In Hindsight…

In hindsight everything seems a little better than it did at that time. Now that I have been away from Space Camp Turkey for just over two months I am starting to recall the good moments, the learning experiences and what I was able to take away from the experience.

I am really glad I didn’t let that daily job ruin my overall experience in Turkey. I saw beautiful places, met wonderful people and learned so many things that I didn’t think really mattered until I am starting to use them in my daily life here in college. I am more patient, compassionate, open minded and organized. Before I would confidently say that I was way more my way or the highway mindset but after leaving I really feel like I don’t think that way. I want to listen to what people have to say and understand their perspective.

I am more confident and able to find happiness in every single day. I won’t say that every day has been flowers and rainbows but I find that little piece of silver lining in every Monday morning, every rude comment and bad situation. I did this at Space Camp all time when I would be having the worst day imaginable but when I came into work I did what I could to make sure my team had a good time. I smiled when I didn’t want to and at the end of the day that fake smile turned into a genuine happiness.

This confidence and ability to find happiness even in the bad days has really made my senior year ten times better than I could ever imagine and I’m only three months in. Taking advantage of opportunity, listening to someone, smiling and saying hello can do so much for you as a person and I am really thankful about all of these qualities I can say that I have now. I have to say thank you to Space Camp for providing me with such a great experience to grow and to learn more about myself.

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Back to America

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Plane after landing in Istanbul

My experience has Turkey has long been over but I failed miserably at concluding my adventure in such a wonderful country. My flight home felt relatively short but by the end of the day I was definitely exhausted after a little over 12 hours of travel. Rather than sleeping the whole flight this time I was awake watching movies.

I watched Admission,  Red Riding Hood, GI Joe 2, Ocean’s 13, and Things We Lost in the Fire. It was a pretty random line up but I really enjoyed all of the films. The whole flight back it hadn’t really hit me that I had three months of living and working at Space Camp Turkey behind me.

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Gokhan my Turkish crush! Really miss this guy!

The people that I met and the experiences that I had were unforgettable and although it wasn’t the experience I imagined I was able to walk away from Turkey feeling accomplished. Leaving some of the people I met was really hard and after being gone for a month its the little things that have stuck with me. The “breh” comments the boys always joked about, the constant use of evet and tamam in conversation, and the beautiful sights that I saw every day. I still hear these words and see those sights. Its experiences like this that will forever be ingrained into my memory.

Working in Turkey definitely left an impact on me and helped shape me into the senior that I am right now. I would love to say I talk to everyone every day or keep in touch really well with everyone but I don’t. The people I grew close with I have been lucky to talk even once. I really miss Turkey and the people I met but I could easily live without Space Camp. I could not have asked for a better experience in a more beautiful place with such a rich culture and I am so blessed to have had this experience.

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Fethiye Day 2: Unfortunate Travels

We woke up early the next morning in anticipation for our boat trip to visit Cold Water Spring, Butterfly Valley, and Blue Cave and after a full night of sleep I was ready to face the day. The seaside breakfast only helped set the mood for a great day and round 9:30 AM we once again crowded up on a dolmus to take us to downtown Fethiye. However, we didn’t stop at the same spot we did last time but in front of a random Turkish bank next to a gas station.

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Waiting for the bus

We anticipated our driver to be Turkish late so the first fifteen minutes after our initial arrival wasn’t that bad. It was when we reached thirty minus we got antsy and then after 40 minutes we got mad. We started asking Gökhan where the driver was at, have you called the guy, the boat leaves in 10 minutes *exaggerating a bit (we were at least a 25 min drive away from the beach), I guess we aren’t going? Was our final conclusion and voila up drives a jank van to pick us up.

After we got on the bus and started moving worry struck all of us. The fifteen of us gathered on the bus and we thought it might just fall apart at that very moment and once we started moving it got worse. Deven and Gabe, two pretty big guys, were sitting and there seat was shaking so viciously that Deven decided to just stand instead. All the way up the mountain we kept making jokes about how the wheels would fall off, the back seat would fly out the back door and the van would end up stranded on the side of the road. It wasn’t until the bus driver stopped at a little spot on the mountain, got off, and started smoking that we realized something was up.

First, we were told we were waiting on another bus. And secondly, we were told the truth which was that the boat was not working. It was then anger started spewing out from everyone’s pores. Nihan, one of the quietest people I have ever met, was so mad he was sharing words with the driver. The other group who had also got on the bus with us was taken away in a separate bus and we all got back on the other bus and headed back down.

We gathered back into the bus and headed back towards downtown Fethiye where stopped at Easy Riders, the company we had booked our trip through. It was then the truth came out. The boat had been broken even before we had left the hotel that morning but rather than telling us they still had the bus take us half way there and then tell us that it wasn’t working. It was like a meeting with the Turkish mafia as everyone sat in this glass room and talked about the events that had just taken place.

