Holiday break: Feast of the Sacrifice

Stray cats everywhere in Istanbul. These are in the cemetery. As you can see, people set out food and water for them. Notice the date on the grave: 1305!
Stray cats everywhere in Istanbul. These are in the cemetery. As you can see, people set out food and water for them. Notice the date on the grave: 1305!

9/26/2015
I am catching up on things during the Bayram holiday. It coincides with the beginning of Fall. I have five days and have been cleaning, answering emails and sorting photos. I still have lesson plans to do, but I feel more organized. And now, I’ll catch up on my journaling.

I took Stephanie to the Grand Bazaar. That's her in front with the blue shirt. This is one of the the entrances.
I took Stephanie to the Grand Bazaar. That’s her in front with the blue shirt. This is one of the the entrances.

First, this is a special religious holiday. In English it is the Feast of the Sacrifice.
I had images of calves and sheep being slaughtered in the streets, but that just doesn’t happen anymore—at least not in a big city like Istanbul. Maybe outside the city, though. Being a farm girl, I know where my meat comes from, so I can’t say anything negative about slaughtering animals. I’m not crazy about doing it, but I’m not a vegetarian, so I can’t complain. And, traditionally, a third of the meat is given to the poor.

Wednesday was the first full day of the holiday. Alex and I took two new teachers, Stephanie and Teresa, to see the Hagia Sophia. I had really looked forward to the audio tour, but it didn’t work and they wouldn’t give me my money back. Horrible. But I had a good time walking them around to the big sites in the old town. I hope they learned a few things and I didn’t bore them too much. I love playing tour guide!

Alex and I took Stephanie and Teresa (new English Time teachers) to the Hagia Sophia. It is getting some much needed attention, so there's lots of scaffolding.
Alex and I took Stephanie and Teresa (new English Time teachers) to the Hagia Sophia. It is getting some much needed attention, so there’s lots of scaffolding.

Yesterday, three of my level 1 students from Avcilar took me out and we had a great time. I’ve posted photos.

On the 15th, we were paid, but I didn’t get my money for the hours at Avcilar. Seems the person who bought Sirinevler bought a few other branches, but not Avcilar. I’m surprised that they let me teach at both, but I’ve already been told I won’t get to teach another at a different branch. Easier on me, but I will miss these students. When I got there Saturday, I was paid for all the money I had disputed—a real relief. It means I am still planning to stay through the end of my contract. But there are others who have not been paid and I’m keeping an eye on the situation.

From the fourth story window of the English Time school in Avcilar. It's a nice shopping area.
From the fourth story window of the English Time school in Avcilar. It’s a nice shopping area.
This is looking down into the pedestrian mall of Avcilar. This is from the fourth story window of the English Time school. I love street performers.
This is looking down into the pedestrian mall of Avcilar. This is from the fourth story window of the English Time school. I love street performers.

And my Level 1 students played Taboo with English words that day. They breezed through the Level 1 words, and I had to go to the Level 3 words to give them a challenge. Yeah! Best students on the planet!

The new owner is doing some remodeling at Sirinevler. All the signs and tiles in the suspended ceiling came down Monday and Tuesday. Looks like they plan to paint, which will make the school look better. I hope that is good news, but the place was a total mess and it was difficult to run classes with all the noise and disruption. Not that I’m an expert, but it seems to me that a new owner would only invest in the appearance of the school if he wanted to 1). Make things better or 2) Sell the school. I guess we will see if there are any substantial capital investments, like electronics; new furniture; improved heating and air conditioning; upgraded media room and computers. We will see. The latest Turkish office manager is great–Meylin speaks some English and used to work at Avcilar. Big improvement for the English teachers.

Kumpir is my new comfort food in Istanbul. This guy makes them about a block from my apartment. He speaks fair English, too. Kumpir is a stuffed baked potato.
Kumpir is my new comfort food in Istanbul. This guy makes them about a block from my apartment. He speaks fair English, too. Kumpir is a stuffed baked potato.
These are some of the toppings. Naturally, I like everything, so have them all added.
These are some of the toppings. Naturally, I like everything, so have them all added.
This is the final result--and over stuffed baked potato. It's yummy, and more than a meal.
This is the final result: an over-stuffed baked potato. It’s yummy, and more than a meal.

