Oh man… Here I sit and four months since my arrival have already passed. They say time flies and I always thought that this is just an empty expression, but now that already 1/3 of my volunteering-year is over I really feel this saying. Where did the time go?
Anyway, a big factor for this kind of time reception is the number of experiences you make in a certain time. And when I look back, I realize that so much stuff happened in these four months…
In this time Mattes, Toni and I went on our first bigger Trip outside of the Izmir-Province. Our destination was Bursa in the north-west of Turkey, opposite to Istanbul at the Mamara-Bay. But we did not want to go to the water, given that it was December. We wanted to spend a little winter-vacation on the Uludag where we planned to go snowboarding. As it turns out it is not as simple as we thought to find an AirBnB, Transportation and Ski-Equipment. But in the end, everything worked out great and the vacation was beautiful and that’s thanks to the helpful people of Turkey.
First off, we stood in front of the question: “How do you travel in Turkey?”. In Germany you usually take a car if you have one or you take the train, which is late most of the times. But as it turns out, there is no complex train transportation in Turkey for passengers. Thanks to helpful workshop-participants we learned about the bus-system in Turkey. They showed and explained us the websites to get tickets and gave advice on what companies to use.
We had to catch the bus early in the morning and we couldn’t find the bus-stop for the shuttle, which was supposed to bring us to the bus-terminal. So, we walked in the dark and cold night before dawn and couldn’t find this bus-stop. But we met a woman who was also waiting for the shuttle and she told us where to go. She could even speak German and helped us to get to the bus-terminal in time! So that was one challenge solved with the help of the nice people in Izmir. Next up, we had to find a place to stay. We found a place in the older parts of bursa and close to the city-centre. Fortunately, our host could speak English and gave us good advice on the transportation inside of Bursa. He told us about the shuttles that take people from Bursa up to the Uludag and back for 23 Lira. That was quite a relief because when we arrived in Bursa, we were told that there is only the “Teleferik” to transport people up and down the Mountain for a price of 250 Lira each! Given that we wanted to snowboard on multiple days and not only one we did not want to buy tickets for this lift, and we were very thankful to our host for his advice with the shuttles. So, on the 24th of December (Christmas eve) we went to the bus-stop that should take us up to the mountain. And again, we met a very helpful person. A nice lad called Öner showed us the shuttle and we talked for a while. When he found out that we still have to rent snowboard-equipment he called some friends of his, who worked up on the mountain. When we arrived Öner helped us with picking up the equipment and showed us around the slopes.
For me it was a very unusual but nice experience: I mean, there we are, three tourists with no clue how to get to the skiing-slopes and where to get the equipment and this man decides to help us out with everything and spent the day with us. We had an awesome time up there and exchanged contacts. We shared pictures and snowboarded together.
When I look around here, there are so many helpful people, for whom it is the most normal thing to dedicate so much time and effort into helping strangers. That is behaviour I rarely saw in Germany. I mean Germans are still helpful people, but often there is just way more distance between people and not everyone is so devoted to give their time and effort to complete strangers. I am very happy, that I got to know so many helpful people in Turkey and I wish them all the best for the new year!