I talked about the reasons I had not been blogging, and part of it was that I could not fully express myself.  We have had plans in the works, but they have been tenuous and uncertain.  Bülent and I have been incredibly happy in Turkey.  We have had so many adventures, travelled to so many places, and met so many people.  When I first came, I was 24, young and excited.  Everyday was an adventure.  After six years in Turkey, everyday still brings joy and appreciation.  Just last week I was stopped by strangers on the street while walking in my neighborhood, invited in for coffee and had a tour of their garden. 

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I have learned the language, and developed a deep understanding and appreciation of the nuances of the culture—my original goals.  In the six years we have been in Turkey we have made friends, embarked on our careers, gotten married, moved twice, received a Masters and (almost) a PhD, and celebrated a decade of being partners.  We have lost parents and grandparents, and we have loved.  We have gained a deeper understanding of ourselves and each other. 


Turkey will always have our hearts, and will always be home, we have so many friends and so much family here.  We have loved our time in Turkey, but thinking about the future and our careers, we have decided it is time to move on. It is time for a new adventure.  The next couple of months will be filled with packing, details, saying goodbye and excitement.  We are moving back to the United States.

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Wait for us Austin!  We’ll be there soon!


This summer while I was home in the US, I was incredibly busy, scheduled to go here or there almost every day.  One of the things I squeezed into my travels was a trip to Tennessee.  I am very lucky to have two of my best college friends living in the same state. 

I flew down on a Friday, and was supposed to arrive in Nashville at about 4:30 pm, when my friend would be getting off from work.  After a hellish bout of “How long will that delay be?” with U.S. airways I arrived just at 8:30 (EST).  My friend was very patient with the whole situation and entertained with the fun texts from me.

“We are boarding the plane.”  “We are de-boarding the plane”  “We  boarded the plane!”  “We are leaving!” “Just kidding, we are missing paperwork”  “We landed!”   “We have to wait for a gate” “We are going to get off….oh wait…still no gate.”


  After all the delays and waiting on the plane for what seemed like forever (for a gate), we ended up just going down the stairs of the plane and walking across the tarmac to a lower level door to the airport.  Which we could have done when we first landed.  Mmmph.

Despite the inauspicious beginning, the trip was fantastic!  My friend Kate lives in Nashville, the plan was to visit with her, then we would drive down to Memphis to visit our very pregnant friend Katie, or depending on the fates, Katie and her new baby.  

After Kate picked me up from the airport, we stopped by her home to drop my things off before we went out for dinner.  Waiting for us was a package from our other friend friend from college, Katie, who lives in Colorado.  She had sent us a gift basket filled with treats for our visit!  Can you feel the Wellesley love?


The next day we left for Memphis. Memphis is a three hour drive, so we were able to chat the whole way and had a great time.  Katie politely stayed pregnant while we were in town, so that we could catch-up.  I haven’t been able to see my Wellesley friends as often as I would like.  We are scattered all over the US, and living in Turkey complicates visiting even more.  However, when we do get together, it is as if no time has passed.  I am hoping that soon they will plan a trip to visit me!  In Memphis we relaxed, visited, played with Katie’s dogs and took turns feeling her belly when she was having contractions.  Kate started to time them, but then Katie pulled out her phone to do it.  Apparently there is an app for that!  She didn’t have the baby for another week, but we didn’t let that keep us from getting some snuggle time with the baby.  Katie and I were room mates, so she knows I am pretty hands on. 


We drove back to Nashville and the next day we played tourists.  Kate took me downtown to the Honky Tonk bars and the tourist areas.  We wandered around for a while, listening to the country singers preforming on the street.  We went to the Johnny Cash museum as well.  Nashville is fun city, with beautiful green spaces, navigable, a vibrant downtown and nightlife and great food. 

Now when in Tennessee, it is best to stick to local cuisine. BBQ.  Kate knows I love barbeque and went out of her way to create a culinary experience.  They have some of the best barbeque I have tasted, very different from other regions such as New England or Texas.  Here, the pork is cooked slowly until it falls apart, and is served dry.  You can then add BBQ sauce (here with a vinegar base) if you would like. 

Pulled pork dinner from the iconic Loveless Café in Nashville, served with fried green tomatoes.

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Pulled pork tacos with roasted corn from the Acme Feed & Seed in downtown Nashville.

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OHHHHH.  The best BBQ I have ever had is from B&C (full name: Bacon and Caviar). 