Robert, our head teacher, had trouble getting back into the country this past weekend. He had been in France with his wife seeing friends for four days. (as an aside, he brought me a bottle of really nice wine as a thank you for filling in for him as head teacher! Yum!) They wouldn’t accept his US passport or the paperwork that indicated his residence permit was applied for. But he could come in on his Australian passport. Dual citizenship has privileges. And guess what he got on Monday? His work permit! He’s leaving in less than a month and he finally gets his work permit. It’s crazy. I have a residence card, but no work permit.

Avcilar MetroBus taken from the pedestrian bridge.
Avcilar MetroBus taken from the pedestrian bridge.
You see lots of begging, particularly in the Metro areas. The sign translates as "helpless." And it's hard to know who is and who isn't. Usually, the children fan out and beg separately. They also run wild and unsupervised on the buses, since they can ride for free. Avcilar MetroBus pedestrian bridge.
You see lots of begging, particularly in the Metro areas. The sign translates as “helpless.” And it’s hard to know who is and who isn’t. Usually, the children fan out and beg separately. They also run wild and unsupervised on the buses, since they can ride for free. Avcilar MetroBus pedestrian bridge.
The E5, taken as dusk from the Avcilar MetroBus pedestrian bridge.
The E5, taken as dusk from the Avcilar MetroBus pedestrian bridge.
The entrance to the Avcilar shopping area has a statue of Ataturk.
The entrance to the Avcilar shopping area has a statue of Ataturk.

Roommates and refrigerators

Level 1 Students from Sirinevler.
Level 1 Students from Sirinevler.

8/30/2015
My Avcilar students are taking the Grammar Exam as I write this. It’s probably the toughest exam of Level 1–tougher than I would have made it. I spent all class yesterday reviewing and even wrote a quiz that was as much like the exam as I could make it. They didn’t do well on the quiz and I think it scared them. They kept asking if the exam was less difficult than the quiz. It’s not. I expect low grades. But the good news is that there are three more sections and we review everything we learned three more times so they really get it.

It’s always something, isn’t it? Over the weekend the refrigerator died. According to Rashawn, it’s been fixed a few times. Sounds like we need a new one, but I honestly don’t see how anyone will get it up the stairs. They are narrow, circular marble stairs. Good thing we are only on the second floor.

But I’m a bit worried about the fourth roommate. It’s a four bedroom flat, and Katt’s job is to keep it filled, so she’s been showing it. But the last potential roommate is only 15 years old! He’s from Egypt and he simply can’t stay in his country–he’s targeted by the police as many young men are if they protest, or even look in the wrong direction. Some of his friends are in jail. But he’s not an adult. You can say all you want about how responsible he is, but even a responsible 15 year old needs boundaries, limits and rules. His parents, who should be providing this, will be miles away. As the oldest in the apartment it’s easy for everyone to assume I will take him under my wing. But I don’t want to play housemother for someone I don’t know and have no actual authority over or interest in. I’ve voiced my opinion to Katt, but it’s her decision, not mine. She is acting like this will not be a problem and says he can take care of himself. I say that may be true, but she just met him so she doesn’t know how he is. Unfortunately she doesn’t live there and I do. I’m trying to keep a positive attitude about this. I’m not succeeding so far.

The changes are so fast at English Time, I can’t keep up. The head offices moved last week and we were told there would be no central scheduling. Central scheduling seems to be back and poorer than ever. It’s afternoon on Sunday and I’ve not seen my schedule, which starts in the morning. It may or may not include a brand new Level 3 class at 10am. Good thing I’ve taught the class before and have at least the first two days mostly planned. And now we are no longer sure WHO owns the Sirinevler branch where I work. The info we had on a new owner may have been misinformation or the deal may have fallen through. I am in the dark all the time.

Everywhere you go, you have tea in Turkey. I thought this tea glass so beautiful.
Everywhere you go, you have tea in Turkey. I thought this tea glass so beautiful.

