture of Turkey outside of my everyday routine in Istanbul.


First weeks in Istanbul

June 5, 2015 | Nicolas, Organizational Development Intern

I’ve been in Istanbul Turkey for almost four weeks now. This is such a big, interesting city that I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it justice in these blog posts. However, let me start by talking about the internship. I work at AFS Turkey, or Turk Kultur Vakfi. They are responsible for sending high school students overseas for exchange programs and also hosting high school students from other countries who come to Turkey for their own exchange programs. They also specialize in intercultural learning and organize workshops and activities throughout the country. AFS is a volunteer-based organization, hence the majority of people who work for AFS are volunteers who used to be AFS exchange students, or “AFSers”. To my surprise, AFS is a big organization in Turkey as there are other AFS Turkey offices located elsewhere in the country. This surprised me considering I had never heard of AFS in Canada before applying for this internship.

I’ve stayed with two host-families so far during my stay in Istanbul. My first host family was very nice, welcoming and fed me very well. I developed a good relationship with that family and we’ve decided to keep in touch and see each other again during my stay. As for my second host family, I honestly have nothing but great things to say about them. I’ve known them for barely two weeks now but we have developed a great relationship and they’ve made my stay here a hundred times better then what I expected. They’ve taken me to see Hagia Sofia and the Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar, they’ve taken on a tour of the Bosphorus, and they’ve fed me very well. They also took care of me while I had a stomach virus last weekend. As I thought about it more, it was pretty overwhelming to think that these complete strangers, whom I would have never met under any other circumstances, would take care of me the way they did as if I were their own son. They’ve also helped me adjust to the language barrier I’ve encountered during my stay in Istanbul. I’ve also made a couple of friends who have kept me company and made my transition as a new resident of the city much easier.

If there’s one word I’d use to describe Istanbul, it’s the word big. The city of Istanbul is a very big city. Not only is it very dense, but it is also a very vast city that just keeps going and going. A mere district inside the city is bigger than the population of Montreal. Due to the size of the city, there is always traffic. When I say always, I mean always. There will be traffic for some reason at 2 o’clock in the afternoon on a Sunday when you’d expect it the least. When I stayed with my first host family, I very much enjoyed taking the subway to work because it allowed me to blend in amongst the residents of the city. Despite it being a big city, Istanbul is also a very pretty city due to its location on the Bosphorous. Now that I live with my second host-family, I get to take the ferry across the Bosphorous every day. I never get tired of the view of the city from the ferry early in the morning. I’ve also had the chance to enjoy the city’s rich history. As I mentioned above, I visited Hagia Sofia, the Grand Bazaar and the Topkapi Palace, which is an old Ottoman palace. Hopefully, I’ll get to visit other historical sites and museums during my stay in Istanbul. Up until this point, my stay has been a very positive experience. This is not to say I haven’t dealt with some difficulties living in the city. The language barrier is more pronounced than one might believe before coming here. I also contracted a stomach virus during my third weekend. I’ve had a few days where I’ve missed Ottawa and felt a little homesick. But all in all, a very positive experience so far in Istanbul.

Falling for Turkey

March 10, 2014 | Rebecca, DVM, AFS interculture, Turquie, TÜRK KÜLTÜR VAKFI

Time is flying by and I cannot believe I have been in Istanbul for a little over 2 months now. I really should have listened to everyone when they said time would go quickly. Now, with so much to do and see still, I am not ready to leave. I have fallen in love with this city even though I do not think I could ever get used to some things such as the traffic and constant busyness, as well as the language barrier. Nonetheless, it has been an invaluable experience that I would recommend to anyone.

I feel like something happened to me during the second month. I will not lie; the first month was extremely hard. For a whole week I was jet-lagged and became more exhausted trying to adapt to a new culture and figure out how to live with a host family. It was hard to learn the cultural norms and what was acceptable and not acceptable behavior. I missed Ottawa and I still wanted to feel very connected to all my friends and family back home. The language barrier was hard and I felt like I was not going to make any friends.

During the second month however, I really feel like I have connected with my host family and people from work. I have gotten used to the pace of work here and spend my weekends touring this beautiful city with all its historical richness. I do not miss home as much now and it almost feels like this is a new life I am living. After talking with my AFS colleagues, I learned that feeling disconnected from home is normal and an important part of the adaptation process. I can only imagine how much I will learn and continue to adapt during this third month.