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It is not a fancy place, but you wouldn’t want it to be.  They have several locations throughout Nashville.    I loved it, the food was fresh and delicious and the people behind the counter friendly and personable.  I am not that familiar with southern food, and they were very patient with all my food questions, some even unrelated to what they were serving.  At B&C you choose your meat (pulled pork sandwich above) and then your sides.  They had many sides, but I asked the girl behind the counter to serve me what she would have chosen herself.  The sides are squash casserole, a sweet corn and summer squash bake topped with a little cheese, and the grits of the day.  Yes, that is right, grits of the day! They have a different one each day of the week, in addition to the regular cheesy grits.  These were buffalo chicken grits, slightly spicy, with vinegar and bits of chicken.   DELICIOUS!

My trip to Tennessee was one of the highlights of my visit home.  Not only did I get to see TWO of my dearest friends for the first time in years, but I also got to be a tourist in my own country and take in a bit of Southern culture.   I would highly recommend visiting Nashville if you have a chance, even if you are just driving though. 

Wellesley Mini-Reunion! Three 2006ers and a future 2032er!


Nana, A Centenarian

Born October 5, 1913, she immigrated to America on the SS Carpathia with her parents and three of her six siblings (the others were yet to be born).  They arrived on December 2th,1919 on the SS Carpathia.


She moved to England in her twenties and worked as a companion to an elderly woman.  She joined Women’s Royal Air Force just a week after Sarah Churchill, in 1941.  She met my grandfather and married him in 1942.   She had almost completed her first BA, but her college in London had been hit by the Blitz and all records were lost.  She was told if she could find three professors to vouch  for her, the school would transfer her credits.  Unable to do this, she began again when she relocated to the U.S.

After she moved back to the States, she had six children, two are still living.   Of those who have died one was a twin who was stillborn, two died in their twenties, and my father who died almost two years ago.

During this time she finished her second B.A. completed a M.A. a M.F.A. and a Ph.D.  She has written several books, contributed many articles to the MetroWest Daily News and painted many beautiful pieces of art. 

An amazing storyteller, for decades she has regaled us with tales of her life and our heritage.  Stories of her family, about putting out magnesium bombs in London during WWII, and of our ancestors in Roman times. 



Happy Birthday to Nana, someone who enriches us with her presence, wisdom and we are lucky to have in our lives.  If you have met or know Nana, feel free to call or send a card.  I am sure she would love to hear from you.  If you need her number or address please contact me. 

Summer Migration

Since I have moved to Turkey, each year I have returned to the U.S. for the summer.  This year was no different, through it seemed to go by very quickly.  When I go home things are usually really busy.  I try to visit as many friends and family members as possible, as many times as possible.  This summer I was also able to attend two great friends’ wedding receptions.

This year was especially busy as we relocated.  I knew when my father died, it would make sense for my mother to downsize sooner rather than later.  The home I grew up in is amazingly beautiful, built in 1880, set deep in the country, with many acres of lawn and gardens and flower beds.   However, it is a large  property to maintain for a single woman.  


The new house she found is great.  Big enough for our family, but small enough for her needs.  There is space for Elliot  when he visits and  for me to maintain migration pattern from Turkey.  It also is 20 minutes closer to the city, and she is practically neighbors with several of her friends.  And wonders of wonders, she is now a FIVE minute drive to a town where there is a grocery store, liquor store and several small restaurants! 


The new place, dubbed “The River House” , is adorable.  Lest you think we are leaving we are leaving the idyllic country for suburbia…there is enough country there to make the transition easy.  Behind the house there is a field of wildflowers and waterfront on a river.   It does not quite compare to the view off the porch of the big house…but little would.


Considering that we moved from a five bedroom Victorian to a two bedroom house the move went surprisingly well.  Between maintaining the yard at the new house, sprucing up the yard at at the old house, the move, two wedding and many visits with family and friends, the summer went by very quickly! 

Last week I completed my migration cycle and returned to Turkey.  I flew in on a Wednesday and the very next day drove down to Marmaris with my father-in-law.  I have about a week left at the summer house, with very limited internet access.  I am using the time to rest and rejuvenate before the school year starts again.   I plan on resuming regular posting once I no longer need to use my cell phone as a portable hot spot.  

School is starting soon or has start already for many. As a teacher, for me the start of the new year is not January, but rather September.  New year, new students, and life goes on.   Enjoy what is left of summer! 

