Tuesday, September 20, 2011

First day of work in Istanbul

After arriving back to Istanbul a month ago and bidding my time I was finally able to be back in the classroom, a real classroom.

Looking out the window of my school I feel like I'm in a castle upon a hill

I woke up without an alarm at 7am so I got on to check some messages before jumping in the shower at 8am and shaving to look good for the first day. All was going well. I went and used my last 10 Lira note to charge my transportation card before going to the bus stop in down the road, in front of the Capital Shopping Center. After waiting a bit and it was nearing 9am (My sheet said my first class starts at 9:40am and I was hoping to be a little early to setup and resolve any issues that might come up) I decided to get on a dolmush or a small van that you pay with cash. I told the driver Umraniye and got in the front seat so I could view when my stop came up.
Now my trip to the school should have been just 8minutes max, but somehow I had missed it (my stop is kisikli but with the dottless Turkish 'i's so it sounds like kusukluh) I saw the word on a sheet of paper above the dashboard, pointed at it and said "kisikli?"  "nerede?(where is)" The driver pointed behind him and said I should get off and cross the street. You see we'd already driven into Umraniye...but Kisikli is in Uskudar!

So I had to cross the street and go to another street that was going the opposite direction. I got on the dolmus and then we hit the traffic.  The 'first day of school' traffic. It was jam packed with parents taking their precious babies to school for the first day. The dolmus talked to the passengers and took a detour so not to be stuck in traffic on the highway. I'm glad he did however I was really sweating it as it was now 9:20am. Would I make it on time before my class began?
The driver and passengers told me to get off on this one hill that was really unfamiliar. I got off and was completely lost. I began texting, not believing that I'm already going to have to report being late on the FIRST day despite leaving an hour early for a trip that usually takes 8minutes.  "just my luck" I thought to myself.
This courtyard was full of students and parents.
Each villa (8 total) houses a grade level.
That's grades 1-8. I teach Grades 3 and 4.  

After asking several people where joshkun Kolehi (coskun Koleji) was I was finally pointed in the right direction and recognized the bottom of the hill I have to walk up to get to my school. I have yet to see that free shuttle my superiors have mentioned being there. I was going as fast as I could up that hill with my new black shoes that lack support. When I arrived there was a HUGE crowd in the main court with traditional music playing and these kids dancing in traditional attire. I was too stressed and worried about how late I was to pay much attention or enjoy the performance. I just wanted to find my classroom and talk to my superior and inform them of my situation and let them know I was there.

Luckily for me, the class I would have missed was cancelled due to the performance celebrating the opening of classes. What a relief!  So I used my introduction powerpoint I had from my time in Korea and the classes went really well.

At Lunch time I was feeling quite lost again. I was going downstairs when Jeffrey, the other American teacher just shook his head at me and said "we can't eat down there, it's girls only."  I was like, no way I'll just see for myself. But as soon as I decended the stairs the other English teacher was there sitting among the other female turkish teachers keeping to herself and looking up at me a bit forlornly. I was told I should eat upstairs with the guys.  So I did.

now, the children are not seperated by sex, it's only the adults. It doesn't just stop at the lunchroom either. No no, when I went to the teachers room on a lower floor in the 4th grade villa the ladies looked at me as if I had come into a dressing room. Then the one that was at the orientation..Tugce I believe came to me and told me that we are seperated and my room was upstairs with the men. She took me upstairs and then the men took me in and waited for the one Turkish teacher that knows English to tell me that it's just Turkish culture to seperate people by sex. He was referring to Islamic culture of course. So, while the school is not specifically religious, it definately has a strong, conservative environment.

After lunch, before my last class was to begun I felt that queesy, wet rumbling in my stomach that is the tell-tale sign of an emergency toilet. Noooo!  So far I had only seen traditional squat toilets. When I asked where the restroom is the guys took me to the restroom and I was like, but how do I use it? I've never used one of these (even though Korea had them I have this absolute fear of splattering my legs). Thankfully as my stomach really wasn't easy, they have TWO, yes TWO western toilets on the campus. A student guided me to the toilets and boy was I thankful. I informed them I'd be a little late for my class and then went. When I arrived to my last class I thanked the homeroom teacher. When the homeroom teacher left the kids were surprisingly quiet and watching me. When I said "Hello class" they all stood up and said "Hello teacher" and stayed standing until I told them to take a seat. The class ran really smoothly. I was thankful.

I've got a good feeling about teaching these students. There are a few that like to talk a bit more than others but that's normal in ANY classroom, especially an EFL classroom. This should be a good year once I get my curriculum.

I took a school bus home but was told I need to talk to my supervisor about getting picked up by the bus, especially since they don't speak English. When i got home I was just so exhausted. One of my new friend's Mehmet texted me asking if I'd like to go jogging this evening with him, but I had to decline. It was such a tiring day. Around seven o'clock I had laid down on my bed and passed out, waking back up at 10:30pm. I hadn't taken my contacts out and my right eye was almost sealed shut with puss. Yeah, that's right I noticed that both of my eyes were irritated this weekend and now they are moving into a full infection.

So tomorrow I'll be getting a small advance to get me through the next 3 weeks until my payday on October 10th. I'll be visiting the doc to get some drops to clear this little annoyance up before it becomes a big problem. Hope the kids aren't scared of my red eyes tomorrow.

Speaking of which, I haven't been given a curriculum or the books I'll be teaching from so I still have no idea what they're expecting me to teach now that my introductory class is finished. Any suggestions?  The kids seem pretty bright and have a good level of English, much better than the typical 3rd-4th graders I taught while in Korea.  Tomorrow we are having an English teachers meeting..I hope they give their expectations so I can work FOR them and not just guess what they want me to do.

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