The majority of my time I spend in the office. Things have picked up and I have been lucky enough to work with great colleagues who try to include me as much as possible. I have been able to act as a trainer and observer in two training sessions. The first session was a four day event that took place in a summer resort area called Polenezkoy about an hour from Istanbul. The goal of this event was to train previous high school students that participated in the one year exchange to become volunteers for AFS. Workshops included AFS mission and vision, intercultural learning and overviews of various theorists relating to culture and intercultural learning. I was a little apprehensive at first as the sessions were all in Turkish but it proved to be a great weekend and learning experience. I was able to meet a lot of people and even participate in the workshops by leading games. This was such an invaluable experience as I really got to see what AFS preaches and what AFS does on the ground. This past week I was able to attend a one day event at a local University where we held two workshops – one about intercultural learning and another about team work. Luckily the workshops were in English so I could understand and learn some new things. Next week, myself and a few other colleagues will go to a local high school to provide workshops on culture and intercultural learning.

On weekends, I usually try to see as much of this vast city as I can. I have been able to see various tourist attractions such as Topkapi Palace and go shopping at the Grand Bazaar. I have been lucky enough to travel to Ankara this past weekend and although there is definitely not as much to see there as Istanbul, it was great to get away and experience a new city. Next weekend I will go to Izmir to see the famous Ephesus which is an ancient Greek city built in the 10th century BC with ruins that can rival ruins found in Rome. We will also take a day trip to Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle” in Turkish, which is a world heritage site that contains natural hot springs. As enjoyable as it is visiting other places on the weekend, I think one can get just as much enjoyment sitting outside in a busy cafe drinking chai by the Bospherus. On top of everything, I have been to learn more about and understand the history of Turkey, Islam, international relations and the government.

After a difficult first month, I can honestly say that the second month has improved. I can guarantee that these last four weeks will fly by and leave me with experiences that will last a life time.

Turkish Delights

February 7, 2014 | Rebecca, DVM, AFS interculture, Turquie, TÜRK KÜLTÜR VAKFI

After one month living and working in Istanbul, Turkey, I can finally say I am starting to feel settled in. I will not say that it has been easy adapting to a new culture, customs and ways of life or that everything has met my expectations, but it has definitely been a great learning experience. Aside from a few hiccups in the first few weeks, I have become a lot more comfortable here. I have really connected with my host family, tried lots of delicious food, toured around the city and learned to cross the street without getting hit by a car!

The first thing I noticed when I arrived was how busy it was. With a population of over 15 million one can imagine how many people, buildings and cars are in Istanbul. After the initial shock wore off, I realized how exciting this experience is and how much Turkey has to offer. Turkey has such a rich and intriguing history and is home to many UNESCO world heritage sites. Istanbul has been the capital of Turkey for four large empires in history including the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Latin Empire and the most recent one, the Ottoman Empire. As a result, it has been deemed the cradle of civilization where East meets the West. The profound impact of globalization is apparent as McDonald’s restaurants lie close to ancient Mosques and Starbucks line street corners. There is so much to see here, I can guarantee you will not get bored and I can almost guarantee you will not be able to see everything you want. So far I have been able to see the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, Yerebatan Sarayi, Taksim square, Istiklal Street, the Anatolian side, the Spice Market, Prince’s Island and various other parts of this ancient and fascinating city. There is still much more on my to-do list!

I would highly recommend living with a host family even though it can pose many new challenges and it might not go as planned. In my case, I could not have asked for a better family. They have been so welcoming, warm and hospitable. I have been able to experience and learn things about the Turkish culture that I would not have experienced if I was living alone or with other Western students. I have also been able to pick up the language a bit more as I am surrounded at home by people speaking Turkish. In addition, I have been lucky enough to have traditional, home cooked Turkish food every day. Turkey is known for their food and I can see why! The usual breakfast includes hardboiled eggs, fresh bread, various jams, olives and cheese. Some of my favourite food that I have tried so far are dolmas which are stuffed peppers and eggplants with rice, meat and spices, sarma which are stuffed grape leaves, baklava and of course Turkish delights!

I work at Türk Kültür Vakfı, a branch of AFS Turkey which promotes the importance of intercultural learning to encourage respect, understanding and peace within the world. Work has been a great learning experience so far and everyone is so welcoming. It took some time to adapt to the different pace of work, as well as understanding the organization and projects I would be working on.  The main project I am working on is entitled “Spectrum of Education,” which brings together teachers, students, experts and volunteers from all over the world to discuss the topic of creativity. In the process of organizing and planning I have been able to meet a lot of interesting people. In the next two months, I will be attending and participating in various workshops and I look forward to what I will learn from this great organization!

