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Turkey
Topic Started: Sun Jan 25, 2015 8:20 pm (1,971 Views)
Matsunoki
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Ridiculously good food, amazing people, history everywhere, and a beautiful language. It's pretty great!

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heidi

Turkey is my first choice for the YES Abroad scholarship, and I've started studying Turkish on my own. I don't want to get my hopes up, but Turkey is so amazing! The language, the music, the history!

What is life like in Turkey for teenage girls, in terms of amount of freedom given/what they do in their free such/etc?
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Daisy

TURKEY. Go there.

I lived in Adana while I was there, but with all the stuff going on at the moment, you probably won't be placed so far southeast. I'd assume Istanbul, Izmir, or Ankara. But that could be totally wrong. Either way, I'll tell you what I experienced while I was there.

Both of my host families had two daughters apiece. My first host fam had a daughter my age at the time (18) and one that was a little older (I want to say 21) who went to college in Ankara. Once the 18yo left, I was the only one left. My host parents were pretty cool. My host dad didn't seem too fond about having a host daughter, but I grew on him. My host mom was pretty much my best friend. They didn't place any sort of restrictions on me, nor did my host mom mind me kinda-sorta seeing a guy they knew and trusted. I was and still am kind of lame, though, so I'd usually be sure to be home by dark, unless I was at the mall or seeing a movie or something. I'd be home by dinner, since that was a big thing with my host fam.

My second family was...Yeah. Not getting into the issues with them. Let's just say we each had issues with the other. They had a 12yo and 16yo daughter, and they were both spoiled rotten and extremely obnoxious. Beside the point. That family was a little more cautious of me. They didn't understand that I'd lived in Turkey for six months by the time I got to them. I had friends and classmates to hang out with. I knew the bus system. I was just about conversational by then. But they didn't really let me do much without giving me really disapproving looks. I'd mostly go out during the day to get away from them, but never at night because I didn't want to piss them off any more by missing dinner. They weren't happy at all with me hanging out with the Turkish guy, which I'll say is the reason our relationship never went beyond the friends stage.

That's the deal with my curfews and social circle.

As for spare time. My classmates and I went to the movies, to the mall, to each other's houses (near the end). I spent more time with my host mom because my classmates were occasionally too immature for me. I much preferred hanging out with the adults. My host mom (from here on out, all host references will be to my first family) had several friends in our building, so we'd go to their apartments or they'd come to ours. We had dinner parties sometimes. We'd go visit relatives in town.

I did a lot of wandering by myself. Like I said, I went to the mall and movies by myself. There were two shopping streets near both my apartments (they were a couple blocks apart) that I wandered when I needed fresh air. I made an effort to attempt my homework. I'd graduated before leaving, so it didn't count, but I still liked to make the effort. Ended up getting better grades in that one class than some of my classmates, too. I studied Turkish quite a bit, especially during the more language-intensive classes I didn't understand (history, philosophy, etc.). But like I mentioned before, I'm lame and didn't do normal teenager stuff like party.

Things might be different in other cities. Ankara seemed really spread out when I was there (just for a few hours), so I don't know if it'd be easy to get to different things quickly. Istanbul is huge, so you'd probably just stick to your own area for the most part, or be more restricted by your host family (that sounds harsh; I hope you know what I mean, though) because it's such a large city. If I had to pick a different host city (I'd never give up Adana), I'd pick Izmir or Antalya. Izmir was wonderful. I wish I could have spent more time there.

It really will depend on your location and your host family, whether they're more conservative or not. Neither of mine were very conservative. There's a girl here (well, from the old boards) who lived in Gaziantep and I seem to remember her having some issues with a conservative host family. You most likely (hopefully) won't be placed that far east, though.
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mburucuja

YES pulled everyone from Gaziantep earlier this school year, so barring major changes I wouldn't expect to be there. Samsun, Trabzon, Kayseri, and Bursa also host AFS students.

I did an NSLI-Y summer program in Istanbul back in 2010. I kinda hated the organization I was with because I spent 6AM-7 or 8PM in transit, in class, or in mandatory activities. My host family was suuuuper chill though. They were actually offended when they saw the info we were given about Turkey, suggesting only t-shirts and long pants/skirts and such, and let me go wherever whenever, not that I had much energy to take them up on that during the week. I asked my sister how to wear a headscarf before I visited a mosque and she didn't know, and she'd make sex jokes and stuff without any apparent disapproval. I seriously couldn't have imagined a less conservative family.

Istanbul is gigantic, but the transit there was very functional. My friend just got back from a semester there and apparently it works even better now. I had a host sister my age (18) when I was there, and she spent a lot of time working on a prep program for college, but we also went out shopping, went out to eat, smoked nargile, etc. and went to a couple parties with her classmates. I'd expect more restrictions either if you're younger or if you're with a more conservative family, but I had a lot of freedom there.
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heidi

Wow, thank you for these responses! mburucuja, if you don't mind me asking, which organization were you with?

Turkish culture just seems so interesting. From what I've been told, YES students tend to be placed in smaller/mid-sized cities (which is nicer IMO - it would take me all year to figure out public transport in Istanbul, haha). I definitely don't want to get my hopes up (we still have a month before semi-finalist notifications), but I'm so excited! How well did you guys speak the language by the time you left Turkey?
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mburucuja

NSLI-Y stuck me with ACES, who pawned us off on ISE in Turkey. Neither program was competent. I'd hope they've improved.

I was in a medium-sized town in Paraguay and I loved it. I was a lot more immersed than my friends in/around the big city.

I was an advanced beginner. I could have basic conversations and get myself around the city after 7 weeks of bad classes.
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Daisy

I studied every chance I got and was lucky enough to have a host family who spoke very little English and classmates who incorporated me into their Turkish discussions. By three months, I was able to communicate rather well with the use of a dictionary. By the time I left, I was decently conversational. I'd say intermediate or upper intermediate. High B1 or low B2 if you know those rankings. The other students in my school (two AFSers and one other Rotary student) were much less advanced than I was because they didn't study or immerse themselves as much as I did. The AFS girl's classmates visited my classroom once and tried to speak English with me until my classmates informed them I could speak Turkish. They were shocked.

Getting a little off-topic, but I'm smiling just thinking about this. One of my best days was the day I was upset about my second host family and the one teacher asked what was wrong. So I explained everything that had been going on and what I was planning to do and all sorts of stuff, and when I was done, my whole class applauded. They were so proud of me that I could have cried.

I've seen some places that say that if you can read Harry Potter or Twilight or whatever your teen lit book of preference is, that's a good indicator of "success" as a language learner. I could read HP3 (my favorite of the series) by the time I left.

I imagine with YES or NSLI-Y, you'd have language classes. I didn't. If you do, you'll definitely be at my level or above it by the time you leave. The Istanbul kids from my year had language classes and they made me so jealous.
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mburucuja

Going to have less than 48 hours in Istanbul. Trying to decide what to do...
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domsb

Can anyone tell me about Turkish men? I am currently here on exchange with my university and have a thing for a Turkish guy at my uni here, but I suspect he is kind of a playaaaa.
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mburucuja

I don't think Turkish men are that different from men (or people in general) anywhere else...some are super sweet, some aren't. Different people are looking for different things.
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