Journeying to the States: I-130 Stage

 

The first step in coming the US is proving your relationship. Start gathering evidence as soon as you can. Don’t throw away tickets with your names on them. Go back into your hotel reservations, etc. Take as many pictures as you can. Document everything. Save old chats and Skype history.

Form I-130 is filling out basic information about you and your spouse. You’ll need your Social Security number or your A number (in order to bring your spouse to the United States you must be a U.S. citizen or green card holder), your address history for the last five years, your employment history and addresses etc, as well as your spouse’s, and so on. The updated I-130 now has biographic information on it as well (hair color / race / eye color. When I filled out the forms and submitted them I had to fill out forms G 325A for my spouse and myself, but now you fill out for I-130A instead.

Also, try to get your name/ your spouse’s name changed as soon as possible so that you can provide the updated ID, passport, and Social Security.

Here are the updated links to the current forms that you’ll need to fill out:

I-130 Form and Instructions: Petition for Alien Relative
I-130A: Supplemental Spouse Information used instead of G 325A

If you’re having trouble filling out the forms, do not neglect the instructions that are given with them. I know that it’s extra reading, but what’s ten extra minutes of reading compared to a few extra months of waiting because of a silly mistake?

When submitting evidence, be sure to include a cover page detailing everything that you’ve included in the packet.  See the following images. I’ve added some notes on the side.

Cover letter pic 1

Cover letter pic 2

Cover letter pic 3

My summary of our story included how and where we met, places we’ve been to, important dates, our jobs and education, etc. Everyone’s story is unique. Try to keep it to one typed page. I also stated that I moved back to the states and have already secured a job etc even though that information isn’t necessary until NVC gets involved. You want USCIS to know that there is a steady income over a certain amount so that they know the immigrant will not be a burden on the US. This information usually isn’t required until the NVC stage which typically won’t be until at least six months later (earlier if you’re super lucky or had an expedite approved) or much later (like in our case – nearly ten months and we didn’t even have any missing documents). Unless specifically stated, do not include originals of documents. Copies are fine.

When I was including pictures in my Word document (later saved as a PDF and then printed in color, one sided), I made sure to add the date that they were taken (digital copies usually have the date encrypted in them), where they were taken, and who was in the picture. Pictures of your wedding and engagement are very good evidence. Especially if you have photos of you signing your marriage certificate / book. Pictures with your spouse and their family / your family etc are great. I probably went a bit overboard, but I included about thirty pages worth of pictures and explanations. I also included the link and screenshots of our wedding website, Facebook events that I had made for the wedding and bachelorette party etc. I included copies of airline tickets going to see him and even our university transcripts to prove that we were there at the same time. Anything that has both of your names on it especially a rental agreement or something of the sort is wonderful evidence. Do not include CDs or USBs etc. They will not look at them.

Photo evidence 1

Once I triple and quadruple checked all of the documents and signed the I-130 and other forms (make sure your documents are signed or your application will be rejected), it was finally ready to be sent off to the USCIS. Don’t forget the money order for the I-130 fee which is currently $535.
Here are the addresses to send your I-130.

Once you submit everything, you should get your first notice NOA1 which will be the receipt that they received your package and are reviewing it. Don’t lose this receipt number. You can use it to check the status of the application.

There are a few sites that are great for help and questions as well.

VisaJourney.com  is great for creating your timeline and tracking other timelines of those who may have similar cases to yours.

The Facebook group (you’ll need approval to join) “I-130 filers Immigration Visa Group.” is also great for asking and answering questions.

Search around on Facebook as well for groups that pertain to the country that your spouse is from because the information may be more beneficial to you.

Keep doing your research while you’re waiting for you approval. Start getting your documents ready for the NVC stage. I’ll write more about that later. The wait time is probably the most frustrating and painful time. We got our first receipt from USCIS September 8th, 2016 and didn’t get our approval until June 29th, 2017 – that was 295 days or 9 months 22 days.

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Journeying to the States: Intro

 

My husband and I met nearly six years ago at college in New York. He was an exchange student and I was a junior trying to figure out if and how I could study abroad. When we started dating, we were both trying to figure out how it would work, I mean I didn’t even have my passport yet! What an ordeal it was for me to get that (that’s another story).

In short, he was just the push I needed to help me pursue my studies abroad. If you’ve been following me for the past few years now, you’ll know that I went to Pisciotta, Italy for a summer semester then visited Istanbul for the first time in the summer of 2012 to stay with my husband (then boyfriend) and his family. After my fall semester in Urbino, Italy we both met up again at our university in New York and graduated together that spring. We were stuck on how to continue seeing each other though. After all, transatlantic relationships and plane trips aren’t exactly cheap and easy.

Then I figured it out. While working a waitressing gig, I also took a TEFL course and powered through it in order to go back to Turkey with him that fall. I started teaching English to kindergartners and preschoolers in August of 2013 in Istanbul. My second year there, I moved to a different school and my husband and I moved in together in our own apartment. We adopted some kitties, got engaged, and then got married. It all just seems peachy-keen, right?

Wrong.

Here comes the hard part. We decided it’d be best for him to get his U.S. citizenship. Now, for anyone currently doing this or who has been through this process, you know this is no walk in the park. It’s a long and grueling, expensive, lonely, stressful, and damn near cruel process. The U.S. does not make it easy for people to immigrate here. In order for him to immigrate here legally, I have to prove domicile (a place to live), a steady job with a certain income, and our relationship. Seems easy enough you say? Just wait. Even once all the items are gathered and double, triple, and quadruple checked, it then takes months  and sometimes and years for everything to be checked over by the government and when you try to call to ask for a status update, no one has any sympathy. I will write about the process in steps to try and help others who are going through the same thing.

My (not nearly long enough) Getaway to Kaş

Last week, my boyfriend and I, finally were able to take our vacation. We didn’t even know if we were going to be able to go. This mostly had to do with him being able to get time off. You see, unlike back in America where most big person jobs allow you advanced notice of vacation time, here we don’t know until literally the last minute. So we were sitting in our apartment that we had just recently moved into and using up all the data on our phones to look for last minute hotel deals and buses to a vacation spot for the following Monday. It wasn’t easy, but we found a nice hotel and splurged a little more than we should have. The next problem was finding bus tickets as most seemed to all be sold out. Awhile later we were able to find some tickets (though more than likely we were overcharged as it was last minute). We were excited for our trip to Kaş, but not so much for our twelve or so hour upcoming bus ride. 