Where East Meets West

November 8, 2013 | Matthew, POL, AFS Internculture Canada, Turkey, EGE University

One thing that I have found pleasantly surprising here in Turkey is the openness of the people and society more generally. The country truly rests at a crossroads between east and west. While this is true from a geographic standpoint, as Turkey spans two continents, it is also reflected in the attitudes and the lifestyle of the people. While the majority of the population is Muslim, the prevailing attitude that I’ve witnessed is liberal and moderate. As one might expect, Turkish people don’t like being lumped in with the rest of the “middle east” – a name that tends to provoke only negative thoughts to a western audience. This is for good reason, as Turkey is largely distinct from the area and can often be counted on as a beacon of stability in the sometimes-troubled region.

Living here for about two months now, I think what has been unexpected is how similar the lifestyle is as opposed to any acute differences. My living conditions are equivalent to those back home and university students tend to have similar habits and routines. I am based in the city of Izmir, which is on the west coast of Turkey. It is often considered to be one of the most liberal cities in the country. However, my experiences with university-aged people from all over Turkey (who have come here to study) indicate to me that this is the overall prevailing attitude of Turkish people in this generation. Eastern Turkey is known to be more traditional and religious; however, having not been over there, I cannot comment first-hand on this statement.

Initially, I was a bit hesitant to broach certain topics of discussion, such as religion and politics. However, what I’ve found is that these topics have often emerged organically in discussions and in general, people are very open to talking about these sometimes sensitive subjects. In fact, they are often curious about my opinion on Turkish politics and religion in general. As a political science and history student, I very much enjoy discussing these topics and gaining a Turkish perspective on certain events. It is interesting to hear about what many Turkish people (both young and old) think first-hand about recent political developments, versus what is reported by various media outlets (both here and back home).

One aspect of my work placement is running English conversation classes for economics students at a local university. For each session, I have been presenting a different topic for discussion. I view these initial topics only as launching pads for each session, and generally allow the conversation to evolve on its own momentum. This has led to several interesting discussions about the aforementioned subjects. For example, a discussion initially based on what the world might be like in the future transformed into a discussion about the fundamentals of religion (and eventually the illuminati conspiracy…). While this can be a touchy subject at times, the students generally handled it with civility. I have found that while some students reject the idea of religion entirely, many only accept some aspects of it. For example, many people in Turkey drink alcohol, don’t pray daily, and in general ignore some of the specific requirements of Islam; however, they still believe that there is a God. This topic has arisen a number of times during my stay. People have asked me about my opinion on religion and whether I prescribe to one. When I say “no,” it is not met with indignation but with curiosity by those who do believe. While one should not go in immediately criticizing all aspects of religion, those interested in the subject should feel comfortable and free bringing it up with Turkish people. Now that I have a firm understanding of this idea, I continue to have many interesting discussions related to these topics that I was initially apprehensive to discuss openly.

Greetings from Turkey

October 23, 2013 | Matthew, POL, AFS Internculture Canada, Turkey, EGE University

So I’ve just returned from a short visit around Turkey to see some of the main sights in the country. My journey took me to Istanbul, Cappadocia, and finally Antalya in the south. While I have enjoyed being based in the coastal city of Izmir, it was very nice to venture out and see more of the country.

Despite the fact that I had only previously spent five weeks in Turkey, I felt as though I was already above the level of a regular tourist. However, when visiting these places, I felt a shift as I joined the many throngs of people who all come to this beautiful country to take in the same sights. This dynamic was most apparent upon stepping off the tram to go to my accommodation in Istanbul. Suddenly, it appeared as though everyone was a tourist. While Izmir is a pleasant city along the western coast of Turkey, I have only met a few other foreigners here, as there are not necessarily any “must sees” in the city. I find in Izmir that I’m often mistaken for a local. On a fairly regular basis, I’m addressed to and asked questions in Turkish. I found the dynamic in Istanbul (at least in the touristy section, where naturally, I stayed) to be completely different, as it was assumed that I was a tourist and generally spoken to in English. Having already spent some time in Turkey, I felt a little above the label of a simple tourist and sought to “separate myself the pack.” To this end, I tried to speak in Turkish and act like a local as much as possible.