This morning I was asked for the hundredth time if I’d consider being Head Teacher at Sirinevler. Kate may get moved to another branch. Since communication is so poor, I don’t think I could do it and keep my blood pressure low. I’d be just as clueless with the added issue of people I’m responsible for asking me questions. It doesn’t pay better, the hours suck, there’s lots of paperwork and the frustration seems high. Besides, I like to teach.
Heard from Shelley, she’s made it back safely to Canada. I will miss her.

8/31/2015
Good news on the 15 year old roommate. First he did move in, which really concerned me. I would never be mean to him, but I didn’t want to be responsible for him either. I felt this had disaster written all over it. But he is moving out tomorrow. He and his mother have found a school in London. He will live with his mom, which has to be a better situation for him. Of course I expect the father will stay in Egypt, so that’s bad. I’m really sympathetic to the kid, but I am not in a position to be his guardian.

When I look back over my life, I realize there were so many issues like the one above that really concerned me—but at least half never amounted to anything. Maybe more than half. Wouldn’t it be great if we knew ahead of time which things would be REAL problems and which we should just wait out? I waste so much energy on things that turn out not to matter.
New and working refrigerator tonight! Yeah!

Fresh flat bread is often served with a meal--and the salads are always fresh.
Fresh flat bread is often served with a meal–and the salads are always fresh.

9/4/2015
I’m interviewed in this podcast from about 2 years ago. It’s now free on iTunes. Things have really changed since I gave this interview.
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/beth-robinette-blogger-case/id1021451073?i=350482185&mt=2

My roommates continue to be great! Feeling blessed in this area. And the landlord finally fixed the toilet. It’s my day off and I’ve done laundry, cleaned house and have my weekend lesson plans finished.

My English Time branch got a new Turkish manager. She speaks almost no English, but she seems more friendly than the last guy. She insisted that we clean up the Teacher’s room, which is fair. But we’ve asked for chairs and computers that are not broken! Fingers crossed.

Got a note from my placement agency–I’ve kept them informed about the issues here at English Time. They let me know that they will not place any teachers with English Time until they fix their payment issues. Since 80% of their teachers (and almost 100% of their native speakers) come from Oxford Seminars, let’s hope that means ET will clean up their act quickly. In the meantime, there is talk of a walkout with our students if we are paid late again. I was paid 2 days late, but many others were paid more than a week late.

Through a mutual Turkish friend, I’ve met a woman who needs private English tutoring. In exchange, she and her father are going to help me with Turkish. AND I get to eat at their restaurant for free! Seems like a deal to me.

My new student--lovely, funny and a good teacher, too.
My new student–lovely, funny and a good teacher, too.

I’ve been teaching double classes for 5 days straight and am tired. It starts again tomorrow, but one of my classes finishes next week. That should give me an easier schedule. I wanted to sleep-in this morning, but my head teacher called and asked me to work. I said I couldn’t–if I don’t get some rest, I’ll be calling in sick.

Travel to eastern Turkey is not recommended now due to expected violence. Nothing happening in Istanbul, but I’m keeping my ear and eyes open. Concerned about my friend Gabe who just moved to Diyarbakir. He’s not responded to my last email.

From the US Consulate:
“The Department of State warns U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Turkey that the U.S. Consulate in Adana has authorized the voluntary departure of family members out of an abundance of caution following the commencement of military operations out of Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey.
On September 2, the Department of State permitted the departure of U.S. government family members from the U.S. Consulate in Adana, Turkey. U.S. citizens seeking to depart southern Turkey are responsible for making their own travel arrangements. There are no plans for charter flights or other U.S. government-sponsored evacuations; however, commercial flights are readily available and airports are functioning normally. The U.S. Consulate in Adana will continue to operate normally and provide consular services to U.S. citizens.
U.S. government employees continue to be subject to travel restrictions in southeastern Turkey. They must obtain advance approval prior to official or unofficial travel to the provinces of Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Sirnak, Diyarbakir, Van, Siirt, Mus, Mardin, Batman, Bingol, Tunceli, Hakkari, Bitlis, and Elazig. The Embassy strongly recommends that U.S. citizens avoid areas in close proximity to the Syrian border.
U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Turkey should be alert to the potential for violence. In the recent past, terrorists have conducted attacks on U.S. interests in Turkey, as well as at sites frequented by foreign tourists. We strongly urge U.S. citizens to avoid demonstrations and large gatherings. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.”