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The view from our hotel room window. Greek island of Meis in the distance

After we packed up our vacation bags and dropped off our kitten with his sister, we headed to the bus station. As usual, we were early and check-in was easy enough. We waited upstairs for a bit using up all the free internet that we could get. We went downstairs to board our bus, but, after frantically looking all around the terminal, we could not find it. We soon found out that like nearly every other bus at this company’s terminal, the bus was delayed because it could not get in. Two hours of waiting later, we were finally able to board and were on our way. We kept stopping every fifteen minutes or so for about ten minutes at what I can only guess were mini bus stops. When we made our first actual pit stop on the road for the bathroom and food we realized that we were way behind schedule. Not only had the bus been late, but now it was going slower than it should have. To make matters worse, toward the last leg of the trip, the bus started to overheat, so instead of stopping for a few hours to let it cool down the bus driver just kept stopping at every gas station along the way to soak it. The last two hours of hour trip were hot, long, and smelly. Finally, we arrived in Fetihye and to rush to catch a minibus to Kaş. We ended up getting the last two seats on the bus (my seat wasn’t even a real seat! I had to sit in the hostess seat), and reached Kaş about two hours later. The next step was finding our hotel. It should have been easy enough, but we were hot, sweaty, exhausted…you get the picture. The bus station is only about ten minutes or so from the location we needed to walk to…but we walked up a giant hill, got told to go another way, walked back down, were called back and told to walk back up and keep going just a little further. Eventually, we reached our hotel, Sea View Otel. It was amazing. The service was wonderful. Everyone there was beyond nice and I would go back there in a heartbeat. They were so helpful and nice from he time that we booked the hotel to when we got there to when we left. A bit pricey for my age group but if you’re looking for a nice place to stay in Kaş that has a beautiful view of the sea (and the Greek island of Meis), very friendly and accommodating service, comfortable rooms, etc. this is your place!

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Jumped from here a few times

After we showered and changed, we went back into town to stock up on a few items. Even though it was already at least six it was still scorching hot, so when we returned again we sat in the beautifully air-conditioned room a few more minutes. We decided to try out the hotel’s dinner since it had really good reviews all around. We were not let down. We had a stuffed calamari appetizer (not fried) that was delicious, crabbed stuffed chicken, and a shrimp risotto. Their food was wonderful as was the view. It was night time and the restaurant part of the hotel is situated on a deck overlooking the sea. Even at night we could see how clear the sea water was. My boyfriend was very eager for the next day to come so he could jump in. We went back to the room, had a few drinks that we had previously bought (because we all know how expensive it is to have even one drink when going out especially in a vacation area), and then passed out from sheer exhaustion.

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Çarkıfelek Margarita (Passion Fruit)

The next morning, we had the hotel’s included breakfast. Let me tell you, if you like breakfast, Turkey is the place for you. The amount of food that Turks consume for breakfast is insane. The hotel had everything. I’ve never been to another hotel in Turkey, but I assume that hotels here are not allowed to have a weak breakfast considering how much they normally eat in the morning. This hotel’s food was just as great as the night before. When we finished, we went down to where we had eaten dinner the night before, except now it was an area for lounging in the sun with a sea view and sea access. We sat for awhile, roasting in the 90+ degree weather, and soon decided it was time for a swim. When we finally got into the water we were not expecting the random cold patches. The water was freezing when we first went in, warmer as we swam out, and random cold patches of water all over. Apparently, somewhere around the area there is a spring that empties into the sea. It was refreshing to say the least. The water was clear as glass and we could see straight down to the bottom (which I recently found out was anywhere from 10 – 25 meters; a fact which I am very glad I did not know at the time). We swam for a bit, sun bathed a bit more, ordered two delicious drinks (a watermelon mojito and a passion fruit margarita…my margarita was out of this world!), swam some more, sat some more, repeat, then showered and went into town in the sweltering heat.

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The Lion Tomb

For lunch we went to Meydan Pizza & Kebap and had some pide, hummus, and calamari pizza. It was all pretty decent. Not too amazing, but I wouldn’t mind eating there again. We then explored the town, trying to walk in the shade as much as possible. There must be hundreds of little shops lining the streets, all of them selling interesting souvenirs, rugs, nazars (the eye), mosaic / tiles, etc. Many of the stores were copy-cats of one another, but it didn’t make them any less interesting. I picked up a nazar keychain and magnet because we didn’t have any in the new apartment yet and here that’s bad luck. After we got a feel of the town and picked up some more things from Migros (one of the main chains of grocery stores in Turkey), we headed back to the hotel so Burak could swim a little bit more. A bit later we headed out again, this time for dinner. 

Before going to dinner, I had decided to check out reviews and ratings of the restaurants in the area on Tripadvisor and I’m glad that I did. We ended up going to Turkuaz Meyhane which was rated number one and we weren’t let down. We arrived just in time because there was live music (some traditional Turkish music) and we ended up getting one of the last tables. For an appetizer, we had some fried mussels and some little dip to go along with it that was great. Then we had a shrimp casserole / stew/ soup thing that tasted very yummy though it was a bit small. Then came the swordfish (kılıç). I have never had a fish cooked so perfectly before. It was absolutely amazing. Grilled on the outside, juicy on the inside, amazing flavor. Wow. And, of course, we accompanied our meals with a little bottle of rakı. 

After freshening up and changing, we went back out after dinner to see how the night light was. Again, we were not disappointed. The first stop was Red Point Bar (it reminded me a bit of a mix between Murphy’s and P&G’s bars back in New Paltz). It seemed empty at first but quickly filled up with twenty-somethings and a few random older people. We didn’t stay too long there simply because we wanted to see some other places. The next stop was Hi-Jazz Bar. We loved it. The drinks were great (though expensive, but that’s to be expected) and there was a live band. This bar reminded me very much of Oasis Cafe plus a little bit of Snugg’s thrown in there back in New Paltz. We ended up staying here the rest of the night because of the atmosphere.

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More of the half sunken city…
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View from the top the Kaleköy (ancient Simena) castle

The next morning we somehow ended up getting up early (probably because we had to since we booked a boat trip). We packed up our sunscreens, but on our bathing suits, and headed to breakfast before heading into to town for the boat trip. We decided to take the longer boat trip so that we could see more of the coast which meant we had to be driven to a certain area (Üçağız Village) and then get on the boat from there. Once we boarded the boat, the journey around Kekova Island started. About ten or fifteen minutes into the ride, we made our first stop at what I think was the Aquarium Bay. The water was, again, blue blue blue and crystal clear, but this time it was warm and so salty I barely had to do anything to stay above the water. We made a few stops like this visiting different gorgeous bays around the area, seeing a sunken city in the water and above, we saw an old castle on top of a giant hill that we ended up hiking up…the view was breathtaking, having some homemade ice cream, enjoying a BBQ on the boat, swimming a lot, being caked in salt because of how much of it was in the seawater, seeing two sea turtles, and just enjoying the sun, sea, and beautiful sights around us. When we finally returned to the hotel around six that evening we were exhausted and ended up taking a quick nap before going back out into town to find some dinner. 

