My last week

Today is my last Sunday. It’s getting a little bit emotional already. I’m happy to go home soon, but I realise that I will really miss my life here. I feel really at home here and I have some friends and family who’ve become a big part of my life.

Yesterday I went to Agora AVM, the shoppingcenter where I’ve spent half of my time in Izmir. I went there with two friends from my class. We went to the cinema to see ‘Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them’. Afterwards I ate kumpir (again). When we finished our food, I gave them a little present, socks with the belgian flag on them. It made me feel so good when I saw that they really liked it. That was the first time I had to hold some tears for my friends here.

Today I will walk around in the cutest places of Izmir together with my Indonesian AFS friend, Nayla. I will buy some souvenirs and Turkish food to bring with me.

Next week is just another schoolweek, but it’ll probably feel a little bit different, as it is my last week. Tomorrow I will have my last ceremony, the thing with the national anthem. I actually really like this, I can sing it, but I don’t really know what I’m singing.
Thursday is my last schoolday. We, my class and I, will do a little ‘party’ and everyone will bring something to eat or drink. I had a really beautiful time in this class. The lessons were so boring for me, but I will remember each of my classmates for the rest of my life. They made me feel good, accepted me for who I am and made me a part of their class. I’m really gratefull for that.

I will love Izmir and Turkey for the rest of my life. I’m sure I will come back here, Izmir is a perfect city for holidays. Also I would really like to visit Istanbul and Kapadokya. I will try to find Turkish food and shops in Belgium. I will remember all the people I met here.
But most of all, when I will think about my time here, there will appear a little smile on my face, filled with satisfaction.

Yakında görüşürüz!

(I added some pictures in ‘Galery’)
(some weeks ago, I made a video


19 days and X kilo’s later

I know, some time has past since my last blogpost.
Well, as I said in my last post, this one will be about school. I don’t know exactly how long I’ve been going, a big 2 weeks I guess.
I’m going to start with telling about my first school day.

It was a sunny september Friday. My mom and I walked to school.We arrived at school, but first we drank Turkish çay. Actually, only my mom drank çay, because I was afraid my stomach wouldn’t be able to handle the stress in combination with çay.
After that, we walked into the school. The students were standing in some kind of square, their faces turned to someone, who I guess is the principal, who was giving a speech about the toilets. During this, my mom and I stand next to the square, not knowing what to do. During this, I felt all these faces turning to my mom and I. I felt so ashamed, I didn’t know where to look. I could read from the faces ‘Who is she?’, ‘What is she doing here?’, ‘Why is she standing there?’, ‘Why is this woman with her?’.
After this, an English teacher told me to come with her. I would have two lessons of English with her first, because my class had a lesson in Turkish.
After these two lessons, a girl from this class showed me my real class. I came in, not really knowing how to behave and what to say. Someone offered me to sit next to him, so I felt a little more comfortable.
My first day was, euh, really hectic. Everyone from my class was asking a lot of questions and, well they are just very loud. Now I’m really used to them. I feel like they’re my friends.
In the lessons, I’m kinda bored. Because most of them are in Turkish (but I’m lucky, I’m in languages and I have 12 hours of English). Mostly, I read a book or try to sleep a bit.

Here are some facts about my school here/Turkish schools:

-We have a kantine, and it’s probably my favourite thing about Turkish schools. The whole day, you can buy food there (so cheap!!). They have coffee, ayran (<3), actually all kinds of drinks, also dürüm, pizza, toasts and cookies.
-After every lesson (40 minutes) we have a 10-minutes break. One of 45 minutes for lunch.
-Every Monday morning and Friday after the lessons, we have ‘ceremony’. The whole school gathers to sing the national anthem. We look at the Turkish flag and sing Istiklal Marsi. I can sing a little more than half of it, but I want to know all the words.
-During the breaks, we are free to be in our classroom, in your friends’s classroom, in the corridor, outside, in the kantine…
-Physical education is 10 minutes of running and stretching, and 2 hours talking with your classmates.
-We wear a uniform: the school t-shirt (in black, blue or white) with black trousers.
-Make-up is not allowed, but tattoo’s, piercings and coloured hair are.
-The toilets are shit.

Bye bye!
xx Jülide (my Turkish name, because Judith is too hard sometimes)

Small update

My first month here is almost over. I can’t believe this. It’s going too fast.

I’m still not going to school because we’re waiting for the minister to give us permission. I’m not sure how all of this works, but that’s what I heard.
In the meantime my mom sometimes takes me to a beautiful place, but it’s hard for her to see how much I want to go to school. It’s impossible for her to take me out every day, I understand that.
I can’t wait to go to school, because then I will finally be able to make new friends and be around people of my own age.
When I’m at home, I spend my time watching series (I finished The O.C. today) or films. This Sunday I’ll probably meet with Nayla, my Indonesian friend who’s also staying in Izmir with AFS. I absolutely can’t wait!

