So, Friday Linus and I left with Katarina from Kastrup (Copenhagen Airport, in case any non-Scandinavian conferance people would find their way here) on a plane with turqoise leather seats. Linus and I finished our presentation on the plane and evening-time we landed at Atatürk Airport, where we remained for 2.5 hours. We were supposed to go on the bus with a group from Botswana who, after major delays, were supposed to be there 20 min after us. Needless to say, they weren't (the culprit was lost luggage), but then we ended up on a service bus together. Maybe it was because we met so early, but Linus and I were almost adopted by the Botswanan group during large parts of the stay.
So, we got to the school (which has very complicated spelling) and found our hosts. My host Yasemine and I got a ride with another Turkish girl and her two guests. "No, it's fine, they have a really big car!" Trunk-wise, yes, seat-wise, normal car. Four girls, one Turkish, one Swedish, one Botswanan and one Polish sharing the backseat. International, oh yes. Still, some people's taxi experiences are way more impressive (I think 8 people riding in a normal car was the record). Turkish traffic in general is also impressive, I don't think I've ever encountered so many traffic jams in such a short time span...! Then again, 15 million people do live in Turkey and it felt like a very huge place. Looking out of the plane window yesterday it seemed like it never ended. It was a little scary. Istanbul has more people than Sweden and Botswana put together. Considerably much more.
Okay, so the host family was really nice, the parents and 12-year-old sister all made an effort to speak English and they had such amazing hospitality. I never ate any meals with them though, the first evening I went with Yasemine and some of her friends with their guests to a restaurant and then we walked around for a bit.The first evening. Martyna (Poland) and Yasemine (my host) to the left and me, Faith, Tino, Martyna, Paula and two others by the sea to the right.
Saturday was conferance time. We listened to "Vienna" by Billy Joel in the car in the morning. Funny considering my last blog post.
We "registered" at school, meaning we got name tags (Linus and I were the only students whose name tags said "miss" and "mr", which was random) and a free bag containing a couple of things. I was very impressed. Eating the candy right now.
It all started with short opening speeches, a group photo, a long break, some students performing CATS (pretty incomprehensible) and more breaks. I accidentally took very much food during lunch. I wasn't really aware that I'd done that, but James, a guy from Botswana who I sat next to, was pretty amazed by it. I tried to ensure him that I don't really eat that much, but I'm not sure how successful I was, he teased me for it during the rest of the trip at least. Something else I accidentally did during lunch was getting interviewed for a Turkish magazine. They asked if they could ask some questions and I was like "yeah, sure" and didn't think very much about it since I was busy with my large lunch and all. But they took my name, took a picture and made notes of what I was saying, so as far as I know I'll be in some Turkish education magazine now. It was random. Yeh. People also took pictures and filmed one of our discussion sessions briefly. Also random.
Discussion sessions, the first one was a lot of fun. James and I were gonna go to one about immigration, but no one else showed up so we merged with a group discussing what, if any, the limits of cultural tolerance should be. We tried to define culture for a very long time, me and a Norwegian guy disagreed a lot, but I won. It was fun, heh, I appearently talked every second time someone said something.
Then it was time for Turkish culture. Batik dying was fuuuun! I've worn one thing I made as a bandana, haha, it was fun. Then Turkish folk dance. Me like skipping steps, yes.
After that we went on a cruise (!!!) on the Bosphorus straite with a nice dinner onboard the boat and a lot of dancing. It was awesome! Bosphorus is very beautiful, and I like dancing. I did get a little sick of it at the end, but I couldn't be bothered to find where everyone else was. And dancing was fun. I was pretty amazed with the fact that us high school kids got to go on a boat like that, it was strange. Us Swedes were very poor in comparison to some people, some Italian guy's dad owned his own jet plane(s?). That's a bit creepy too.
Then an hour was spent being confused with my host, her friends and their guests and in the end we went back home. Also got to know some non-Italian Italians during the bus trip to Bosphorus and during the dinner. They were so funny...! It was a good day.
Something else worth mentioning from Saturday: I learned that people from Turkey and to a large extent also people from Botswana have large problems with homosexuals. There was a gay guy in the class our hosts were in, none of the guys wanted to be friends with him because he's gay and none of the girls (well, only one), wanted to be friends with him "because of his personality". Homosexuality was according to many, and this is a quote, "disgusting". It was interesting to hear people talk about it like that, cause it's so not PC to do that in Sweden.
Presentation day. Linus and I went to the Botswanan presention ("Relocation of the bushmen"), which was very interesting. Then we had our own, which was attended by 8/9 of the students from Botswana as well as the two Swedish teachers at the conference. The presentation went fine, felt very relaxed. I was sitting on a desk the whole time.
The group from Botswana
After less copious amounts of lunch than the previous day, it was time for another session. Ameer, James and I went to one which was completely and utterly horrible. I can't believe that someone managed to do a presentation that bad. Then we were supposed to summarize all discussion questions from the previous day in the auditorium. I was the spokesperson for one of my questions, which made me a bit nervous due to the whole microphone-and-lots-of-people thing, but it was fine. Tried to keep it short.
Among other things I learned was that Botswana has had a lot of immigration from Zimbabwe recently, that James is crazy and writing his EE in math, Ameer wants to kill his suitcase after dragging it around all day and watching Turkish folk dance is way cool! Also, people who go to IB in other countries need to have a lot of money, in Italy for example they pay 9000 Euro/year! In comparison, we were indeed very poor.
There were a few awkward moments during the day, but it was mainly a very good day much spent with Ameer, Thea, Jehan, James and Linus. Ameer and I had an ongoing poking war which I ended up winning yesterday morning before we left. He also scared Linus in a minibus cab when he started talking about imagining big trucks when the taxi driver was driving like mad. The taxi rides were always rather exiting.
We had dinner at a very nice kebab place and then we ended up at the tacky club for a little while. The Italians were very funny. My host and Linus' host were in Europe, so we just sort of went home when they showed up. It was really funny how people talked about different people being in Europe or Asia ("where's your host?" "Europe" "where was ... last night?" "Oh, she was in Asia")
School bus with my suitcase and then spending time in the cafeteria and saying goodbye to everyone. Now it feels really sad that it's over and very surreal that we were actually there. I want to go back. It was weird to go straight back into school with all the school work there is to do. Psychology I.A. right now. Eurgh. I'll get even more sleep-deprived (edit: less than 3 hrs sleep tonight and not enough sleep any night the past week, yeah, I'm tired). But Istanbul was truly wonderful and I will definitely strive for keeping in touch with the people from the conferance.
As a closure, these were my most common phrases during the trip:
"I'm very disoriented" (referring to... well, very many things really, mainly my current location at the school)