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.

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Week 2

So far, this week has been quite lackluster. We came in on Monday expecting there to be students in the kindergarten school, but there weren’t. When we asked where they were our coordinator seemed just as confused as we were, and the response that we got was a confused shrug and an, “I don’t know. Maybe on Thursday they’ll come in to meet some teachers.” Well, it is now Friday and we have yet to meet or observe any of our students. We did, at least, learn what years and classes we would be teaching. I have the pleasure of teaching classes 6B, 6D, and shared lessons for 5C. This means that I will have two six year old classes and one five year old class. In reality though, I will be with five and four year olds because they are all about a year younger than they say they are. The shared lesson should be interesting. During a shared lesson, the Turkish teacher and the English teacher come together to create a combined lesson; it’s usually done with a story but in the case of the five year olds’ class it’ll probably be arts and crafts of sorts. For example, if there is a book that we want to read to the children, the Turkish teacher will introduce what the book is about to the children (not tell the story in Turkish) then the English teacher would read the book to the students, and then, finally, the Turkish teacher would finish up the lesson by asking the students about the book and such. Seems like a neat idea, right? Well, we shall see. Apparently, last year, there were a lot of complaints about the shared lessons because the Turkish teachers just saw it as a time that they didn’t have to do anything, and, at times, they wouldn’t even show up to the shared lessons. I’m hoping it won’t be like that this year. 
I’ll have twenty-six teaching hours (an hour over the twenty-five I should have which means I’ll get paid a little extra yippieeee!!!) this term: eleven hours with 6B, eleven hours with 6D, and four hours with 5C. We have been told that we will start our actual observations next week Monday thru Wednesday and then we will start our lessons on Thursday and Friday. I am interested to see how this actually pans out. Not going to lie, I am a bit nervous to start teaching since I’ve never done it before. At least the classes aren’t too large. Both of my six year old classes have four girls and eight boys. Hopefully, I’ll be able to handle that many boys. Crossing my fingers that they’ll all be little angels but who am I kidding? I should prepare myself for thirty-two crazy, little devils!

Thanksgiving in Italy

As most of us know (and for the foreigners who do not), the United States celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday. Typically, it is a time when people travel all over the country to be with their friends, their family, and their loved ones that they haven’t seen in a while simply to partake in the traditions of cooking, eating, and being together. This year was a bit different for me since I am in Italy, and Thanksgiving is a holiday that is unique to the United States. Here in Urbino, there are only a handful other Americans; most of the Erasmus students are from European countries. There were a few of us however who still wanted to do something for Thanksgiving. Since I absolutely love cooking, I went a little overboard, but it was Thanksgiving; you’re supposed to go overboard! The one American girl, who is also from my home state of Pennsylvania, was going to be gone all day, so she would not be able to cook, but still wanted to join in for dinner so she brought some wine instead. The one American guy, who goes to my school in the states, decided to make a desert; he made fried apples with cinnamon and sugar, which was surprisingly good. We lack an oven so certain things were a bit difficult, but we managed. I went to the grocery store and picked up a few things that I’d be needing for the dinner, such as the turkey. They did not have a whole turkey, which was a bit of a disappointment, but I knew they weren’t going to have them. Instead, they had some giant turkey breasts. I picked up one giant turkey breast which was also overpriced, but I just did not care because of the fact that it was Thanksgiving. Earlier on in the day I had started to cook. I made some roasted red peppers with olive oil and garlic on the stovetop, and I then put them in the fridge because, I’m not sure about elsewhere, but in United States, roasted red peppers are typically served cold. When I came back from the store, I decided to get the turkey going right away, even though we were not going to be eating for another couple of hours. Since we lack an oven, I decided to put the turkey breast in a pot with onions, spices, and a broth, and to then slow cook it with the lid on, so that it would be nice and juicy. Along with the turkey and roasted red peppers, I decided to get some carrots and corn going as well. I started boiling the carrots first so they would soften up and then added the corn with a bit of salt, pepper and a little bit of butter. After putting that aside, we decided that we should make some stuffing. So, my friend who is from England started the stuffing, which was then also cooked on one of the only two burners that we have on the stove. Bread, spices, onion and garlic, zucchini, and egg were thrown into this stuffing, and being someone who doesn’t normally like stuffing, I’d have to say that this one was exceptional. When the stuffing was finished, we started boiling water in order to make mashed potatoes. After throwing in some garlic, butter, and a splash of milk, I hand mashed the potatoes, and Thanksgiving dinner was just about complete.  The English girl then made some gravy from the broth that the turkey had been cooking in for the past few hours, and we were ready! Aside from the three Americans, myself included, we had people joining us from England, Lithuania, Germany, Belgium, Australia, and France; we called them our adopted-Americans for the night. For them, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity so I kept inviting them. I was very proud of myself when everyone kept complementing me on my dishes and especially on the turkey; the other girl from Pennsylvania who is a vegetarian had some turkey for the sake of tradition and then helped herself to seconds of the turkey because she liked it so much! We ate and drank wine, went around the table and shared stories (mostly about American history and customs and the like) and what we were thankful for, and of course we got into some discussions about Native Americans. Personally, I always feel a bit guilty celebrating Thanksgiving since I do come from some Cherokee background, but I mainly do it the traditions, the food, and just being together with everyone. We then had the fried cinnamon and sugar apples that had been made, and a giant block of Italian chocolate that the Australian girl had brought. All in all, I’d say that Thanksgiving in Italy was a success. We were together, we had a grand time, and we ate a lot of food. I found it interesting that the first time I hosted Thanksgiving, I was out of the country. Who would have that would ever happen?