One thing that remained familiar and standard everywhere that I visited in Turkey was the hospitality expressed by Turkish people. The occasion that provided me with time off from work and thereby allowed me to travel was a religious holiday, which involves the sacrifice of animals. In the little town of Goreme, we asked a local grocery store clerk where we could witness this tradition. Without hesitation, she brought us to her home where her family was in the process of performing this ritual. On another occasion, in the village of Mustafapasa, a local man invited us into his old Greek-made home to have a look around. He showed us his family’s large storage room used to keep vast quantities of grapes - he even insisted that we take some with us. It’s incredibly refreshing that people feel comfortable inviting strangers into their homes because they enjoy sharing their culture and local knowledge. These are just a couple examples of many of how the Turkish people have been beyond accommodating during my stay so far. Suffice it to say that this openness has made the transition to life over here relatively smooth.

While I really enjoyed this brief respite from work, upon returning to Izmir, it was refreshing to come back to a place that already feels familiar. Upon stepping back into the city, I immediately felt comfortable and back at home.

Mes dernières semaines en Turquie

August 28, 2013 | Meryam, stagiaire,AFS Interculture Canada, Turquie, Türk Kültur Vakfi

Mes dernières semaines en Turquie se sont très bien passées, j’ai été beaucoup plus occupé au travail avec l’approche du « Summer Academy » pour lequel on planifiait. J’avais beaucoup de tâches à faire telles que me charger de l’organisation des chambres pour les participants et de la communication avec les organisateurs en Allemagne pour assurer que tout soit en ordre avant l’événement. « The Summer Academy » est une académie de deux semaines, qui s’est déroulée du 22 juillet au 2 août, et qui fut organisée entre Karlshochschule University et Istanbul Kultur University ainsi que Interculture Allemagne et l’organisation pour laquelle je travaille; AFS Turquie. Nous étions responsables de toute la logistique puisque l’événement se déroulait à Istanbul.
L’académie fut une expérience incroyable. Elle accueillait des étudiants de partout dans le monde. Durant l’académie, les étudiants participaient à des lectures pendant quatre heures le matin, et des formations pendant l’après-midi. Suite à cela, ils participaient à des activités pendant le soir que nous avions planifié pour eux. Je suis très contente d’avoir eu la chance de non seulement aider avec l’organisation de l’événement, mais d’y participer aussi. En revanche, j’ai dû quitter ma famille d’accueil, deux semaines à l’avance, pour participer à l’académie parce que c’était trop loin d’où ils vivaient. Ce fut un peu triste parce que je m’étais tellement attaché à eux, mais c’était le début d’une toute nouvelle expérience alors, en même temps, c’était un bon changement.
Lors de l’académie, j’ai été responsable d’accueillir les étudiants à l’hôtel après leur vol. Pendant le déroulement de l’académie, mon rôle était de m’assurer que les professeurs et les entraineurs à l’académie avaient tous le matériel dont ils avaient besoins, et de leur en procurer quand ils me demandaient. J’étais aussi présente pour répondre aux questions des étudiants s’ils en avaient. Toutefois, mon travail principal était de prendre des photos de l’événement. Donc pour deux semaines, je devais prendre des photos des cours, des formations ainsi que des activités culturelles. Ce n’était pas une tâche prévue, mais puisqu’il n’y avait personne pour le faire, on m’a assigné la tâche. Selon moi, c’était un avantage d’être la photographe de l’événement, parce que j’ai pu travailler en étroite collaboration avec les entraineurs et les étudiants de l’académie. Cela m’a donné la chance d’apprendre à connaitre plusieurs personnes et de me faire plusieurs amis de partout dans le monde. Je crois aussi que mon âge et le fait que je suis stagiaire à jouer à mon avantage durant l’académie. Cela parce que la majorité des étudiants de l’académie étaient aussi dans leurs vingtaines donc ils se sentaient très confortables à me poser des questions sur le déroulement de l’académie.
L’académie a fini par très bien se dérouler et tous les participants étaient satisfaits de leur expérience. Ce fut un soulagement pour moi et les autres organisateurs d’AFS Turquie parce que nous avions travaillé très fort et de plus, c’était la première « Summer Academy » qui se déroulait en Turquie et on voulait vraiment que ça soit un succès.
En fin, je suis très contente d’avoir fini mon stage avec l’académie. La journée qu’on a renvoyé les étudiants vers l’aéroport était la journée avant mon départ pour le Canada. L’académie était la meilleure partie de mon stage et elle a compensé pour tous les moments où j’ai pu douter de ma position à AFS.

