Saturday, January 30, 2010

Man... If I wasn't Turkish, I would think I was weird.

I want to start out by giving a little bit information about myself. I was born and raised in Istanbul, right on the Bosphorus. It would take less than 5 minutes to cross continents (Europe is on the left and Asia is on the right). I came to the US in the summer of 1998, right before I turned 12, which means that I spent almost half of my life in the US.

Now, I can't really identify myself as American or Turkish because I am not quite one way or the other. Actually I would be considered an "other" in each country. I have a little bit of both cultures in me. It was absolutely shocking to me when I moved here. The people, the scenery, the food, the roads, even the trees were all foreign to me. My family and I moved to a medium size town called Lyndhurst in New Jersey, as Prof. Nichols knows, it's about 5 minutes from Belleville. I thought, "Man, we are out in the middle of nowhere!" At the time, Lyndhurst had a population of 25 thousand, but of course for a person who is from a city of nearly 16 million people, it sure felt like a secluded area. After a while, I gave up on looking and being amazed at the differences of both cultures and tried to find similarities instead. To be honest, there aren't many. So, I grew up to be a mutant.

The first advice that I would give to this hypothetical exchange student about my culture is to take a step back and breathe for a second without giving a response or a quick judgment about anything. Turkey is like me. It is the offspring of Western culture and Islam. We are thought as liberals, Islam "killers," to the Middle East yet the Westerners, especially Europeans think of us as conservatives or extremists.

Here is a little video I found on youtube about my beautiful country:

There is a strong connection between people; relatives, neighbors, classmates, coworkers, etc. It is so string and important in fact that we have an old saying that goes: "Don't buy a house, buy a neighbor." The bond between neighbors are so strong that it is more important to pick your neighbors that fit your taste than a house. I remember when I was growing up, whenever I stayed at my grandmother's house, there was "tea time." One of the women who lived in her apartment complex would make tea and cookies and all of them would get together and have a "break" from housework. I mostly enjoyed these gatherings, because that meant that I got to eat cookies and coffee grinds. I know that sounds so weird.... I don't know how many of you know about Turkish coffee but it is kind of like espresso. The ground coffee accumulates on the bottom of the cup, and after drinking the coffee, the women turn the cup upside down on the little plate and wait for their fortunes to appear. Then a fortune teller "reads" the coffee grinds. My favorite part was after the reading. I would lick the left over coffee grinds. As I said before, if I wasn't Turkish, I would think this very weird.

I think that we express our culture mostly through mythos and techne.

I couldn't tell you exactly when I heard the story of the Maiden's Tower, but it is a story that probably all people who live in Istanbul know.

"According to the most popular Turkish legend, a sultan had a much beloved daughter. One day, an oracle prophesied that she would be stung to death by a venomous snake's bite on her 18th birthday. The sultan, in an effort to thwart his daughter's early demise by placing her away from land so as to keep her away from any snakes, had the tower built in the middle of the Bosphorus to protect his daughter until her 18th birthday. The princess was placed in the tower, where she was frequently visited only by her father.

On the 18th birthday of the princess, the sultan brought her a basket of exotic sumptuous fruits as a birthday gift, delighted that he was able to prevent the prophecy. Upon reaching into the basket, however, an asp that had been hiding amongst the fruits bites the young princess and she dies in her father's arms, just as the oracle had predicted. Hence the name Maiden's Tower."

This is just many of the many stories of my country and culture. Religious stories also play a big role in our society.

The second way that we express our culture is through techne. Man.... I would need to write an encyclopaedia if I want to get into our cultural expression through the production of arts. I'm going to leave it to Victoria, aka Turkish Delight, to explore more into the Turkish culture. As I was just writing about the mythos, I thought, "Hey, I could let Victoria know if she needs any help with her project, I would be available," so I think I need to stop right about here because she has a lot of exploring to do. So, here's one site that would be really helpful:

P.S. Guys, I feel like I write a lot... I started writing this blog at 11 and now it's 4... Meaning, I made lots and lots of cuts. I don't want to be boring. Like Prof. Nichols said, he has to read these. So, please let me know if you enjoyed my blogs so far or if you have any suggestions for me to make it better.

