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Back in the Başkent

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Hello from Ankara!

Since my arrival a month ago it’s felt slightly like I’ve been running-running-running straight through. Luckily today’s a holiday so I have a bit of a chance to catch up on things like blogging.

Also my housecleaner is here for the first day and it’s a little awkward if I’m sitting around doing nothing.

As Thomas Wolfe famously said, you can’t go home again. Ankara isn’t really “home” for me, but my life here now has so far been quite different from my life here as a student or as a researcher. Part of it is of course the day job – no haphazard schedule or spur-of-the-moment weeklong trips now. And another part of it is the accoutrements of the job – my pantry is stocked with Commissary loot, like Cream of Wheat, chocolate chips and taco fixings, that I certainly didn’t have access to before. My location has changed, too: instead of my garden flat directly downtown, walking distance from the Embassy and from Tunali and Kizilay, my current housing is behind the central district. I’d say in a U.S. city I’d be on the edge of town, but not quite in the suburbs. I’ve been taking a lot of cabs. The apartment itself is much nicer than my garden flat though, and unlike my previous flat it is not decorated in heavy, garish faux-gilt. Also unlike my last Ankara flat, I have not found a machete in my china cabinet in this one.
As a Fulbrighter here before, I occupied a strange space in the expat social fabric of the city – I wasn’t really a student, nor was I on official government orders. I wasn’t a teacher or working with one of the NGOs. I think partly because of that I ended up with a really varied group of people that I spent time with. Many of those people have moved on since 2009, but a few are still around luckily. In my current position, it seems pretty easy to end up with a very insular social circle. There are a decent amount of Embassy community events, which is very welcoming and especially great if you’ve just moved here and are unfamiliar with the city/country/culture, but it also makes it easier to not venture far beyond the community. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the people I’ve met so far, but I’ll also enjoy branching out and exploring a bit what else Ankara has to offer (step 1 is renewing my ARIT membership I think; step 2 may be yoga).
So the past month in Ankara has been different. Not great or bad, just different.

I’d say it’s been a generally good month overall though – I’m really enjoying my job so far, my coworkers are great, my Turkish skills alternately impress and annoy me, and I’m loving being back in Ankara and Turkey in general.

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