Mourning for Boston

Every year, on Marathon Monday we would tune in to the Marathon.  It was always an event we watched.  We did not watch football, baseball or basketball regularly, but we always watched the marathon.  There is something about the grueling event, 26.2 miles through the heart of several towns in the Boston metropolitan area, that creates devotion.   In this day and age we have become disconnected from each other.  Our capitalist individualism creates a feeling of isolation, a separateness of other and a disconnection of community.  Marathon Monday is a day when this separate space between people dissolves, when a passionate community is created.  That stranger whose shoulder is pressing  against yours, as you both strain over the barrier to cheer on the runners, becomes your friend, and you create a moment with this person that will never fade.  That is what the Boston Marathon is to a non-runner.  Imagine what the runners feel like. 


I had the privilege of going to Wellesley College, which is at the halfway point on the marathon route.  Every year Wellesley cancels classes, sets up a fair atmosphere, including a concert, beer and food tents and the students line the road and cheer on the runners.  This creates the “Scream Tunnel” where students scream encouragement and also kiss runners.  For four years, I stood on the sidelines and cheered on the runners, and even kissed a few. I cheered on friends, strangers and even got to see Team Hoyt run.  

The Boston Marathon means so much to so many people, from all over the world, and especially the New England community.  When I saw the news of the bombing on Monday (late at night for me) I could not have articulated my feelings.   I woke up all night checking for news of the victims and survivors.  I was mourning for both the victims and surviving of the tragedy, as well as the community.  I am also grieving for the Marathon itself, for what was, and how it will never be the same. 

After the bombs detonated, and the races was stopped, people all along the route were helping stranded marathon runners with nourishment and transportation, websites were created to organize housing for runners and their families stranded in the Boston area.   My heart goes out to those affected, and also to the community that responded. 

Forget CEOs! Teachers Get Bonuses!

In Turkey, November 24th is Teacher’s Day.

Inside and outside of one of my cards. (We are still practicing articles.  There are none in Turkish. My kids think they are tricky—clearly.)

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  Teacher’s day is a serious business in Turkey.  To understand why, a little history is necessary.     It was only 90 years ago, in 1923,  that five years of primary education became compulsory and publically funded.  It was not until 1951 that middle schools were introduced and eight years of education became available to the public.  It was only in 1997 that it became compulsory to complete 8th grade. 

Comparing it to the U.S., it may seem strange that children have only been required to finish 8th grade for 15 years, however it is a matter of  when and where education began.  In 1923, when Atatürk created the public education system, only 10 % of the population was literate. 

He had big goals and wanted his country to be modern, to do this he knew literacy was needed, at the least.  However by 1926 there were only 200 teachers in Turkey and to accomplish his goal to provide publically funded education to children until the 5th grade he needed about 3000.  There were simply not enough teachers in the country. 

Teacher Education programs were quickly established, though the dearth of teachers  is one of the reasons for the tradition of large class sizes (in recent times about 4o or 50 students in a class in public schools, 30 in private).   For all of the challenges, from 1923 to 1999 the official illiteracy rate lowered from 90% to 14.3%, a tremendous drop in about 75 years (Karakaşoğlu, 2007, p. 790).

Due to the historical context of education in this country, teachers are greatly valued.  The term “Hocam” (my teacher) is an honorific and a very respectful salutation .  There is no difference in terminology for a university professor with a PhD from a primary school teacher—they are all considered equally important and are all “Hocam.”    On Teacher’s Day in Turkey, students present their teachers with chocolates and flowers, sometimes other presents too.  In the past, in addition to the lovely home-made cards and sweet letters, I have received a set of towels, scarves, mugs, and even sweaters!  On Teacher’s Day our school gives bonuses based on how many years you have been at the institution.  For some of the older teachers the bonus is equivalent or exceeds a month’s salary.  For me, it was a meaningful gift ( almost $300).   Some students even visit their former, retired teachers at home on Teacher’s Day.  It is very interesting to me that as a “Developing” country Turkey is able to financially reward teachers to such an extent.   I worked in the U.S. as a teacher and was never even wished a “Happy Teacher’s Day,” let alone a gift from your employer! 


P.S.There is a Teacher’s Day in the U.S., it is on Tuesday during Teacher Appreciation Week, which takes place in the first full week of May—Who Knew?