Expressions, religion et nourriture

July 24, 2013 | Jean-Denis, EIL, AFS, Turquie, FMV Isik Schools Erenkoy Campus

Le temps passe si vite! En terminant ma première publication sur le blogue, je me demandais ce que les prochaines semaines dans mon pays d’adoption me réserveraient. Pour le dire simplement, disons que la Turquie ne m’a pas déçu! Il ne me reste maintenant que quelques semaines avant mon retour au Canada, et les liens que j’ai créés avec mon entourage sont plus forts que jamais. Je n’ai plus l’impression d’être un touriste depuis un bon moment déjà. Les différences culturelles entre le Canada et la Turquie ne m’apparaissent plus aussi évidentes qu’à mes débuts dans le pays. Je m’adapte bien et à en croire mon entourage je ne suis plus un étranger mais bien un fils, un frère, un voisin ou encore un ami. Plus les jours passent et plus je prends de nouvelles habitudes. C’est ainsi que je parle turc de plus en plus au quotidien. En effet, je crois qu’il est particulièrement intéressant de connaître certaines expressions populaires en turc. J’ai donc pensé que donner un petit cours d’« expressions turques 101 » pourrait se révéler utile à tout nouveau stagiaire en Turquie. Les quelques expressions qui suivent peuvent être regroupées sous deux thèmes distincts : la religion et la nourriture.

Ces deux sujets me semblent plutôt importants à Istanbul. Au niveau étatique, la Turquie est un pays laïc. Cela n’empêche toutefois pas une grande partie de la population d’avoir la foi. De ce fait, certaines expressions populaires tirent leur origine de la religion musulmane. Par exemple, tout stagiaire en Turquie entendra à d’innombrables reprises le fameux « Allah Allah ». On pourrait traduire cette expression en français par « mon dieu! ». Les gens utilisent généralement cette expression lorsqu’ils sont en désaccord avec quelqu’un, ou encore plus fréquemment pour exprimer la surprise ou une joie intense. Une deuxième expression qui implique le nom de dieu est « inşallah ». En français, l’équivalent correspond environ à « si dieu le veut ». En turc, utiliser « inşallah » signifie que l’on espère vraiment que quelque chose se produise ou bien qu’un événement ait lieu. Cette expression a par conséquent une connotation très positive puisqu’elle témoigne d’un intérêt certain de la part du locuteur. Ce qui m’amène à parler des expressions en lien avec le second thème, elles aussi à connotation très positive. La nourriture, et tout ce qui entoure la préparation des repas, me semble également être un thème très important. Il est bien connu que la cuisine turque est particulièrement excellente, mais il faut habiter en Turquie pour comprendre tout l’amour des gens pour la nourriture. Il est nécessaire d’y connaître deux expressions en lien avec la nourriture : « elinize sağlık » et surtout « afiyet olsun ». La première est utilisée pour remercier et féliciter la personne qui a préparé le repas ; elle signifie littéralement « santé à tes mains ». En guise de réponse cette personne dira « afiyet olsun », ce qui signifie simplement bon appétit. Si personne n’a préparé le repas alors tous s’empresseront de dire « afiyet olsun ». D’ailleurs, au cours d’un même repas, vous entendrez à de nombreuses reprises ce fameux « afiyet olsun ».

J’adore apprendre des langues étrangères et je suis donc particulièrement intéressé par la façon dont les gens s’expriment et dans quel contexte ils le font. J’utilise maintenant chacune de ces expressions au quotidien. Puisque mon expérience tire déjà presque à sa fin,  je désirais les partager afin d’aider les prochains stagiaires à comprendre davantage divers aspects de la culture turque. J’aurai la chance d’aborder d’autres aspects culturels dans ma prochaine publication. D’ici là, j’espère profiter des nombreux attraits d’Istanbul et solidifier les liens que j’ai créés au travail et à la maison.