When we did find dinner though at Zeytin Restaurant, we weren’t all the impressed. I’m sure it didn’t help that the power went out for awhile before we received our food (apparently the first power outage of the summer…lucky us), but the food just didn’t have the amazing taste that we had experienced at the other restaurant. Burak made the mistake of ordering swordfish again (I had told him not to since there was never going to be anything like the one we had eaten the night before) and I had a steak in an apple cream sauce. My steak and sauce wasn’t actually all that bad, but there was just something a bit off about it. The potatoes that came with the meals though were very nice though, so at least there was that. We didn’t end up going out that night because we were so tired from the day’s activities, so we stayed in and relaxed.

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View from a window in the Kaleköy castle

The next day we decided should be a relaxing day. We woke up, had another lovely breakfast, and went down to the beach area. We sat and swam until the early afternoon sipping on another peach margarita, yummy but not quite as delicious as the previous passion fruit one. We took a break from the sitting and swimming to go get lunch in town. We found a place called Sarpedon’s Burger (Sarpedon was a Lycian Prince and son of Zeus, hero during the Trojan war until he was slain by Patroclus…just a little bit of extra information for y’all) and sat down to look at their interesting selection of burgers. All the burgers looked tempting, but I settled on the Speedy Gonzalez Burger and Burak got the Hangover Buger. Both were cooked really well and had great tastes. We had also order cheddar fries and were a bit confused when they first came out as they weren’t what we were expecting. Instead of cheese on the fries as we had thought, they were regular fries but with a delicious cheddar dip (made from real cheese I think!) We then order some frozen yogurt to try and beat the heat and headed back to the beach for a little longer.

The next dinner we ate was at another restaurant that I had seen on Tripadvisor: Natur-el. We were seated near the fan which was great. I had wanted to try a certain dish that I read about but was torn between it and another dish that I ended up getting instead. I got the home made stuffed ravioli, filled with goat cheese and a tomato cream sauce. Burak got the homemade stuffed ravioli filled with sauteed lamb and mushroom and a mushroom cream sauce. Both dishes were amazing and we both agreed that this place and Turkuaz were the best restaurants in Kaş. This restaurant even served us bread and dips with our meal (common place in America but not in Turkey), so it was a nice added gesture. 

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One of the famous Kaş cats… too bad her size can’t be understood from this picture

The next morning was out last in Kaş. We packed up all of our stuff and checked-out. The hotel was nice enough to let us leave our stuff there throughout the day though since our bus trip back home wasn’t until 730 that evening. We sunscreened up and walked all through the town that day, exploring as many shops as I could. There were so many things that I wanted to get but obviously couldn’t. For one, I wanted one of the Kaş cats. They’re huge, practically dogs and have amazing patterns on their coats. My favorite cat looked like a cow. Obviously I couldn’t bring home one of the famous Kaş cats, so I settled on a dark turquoise cute kitten statue. I added a nice Kaş spoon rest and turtle nazar magnet to my collection of things. We had some nice pide for lunch and then a little later we stopped at the Kaş Bio Tea House and some frozen drinks. We stayed there for a bit, out of the sun before continuing to venture around the town. Again, trying to avoid the sun, we sat in an area shaded by trees and ordered some tea. A bit later we tried go to Turkuaz one last time for the amazing swordfish. Sadly, they weren’t open yet, but they told us to come back in an hour and they’d have the stuff ready for us. So, we went back to the hotel, got our stuff, and went back to the restaurant. To our surprise (and the bartender’s) there was no one there when we returned. We were annoyed to say the least but didn’t let this disappointment spoil our day. We ended up going back to Natur-el since we had such a nice time there the night before. This time I got the pomegranate walnut chicken that I had wanted to get the previous night and Burak got some sort of fresh fish (sea-bass I think) which they de-boned in front of us.  We accompanied our last meal with a last drink of Efes (Turkish beer) each. 

We then made our way to the bus station. On the way to the bus station I somehow made a friend in a stray dog (looked like a black lab) who wouldn’t stop following us and kept barking at people to get out of our way. It was quite interesting and a bit funny. We were not expecting that. The bus ride back to Istanbul was much smoother than the one to Kaş especially since there were no transfers. The bus did not overheat and we made it back just in time for Burak to catch his class that he’s taking. 

The whole trip happened so fast and we want to be back there now. It was amazing and definitely a place to revisit. The only things that make me believe that the trip actually happened are my pictures and my bank account plus my little trinkets that I picked up. If you want to visit Turkey, but huge crowds and city life is not for you, go to Kaş. I loved it and cannot wait to return.IMG_3233

So much love!

These past few weeks have been going really well at the school. I know I’m going to jinx myself by saying this though. For the most part the children have been very cooperative, and even…dare I say… somewhat respectful. They’ve also started to randomly run up to me in the hall, or shout, “Angela Teacher! Angela Teacher!” every time they see me and will not stop until I acknowledge and/or talk to them. I love them so much. I cannot describe to you how it makes me feel. Unless you teach children, I don’t think you’d be able to understand. The closest similar situation I can think of would be being tackled by a bunch of puppies. In a way, I feel it’s even more special because of the language barrier that there is. I can tell they’re learning more and more every day.

Break through! This week we were learning about germs and hygiene, and I thought to myself that this might be a bit difficult to do, but to my surprise, it’s gone over really well! The first day we started talking about it, I played a short video with a lot of English, but they seemed to get the general idea. They even kept going on about it in the little English that they knew. They were all very eager to try and say stuff. There was a lot of miming going on. And I found myself having conversations with them.

“Teacher! Germ..mmm…germ small small small!” 
“Teacher! Germs…germs is…mmm no..is bleh!” – Me: “Germs are bad?” – “Yes! Bad!”
“Teacher! Mommy doctor-doctor! Mommy *points to teeth*doctor-doctor.”
“Teacher! Me mommy doctor-doctor! *Achoo* doctor-doctor.”
“Teacher! Toilet..wash your hands!”
“Teacher! Germs *uses arms to show the whole room.*” – Me: “Germs are everywhere?” – “Yes teacher! *mimes cleaning the table*”

Now imagine these little phrases with the most adorable accents.

This week went pretty well. We did some crafts to go along with the germs and  hygiene. Germy hands, followed by wash your hands, and finished up with sparkling clean hands.

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Also, I started Turkish lessons about a month ago (they’re only once a week), and I and his family can already see huge improvements in my understanding of the language. The Turkish teachers at school can see it as well. It’s hard, but I’m trying. I wish I had lessons everyday, but this once a week is better than nothing. Having actual instruction is the only way for my brain to learn the language, because that’s how my brain has been hard wired. It’s a pain, but living in a house where only Turkish is spoken helps (and at the same time can be super stressful). I really just need to start memorizing more vocabulary. I cannot wait until we start learning more about sentence structure and verb conjugations.

