Turkey is an amazingly interesting country located at the crossroads of the Middle East and Europe. After three weeks of living here, the stereotypes us Americans adhere to about other countries fade rapidly. Turkey is decidedly, almost fanatically, modern, as can be seen in its shopping malls and apartment towers, prevalence of stylish Western-dressed population, universities, transportation systems and outlook on the world. It also has its own highly distinct culture of traditions, including hospitality, food and music, a language like no other and a thousand years of history visible especially in Istanbul and the anceint ruins that dot the country.
Thanks to the Internet -- and particularly Skype, Facebook, Blogger, Email, nytimes.com, nfl.com . etc - I am completely in touch with the states, just 7 to 10 hours ahead. Last night I yelled "Sawyer" while on Skype and saw my daughter's Golden Retriever perk up his ears and turn his head 8000 miles away in California. Skype also has incredibly cheap rates to phones.
The food is wonderfully healthy and delicious. Typical breakfast is olives, tomatoes, cucumbers and cheese. Salads (contents cut into small pieces) are prevalent with every meal. Pastries stuffed with vegetables or cheese, and the best "bagels" in the world, called Simits, add interest and enjoyment. Olives, lemons, burger wheat, kebabs are everywhere. Turks are also highly fond of fish from the Black Sea.
Upon arrival I became ill with severe bronchitis, in spite of which we spent 5 days in Istanbul so I could interview people for the book I am writing. I coughed my way through my birthday, looking out on a snow storm in Taksim Square, and opening one present after another from dear Umit. Arriving back in Ankara on a Sunday I went to a private hospital, where I received fast and thorough treatment: xray, blood test, throat culture and diagnosis in less than a half hour. A follow-up visit was similarly excellent and I am feeling fine now.
Tomorrow I teach my first class and the online systems here for managing your course and handling student records are the same as when I was teaching at St. Joe's University.
In summary, we are well settled in and except for the fact that no one here has heard of the NY Giants, I could be anywhere in the states and feel "at home." Cheers, Rich