First Month of Mine in Turkey

Hello everyone, my name is Mattes Eickhoff, and I am a volunteer for the Pi Youth Association. Beginning from the end of September I have been living and working together with the two other German volunteers Toni and Chris in Izmir. The voluntary service will continue until September next year, so one year in total.

I am 18 years old. I grew up in Bergedorf. A district of Hamburg, Germany. I finished my high school this summer. I specialised in Art and History and for the last two years of my school education. Especially History fascinated me. I feel like learning from the past is the only way to build a fair, equal, and better future for everyone. In my free time I did lots of sport. I love to play football and tennis going skiing and I recently started kickboxing.

But I couldn’t decide what to study or what to work yet. Because I felt overwhelmed by all the possible choices. I felt I needed to get a new perspective to help me finding my strengths and what brings me joy. A year in Turkey seemed like the opportunity to do that. While organising various workshops in the Association I can bring in my strengths and at the same time work on something, that makes me happy. Exactly the thing I was looking for. In the following text I want to take you with me on a typical day in my life:

I have been in Izmir for a bit over one and a half months now. Together with Toni and Chris I work as a volunteer for the Pi Youth Association and live in an apartment.

My day begins when I hear Chris’ alarm clock ringing for the third time, and he’s already preparing his breakfast. It’s probably cornflakes. It’s always cornflakes. I fight my way out of bed into the bathroom. I am feeling not really awake yet and the episode of Game of Thrones we watched last night is still playing in my mind. I know I must be quick, because our shower has that weird thing where it can turn from a massaging warm stream into a freezing ice bath in a second. After rushing into the kitchen to search for breakfast, Chris reminds me with a friendly but urgent tone that we must catch our ferry. We realize that we don’t have any food at home, so we run to the ferry station with each of us holding a handful of Çiğdem. I greet the policemen who is visibly confused about the three foreigners sprinting down the shopping mall every morning. The ferry ride to the other side of Izmir is the time of the day where I have time to pause for a moment. When the gentle October sun shines in my face, I can watch the foggy cityscape and think about the crazy last weeks. Before we enter the office, we have a quick chat with Emir, who works in the Café in front of the building and by the way makes the best Çay there is. While I am taking the elevator up, I look at my phone and see a message from Talha, my mentor, who is as always just checking in to see how I am doing and making sure I have everything I need. After we greet everyone in the office who is already working, we go in our room, and I prepare the English-Speaking Club for the next day. Often, I get distracted from the construction workers right outside the window who don’t seem to be afraid to do acrobatic stunts 20 meters in the air, to get their job done. Or Chris tells me some very interesting but not really useful facts, while Toni is practicing her new yoga moves for our Yoga&Meditation class in the background. Toni is vegetarian, so every lunch break turns into a quest to find a Turkish restaurant which sells vegetarian food. But we always find a compromise, and when I am lucky the place offers Iskender. My favourite dish. We return to the office, and I am starting the photography workshop together with Toni. As always, the participants are very nice and eager to do the exercises. After we finish the workshop, everyone leaves the office together. I meet Ilayda, Chris’ mentor, who first asks me about the Turkish word she taught me last week. I never have to think much about what we’re going to do next. Someone always has a plan. We eat in Alsancak and then sit on the grass on the seaside. We eat Çiğdem and the cotton candy salesmen tries to get me to buy his cotton candy with his poem: ‘En güzel aşklar, pamuk şekerle başlar’. We take the ferry back to Karşıyaka. On our way up to our flat the daily struggle begins, as we are looking at all the pastry shop owners. They know we want Bomba, we know we want Bomba. But we win the mental battle and make our way home. After I force myself to finally put my dirty clothes in the washing machine and brush my teeth, I fall into bed and sleep after one second.

No day is like the other. I wake up every morning not knowing exactly what I’ll be seeing and doing. While writing this I realized that it’s hard to describe a typical day of mine. Everyday surprises me again and again. So many things happening every minute. But one thing is for sure: I wouldn’t want to trade it for anything.

First Month of Mine in Turkey

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