I’ve started to feel a little guilty about the amount of traffic this blog is getting compared to the number of posts I have up. Truth be told, there’s only so much one can write about language training and other classes, and others have already done so much better than I could. I’ll mention though, I just recently finished my brush-up Turkish and totally rocked my exam. Apparently, I can speak this language!
Let’s just not think about how much my English has deteriorated in the meanwhile.
My A-100 class is a pretty social group, so I’m fairly busy outside of class as well. Here’s a snapshot of what I’m up to when I’m not at school:
Trivia! I lucked out in that there are quite a few casually nerdy folks in my A-100 class. Almost every week we compete for glory (or at the very least for entertainment!) at a varying selection of pub trivia nights. We’ve won several times, and I never cease to be amazed at what esoteric or completely random trivia my friends know. I’m also really glad they didn’t judge me too much for my knowledge of Three6Mafia lyrics.
Soccer! Or, of course, football. I last played soccer when I was 11; my short but illustrious career was known principally for my avoidance of the ball after getting my first-ever black eye 5 minutes into my first-ever soccer game when I took a soccer ball to the face. My intramural soccer team may not be at the top of the league, but we have a lot of spirit and enthusiasm. I think my contribution to the team is mainly comic relief, although I did get an assist on a goal in our first win last week.
Foodieness! With nearly 100 classmates, many of whom also were coming in from out-of-town for training, there’s a surplus of restaurant outings around. Thanks to both a city-centered and a suburb-centered dinner group, as well as a more-organized-than-me classmate coordinating Restaurant Week reservations, I’ve checked out DC’s restaurant options from Dupont to Falls Church and back. One great bonus of having so many new friends from such a wide variety of backgrounds is that everyone has a new ethnic food to share, either at a restaurant or by bringing in goodies. So far, I’ve sampled Central Asian, Ethiopian, Turkish, French, Indian, Russian, Brazilian and Korean cuisine, among others (I brought a dozen classmates over to Cafe Divan for mezes, of course). Delicious! And great incentive to not fully use my kitchen!
MST3K and American TV! I can’t be out and about all the time – the introvert in me would get exhausted. I’ve taken advantage of my US-based IP address and my new Netflix subscription to catch up on quite a few American and British television shows that I missed out on by being abroad. Cultural literacy can be difficult to keep up with when you’re not in the States. I am generally more up to speed than most, because of my mild GoogleReader obsession (most helpful in terms of keeping up on American culture, etc. are, I’d say, Gawker, Jezebel, The Hairpin, Boing Boing), but knowing of a cultural phenomenon isn’t always the same as having seen it. I recently saw my first-ever episode of Toddlers and Tiaras, for example. Yikes.
Anyway, in addition to recent shows, I’ve been getting into Mystery Science Theater 3000. I can’t believe I’ve never watched it before. For those unaware, it’s snarky, comic, and involves terrible 1950s (…and later) science fiction movies. But it’s even better than that: the series was filmed in Minnesota, and there are so many fabulous Minnesota references that I often end up laughing so hard I can’t breathe. If you’ve not seen a few MST3K shows, I highly recommend checking them out.
Exercise! I guess I could lump this in with soccer above, but, well, I’m not going to. I find it difficult to get into a habit of working out regularly in Turkey, for a variety of reasons that I’ll sum up as: the lack of an exercise culture (it’s getting better, but slowly), those darn hills, and unwanted attention while jogging. DC is an athletic city. I don’t think I’ve ever set foot outside and not seen at least half a dozen joggers. Then there’s the bikers, the yoga enthusiasts, and the zumba aficionados (side note – I don’t think I “get” zumba yet. It looks crazyawesome though.). My apartment building has great, shiny new exercise facilities, and my apartment itself has enough room for me to flail about uncoordinatedly to all the Jillian Michaels videos I want.
Book club! Because my time in the US is relatively limited this time around, and because I’ve been abroad for a while now, I really wanted to throw myself in to American life as much as possible while I’m here. Joining my intramural soccer team was a big step in that direction, as was joining my book club. It’s been a lot of fun so far, and we had a fascinating in-depth discussion on conceptions of happiness in response to our first book, The Geography of Bliss (I quite enjoyed the book, check it out if you have time!). The women in my book club are all A-100 classmates of mine or spouses of classmates, so we have a lot of diverse perspectives and life experiences to draw on, which makes for great conversation and an interesting sharing of ideas.