I’ll try to update more regularly! I’ve just been really busy as of late. The big thing though right now is that my students haven’t been stressing me out as much as they used to, and I love it and them. They’re all way too cute for their own good.

Experience with Unnamed Teacher

A few weeks ago we had an interesting day and experience for us new kindergarten teachers. We had been told by our agency (not the school) that essentially we are all horrible teachers and are on the verge of being fired; not only did they tell us this, but they said it in a very nasty way. Because of our “horrible” performances, they decided that Unnamed Teacher from the agency needed to come in and show us how to teach the proper way. Now, I must add that in our training sessions we were told that we should pretty much forget everything that the agency told us to do in the classes because it was wrong.

She came in yesterday morning, carrying herself, as usual, with her humungous ego and arrogant, nasty, condescending way of speaking. She jumped in on my lesson first. Well, let me tell you I was not happy at all with the way that things unfolded. Not only did she completely ruin my lesson plans for the day, but the way she treated the children was unacceptable to say the least. I know that I do not have experience in teaching and that at times the children make me want to pull my hair out, but I do know that scaring a child into submission is wrong.
Here is how my two lessons with Unnamed Teacher unfolded (keep in mind that these children don’t know English and are only just learning very basic vocabulary like animals and numbers, etc.):
1. She had all the students come out in the hall at the beginning of the lesson and line-up. Of course she did this very sternly, much too stern for these children. In order to reenter the classroom they all had to say their name. If they did not cooperate, they were sent to the back of the line and not allowed to enter the room until they did as they were told. She was also very handsy with the children; she would physically move the child to the back of the line or block the child from entering the room.
2. Once in the room she then made all the children sit down. Sounds ok, right? Not quite. Again she was physical with the children. If the child did not have his or her feet on the ground, she would grab their feet and put them on the ground. If a child was not sitting or wouldn’t sit down, she’d wrangle them, pick them up and put them in the chair. She was in no way gentle with the children.
3. Certain aspects were ok and doable such as high fiving the children who were sitting the right way, and doing emotions according to how they feeling (making faces for happy, sad, etc…).
4. After she was done (which was half way through my lesson), she looked at me, “Ok, what do you have planned for today?” I responded that we now didn’t have time for everything that I had had originally planned. So we did a partial lesson.
5. One of the misbehaving children was to hand out the books (which is a good point: make the unruly child have a job to do). The books had a video that they could follow along to since the children cannot read.  As I was playing the video, she made me pause the short video every few seconds and have the children say what the new animal was that was introduced and what sound it makes. This is something that we had previously been told not to do unless the video had been watched before. It’d be the same as if you were trying to watch a show and someone kept pausing it and asking you questions. It breaks your concentration and angers you; it’s unfair to the children. If the video had been played again then perhaps it would had been more acceptable to do.
6. After the lesson, one of the children collected the books for me. We then went on to do an animal PowerPoint that I had prepared for the children. Since we’re learning about families and the book that they’re learning from has the adult and baby versions of the animals (cow / calf, cat / kitten…etc). Since the book does cover the pig, the children do learn it but extra time is not to be spent on it. For those of you who are unaware, the school that I am at is slightly conservative, and in the Islamic religion pigs are dirty, filthy animals and these children are taught that from the very beginning. So if a child goes home making pig sounds or faces, the parents are absolutely horrified by it and will and have called the school about it. When it came time to do the pig on the PowerPoint I mentioned this to Unnamed Teacher (and since she’s been in Turkey for awhile she is well aware of this) and we normally just quickly skim over the pig / piglet and move on to the next animal. She then blatantly said that she did not care and that they were doing the pig and the pig sounds.
7. After this, the lesson had ended and we were running into break time. Again she did not care and stated that there had to be an actual end to the class. I told her that I normally had the children do “The Goodbye Song” if there was time, which normally there is time but since we had gone into break time already, and I was going to be in the same classroom after break we should all be allowed to take their break. She wasn’t happy with this. During the break the children are normally allowed to go drink water, go to the bathroom, and so on. But Unnamed Teacher wanted this to be changed as well. She made them all line up again single file and head out to the bathrooms to wash their hands. She then proceeded to smell all of their hands to make sure they washed with soap and if they didn’t she sent them back into the bathroom. They were then all lined up to go back to the room, but before the went into the room they had to say something in English. If they didn’t they weren’t allowed in the room and had to go to the back of the line and sit. Finally, once all the students were back in the room break time was over and none of us (the kids and myself) didn’t even get an actual break.
8. She said she wanted to know how I ran the class and for me to start the lesson. When I went to start the lesson though, she stopped me and had all the kids to stretches. Stretches aren’t bad to do and the kids enjoyed that. The thing that annoyed me was that she was completely took over the lesson and even though she said she wanted to see how I ran the class, she kept taking over before I could have a chance to. The children kept looking at her like she was an alien.
9. We then went over the Animal PowerPoint again that I had made that had the animals from the Farmyard Jamboree on it (cow/calf, cat/kitten…etc), along with the animal sounds. That went over fine, but, again, she wanted to spend more time on the pig/piglet than I felt was necessary.
10. We then moved on to the activity that I had planned out for the day which was a cut and paste sheep/lamb activity. She kept criticizing how I was talking to the students as well. The kids understand me when I tell them to get up and get their pencil cases. They know what I mean, I call that a success. In her opinion, I spoke to quickly. I wasn’t. I was speaking at a normal pace, which is what we had been told and taught to do in the training session at the beginning of the year since when children interact with a native English speaker or watch an English show they’re not going to speak ridiculously slowly like Unnamed did. When she spoke that slowly the kids kept giving her weird looks, then look back over at me as if they were asking me what in the world was wrong with this woman. As the students one-by-one were finishing their projects, they were cleaning up and putting away their pencil cases which is very good and what they have been taught to do. Unnamed didn’t think that this was good enough. Even though the students have been told and taught to clean up their mess and put their stuff away when they’re finished, she wanted them to each raise their hands and ask permission each time they got out of their seats. Ok, so this doesn’t sound like a bad thing, but when there are ten students who all need to get out of their seats to throw something out or to put something away every two seconds and you’re trying to help other students with things, it just doesn’t make sense, especially when they’ve been taught to clean up and whatnot all on their own. Unnamed physically sat them back down and raised their hands. My one shy and sensitive little boy had finished his stuff and packed up his pencil case. He went to get up and put it away when Unnamed yelled at him to sit down and ask permission. He obviously didn’t understand, and just sat back down and started crying. When I went to comfort him, she was like, “No, move on to the next child.” I was about to flip out.  It got the point of being ridiculous.
11. The other two English teachers were called out of their lessons to watch this lesson as well so they were sitting on the side.  Some of the students were moving around at this point so she had one of the other English teachers try to make them sit down. Now, keep in mind that this isn’t the other English teacher’s class, so the students don’t know her and she doesn’t know the students. She told them to “Sit down, please,” but they didn’t listen I guess. Unnamed got annoyed at this and was like, “No, you’re not asking them to sit down. Don’t say please. Tell them. Be stern. Be loud.” She then had her essentially angrily yell at the students to sit down.  I felt so bad the kids and the other English teacher at this point. I was talking to the children and Unnamed comes up to me saying that she likes that I was now more involved with the children and that’s how I should always be. By this point, I had to refrain from cursing her out and instead snippily said, “Well, I normally am a lot more involved with the children but it’s hard to do so when you’re here and take over the class.” At the moment though it was time for lunch so she was cut off from whatever she was going to say back to me. We all rushed down to lunch to avoid her.