Often I buy something without knowing exactly what it is. Usually it works out. This drink was dark red and I hoped it was black cherry or berry. I was wrong. It tasted salty, bitter and horrible. I finally found a translation--wild, fermented black carrot. Never again.
Often I buy something without knowing exactly what it is. Usually it works out. This drink was dark red and I hoped it was black cherry or berry. I was wrong. It tasted salty, bitter and horrible. I finally found a translation–wild, fermented black carrot. Never again.

Today’s Quote, from FB “Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.” – ~Mary Anne Radmacher

Cooler weather, but more uncertainty on the teaching front

In the distance, across the water, you can see the Galata Tower on the Asian Side of Istanbul. This photo was taken in March. But the rest of the photos were taken today as my new roommate and I walked up the hill to the tower and climbed to the top (there's an elevator most of the way). Enjoy the view!
In the distance, across the water, you can see the Galata Tower on the Asian Side of Istanbul. This photo was taken in March. But the rest of the photos on this post were taken today as my new roommate and I walked up the hill to the Galata tower and climbed to the top (there’s an elevator most of the way). Enjoy the view!

8/21/2015
I’m feeling better today. I was a bum the entire morning yesterday and then wandered around the Levent area all late afternoon and evening. I needed a distraction and am glad to have gotten it, but the heat didn’t make it much fun.
Honestly, if I had a place to teach that I knew was solid, I’d go now. I don’t. While I love each new country, it’s a huge upheaval: new culture and language, new school and curriculum, new apartment and city to navigate and new roommates and co-workers. The horrible roommate really knocked the wind out of my sails. My self-confidence took a hit, too. We take changes on people in life and it doesn’t always work out.

I’ve gotten used to much of the Turkish culture, know a little of the language and I have a safe apartment near my school. It’s near restaurants and shopping and keeps my transportation costs low. The school isn’t great, but frankly, most aren’t. I’m going to have to learn to live with that. I’m already half way through my contract, which finishes at the end of January. The school pays late, but they do pay. I know the curriculum, the students like me, and my body doesn’t need a big upheaval. If I leave now, I lose a contract bonus of one month’s pay, reimbursement of my flight here and my apartment deposit. Besides, there’s no guarantee that the next position will be better. Maybe I’m just showing my age, but I could stand a little stability for a while. I’m simply not up to a new challenge.

I’ve had friends suggest that I go “home” and lick my wounds. But there is no home. Everything I have fits in a couple suitcases and I go from job to job. While I love that freedom, I miss the stability. I miss the feeling of roots. I’m not complaining. This was my choice. I just have to learn to live with more uncertainty in life. I’m simply not as good at it as I thought I’d be.

With yesterday and today off from work I’m already feeling better. Now if the weather will just cool off a little. I think I’ll just stay until my contract is up at the end of January and then move on in February–maybe travel a bit or volunteer somewhere until April when I plan to meet friends in Spain to hike the Camino. I’ll take another full-time teaching position starting in late May. I’ve updated my resume and cover letter. I’ve gotten an excellent reference from my head teacher here. I signed up for an online job fair in November and I’ve already notified my placement agency of when my contract ends.

But I do have a new injury to report. Yesterday on the MetroBus, I managed to get a seat during a long ride. When I was getting up, out of the seat, just as I hovered over the arm rest, the bus hit a pothole. I came down hard on my backside. My tailbone is quite bruised. No major damage, but it’s very sore. I’ll be sitting down rather gingerly for a few days.