The hardest thing for me, here in Izmir, is the difference with my small town, Poperinge. In my Belgian city, I know all the places. I know where to go when I need something. I know where my friends live. I go out by myself when I’m bored.
Izmir is so big, it’s so easy to get lost. It frustrates me how I’ll never be able to know the whole city. Also, for me, everything looks the same. All those little streets with small shops and apartments look exactly the same for me. The traffic is also totally different for me. It seems like they don’t know parking lots here, you just put your car where you think is some place left. So you can drive hours (not literally) to find one tiny place for your car.
Another thing that’s totally different from Poperinge is that we go to the supermarket every day. It’s pretty easy since we live above a supermarket. There is another supermarket, Migros, right before our door. You never have to take your bike or car to get something.

I’ll end this post, again, with a few facts I’ve noticed.

-On the radio, most of the time, it’s Turkish music. Which I really start to appreciate. The first Belgian song I heard on Turkish radio was Howling At The Moon by Milow. My first reaction was ‘Woooaah mom, mom, listen, this is a Belgian song.’ But a few seconds later I realised I hate this song, but I sang along anyway.
I also heard Gold by Gabriel Rios once. I was singing along and the song kept playing in my head. Ten minutes later I realised which song it was.

-The subway in Izmir is really clean, compared to Paris. I don’t know about other city’s, but I’m sure Izmir belongs to the better ones.


-The past two mondays, I woke up with the national anthem. There is a primary school near my house. In Turkey students have to sing the national anthem every monday morning. I noticed that people stopped working during the national anthem, the moment it’s over, they start to work again.

I can’t wait to know what I’ll write in my next blogpost. Probably something about school.
Fingers crossed.




Week 2 out of 12

In the meantime, I’m already here for two weeks, time is going so fast.
What have I done this week? Uhm, I try to learn as much Turkish as possible, but it’s very hard as Turkish is nothing like English, French or German. But my sister says my Turkish is improving.
What else have I been doing? Watching a lot of movies and series. Fortunately I brought my ‘to watch-list’ with me.
We haven’t done a lot this week, we met with my sister’s friends a lot (in the evenig). We went to the sea with my mother, sister and her abla. We live 2 minutes walking from the sea, but we drove almost an hour to go swimming because the sea here is not for swimming. I asked my sister one day to do something, but here they don’t do a lot in the afternoon because it’s too hot they say. I find that it’s indeed hot, but for me that isn’t a reason to stay inside all day.
Normally, school in Turkey starts tomorrow, on the 19th of september. (It’s kinda late this year, because of the Sacrifice Feast. I haven’t seen anything of the sacrifices. I’m kinda happy about that, although I would have liked to see how it works.) But I can’t go to school yet because of some problems with the education ministery here in Turkey. I don’t like this, because it can be that I can’t go for another 2 weeks. I think I’m going to get a little bored. But my mom said we would visit some places here, so that’s something to look forward to.

I’ll end this blogpost with some things I’ve noticed here.

-Turkish humour is slightly different from Belgian humour I think. I don’t know if I’ll ever get it. (A few days ago, I made my first Turkish word-joke, but apparently it already existed.)

– There are a lot of street cats and dogs here. I love it, most of them look lovely and the people here sometimes give food to them.

– Here in Izmir, women don’t wear hidjabs a lot. I think there are as many women who wear them in Antwerp.

– The best football team is Göztepe. (according to what my mother, sister and her friends say)

– Turkish teenagers (even grown-ups) use their phone all the time. I thougt it was bad in Belgium, but oh god, I was wrong about that. If people here wouldn’t have a phone, they would not know what to do with their time, I think.
For me this is one of the hardest things. I don’t use my phone a lot (here as good as not, because I don’t have a Turkish number yet.) and here people are always busy with whatsapp and stuff, so I’m sitting there, waiting till they are done. But that’s kinda stupid because they’re never done.

– Turkish people love to eat

– I almost eat fries every day. (I think they think that fries are the only thing we eat in Belgium.)

– They eat a lot of yoghurt here. A lot a lot.

– People in Izmir love the sea so much. Everywhere, in houses, on the street, in shops, on clothes, you can see pictures of ships and anchors.

– Everyone is family. Everyone is each other’s sister or brother. I find this very beautiful, but for me it’s still weird that everyone uses so much sweet names for each other.