When I went back to the classroom later on that day, the kids and even the Turkish teacher assistant were happy and relieved that Unnamed wasn’t there. They all thought she was nuts. I wasn’t surprised to hear the next day (and I was actually a bit happy) that parents had called the teachers that night complaining and asking about who this horrible woman was that made their children cry (she had gone into other classrooms as well). She may know some useful things, but when it comes to kindergarten, and especially kindergarten in Turkey, I think she should stay far, far away from it.
As of late, my children have been listening better and I think it mainly has to do with the fact that they’re starting to fall into the school routine. I haven’t had many problems with the students, and if I do, I simply tell the homeroom Turkish teacher after the lesson. The next time I’m in the classroom they behave much better. I’m think I’m starting to grow on them as well, and I think the students are starting to realize that they’re picking up more English than they thought. I may not be all fun and games all the time but I know when they need a break. I’ll turn anything into an English lesson. Even musical chairs. You play English music and say simple commands: “Sit!” “Walk” etc. 
My job may be stressful, but I love it and my children.

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Teacher! Teacher!

So, I know that there’s been quite a gap since now and my last post, but I assure it’s mainly because of how busy I have been.  Teaching these children has been anything but boring and definitely an experience and a half.  Wow.  I’ve had ups and downs and everything in between.

Teaching here in Turkey children is by far one of the hardest jobs I can think of and it mainly has to do with the culture here and the school. This does not mean I don’t like my children, in fact, it is quite the opposite. I love them to death. As frustrated and angry as they can make me, they are also able to melt my heart in two seconds flat. By now, I have gotten to know my children pretty well.  Most of them do not listen to a word that is spoken. They will run around and do whatever they like whenever they like. The first couple of weeks it was a lot harder to corral them all up and have them sit down, but, at least now, I can get them all to sit down. Whether or not they listen and be quiet is a whole other story. We each have a teacher’s assistant in the room. You would think this would be helpful, but, at times, it can create more problems because the assistants (as well as the homeroom teachers) don’t speak a lick of English. They are supposed to be in the room behaving and participating in the lessons just like the students. More often than not, they’re off doing their own thing or something that they were told to do by the Turkish homeroom teacher. They’re also not supposed to speak Turkish, but, ha, that flew out the window the first day. They have grown on me though, and do help out when it is needed. I’m a bit sad because today they’ve all switched homerooms. So, I now have new teacher assistants in my classrooms.

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6B

My 6B class has turned itself around quite a bit. When I first started to try and teach them, it was chaotic, and they didn’t listen whatsoever. Now, though, it seems that they are learning more and are, at times, much better behaved than my other class. I think this may have to do with the seating dynamic as well as the attitude of the homeroom teacher. This classroom arranged in a kind of semi half circle, or rather more like a semi half ellipse. One problem I have with this class is the SmartBoard. The SmartBoard itself will work, but the SmartPen will not. So I can’t do any of the activities that I do with 6D with this class and it’s extremely frustrating. We don’t even have a white board to work with so I just have to make do with what I have. The SmartBoard in this classroom is nothing more than a glorified projector. I have twelve children in this class (my biggest class) and they are all strikingly different.

Child 1: I tend to have problems with this child. It’s not that he is inherently a bad child, but it’s that he is not really interested in anything that is going on in the classroom. He doesn’t like to sing the songs, or color, or anything of the sort. He mimics me a lot though with a bit of an attitude. For example, if I say, “Sit down, please.” He’ll say the exact same thing with a slight attitude. He can be really good at times though. If we’re doing an activity and I show him exactly what to do a couple of times, he’ll get it done. It’s not necessarily the greatest work, but when he does something I consider it success. I know his older brother has some learning difficulties, so I’m thinking that it’s a possibility that he does as well.

Child 2: Now, this child is normally an angel and a bit of charmer. This past week, however, he hasn’t really been listening at all or participating like he used to. I’m trying to figure out if maybe something went on at home or in school. He’s hanging out more with the trouble maker boys so I’m assuming that’s what going on because he has a twin brother, Kaan, in another teacher’s classroom but his brother hasn’t been acting up at all.

Child 3: I love this little girl. She listens to absolutely everything and is the perfect student. It’s not even that she’s like a teacher’s pet or anything of the sort, she just really seems to want to learn. I feel bad at times because I know that if I had one on one time with her she would excel. Not once have I had to tell her off, and I can’t say that for any other student that I have. She’s a brilliant little one and, if given the chance, will go far. I need to figure out a way to give her more activities to do because I feel like she gets bored at the pace that we’re going. She also has one of the programs that I use to teach at home. She likes it because she knows all the words to the songs and such but I feel bad at times because she isn’t learning anything new and I know she wants to. Even when it comes to playing games that the other children love to play, say like musical chairs or something of the sort, she’ll just sit and watch. She really wants to just learn and do school work. It’d be so much easier to teach her if we were allowed to teach them the alphabet, but we’re not allowed to do so.

Child 4: Ah, my little dreamy-eyed, cuddle bug. This little one has a twin as well (in my other class; I’ll get to him later), and the differences between them are like night and day. Sedat loves cuddles and to be right next to me and to hug and be on teacher’s lap, etc. His father is also the vice principal of the kindergarten.  Now, he may be cuddly little sweetheart, but he also has his moments. One day he was not listening at all. It was in the beginning so there was no structure or daily routines established either. The teacher assistant was busy doing something and wasn’t in the room either. He’s was being rotten and when I was telling everyone to sit, he decided to put his chair on top of the table and sit on it there. He wouldn’t listen at all when I told him to get down or that I’d go get his father. Nothing. He only listened when the Turkish teacher came into the room, and even then, he gave her a hard time. There are times when he will downright ignore anything and everything or the teacher assistant says, but then there are also the times when he also really wants to learn. Let’s take for example a while ago we were playing with some Play-Doh. He was making food with it and wanted to know what everything was in English.  So, he’d tell me the Turkish word, and if I knew it I’d tell him what it is in English, and he would then repeat back to me a time or two. Today, we were reviewing some colors and he was teaching me what the colors were in Turkish. “Teacher, teacher pink türkçe pembe…. Teacher, orange türkçe turuncu…” He did this for each color that I showed on the SmartBoard. He’s a smart one who also wants to learn, but does need to learn how to listen a bit more.