Walking up the hill, our first glimpse of the tower.
Walking up the hill, our first glimpse of the tower.
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From the top

8/24/2015
It rained yesterday and things have cooled off. The world is suddenly an easier place to live in! Last night I didn’t even turn on my fan. I expect to pick up the exploring I left off before the heat of summer stepped in and made it too hot to contemplate extra walking in the sun. I’m back from an exploratory walk around the neighborhood this morning. I’m trying to find a post office, but can’t. The few signs so far for post offices (Postane, PTT) have led to nothing—either no office or it was closed. But I’m told there is a reliable one around here if I can just find it.
It is Monday morning and I have an easier schedule for the next few days. Weekends are brutal with double classes and a commute to another branch. The morning class (who I mentally think of as the Angry Teenagers) will finish next weekend. I will not be sorry to see them go. Sunday, not a single student showed up until 20 minutes after the start time and then they demanded their break exactly on time, even though we were in the middle of an exercise. I actually asked a student to go home. She didn’t bring a book, wouldn’t participate in class and either had her nose in her phone or was sleeping. They spent most of the class celebrating another student’s birthday. I don’t know why I bother. Only one person should be advanced to Level 2, but ET promotes everyone. <sigh>

The weekend afternoon class has turned into my beloved class. They are in Avcilar and a Level 1 class. Only three of the students are really good, but these three make the whole class worthwhile. They make teaching worthwhile! The other three students are hit and miss as to attendance, so their work is too. Because I have to give out vocabulary sheets with each class (the words I will use in class each day), it takes twice as long to develop my lesson plan, but it seems worth it when you see a few students thriving.
At Sirinevler, classrooms are still locked, but we have some interesting news. First, Richard K., the man who hired me, is gone for English Time. Second, my branch (and perhaps others) has been sold. I don’t know what that will mean to my contract or my ability to teach here in Turkey. None of this information is official, but it comes from Robert, the head teacher:

“Richard Kirsten has resigned and I understand he’s taken up an offer to teach at a school outside Istanbul. Richard was a great manager and always very supportive and ready to help the teachers. We will surely miss him.
At this stage, until the dust settles, let’s get on with business as usual to the extent that we can. Watch this space for further announcements and be aware that I’m often in the dark as to what’s going on around here. … I understand also that Sirinevler was sold to Ozgur Bey but honestly not clear what this all implies. Hopefully things will get better soon.”

I wish I were as positive about it as Robert. I’ve notified Oxford Seminars (my placement agency and the place I got my TOEFL Teaching Certificate) as they’ve contacted me in the past about the stability of English Time. As they communicated to me, Turkey is an inherently “iffy” place and ET is their only active company at this time.

And that’s not the only unstable situation. Two days ago, I got this message from the US Consulate:

Security Incident Near U.S. Consulate Istanbul

Today, Saturday, August 22nd, there has been a shooting incident near the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. We urge individuals to please avoid that area for the time being. Please monitor the news for further developments and maintain security awareness.

U.S. citizens are reminded to exercise caution in the vicinity of large gatherings, as even peaceful gatherings can turn confrontational. Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates. Maintain a high level of vigilance, take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security, and follow instructions of local authorities.

I find it interesting that they did not mention AT ALL that 2 men were detained in shooting near Istanbul’s Dolmabahce palace four days ago. The men were allegedly targeting police officers, but it is a heavy tourist area.

Galata Tower, Istanbul, Aug 2015, 5 Galata Tower, Istanbul, Aug 2015, 8 Galata Tower, Istanbul, Aug 2015, 11

Monique, my new roommate has taught English before and studied languages. She's been in country for three days and knows more Turkish than I do!
Monique, my new roommate has taught English before and studied languages. She’s been in country for three days and knows more Turkish than I do!

8/25/2015
Got a new roommate yesterday. Monique is a Canadian woman, mid-20’s. She has taught English before and seems to know some Arabic and a bit of Turkish. She’s beautiful and even though she had a 36 hour flight, was civil from the start. I think this bodes well!

Now that it’s cooled off, it’s much easier to walk. I need to train for the Camino next spring. While I am on my feet while I teach class, the best exercise is walking with weight. So far, I’ve been good about walking an hour or more a day, but need to add the “with weight” part. Maybe just a day-pack with books would be enough for now.

