Hey everyone! I am John Mallow, and even though I have not been assigned a country yet for my Rotary student exchange, just knowing that I will even have a country is enough for me! I live in a city in Florida called Weston, which is pretty much Ft. Lauderdale.
For the most part, I've been told that I am curious, outgoing, and even a little bit crazy, but I've found myself to be hard-working and loyal. I love sports, especially football, and I am a music junky. I've played in numerous bands (even as a part time job), playing the bass and the guitar. I have a personal love of the international community, and I am always curious about what is happening in the world. Also, honestly, I love school, and I love taking part in my favorite clubs, which are Model UN (United Nations), Interact, DECA, D.F.Y.I.T (drug free youth in town), S.A.D.D. (students against destructive decisions), Friends of Gilda's, and the National Science Honor Society.
I love to try new things, and this recent "thing" is almost scary, but I can't believe that I am able to take part in something so much bigger than myself; to learn and become more mature; become a better leader a role-model; to be a foreign exchange student. I can't wait to see where the world takes me!!!
October 26 Journal
Hello people of RYE florida and my friends in the various parts of the world! I am here writing in my Turkish house to say (mostly to Al Kalter, Joe Altschul, and Roy) that I am alive and healthy- I promise :D! I have been to various houses throughout my stay in Istanbul, and I have had no internet in some of the houses, and I have also had the basic exchange problems too, so I am sorry that my monthly reports have been... not so monthly... but I promise to keep you updated as much as possible!!
Anyways, Merhaba!!! From Istanbul, Turkey. My stay here in this country is the single most greatest experience I have ever had. I am lucky to still be on this continuous adventure, because I am always afraid that I will wake up. Everyday is like a dream- I am having a problem explaining it more.. but I will describe it by writing about my new life in one of the biggest cities and cultural centers in the world.
The day I arrived in Turkey, I was quite intimidated by the immensity of the traffic, which is now famous to the exchange students, and the crowded population of Istanbul. Everywhere you go there is traffic, and when you think the traffic is getting better, there is always more traffic up ahead. The traffic is the worst in the mornings across the Bosphorus, because most people live on the Asian side of Istanbul, and then go to the European side for work, and then it reverses when everyone is going home... so taking a car to work is usually not the best idea because there are only two bridges for most of the population of Turkey. Also, when you cross the street, cars SPEED UP... which is havoc for everyone, so walking can be bad because of this reason, and the drivers use cars in ways that would otherwise be illegal in the USA...
In Istanbul there are two sides- the Asian and European, as I mentioned before. I live on the European side, which has more religious and old Turkish buildings; for instance, there is an old mosque right outside my school which is a pretty neat thing if you come from the United States (we are not used to mosques, etc). Everything is so close together in Turkey, including the rich and poor, which can be quite odd. I live in a wealthy part of Istanbul, but right next to the flats are slums that are only visible if you look down from the highway. It's interesting how the poor people literally live lower than the more wealthy.
School is awesome. I can talk on and on about school, but I will keep it short. I love my friends in school. I have many friends, but mostly in the 9th grade because there are only thirty six 12th graders. I am in the school band, like an actual rock band (I play bass), and they are planning on going to a huge Turkey band competition for schools, and I might be playing with them. I am also doing dance in my school, and on the 29th I will be dancing in front of my whole school! When the Model United Nations club starts up, I will be joining that too! Everything is so great in my school, and they are the least strict school in Turkey (and to add, it is a boarding school).
The students in my school are some of the most hospitable people I have ever met, including the people outside of school (the rest of Turkey). The first day of school I met up with another exchange student, and we were given students to show us around the school, and they attempted to go overboard in the whole introduction process for us in the school. I can't stop making new friends everyday- young and older students, they are all just as curious to where I am from because I stand out in the crowd of the Turks (blonde hair blue eyes), and also, they are quite curious in why I have piercings in my eyebrow and ears (other students have earrings too!). Everywhere I go, when I am meeting new people with my friends, the new person always says "Merhaba" to my first friend (it is a greeting which is equivalent to hello in English), and they kiss each other's cheeks. The same happens for the next few friends, but when it is my turn for a greeting they always stick out their hand for a handshake and say "HELLO". In the beginning it was quite alright and understandable, but since now my Turkish has improved dramatically, I am getting quite frustrated because sometimes it halts my Turkification =P. However, when people see me from a distance, I am always proud of myself because when people need directions, they ask me in Turkish, and I always find them the right way... in Turkish!!
Lets go back to the traffic. Traffic is again, the worst I have ever seen. People literally fight for the road. Most people walk or take the otobus or minibus, which are cheap ways of transportation that never exceed two lira (about, with the rising of the dollar, is only one dollar a ride). Taxis can be more expensive, but take much less time because taxi drivers are insane. The minibus can be frustrating because of where I live. I live in the middle of a place called Istinye, which is a great part of Istanbul. However, where I live, there are no minibus stops; there are minibus stops, but I have to walk a nice mile and a half to get to one. I already walk to school everyday because of the awkwardness of where I live- I pass a school that is literally three minutes by walk, compared to the twenty minutes I take every morning (twenty minutes is rushing). The geography of Turkey makes it ever harder to get to school- it's not so bad in the rest of Turkey, just where I live.. then in most places it gets more flat in other places.
My diet consists of... everything. Nutella, which is my absolute favorite, is my breakfast, which goes along with different cheeses, breads, sometimes meat, olives, jam, honey, sometimes eggs, and Pinar, a Turkish brand of milk- and let's not forget Turkish tea, which is an if-you-are-Turkish-you-always-must-drink-it type of thing. Lunch consists of the usual doner kebap (meat), toast- which is basically a grilled cheese sandwich with meat and tomato, and sometimes a few other traditional Turkish dishes which I forgot the name to. Dinner is.... amazing. In my family there is always different soups, and in there are also different main dishes you can eat. Domla is a pepper with rice and meat in it, there is also kofte, a kind of meatball, salad, beans, fish, different other meats like chicken; the list goes on. After you are stuffed and can't eat anything else and you're about to pass out from all the food you ate, there is of course, dessert. The desserts are truly extravagant, and I have made them my own personal delicacies in Turkey. You'll have to come to try them out yourselves! Also, even though it seems I eat everything in Turkey, which of course I do, all the food is fresh and usually comes from a Bazaar, an open air market with cheap food sold by the kilo. It is all fresh and more healthy for you, and I have lost about ten kilos since the beginning of my exchange. My host mom (and bless her English because she has problems saying the TH sound, like the and that) always says "John! You are getting too TIN!"
I have been to many places on my stay in Turkey. The first one, is in a place called Sapanca, on the Asian side. It is a beautiful village type place outside of Istanbul, in the mountains. I stayed there with a temporary family while my family had their vacation in the United States. From this stay I realized that Turkey has everything- beautiful people, food, and places. Everything is the same but also everything is so different at the same time. I am truly witnessing the mix of the East and West cultures together. But one thing most Eastern and Western cultured Turks agree on- Turkish pride. The crescent moon and star on the Turkish flag can be found everywhere, as well as Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the most important Turk in Turkish history, who founded the republic of Turkey. If you thought Americans were patriotic, think again. There are more Turkish flags waving in Istanbul then there are American flags in the whole United States. It is quite unbelievable.
This is just my introduction of my stay in Turkey. Much more has happened, but I will let you know in three weeks. Stay tuned my friends!!
Hosca Kalin! Gorusuruz!
Kandi ne Iyi Bak!