Child 5: This little one has been much better. In the beginning she was a little devil, but now she’s one of the few that actually listens the first time I say to do something. Even though she hasn’t been in class that often (combination of sickness and holidays I’m assuming) she’ll pick up pretty quickly what she’s missed.

Child 6: Most of the time, this one behaves pretty well. If he’s getting out of line at all, I usually only have to give him the look or tell him once to sit down. He’s a quiet one, and pretty nervous when I call him. More often than not, he knows the answer but is too nervous to say it so you have to say it with him or do it with him. It’s as if he’s afraid of being wrong, like as if someone embarrassed him in the past or he’ll get in trouble if he’s wrong. I keep encouraging him though so I’m hoping he makes progress.

Child 7: This little girl has an interesting story. When I first came into the classroom, I could tell that something was not quite right. She has a constant head shake, never talks, needs direct one-on-one contact and directions to understand anything (English or Turkish) and a multitude of other problems. I was concerned and asked around about her. Turns out, she does have some learning difficulties (what exactly I still don’t know). I nearly cried when she said some English words for me (with the help of one of the other students), and even the Turkish teacher was surprised. After the week’s holiday that just recently passed, I noticed a difference in her (they changed her medication or something of the sort) She’s been participating more and talking more as well as doing better during the class activities. I get such an overwhelming feeling of happiness and pride whenever I see the progress she’s making, and I like to show off her colorings or drawings that she does to the Turkish teachers because even they get surprised when she does stuff.

Child 8: My little cherub-faced monster. Oh, boy. He’s a handful. He’s smart and loud impossible to get angry at whenever he doesn’t listen (which is quite often) because of his face and dimples and sweetness. He’ll hug me and won’t let go, and when he’s doing something he’s not supposed to he’ll smile the most adorable smile and say, “Teacheerrrrrrrrrr.” AH! Frustrations! I can’t get mad at him because of how ridiculously cute he is and because he really isn’t doing anything all that bad but he causes the other students to follow along and I want to lose my mind some days. There was one day when the students were not listening at all and I was two seconds from bursting. He ran up to me and hugged me saying, “I love you, Teacher.” And the rest of the class followed suit. I was weighed down by twelve six year olds who were all hugging me. There was no way that I could be angry.

Child 9: This little one confuses me. I think he’s confused as well. He can be downright horrible at times and the definition of a little terror. Running around, laying under the table, not doing anything he’s told… But this past week he’s been a bit better. I know he’s smart but he never really applies himself. He did so this week though. When you ask him something, he’ll know the answer. I need to learn how to deal with him. I don’t want to stunt his learning ability but he’s a hard one to figure out.  I need to try and pay more attention to him and give him some more responsibilities around the classroom.

Child 10: I’m not sure how to feel about her. The first few days of school she pretended to be a perfect little angel, which she is anything but. Now she has her good days and her bad days.  Her behavior isn’t consistent at all, and I think just depends on her mood that day. She likes to rock out to whatever music I play, and some days will be a great little teacher’s assistant. Other days though she can be a bit of a bully and not listen at all. Some days she’ll listen, other days there’s no getting through to her. More often than not, it’s the latter. The days that she listens though make up for it. Then again, the days that she does not listen definitely have an effect on her learning.

Child 11: He has way too much energy.  An interesting child. In the beginning he was very good, colored and drew very well, but now it’s as if he eats nothing but sugar and hops around every, scribbles through his drawings and coloring pages, misbehaves and the like. Odd. I don’t know what to make of him because each day he gets worse.

Child 12: The tiniest child that I have in my six year classes. He was an angel who spoke no English whatsoever. He’s picked up on the English that I’ve taught in class (numbers, colors, family) but now he doesn’t listen well. He’ll run around with Kaya, Kerem, and Efe and be a little terror as well. Eventually he’ll do as he’s told. I’m just glad that he’s picking up the English that I’m teaching him, because when I first met at him and would say anything to him, he’d just look at me, smile, then give me a hug. He’s one of the little ones that joined in on the hug-pile and said, “Teacher, seni çok seviyorum!” (I love you lot!)

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6D

Recently, I’ve been having more and more listening problems with this class. I think it mainly has to do with the layout of the classroom. It’s kind of arranged like a rectangle. The girls sit at one end and the boys sit at the other end.  This obviously causes huge problems. I want to rearrange the classroom, but that’s not choice; that’s the homeroom teacher’s choice.  At least the SmartBoard in this classroom works so I can play games in which the students can interact with it. They love this and will often be quiet and good in order to do so. I’ve noticed that there is always a battle between the girls and the boys whenever there is a game going on. This class may be smaller but I have a few more trouble makers in here.

Child 13: At first, this girl was very good. Listened to everything, participated and whatnot. Now, though, she seems to have not a care in the world and does what she wants. If I say we’re doing something, she’ll just be like, “No, Teacher,” walk off, and do her own thing. She can be a bad influence at times as well because she’ll gather the girls (there are only four girls in the classroom) and have them do whatever she wants. It’s hard to deal with because these are the girls that are usually pretty good and pay attention. The problem is though is that she’s smart. She knows her vocabulary but she can be very snooty and has a bit of an air about her, as if she’s too good for the class and what’s going on.

Child 14: This went straight from four years class to six years class. I personally think that it was a mistake. She’s not ready for the six years class and should be in the five years class. She’s great at coloring and drawing, but that’s about it. She’s still behind the others when it comes to counting, animals, colors, and the like. She likes to dance but only to her own beat. She won’t do the specific dances to the songs that are in our routines. She gets offended very easily too, but knows when she’s doing something she’s not supposed to do. Like today, she was standing on her chair; I just looked at her, said her name, and she automatically sat down with coy little, “Tamam, Teacher…” (Ok/Alright, Teacher).

Child 15: She’s a budding little artist for sure. Her drawing skills are way above most of the other students. She’s pretty good with her vocabulary as well, and listens for the most part. She’ll participate but she’s pretty quiet and won’t go out of her way be loud. She’s a cutie though usually doesn’t have to be told twice to do something.

Child 16: She’s Miss Prim and Proper. Always quiet. Always does as she’s told. Always knows the answer, and if she doesn’t she’ll learn it. Always sits with proper posture and hands in her lap. Colors perfectly. Only recently have I had some issues with her listening, but that’s only because she was having issues with the other girls in the classroom. I saw her and older sister walking together one day and it was like I was watching Azra and a taller clone of Azra. Same walk, same braided pigtails, same glasses.