It’s amazing how much the cool weather has helped my mood. I feel more relaxed and more able to take on challenges. It also helps that new classes are opening up this weekend at my branch—I was beginning to think they were going to close it! There are still padlocked classrooms, but I’m told renovations will be “soon.” Pretty sure the Turkish “soon” is very different from the American “soon.” My morning weekend class finishes this Sunday, so I hope to have a new class to replace it immediately. This week I have a far more reasonable schedule of 25 teaching hours.

Having lunch today with Shelley. She is going back to Canada and I will miss her. She may come back to Istanbul, but it depends on many things back home for her. I also got an email from Maria, who left a couple months ago with health issues. She hoped to come back to Istanbul this month, but she is simply not well enough yet. Few people seem to finish their contracts—a good deal for the company as they don’t have to pay the contract bonus (approximately a month’s pay) or the travel reimbursement. It adds up to some serious money.

Galata Tower, Istanbul, Aug 2015, 16 Galata Tower, Istanbul, Aug 2015, 17 Galata Tower, Istanbul, Aug 2015, 198/26/2015
It’s getting warmer again, but is still better than the first of August. Had to turn my fan on to go to sleep last night. Took a two hour walk today, with a light backpack, and was drenched when I got home. Thank goodness for showers.

Lovely lunch with Shelley yesterday. She left for home (Canada) this morning early and I hope to hear that she’s landed safely. Her original plan was to return to Istanbul in a month or two, but with the instability here at our school, I’m not sure she will. Before she left, she gave me an entire suitcase filled with kitchen staples—salt, sugar, flour, oil, tea. I’m sharing with my roommates.

The good news at Sirinevler branch is that SIX new classes are opening up, starting this weekend. No idea where the students will go since classrooms remain locked, but I guess that’s not my problem. I get two of the classes, so there will be no break in my schedule as I go from one class to the next. (In fact I’ll have a slight overlap) That means that my hours will remain steady. Let’s hope that also means that my income will be steady. I found that Turkish staff at Sirinevler and the head office at Taksim (plus some teachers in two branches, at least) have yet to be paid for July. Also, Edgar, who returned after two months in the states, didn’t get his pay. This is money he was owed before he left, so he’s quite unhappy about it. Edgar isn’t one of my favorite people, but I think he should be paid for the time he worked. Robert introduced himself to the new owner and found the man uninterested in even greeting him. Our owner does not appear to be a “people person.”

From the base of the Galata Tower
From the base of the Galata Tower

Galata Tower, Istanbul, Aug 2015, 22

Stray cats are everywhere, but lovely.
Stray cats are everywhere, but lovely.

August heat, roommate roulette

7/30/2015
I’m doing OK, just VERY busy, We are short on teachers, so I’m working 40 TEACHING hours a week right now, not counting office hours, prep time or commuting. I do little else but work. The cause of the teacher’s shortage is poor communication, as always. During the month of Ramazan (mid-June to mid-July), plus a week or two on either side of that, there were few classes and no new classes. Some of the teachers were surprised by this and suddenly had no income. I knew about the month of holy fasting and had specifically asked about its timing and effect on classes, so I knew before I came. They didn’t. I simply planned other things to do during that month (I took the train to Bucharest, Romania. Then I flew to Paris!). But many of the younger teachers didn’t know about the break, nor did they have financial resources to afford it. So they quit–went back home or took another position. So now we are short teachers and I’m working too much. I hope it will even out in a month or so. Fingers crossed (which is an expression none of my students know, so I got to teach it to them).
I’ve checked the weather forecast in the USA and it is boiling there, so I hesitate to complain about the heat here. The advantage of The States over Turkey, however, is more air conditioning. I have none in my apartment, and only a few of the classrooms have working AC. I have taught all my students the Present Continuous phrase: “I am melting.” They also know a few new vocabulary words like: boiling, sweat, cool off, humid, air conditioning and miserable.