Road Trip: The Big One

After our vacation, Bülent and I decided to buy a car in Texas, where the cars have less rust damage from salt and snow.  We would then drive out to New Hampshire in time for Bülent to start his teaching job at the university.  Our plan was to drive from Leave Texas, stop overnight in Memphis, Louisville, northern West Virginia, somewhere in Jersey and end up in New Hampshire.  ScreenHunter_04 Aug. 21 15.32

However, right from the beginning we had some scheduling issues.  Bülent found the car he wanted to buy the night before we leaving for the trip, but it was too late to buy it and take it to get checked out. So early in the morning he went to the dealership, bought the car and took it to the garage.  However, the work it needed, brakes tuned and new tires, took longer than expected.  Instead of getting on the road by 12 and getting to Memphis by 8ish that night, we couldn’t leave until 4.   We were tired, so we stopped in Little Rock, Arkansas around 10 p.m.   We figured we would stop in Memphis to and have an early lunch and visit with my friend from college (hence required stop in Memphis), and have an early lunch.

And that is the day Arkansas became dead to me.  If we had time I would have like to look around the city and check out some Civil Rights museums, but we wanted to get on the road right away.  Bad decision.  The trip to Memphis is normally only 2 and a haf hours, but once we got on the road, we stayed on the road. And stayed on the road.  And stayed. on. the. road.

There had been a traffic accident that morning at 4 a.m. and the eastbound and westbound lanes of the highway were blocked all day. (I can complain about because no one was hurt.)  After several hours f being parked on the highway, we were detoured onto a two lane country highway.  It took eight hours to drive to Memphis.  By the time we got there, we were ready to tear our hair out.  We were trapped all day, had lost an entire day of travel and messed up our schedule.  We decided rather than try to make up time and drive to Nashville, we would stay with our friends in Memphis.   Honestly the thought of getting back into the car made us nauseous.

Good Decision.  We ended up having a great time.  We had a great Tennessee BBQ, and then hung out by the lake with the dogs.  The three dogs, that all have first, middle and last names.  Hee Hee.  It is so funny when my friend Katie calls out their full names with when the puppies are being rowdy.  I would post some adorable photos, but there were some technological issues and our camera ate the pictures.  The next day we woke, rested, with the goal of getting to Louisville for a late lunch and then continuing on to make up lost time.   We had to be in NH by a certain date so Bülent could start teaching his classes.    Next Installment: Day 3 of the Road Trip.  The road to awesomeness…I mean Louisville.

Reflections on Turkey

Now that I have been in the U.S. for six months and will be going back to Turkey soon I have been thinking about my experiences when I first went there.  I knew after a fair amount of time here I will have to reassimilate and reacculturate a bit.   I think one of the most obvious, but least problematic issues is the communal culture.  In Turkey, what is one person’s is the family’s, and what is the family’s is the communities. This communal life structure takes time to adjust to.

Because everything is more communal, people will also make comments that would be considered rude in the US.  Goodhearted remarks on clothes, weight, body shape, etc. are considered completely appropriate.  For example, “That doesn’t look good on you.” “Are you gaining weight? You look bigger.”  “Is that a pimple or a bug bite?” Or my personal favorite, after you have been ill, “How is your diarrhea?”

I was introduced to this communal culture when I became Turkey’s “Bride.”  When I moved there I was engaged (I went from girlfriend to fiancé on the trip over.)  That made me a “gelin” or bride.  Usually the woman entering the family is called a gelin, and is called the gelin until she is no longer the youngest or more recently married woman in the family.  It is an affectionate term.  My husband introduced me as his gelin.  His mother and father also called me their gelin.   They would introduce me as “Our gelin.”  Then close friends of the family would introduce me to others, “Oh, our new gelin is American…”  My husband was complemented and told that he had brought such a nice. gelin for Turkey.  I agreed to marry one man and found myself the bride of a nation.

So while I have been here I have been a sister, a daughter and a wife, in Turkey, I will be all of those things as well as everyone’s “bride” when I go back.



I’m almost there!  After two years of chipping away, my Masters program will be ending in a couple of weeks!   I have loved being challenge and learning new skills and methodologies in TESL, but I am ready to have more time to study Turkish and blog.  With the past few months difficulty in blogging aside, it has been difficult to work all day, come home, do homework, then blog.  Many times after teaching all day, doing my own coursework, grading my students’ homework and cooking dinner there really wasn’t enough time or energy to sit down and create a post.

Now that I have three courses finishing up in two weeks, I am crazy busy.  I have been spending most of my time inside chained to a computer.  I am excited for my “summer” to start!  I want to go running and hiking.  I really want to go to the beach—swim a little and catch some sun.  Considering it is July, it is a little sad that I am still this white!


Yeah. With the amount of work I have to do in the next few days my face still looks pretty much like that.