P.S.S. How many of you think the coffee eating is weird? I know if I was in your shoes, I would think it weird.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Heartbroken Jets ^_^

First off, kudos to our CLAM professor, Randy Nichols, for his entertaining, funny, and insightful 3rd week videos. I scared my aunt with my shrill laugh when I heard the bit about the Jets. You know, being from Jersey and having lived about 5 minutes from the Giants Stadium for 11 years, I can't help but be a fan and take pleasure in the Jet fans' broken hearts! OK, enough insult to the Jets. The reason why I'm so comfortable about not offending anyone is because I think that it is highly unlikely we have a Jets fan in the class.

Now back to some serious business. I unfortunately do not have the opportunity to study abroad. I consulted Prof. Nichols about what culture I should investigate and he gave me some clear insight to how I should go about choosing one. I narrowed it down to two. So, I need your help (classmates and Prof. Nichols) in helping me pick one.

First culture is the small population located in San Pedro, Peru in the Peruvian Andes. I traveled there with a non-profit organization called Globe Aware. I spent a week there with some of my co-workers and learned a lot about their culture. Here is a link to the Globe Aware San Pedro facebook album.

By the way, that's me on the left, on the way to Marchhuasi.

So, I know quite a bit of "stuff" about the Peruvians in San Pedro, because I had a chance to explore their culture first hand. But I also like a challenge so I thought maybe I should investigate something that I don't know anything about.

My second option is to explore the Assyrian, a.k.a. Chaldean or Syriac people. Turkey has a large population of Muslims; 98% to be exact. So, growing up in Turkey, I wasn't exposed to other religions at all. But now here in the US, one of my aunt's closest friends is Syriac (I don't know if I'm using it in the right context but in Turkish they would be called "Süryani"). I haven't much conversed with him or his family so I don't know much. The little bit I know is that even though they were born and raised in Turkey, they don't call themselves Turkish. They call themselves "Süryani." It's a more of a definition about their faith than their nationality. I asked him one day what Süryani meant and he said it means Christian. They speak Aramaic, the language of Christ and religion plays a big role in their lives. So, anyways, I thought this would be a good opportunity to find out about their culture. He promised me he would take me to Church and show me their lifestyle as best as he could.

Anyways, let me know what you guys think as to what culture I should pick to study.

P.S. I had to look up the word "pontificate."
P.S.S. Field of Dreams picture was awesome.
P.S.S.S. I used Hoftede's website for my Thailand group project in COMM 150.
P.S.S.S.S. I disagree with E.D. Hirsch's quote: "Knowing a lot of words means knowing a lot of things." I think that knowing a lot of words means knowing a lot of words. Knowing something ABOUT the word is more important than knowing the word. For example, I know the word snake. I also know a little bit about snakes because I owned three snakes for a while. Anyways, that's my two cents about the subject.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lack of involvement...

As I said before, I don't quite like "blogging" or the online communities. I found out pretty quickly after I signed up for facebook and myspace that I spent way too much time "surfing" when I could have been doing other things that are more valuable with my time. Now I just kind of sign in and out sporadically.

I used to keep an online journal in high school. It wasn't known site like xanga or livejournal I kind of wanted to be anonymous. One day I stumbled upon this website called At the time it had something like two or three hundred users. Logging in was a pain in the butt due to server overflow. I really liked conversing with people I didn't know. I think it made it an unbiased medium for people to voice their opinions without the backlash of prejudice.

As you can see, I'm not a big blogger and never have been. But I think that this course will enable me to have a different prospective about the online communities.

Anyhoo, after I thought about what I should write in this post, I wanted to include a copy of the "Map of Online Communities" photo here. I thought it was funny and quite brilliant! And all I had to do was google "Map of Online Communities" and link it here. It popped up as the first search. Nothing about the internet surprises me anymore to be honest.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

CLAM, here I AM!

Well, I am technology challenged to say the least. I am not big on MySpace or facebook. I thoroughly dislike youtube and I hate, HATE, blogging or online journals. I am just not a big fan of spending so much time on the internet trying to find out about other people or advertise myself, if you will. Even now, as I was wring this blog, my laptop overheated and shut off. Fortunately, it didn't erase everything I had worked on.

This course is going to be a challenge for me. Not because of the material but because I categorize myself as a technology-reject. But I'm sure that I will learn a lot and enjoy the course.

I have to say the syllabus and the course outline was well organized. Organization is essential to be because I have OCD. The blogger set up video was very very helpful and much needed in my case =P

I look forward to a semester of blogging... NOT!