Sunday, July 22, 2012

Things Are Gettin' Real!

This week I booked my plane tickets, got an e-mail from my host family, started researching my host city of Kayseri, and realized that the next time I visit an airport, it will be to leave for 10 months! 

My Tickets
On the morning of September 5th, I will fly to New York City to meet up with the other Turkey YES Abroad girls for a gateway Orientation, and then fly from NYC to Istanbul on the night of September 6th. In Istanbul, we will have a few days for our Gateway Orientation, before we break off to our respective host cities. 

My Host Family
Two weeks ago, Rya and Hana (other YES Abroad girls) got their host family information, and found out that they would be living in Kayseri, making the rest of us anxious to hear! This week, I received news that my host family is also in Kayseri, and yesterday Bridget found out that she will be hosted in Gaziantep. We weren't sure how many of us would be together in a city, or how spread out we would be. So far, we have three in Kayseri, one in Gaziantep and three that have yet to hear. 

My family sounds very nice, and also very excited to host me! I have a mom and a dad, a sister that is nine, and a brother that is fourteen, they are not religious, and live in an apartment. My brother Onur e-mailed some pictures of their family, along with a friendly note about how much they are looking forward to having me. The note was in English, but very basic and short, and I've been informed that my host family may not speak any English, or only a small amount, but that I should absolutely try and communicate with them before I go. I've e-mailed him back, but not gotten a response yet. 

My Host City
I've started reading a little bit about Kayseri. It is located pretty much right in the center of the country, and Google says that by car, it is about 476 miles (766 km) from Istanbul (Turkey's largest city), and about 198 miles (319 km) from Ankara (Turkey's capitol, and second largest city). 

Kayseri itself has a population of 844,656 and a metropolitan area population of 977,240, making it Turkey's 9th largest city. I'm especially interested in learning about the history of Kayseri, because it has been continuously inhabited since 3,000 BCE! We sure don't have history like that in Seattle!

I've also been told that Kayseri is the birthplace of a food called pastirma, a kind of seasoned cured beef that is eaten with eggs, and is quite delicious.

In addition, Kayseri is not too far from a place called Cappadocia, where houses are carved into the sides of rock faces. I haven't had a chance to read up on it too much, but I'd really like to; it has a recorded history dating back to the 6th Century BCE, but people have been living there since the Bronze Age. Some family friends of mine that lived in Turkey for a few years and have traveled all throughout the country say that it is their all time favorite place in Turkey. Hopefully I will be able to visit it! 

My Last Plane Ride Before I Go
One thing I remember from my interview trip to Denver is that I was sitting next to Cara (another semi-finalist from Seattle), and as we were flying over Seattle about to land, she looked at me and said "What if this is the last time we fly into Seattle until we are returning from our exchange?" The thought scared me! I sort of brushed her off with an "Oh no no, even if we get the scholarship we will surely fly somewhere before then." It ended up not being the last flight home for either of us; Cara is in Oman right now for the summer with NSLI-Y instead of YES (see her blog here), and flew somewhere else on a school trip beforehand anyway, and I have already been to DC and back. However, this past week I was visiting my grandparents in Pennsylvania, and had a little cheesy sentimental moment this morning when I was flying over my city and realized it really would be my last time in an airport before I leave for a year.

Things are coming right up, and beginning to feel very, very real. This is happening! Only 45 days until departure!

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