I was asked repeatedly by Robert, the Sirinevler head teacher, to consider taking his place when he leaves in October. I love to teach and I hate paperwork and politics, so I feel I’m better off remaining a simple teacher. I almost caved, but fortunately, Kate has stepped up to take the job. She is in her mid-to-late 20’s, very mature and organized, and this is her second teaching assignment (she was in Korea before). I think she will do great, plus it’s a good first management position for her and will look good on her resume. Being a head teacher is all about diplomacy and organization, so it won’t be easy, but she will do well and learn what she needs to. I hope it isn’t too frustrating for her and I will be as supportive as I can.

Upper management has decided that no one can take ANY time off–even one day–without their expressed permission. The teachers are protesting this and we will likely get a more reasonable ruling but not sure how long that will take. In the meantime, this will make it more challenging see my friend Kathy in October. I’m still confident that I can work this out, but I’m still not sure of where and when. I will work this out as soon as I can since I know this is important for good priced airfare. If I were SURE that my days off would not change, that would make it easier, but I have no control over my schedule and I am lucky to even get the week’s schedule starting Monday before I go to bed Saturday night. Makes it impossible to plan, huh?

I won’t go into details, but the new roommate situation is not working out and I’m going to have to move on. I’m still sleeping on a couch and I don’t have anywhere to hang my clothes. The roommate promised to buy furniture for my room before I agreed to move in. That was two months ago. She also promised to put the apartment in her name as well as the cable bill. She hasn’t followed through with any of these promises. Shortly after she returned from Copenhagen, she stopped speaking to me, so I don’t actually know what’s going on in her mind, but I can watch her behavior. She’s staying out all night, drinking heavily (I can’t even keep wine in the house because she drinks it) and she’s often late for work (based on the time she leaves the apartment she can’t possibly make it to school on time). She also rarely cleans, eats my food and didn’t pay the cable bill as promised. Now past due. I’ve also got concerns about the landlord, since he didn’t fix the water heater in a timely fashion and refuses to fix the shower.

Time to move on.

I’ve contacted Katt and Ali, who have several flats, and will see if they can arrange something for me that is walking distance to my school branch. This would have the added affect of keeping down my transportation costs and keeping off the over-crowded Metro, which is often the worst part of my day.

August 2, 2015
I have my first class that I truly dislike. They are mostly teen-aged, Level 1 students and their English is pretty poor. To be fair to them I am at least the third teacher they have seen, so it’s not like they expect me to stick around. I had to split up one couple because they were making out in class—that’s a first. (they later each sent me a FaceBook request. How odd?) They reluctantly moved, but spent the rest of the class on their phones and didn’t participate. My best English speaker can’t seem to shut up–short attention span theater! One young man is so far behind he should start again. But the worst is the oldest woman, E. She complains constantly, “Teacher, very difficult.” She is occasionally hostile and rolls her eyes a LOT. She influences the other girls negatively. Today I gave a 15 minute break (they are supposed to get 10 minutes) and she and 2 others took 20 additional minutes. So I decided to do the Writing Exam review while they were out, just for spite.

I have just a few more weeks of them. So I will try to remain as positive as I can and simply endure. (How very British of me!) But the class I feel most badly about is the new Level 1 class in Avcilar. I started the class last week and they are lovely, patient people. But they simply aren’t ready for an English speaker who knows almost no Turkish. I told the office manager that they needed our standard prep class—something all students are supposed to get before Level 1. These folks are struggling with the alphabet, numbers and know so few words that we could not communicate. Last week I abandoned the book. After the alphabet, we identified every noun in the room, plus most body parts. Then I taught them “This is a/an …” since I know the Turkish. We struggled with a few adjectives that I knew the Turkish for or they knew the English for. Then he/she/it/I/you/we/they and the “be” verb that goes with them. Then I acted out every verb I could think of: run, walk, sleep, snore……It was fun, but EXHAUSTING. I hate working without a plan like that. I wasn’t prepared at all, so I think it went well despite the problems—but it was successful to some extent because the class members are so positive and patient. This simply would not have worked with all students.

