Turkish Lessons, Take Two

For the month of February, we are in level 1 Turkish class every morning from 9am – 1pm.  No English spoken, total immersion.  We didn’t test the water with our big toes.  Water wings are prohibited.  After Day 6, we feel like we are drowning. When our teacher, Elif, hears too much English in the classroom, she chides us in Turkish.  We get the idea.

I see the wisdom of it being in Turkish.  That’s how kids learn (but they don’t have to push another language out of the way).  Elif, who is 32, attractive and fashionable, is an excellent mimic and contortionist.  She can draw stick figures and buildings well too.

The 12 once-weekly hours we studied in San Francisco a year ago, are actually some help.  I can recognize general categories of what Elif is talking about, like grammar rules.

The class is a mini United Nations with three Americans, a German, a Russian, and three Saudi Arabians, a Greek, a Syrian, a Libyan, two French and two English öğrenciler (students). I have noticed that the more I study, the less I learn. I call it the retention release effect (RRE).  I need to summarize each day’s notes, but between getting home, eating, whatever living stuff needs to be done, and the day’s homework, I find no more time or energy.

Each morning we walk fifteen minutes to school.  First along the Marmara Sea for a few blocks, then through the streets of Moda, which are no more awake than we are at 8:45.  By the time we reach the bustling Kadiköy boulevard, Söğütlü Çeşme, we have to be alert jaywalking its four hectic lanes.  The second half of the walk is through an area of electric and bathroom fixtures shops.  In San Francisco, our classes at ABC Language in SOMA (South of Market) were in a fancy office building with a hip interior.  Tömer, part of Ankara University, is in a six-story walk-up with a steep narrow circular staircase connecting its two long narrow classrooms per floor.  The facility gets a lot of wear and shows it.  There is something Türks like about one- inch steps too.  Unfortunately, I rarely notice them until they trip me, and the Tömer building specializes in them.

This blog will be sparse this month.

One of the benefits of blogging is you are always on the lookout for a good story.  I walk around Istanbul writing posts in my mind – I wonder how much of Istanbul I miss?

A future blog will talk about how to DIY move to Turkey.  One of the timing sequences is how you get internet connection before you have a residence visa.  One way is to live where it is already provided.  Another is to get a 3G USB modem.  I have internet enabled on my cell phone, and this modem.  Both ran out of “credit” last night.

I have to sign off. I need to find Doḡan, the kapıcı, (doorman) before we leave for class.  I am concerned the address on our electric account is not correct and being plunged into darkness would just about “drown” us right now.   I know the first question to ask him in Türkçe, after that it will be in mime.

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