While we waited we were met by the other group who was taken away by the other bus. They had unfortunately been taken all the way to the beach and had to take a taxi back to downtown Fethiye. They happily just got there money back and with a little exchange of words with managers.

Of course, they tried to first get us on another boat trip later that day but after the shenanigans we had just dealt with nobody wanted any part of that.One person even wanted our money back plus 10 lira each for our trouble and wasted time on holiday. Let’s just say that didn’t happen. This person proceeded to follow our initial seller of the trip back to his moped and share with him his opinion about what had happened.This scene drew a crowd as me and others sat and watched. I am very upset I missed this prime photo opportunity. Anyways, after the argument was over the only compensation we got for our time was a “free” ride back to the hotel and a reimbursement from the boat trip we didn’t take. It

The rest of the day was spent at the beach splashing around in the sea behind our hotel. By 3pm, we had all pretty much forgotten about how awful our morning had been and no one really wanted to bring it up because tension sprung up at the mention of Easy Riders or the name Fatih Bay. The day wasn’t a complete waste and we ended up booking a different boat trip through our hotel. It didn’t include Butterfly Valley or Blue Cave but after the morning we had just had nobody was in the mood for complaining.

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Fethiye: Day One

Since it’s Bayram we were granted a week off from Space Camp. We spent our first three days in Fethiye…

After a meager four hours of sleep after packing I was awakened by my alarm at 5:00am. After getting up and doing to the bare minimum to prepare for the five hour bus ride I headed to the front to wait for everyone else. After everyone made it we headed to the front of ESBAS where we watched the sunrise and were surprisingly unmet by our driver. We waited and waited, stared down several buses until 45 minutes later our bus finally showed up.

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The Restaurant

Finally on the road to Fethiye I immediately put in my headphones and slept away the first hour and a half. Our first stop at the gas station I didn’t even bother getting off because we hadn’t been driving that long and I was way too comfortable. We got back on the road not longer after and continued on for another hour until our next stop and stopped for breakfast. When the doors of the bus opened we were greeted by the awful smell of manure. It was awful and stood in the hot air just making it ten times worse.

Not only were we seated outside at this restaurant but we were told the cook was out as well so our only options were sandwiches or an uncooked Turkish breakfast (i.e. tomatoes, cucumbers, bread, cheese, some weird ham meat, olives). Not only were the options short but they also got half our orders wrong.

Quick Recap: We had travelled less than three of our five hours, already stopped twice, and were eating at a restaurant that smelled like poop. What a beginning to this trip.

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View of the sea from the hotel room

Our last hour was easily the most entertaining part of the trip. Thanks to one of my campers I recently downloaded Ellen DeGeneres’app called Heads Up and everyone loved it. We easily played over 20 rounds back to back for the next hour and half and didn’t get bored. I’m sure the bus driver had to hate us because if you ever play the game you will quickly learn it can become pretty loud and obnoxious very quickly. I will admit that it made the trip go by so much faster and got me excited for a day at the beach.

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Oludeniz Beach

 

 

And five hours later we had made it to our hotel and it was really nice. We were right on the beach BUT of course the beach that we were going to was a dolmus and a bus ride away (so about an hour). We all changed and hopped on a dolmus and headed over to catch our bus to the beach in downtown Fethiye. Our group alone completely filled one dolmus and on the first ride we had it all to ourselves most of the way. It was when we switched over to the bus that things got very crowded. I drew the short stick and ended up having to stand. I was miserably hot and watched as the thermometer bounced back and forth from 34 degrees Celsius to 39 degrees Celsius the whole way. Needless to say I was not in a good mood one we got off.

Two of our friends in the group quickly booked a boat trip for the next day and then we headed to the beach. Once settled on the beach with our SCT group it was wonderful. I had a chance to swim, take in the sights, and catch a quick cat camp before we left four hours later.

After getting back to the hotel we all showered and went to dinner as a group at an Indian-Turkish restaurant. While we waited we were able to witness a beautiful sunset right over the mountains and I got an awesome picture to show for it.

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Picture I snapped of the sunset at dinner

After dinner my night ended. I was so tired so I came back with a  few of the guys and watched them play Super Nintendo Mario (can you say throwback) and soon after headed to bed to rest up for what would be an eventful Tuesday morning.

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Bye Bye’s & Boat Trips

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Turkish Buddy, Özge

ESBAS 1 is the name of Kaya and Mary Tuncer’s boat. As an end of the summer treat for all the American counselors and their Turkish buddies we get to spend a day on the boat with our buddy. I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it because most of the people I was close with were on the other boat trip the day before with the exception of like two people.