Child 17: Ughhhhh. Oh, Enes, Enes, Enes. Talk about a trouble maker. He knows a lot more English than he lets on. He’s always causing problems and not listening either. Luckily, it’s not just me he doesn’t listen to (I know it’s not good, but it does make me feel better that I’m not the only who can’t control him). Recently though, I’ve found out a way to make him somewhat behavebetter. He’s in love with the Five Little Monkeys song/ video and always asks for it. I’ve been telling him that if he and everyone else is good, I’ll play it at the end of the lesson. Every time he starts to act up, I’ll look at him and tell him, “No monkeys.” He’s then good and tries to get the others to pay attention as well, and since he’s pretty much the class gang leader they usually listen to him. I have problems though with him and another boy in the classroom. They’re constantly fighting, physically. It’s been better as of late, but it’s ridiculous that there aren’t any consequences for this type of behavior.

Child 18: This is the other trouble maker that I have in the class. He’s considerably smaller than Enes, and he’s the one that Enes always gets into it with. Enes will provoke him somehow and they’ll end up punching, kicking, hitting, slapping, whatever they can do. When they are finally pulled apart Baran always has something to say. This is a point when I really wish I knew Turkish because whatever comes out of his mouth like it’s something mean and scary even. He talks up a storm. He hates coloring and does like to learn but never pays attention to anything. It’s strange though because his mother is one of the teachers in the kindergarten (she teaches five years). I could be talking directly to him, and he’ll completely ignore me and avoid eye contact and continue to talk or do whatever he likes in the meantime. I need to find some more ways to get this child more into the lessons. He loved it the other day when I brought some mazes for him to do because I know he doesn’t like to color. He finished them too quickly though and then got angry when I didn’t have any more for him. I’ve realized that he has some anger issues.

Child 19: He’s the twin of my doe-y eyed student in 6B. Everything that Sedat is when it comes to cuddly and such, he is not. Vedat has piercing eyes, sharper feautures, and is more of a “manly man.” He hates the cuddly stuff and will push away the hugs. He has a charming, devilish grin though. He can be rough and has some listening problems as well. He’s smart. He’ll call out the answers and listens only slightly better than Enes and Baran. He’s been getting better though behavior wise, so I’m happy about that.

Child 20: This child is going to be a model when he’s older. We’ve all decided for him. He’s cool, he’s ridiculously pretty, and has eye lashes that any girl would be jealous of. Aside from that, he knows he’s cool. Say we’re doing the morning routine songs / dances… he’ll do his own little body shake / shimmy and show off. When he gets out of hand though, which is pretty often since most of the boys in that class are pretty close, it only takes me one time to say his name and he’ll sit back down. He gets distracted very easily though. The other day, everyone had finished their activity but he was still working on his because Baran kept talking to him and he couldn’t cut and listen at the same time. He finally finished at the very last minute. All in all though, he’s a good kid.

Child 21: The tiniest in the class and the quietest. He often won’t say anything when he’s called on and will just sit down and look at the desk. I can tell he knows what we’re learning though because he’ll participate when the whole class is yelling out answers or when we’re doing a SmartBoard activity; at those times he’ll raise his hand because everyone else is and he doesn’t want to be left out. I encourage him as much as I can. Behavioral wise he’s in between. He’s not too bad, but he’s not angel either. He’s a bit of a perfectionist when he’s drawing, coloring, or cutting so he often finishes things after everyone else. I also apparently cannot for the life of me pronounce his name correctly and Vedat makes fun of how I say his name. One of the first days I was in class with Alp, I was writing their names on their projects that they were working on. Most of the students have two names, first and middle. Alp’s is Mehmet Alp. I didn’t know at the time though that he preferred Alp. I wrote Mehmet on his project and he tried to fix it and change it to Alp, but he could only sort of write the A and an awkward L. I figured it out later. He can now write ALP on his papers and is very proud of it. He must’ve learned this at home though since we’re not allowed to teach them the alphabet.

Child 22: He’s the best behaved in this class, and he’s also a sweetie. He loves to participate and raise his hand even when he doesn’t know the answer at all. He’s another one who loves hugs. When all the boys are causing trouble, he’s normally not involved. Infact, Ahmet and Alp are usually together. They’re the quieter ones in the classroom. It doesn’t help that they look similar as well. In the beginning of the year I couldn’t tell them apart at all and kept getting them confused, but now I’ve got it down. Ahmet can be a bit sensitive as well and will cry if others start to make fun of his coloring / drawing etc. Luckily, he’s usually pretty good, so I don’t have many problems with him.Image

5C

This class is my shared lessons course, meaning the homeroom teacher does the lesson with me. It’s hard to come up with a joint lesson though when I don’t speak Turkish and she doesn’t speak English. Somehow though we manage pretty well. I’m lucky because she’s one of the few Turkish teachers that actually tries with the shared lessons. I’ll talk, she’ll talk, etc. The children in this class are pretty well behaved.

Child 23: Engin is an interesting child. He looks like he could seven or eight but s really only five. This is probably because his mother is probably about 6 feet tall. We refer to him as the one with the “cool” parents because they’re always dressed sharp and in black. He’s an odd one though. Some days he’ll participate and other days he won’t say a thing. It doesn’t help that he’s the biggest in the grade either. He doesn’t quite fit in. If I talk to him one-on-one though he’s pretty good.

Child 24: The tiniest child I have, and he can’t do anything. It’s adorable and kind of sad at the same time. This is a perfect example of how coddled Turkish children are. You should have seen the “scissors” he was first sent to school with. They were the tiniest little plastic scissors that looked like they came out of a doll’s play kit or something. They barely worked. He’s helpless when it comes to doing anything, but he’s just so cute, you can’t help but help him with everything. He’s always asking what to do (in Turkish of course) for every single little thing. He’s so cute though because of how tiny he is. Lately, he’s been getting better at cutting things out (he’s got himself some big boy scissors now) even though it takes him forever.

Child 25: She’s great. I think I’ve only ever had to tell her off once. What smart girl she is! A little too smart for the class though I think. She’s sweet and a teacher’s pet; sometimes I think she’s like to take the teacher’s place. She knows her stuff though, I have no qualms with her and I know she’s going to excel throughout the year. I’m a little afraid that next year she might turn into an Eslem though…

Child 26: She gets a little too excited. She knows a lot and loves to show it off. Anything that she can get her hands on, if she learned the English word for it she’ll say it, and if she doesn’t know it, she’ll ask what it is until she remembers it. I know she gets a little too into it at times, but in ways I wish all my students had her eagerness to learn and show off a bit.

Child 27: He’s another smarty pants, but he doesn’t show it off. He knows his stuff, and is very proud of it. He’s quiet and very well behaved. There was a week or two that he wasn’t in class in the beginning of the year but it didn’t seem to matter because when he was back he still seemed to know more than the other students.