Istanbul, mon chez moi

July 16, 2013 | Meryam, stagiaire,AFS Interculture Canada, Turquie, Türk Kültur Vakfi

Après plus de deux mois ici en Turquie je me sens vraiment chez moi. J’adore Istanbul et son ambiance. En fait, je ne peux pas croire qu’il ne me reste que trois semaine avant de devoir retourner au Canada. Ma vie au Ottawa me semble si ennuyeuse et répétitive comparée à ma vie à Istanbul. Istanbul est une ville tellement pleine de vie où les gens sont super accueillant et ou la culture ne cesse de rayonner; je suis vraiment tombé sous son charme. À vrai dire, la seule chose qui me donne envie de retourner au Canada est le fait de revoir ma famille et mes amis. Honnêtement, si ma famille venait me visiter en Turquie, je ne voudrais pas quitter ce pays. De plus, je commence finalement à apprendre la langue et je ne suis plus gêner d’entrer dans un magasin et acheter des choses. Au début de mon stage, j’étais vraiment intimité par le fait de ne pas connaitre la langue et de devoir entrer dans une pâtisserie, par exemple, et acheter quelque chose. Je me suis privé de déjeuner à plusieurs reprises à cause de cela. Aujourd’hui, la barrière de langue est encore présente mais mon niveau de compréhension s’est vraiment améliorer. Je peux communiquer avec les gens maintenant, même si j’ai le vocabulaire turc d’un enfant de deux ans. En fait, c’est un peu drôle, mais le bon nombre de gestes de main, les gens arrivent à me comprendre.

D’autre part, le travail aussi est devenu beaucoup plus occupé. Cela veut dire que j’ai obtenue plus de responsabilité. C’est bien parce que je commençais vraiment à m’ennuyer. Depuis ces dernières semaines, nous nous préparions pour la « Summer Academy » qui se déroulera du 22 juillet au 3 aout. La « Summer Academy » est un événement annuel en collaboration avec Turk Kultur Vakfi (l’organisation pour laquelle je travaille), Intercultur Germany et deux universités. C’est un événement basé sur l’apprentissage interculturel. Il y a des étudiants à travers le monde qui viendront à cette académie pour assister à des lectures donnés par des professeurs et à des workshops interculturels. Au bureau, nous sommes en charge d’organiser les activités culturelles, de la logistique et de nous assurer du bon déroulement de l’événement. Nous travaillons en proche collaboration avec Intercultur Germany et l’Université Kultur à Istanbul. Personnellement, je suis en charge des lettres de permission pour l’obtention de visa et de l’organisation des activités extracurriculaires et de la logistique. Je travaille en étroite collaboration avec l’autre stagiaire à AFS, les étudiants qui participent à l’académie et les coordinateurs en Allemagne pour mettre en place cet événement.

Dans le même ordre d’idée, cette semaine est ma dernière semaine avec ma famille d’accueil en raison de l’académie. À partir de dimanche je vais rester au même hôtel que les étudiants de la « Summer Académy » ou je serais en charge du bon déroulement des activités avec l’autre interne. Je dois avouer que ça va être difficile de quitter ma famille d’accueil. Nous somme devenu très proche, si proche qu’ils m’encouragent déjà à revenir les rendre visite durant les vacances d’hiver. Je dois avouer que c’est très tentant. L’expérience d’avoir une famille d’accueil a été très bonne pour moi. J’ai pu m’immerger dans la culture turque et développer de très bonnes relations culturelles. J’ai aussi pu profiter d’une excellente nourriture maison. Je ne sais pas si je vais pouvoir manger une fois de retour au Canada, tout goûte meilleur ici, même les fruits et légumes frais. Ma famille d’accueil va vraiment me manquer. J’ai deux sœurs d’accueil plus jeunes que moi. Chez moi au Canada, je suis aussi l’ainé mais j’ai des frères et notre différence d’âge n’est pas très grande. Avec mes sœurs d’accueil, j’ai pu leurs apprendre des choses et j’ai appris beaucoup d’eux aussi. J’accompagne toujours ma sœur de 10 ans au magasin, parce qu’elle ne peut pas y aller seul. C’est drôle parce qu’on s’entraide. Lorsque j’ai besoin de traduction elle m’aide et moi je l’aide en lui offrant la supervision adulte dont elle a besoin pour sortir. C’est vraiment un bon échange.

Finalement, pour ce qui est des manifestations que j’ai mentionné dans mon dernier blogue, celle-ci se sont grandement adoucit, on n’entend plus beaucoup parler, mais je crois aussi que cela est en raison du fait que c’est le Ramadan et que beaucoup de gens jeunes. J’évite tout de même de partir à Taksim parce que j’ai appris de la mauvaise façon que même si on entend plus autant parler des manifestations, parfois elles perdurent toujours lorsque j’ai eu du gaz dans mes yeux et dans ma gorge il y a deux semaines. C’était en toute honnêteté l’affaire la plus horrible que j’ai jamais gouté. Tout de même, ce fut une expérience intéressante et plus drôle qu’épeurant.