Long time since my Christmas post. You have my apologies.
A lot has happened since then! So many good things that have made my trip more amazing.
The biggest thing was a tour of Turkey with 19 of my fellow exchangers.
This tour has been the best part of my exchange. I got to spend 12 days with a big part of my family. And the best part? We were all squished together on a mini tour bus :)
We all met in Ankara and left in the morning. When we saw our mini bus, many of us were thinking that a joke was being played on us. It was no joke. On the first day, a couple of us were instantly linked together but on the second day, we were sprawled everywhere. We became used to each other almost instantly which was a great thing.
Another cool thing was that our tour guide was the same one we had for our Christmas tour to Kappadokia! It was wonderful in the beginning to have such a familiar face.
We went to many many different amazing and exquisite cities. Among them were Eskisehir, Izmir, Istanbul, Efes, Antalya, Konya, and a lot of others. Of course there was snow and cold weather in every town except Izmir and Antalya so I ended up buying snow clothes along the way. Nothing compared to the snow clothes used in my hometown of Driggs, but Turkish snow clothes. Each night we stayed at a hotel, often going to sleep at around 2 or 3 in the morning, then waking up at 6:30 the next morning. Needless to say, we did a lot of sleeping on the bus.
Our tour guide was completely wonderful in the amount of patience she had for us. At least for the first 4 or 5 days. After that she started not caring about niceties and felt free to tell us how she really felt about us being late. By the 2nd week a couple of us would take bets on what word she would use to begin the conversation. The words, "My friends," were her absolute favorite. We weren't being rude or making fun of her, but 19 exhausted teenagers can come across as...well, not the most enthusiastic bunch.
We saw the most amazing things on our trip. There were ALOT of ancient cities. Usually people exaggerate when using the word a lot, or people listening think they mean only 5 or 6. We saw about 12 ancient cities. They were beautiful and amazing though. One of my favorite cities was Istanbul. One of my oldest dreams came true when I walked into the entrance hall of Hagia Sophia. Hagia Sophia is the most amazing thing I have ever laid eyes on. One of my best exchange friends and I walked in together because seeing Hagia Sophia had been one of our dreams since we were young. It was a beautiful moment. I can't explain the magnificence of seeing something as old and exquisite as Hagia Sophia, I can only say that it is truly one of the most beautiful things I have ever and will ever see.
After Istanbul we headed to warmer lands. Izmir was next on our list and it was like a whole other world. Sunshine, grass, palm trees, wonderful amazing breeze. It was amazing. The first time the whole trip that I didn't have to wear winter clothes. Needless to say, I could tell I was almost home. After Izmir we headed to my hometown of Antalya. I was so proud to have my closest friends be able to see my city. The weather wasn't the best, but it was much better than the other places we had been. I truly am an island beach kind of girl.
When we arrived back in Ankara, we were happy, exhausted, sad, and once again, cold. But it was no time to rest yet. The next morning we had to get up bright & early (for an exchange student anyway) to meet next years outbound Turkish exchange students. We spent all day in meetings and spending our last day together. We all gave presentations about our home countries. In Turkish. Or mostly in Turkish. We kept taking to much time so some of us gave our presentations half in English and half in Turkish. Or as we call it, Turklish. (=
At the end of the meetings we got to mix and mingle, telling the out bounds about our countries and answering any questions they had. I had the pleasure of meeting an outbound from my city of Antalya. I had no idea who she was. And even better, she goes to my school! Her first choice is (of course) America! :D we've been able to talk and will be hanging out this summer quite a bit.
Our goodbyes were sad, but we know that we will see each other again. The next time for a meeting in....(drum roll please)....ANTALYA!