Child 28: He’s a little cheeky monkey. Smart though. He can memorize songs very easily, and has every single word of “Old MacDonald” memorized. I was very surprised when was sang along to the song. Many of the students have a hard enough time just trying to master the E-I-E-I-O part and the animal sounds. He’s cute and he knows it. He can be cheeky and then get away with it because he’s smart. He definitely understands a lot more English then he lets on, because he also rides the service bus that I ride and I was asking him a bunch of questions about emotions the other day and he knew all of them.

Child 29: She’s a quiet one. I think her and Elif used to be good friends but then something happened because they seem to have some issues. She’s also petrified of the cinema / theater room. She actually started crying and would not go in at all. Poor girl. She gets her stuff done though and likes giving hugs as well. She never really causes any problems. If anything, the only thing that I would complain about is that sometimes she doesn’t want to participate.

Child 30: This child I don’t even know how to explain. Very strange child. She’s happy in the morning, but as the day goes on she listens less and less and less. She can be very mean at times too. For no reason she’ll break someone’s crayon or rip their paper, but then other times she’ll be very nice and help Emin cut stuff out. If she decides she’s done she’ll run around, and there is absolutely no getting through to her. You can have an angry face on and be very stern and she’ll just look back at you with a kind of sinister-I-don’t-care-about-anything-you’re-saying smile, dance around some more, and there’s nothing in her eyes. Even when you make eye contact with her it’s like staring into nothing. Very strange. She’ll be happy then all of a sudden if you look at her and ask her to do something or a question she’ll put on the meanest face as if you did something horrible to her. I don’t understand her one bit.

Child 31: This one is an old in a little girl’s body. She knows a lot and wants to learn. She’s gets bored of simple things like coloring and the like and wants to do actual learning. Sometimes though she’ll get into an odd mood and won’t participate at all. It’s pretty odd. She doesn’t want to do “kid” things. She’d prefer to sit and work in a workbook than to sit and play with the toys that all the other five year olds are happily playing with.

Child 32: He is quiet but he also misbehaves. If the Turkish teacher wasn’t in the room with me, I know that he would cause me problems. Once in a while he’ll answer questions, but more often than not he doesn’t pay attention and seem uncomfortable / not to care about the class. He would much rather mess around in the corner than sit at the table and learn stuff it seems.

All in all, I really do love all my children that have. Even though many of them cause me immeasurable amounts of grief and will more than likely be the cause of my first white hair, when they tackle hug me or even just smile I can’t help but love them more and more each day. I love watching them grow everyday too. I’m not talking about physically growing, I mean intellectually. It is interesting to see what they know now as opposed to what they knew the middle of September. I may not see the daily progress that they make, but I definitely see improvements as the weeks go on. I can’t explain to you how happy that makes me.

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I’m here!

I arrived in Istanbul yesterday afternoon after about 14-15 hours of travelling and no sleep.

Leaving my house and friends and family at around 2 pm on the 25th, I was dropped off at JFK International Airport. I checked in, dropped off my suitcase, went through security and then sat in Terminal 7 Gate 12 waiting for the first of three planes to arrive. After boarding and taking off about ten or so minutes late, I was finally off the ground at about 5:30 pm. I was off! When we landed, I had to rush because I knew my next flight was supposed have already been boarding and was going to be taking off within the next half an hour or so. The walk from where I got off to get to where  had to go to was a hike. It was all in the same terminal but boy was I out of breath.  When I got to the mini customs in order to go through to Gate H I had to fill out one of those declaration forms which made no sense to me seeing as I wasn’t staying in Canada for a period of time. I finally got through and found my gate. When I did, I realized that my flight was delayed. This put me into a bit of a panic considering I was already only going to have an hour to catch my last flight. I tried to put it out of my mind. While in line to board the plane, I made friends with a middle aged Polish woman who was actually a U.S. citizen. She was going to Munich and also had a connecting flight, so she was just as worried as I was. We talked a bit, and I found out she was a study abroad coordinator at a college in Minnesota and someone she knew just won a Fulbright Scholarship to teach in Istanbul. Needless to say, we both talked to each other a for awhile until we had to board the plane and then we separated. Once I boarded the plane, I was pleasantly surprised. The seats were comfortable to begin with and, somehow, there was no one sitting next to me; I had two whole seats all to myself. Dinner came about an hour into the flight; it was nothing special, just ordinary an ordinary airplane dinner and crappy wine. I took a sleeping pill right after, and it did help me fall asleep as I was watching The Big Bang Theory on the enRoute entertainment system on the flight. Not an hour later though I was awakened by the two little girls in front of me giggling every other minute. The plane was completely silent, except for the girls, because everyone else was trying to sleep as well. I thought their father might tell them to be quiet, but, instead, he joins in talking to the one girl (loudly because he had his head phones on). I don’t understand why. He saw that the lights on the plane were turned off and everyone else around him was trying to sleep, yet he continued to babble away. At one point the little girl saw me give them a dirty look and she tried to be quieter. The dad noticed me at one as well but didn’t seem to care. Aside from how hard it is to sleep on planes to begin with, I simply couldn’t because of the chatter. I need complete silence to sleep, and even then I usually cannot sleep in moving objects, whether it be planes, trains, cars, or buses. I thought the sleeping aid would help, and it did help me to get to sleep but once the family was chattering I couldn’t stay asleep. Finally, the dad points out that we were three hours away from Munich and that his girls should get to sleep or they would be exhausted. This is something that he should have done a couple hours back. By the time he pointed that out, the sleeping aid had worn off. I didn’t dare to take another one though because I had a feeling that might not end up well. It was useless for me to try and get some more sleep since I knew that they would soon be handing out breakfast (which ended up just being a piece of banana bread and a drink). I looked at the ETA and I didn’t know what to think. The ETA was 10:53 am. My next flight was at 11:20 am. How in the world was I going to make that? I asked the flight attendant about it and she assured me that I would be fine and that the airlines had been notified about. If I missed the flight, I would be automatically re-booked for the next flight in. This calmed my nerves, but it didn’t stop me from rushing when the planed landed at 10:43. The Munich airport was much more efficient, just as I had hoped and expected it to be. I got off, and was led directly to the next gate the I had to be in. I had to go through a security / customs check, but the was done quicker than I had ever thought possible. Yay Germany! I was in and out of Germany in a matter of thirty minutes. If there is any reason at all that I was disappointed by this, it was because at least if I had stayed for the next flight, I probably would have had time to enjoy some German sausages at one of the airport eateries. Finally, I arrived in Istanbul. I bought my tourist visa, waited in line, went through customs, chased my suitcase around the conveyor belt, and met up with my boyfriend’s dad who was waiting for me right in the middle. It was quite a journey, but now I’m here.