– People’s reaction to ‘I’m from Belgium’ is 99 procent of the time ‘Aah, Club Brugge, Anderlecht, (even Racing Genk once!!), Eden Hazard, De Bruyne, Courtois, Company, Lukaku… Very beautiful.’

Güle güle! (literally translated: Go while laughing! What’s kinda beautiful I think.)


Third day in Izmir

Today, alti eylül is my third day in my host family in Izmir.
I didn’t have the time yet to miss home.14199750_10154490174039246_6803981586432755870_n When we arrived in Istanbul on Friday, we went to a hotel together with all the other AFS’ers who will be staying in Turkey this year or trimester. We were only with 15, 4 of us stay in Izmir.
Sunday morning, we arrived in the airport of Izmir. The family’s and volunteers were waiting for us. Everyone was so friendly. First we went for a drink just outside the airport and people were so warm. I was only there for 5 minutes and it already felt like home. My mom even had tears in her eyes.
A few things were clear from the moment we arrived. If you think Belgians eat a lot, you’re wrong. Our first meal in Istanbul consisted of 5 plates. We didn’t know that, so I was full after the first plate.14215263_1249028931806291_803179985_o
On my first day in my host family, we ate lunch with the three of us. My mom is a very good cook. After that, we went to my sister’s friends. They are so friendly! But it’s hard to communicate since I don’t know any Turkish, people here don’t speak very good English. But that’s okay, then I’ll learn Turkish easier. My sister helps me a lot with my Turkish.
On the first day, my sister and her friends made me supporter Göztepe, a football team from Izmir.
In the evening we had dinner with my mom, sister and my sister’s abla. Abla is like a sister, but not a real sister.14256671_868081773327173_473214052_n
On my second day, we went to my family’s garden. I don’t really know what it is, but we had to drive a little and then we were in a garden with oranges, chickens and a horse. Then we visited someone in the hospital. After that, my sister and I went out with her friends again. We walked next to the water and sat in the park.
In the evening we went to family because a little boy had his circumsision. It is a muslim tradition. I felt sorry for him because he was crying because he was so hurt.
Today my sister, our friends and I will go somewhere with a boat. I look forward to it :D.
Till next time!
Görüsürüz xx

One week before departure

Next week, september 2, I’ll take the plane to Istanbul. I’ll be staying there for a few days for arrival camp with the other AFS’ers who will be staying in Turkey.
After the camp I’ll take another plane to the city where I’ll be staying the next 3 months… Izmir!! I was so happy when I heard I would stay in Izmir. I have a sister who is only 1 year younger than me, I’m so glad.

Last week it was very hot here in Belgium, around 30 degrees. I thought I was dying in such heat. That’s something I’m afraid of in Turkey, that I’ll have troubles with the weather. But I’ll survive. At least I hope so.

My AFS exchange


This post is about AFS (Intercultural Programs) and everything around it. I’m writing this in june, so before my departure.
First of all, AFS is short for American Fields Service. AFS is originated short after when WW1 started. I don’t know a lot about how it begun, but I know how it is now, so I’ll tell you something about that. Last year AFS celebrated their 100th birthday.

AFS is an organisation that has not many employees, it’s all about volunteers. Most of the volunteers are people who went on an exchange themselves or who are a host brother or sister. The volunteers help people like me, who didn’t leave yet. They also help the people who came back from their exchange.

I had been thinking about studying abroad for a long time. My best friend told me she also wanted to do that. So we went to a representation in Kortrijk. Then we made an account on the AFS site. We had to fill in a lot of practical information and we had to write a letter to our futur family. Your host country couples you to a host family on the basis of that file.
In november 2015 I went on my first weekend with our comité. Our comité is called KIP, because it’s the area of Kortrijk, Ieper and Poperinge. It’s actually a very cool name because ‘een kip’ in Dutch means ‘a chicken’.
At the end of the weekend full of workshops, we had to choose our country. I actually wanted to go to a country that speaks French, German, English, Spanish or Portuguese. I ended up choosing Brazil, Latvia, Turkey and Portugal. My parents were very surprised that I chose Turkey, Brazil and Latvia, because we didn’t know anything about those countries. I had to make the choice completely on my own. We couldn’t see our parents anymore, I found it very hard to choose all by myself. I remember that I was stressed out at that moment.
Then, a month later, we received an e-mail with the country the computer chose for us. I had a feeling that I would get Turkey, because everyone was kind of negative about it. At first I was a little bit disappointed. But now I couldn’t wish for another country!
I already started learning Turkish with Duolingo. I really want to know the language, because it’s actually such a beautiful language!
I don’t know where in Turkey I will be staying. I will get an e-mail with my host family and host city in the following months.
I can’t wait!!
(btw, my best friend will be staying in Latvia for 3 months.)