While on the boat it reminded me of being back in Hilton Head working at Vagabond cruise again. I loved working on the boat and being so close the Calibogue sound. I think the best part of this trip was a tie between dancing with the captain and then him allowing me to steer the boat. He jokingly walked away and soon realized that wasn’t the best idea. It ended up being a really great day that ended sadly when I had to say my last goodbye to my Turkish buddy Özge. She is such a wonderful person with a vibrant personality and contagious smile. She leaves for Poland on Tuesday and wouldn’t be returning to camp before we left for America.

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boatIrma, another friend, I wrote about in another one my blogs is also leaving at the close of this week. Irma received the Fulbright Scholarship so she will move to Bulgaria and teach there for the next year.

As I begin to say goodbye to some of the people I’ve grown close to this summer it reminds me that it’s almost my turn. It will be my turn to say goodbye, head back to America, and begin my senior year. I will conclude my Next Chapter: Turkey blog and leave this experience a completely different person and start this next and final chapter of my undergraduate college career.

But let me not get ahead of myself…I still have THREE weeks left here Turkey; one of which is a paid week off. I don’t think until I’m on the plane it will hit me that I will have just spent the last 90 days on the opposite side of the world. I’m not sure what my last day here in Turkey will feel like so I guess we will just have to wait to and see when my day comes to say goodbye.

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Friday Nights!

Barbeque Night at Space Camp is something that I do actually enjoy attending whether or not I am working. It’s nice to just let loose and dance like a crazy kid. No one judges anyone and the campers really love seeing the person they have seen as their teacher all week act like a normal person. For me, it’s a chance to breathe and relieve stress from the week.

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The beginning of the dance party

We start off BBQ night with a good dinner outside in the “garden” I wouldn’t call it a garden but everyone else does so I just go with it. Once we are finished eating is when the gift exchange starts. On the Apollo-Soyuz mission America and the Soviet Union exchanged gifts so at Space Camp the campers take their last night together as a team and share gifts from their country, just like the Apollo-Soyuz crews. I am sure they didn’t have a crazy fun dance party after but here at Space Camp it’s what we do.

It’s really cool to receive gifts from the kids and know they came from all over the world and everyone gets a kick out of the fun random gifts. Last week one of the counselors even received a clock from one of their campers. Can you say random? But it’s all about the thought that counts. Once this ends the basketball court is cleared of all the tables and the dance party begins.

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Older campers protesting the end of BBQ night. “We don’t want to leave” *Everyone sits down

Music from America and Turkey are played mostly and by request campers can have songs from their countries played as well if it’s available. Like special events night the campers are able to display a dance from the country and share it with everyone at BBQ night but we get to actual try it ourselves this time. 

Going into special events night this past Friday I wasn’t in the best mood at all but once it ended I felt so much better. It is so fun to dance with your campers and meet others that weren’t on your team or even part of the English program. It is one day of the week that I can enjoy good team, bad team, good day, or bad day I always know that BBQ will make me feel a little better. 

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Final Countdown: 30 Days

Today marks the  30 day countdown to my last day in Turkey. Others would be dreading their last weeks here in such a beautiful country but I am opening my arms wide accepting every minute until my departure. I am so ready to leave Turkey. Turkey is an extraordinary country with amazing people, beautiful landscape, and it will definitely leave me with wonderful memories of the sights and people I have had the opportunity to be in contact with.

However, I will not miss this job. The campers have been decent but not really children I hope to see anytime soon. But I do feel I had some brilliant students in my group who will grow up to achieve many great things…maybe be the astronauts going to Mars but in the near future I hope to not see them again.

These past few weeks have been quiet and uneventful. I do what I can to avoid those mainly WODs or wing on duties who make my job problematic and spend my weekends participating in some retail therapy to de-stress from the past week and prepare for the next.

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Irma, Taylor, and Me at the Independence Day Party

In my last blog I noted that close relationships is something I was lacking while here at Space Camp. I misspoke. I have formed a nice little bond with two Americans who work at Space Camp as full time counselors; Irma and Taylor. Together their names sound like something straight off a sitcom and sometimes their lives match the scenario with their hilarious one liners and unbelievably funny  and spontaneous actions.

It was the other day when I was just not feeling this whole space camp thing and flagged Taylor down just to chat and try to have a conversation to help cheer me up. She said to me, “What can we do to make your last weeks at Space Camp the very best?” It was a question I personally had never considered due to my negative outlook on this work experience and it made me start to think of ways I could stop moping around and have a good time. We didn’t really discuss for long because Taylor had to head to work but it did make me think of things a little bit differently than I did before. I want to do exactly what Taylor said and make my last month here at Space Camp the very best.  I want to enjoy coming to work, teaching my campers, and have fun with the people I have met here in Turkey.

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