The office manager emailed me that she would get them some help and that their prep classes would be the next weekend. She hoped the class would be ready “in a few hours.” (I doubted that!) Fortunately, I forwarded the email to my head teacher, Robert, and the scheduler, Philip, with a note saying that I was now free on weekend afternoons. That’s the only reason I didn’t get into trouble when Avcilar’s office manager emailed Philip and asked why I wasn’t there to teach my class on Saturday! I was stunned. Apparently they were given 2 hours of tutoring Saturday and that’s supposed be enough to get them ready for Level 1?? I feel like I’m being set up to fail and taking my class down with me. But I will show up tomorrow and do my best. I can teach them some English, but I don’t see how they can pass Level 1.

August 4, 2015
I finished a Level 3 class today. It’s a group that I really like, so I’m disappointed to lose them. Classes wrap up quickly—weekday classes are just 5-6 weeks depending on if they are morning (4 hours a day) or evening (3 hours a day), so I’ve learned that it’s best to be slightly over-scheduled. Some class won’t work out. Another will finish before something new starts up.

If I understand it correctly, things at the Avcilar branch with the Level 1 class weren’t exactly as I was told. It’s partly a communication/translation issue (there’s no head teacher and the branch manager has only Level 1 English). IF I understand, the class had a bi-lingual teacher on Saturday. They didn’t want her. I know this teacher and have every reason to believe she’s good, so I don’t know what the issue is. But they wanted me back! I hope they know what they are doing. I figure I’ll learn Turkish or die trying while teaching this class. I don’t really believe they will do well on the exams. Possibly they won’t even finish the material. But I will try. It will take me twice as long to prepare classes for them. I decided I’ll have to do much more careful lesson planning and give them a vocabulary sheet with translated words each and every class.

Overnight, Katt emailed me and asked if I wanted to see the Sirinevler flats during my days off (Thur/Fri). I replied that I did. Maybe something will work out in that area. I don’t think living with Trudy can work out well. I can’t sleep on that couch much longer—my back hurts every morning. Our only form of communication now seems to be email. And the cable bill remains unpaid. Today she emailed she couldn’t find the cable contract and that since it was in my name it was my problem. I don’t think she’s going to like how I’m going to deal with the problem.

But the worst for me is that I’ve lost faith in people. Or at least my ability to judge people. I believed her. I trusted her from the word go. I was wrong. Trying to see the best in people doesn’t work out every time. IF she comes home, it’s usually after 3am—turning on lights and waking me up. Last night she and some male came in about 2:30a. I don’t know who it was or what they were doing. I don’t want to know. Sunday morning I met her coming home as I left the flat to go to work. She was wearing the clothes she had on Friday. And she was scheduled to teach, so she was late. Again.

Time for me to leave. I’ll be as fair as possible by paying my share of the next month’s rent (minus money she owes me). Let’s just hope that one of the rooms in Sirinevler is acceptable and I can secure it immediately.

I’m in the canteen now. It’s Trudy’s day off and so I don’t want to go home. Also, it is simply too hot to go home. There isn’t enough of a breeze at the apartment and I just sweat. At least here at the office, I can get in some AC. Let’s hope it cools off soon as none of the flats have AC. September should be better.

8/7/2015
Yesterday I met Katt and secured a room in Sirinevler, just three blocks from my school.

Just moved the last bag to the new place. Emailed my departure to the EX-roomie. I can’t believe she will be surprised. The internet is in my name (something she was supposed to do) so I took the equipment and am canceling that today. (I had to pay for the modem and a huge early cancellation fee) I’ve given her until Thursday to put the apartment in her name–something the owner knew was supposed to happen immediately, so I expect no issue for her. If not, Ali, who knows the landlord, has agreed to go with me to explain the situation, since the landlord speaks no English. I can’t have my name on her lease.

It’s messy. I’m exhausted, but I hope the worst is over.

Unfortunately we are both teaching at the same branch in Avcilar on weekends. And I was asked to teach M-W morning (this week only) for a level 2 class in her regular branch, Beylikduzu. Let’s hope I can just teach my class and go each day.

Right now, I’m just terribly sad about the entire situation and exhausted from carting all my stuff on the Metro. Not the best way to move.

I’m teaching double classes for five days straight. At least I have over half the lesson plans already done.