9:45 am, I glance at the clock and start to run. The ferry station. Quickly, where is my Izban card? Phew, just made it. Music in my ears, and I slowly wake up in the ferry’s breeze. A mandarin and water for breakfast, and if I’m lucky, I’ll find a few nuts in my bag. And so begins my office day. But thankfully, it’s not every day.
Wait a moment, you don’t even know who I am. Merhaba, I’m Käthe. I’m from Berlin. Yes, that’s in Germany, but Berlin is Berlin and not Germany; that’s a big difference. I turned 19 a few days ago, on the first day when it became really cold and rainy. Warm November greetings from Germany! My sending organization is ICJA, a non-profit association that organizes exchanges worldwide and simultaneously supports foreign volunteers in Germany. And here in Izmir, I’m with PIYA, or for those who understand Turkish, Pi Gençlik Derneği. I am a Long-Term Volunteer through the ESC (European Solidarity Corps).
I arrived in Izmir on September 1st, I think it was still around 35°C. Since Izmir wants to become the capital of youth, there was a huge fair in Kültürpark (Culture Park) from September 1st to 10th. It was incredible, and I have to say, it was just the right thing for me to arrive in this city. We went to the fair every afternoon, met many different people, and attended live concerts by various Turkish singers. The Kültürpark time is one of my best memories so far. Every evening was more lively and fun than the next.
During the day, we were guided around the city by various Turkish volunteers, who were often also our mentors, from a cup of çay (black tea) to Turkish coffee or incredibly tasty food.
And after those ten days of full life, we started to visit the city properly, especially the places where we would be working. For about two weeks, we visited different youth centers every day. But these two weeks were not a full two weeks because they were interrupted by the highlight of September: QUARANTINE! Two other volunteers and I contracted Corona somewhere. But the good thing was, I now know my room incredibly well, and I’ve gotten to know my roommates even better. I think such a quarantine is special, especially when you spend it with four other people who are initially strangers.
Afyonkarahisar: Opium-black-fortress. That’s the translated name where we had our arrival training. Man, when I think back to that. What a life. 5-star hotel: Single rooms with double beds and a pool. Unfortunately, we couldn’t really see much of the city because we had seminars from morning till night. But I was able to travel to Istanbul and Ankara with two different groups of volunteers. Both of these weekend trips were amazing.
For about two months now, we have real daily routines, a schedule, and our various workshops in centers spread across the whole city. I currently have four different workshops, two English and two German conversation workshops. It’s really a lot of fun!
I think what I enjoy the most is that we get to know so many different people and hear their different stories. Most of my conversation clubs are attended by students. However, one is attended only by “adults,” people between 30-70 years old, and it’s so different working with this group, but I enjoy both.
Oh, I almost forgot, there was also the National Day of Turkey and the Independence Day of Izmir (from Greece, Izmir belongs to Turkey). For me, as a German, that was interesting because in Germany, due to history, there are no national holidays or holidays celebrated with military parades.
In conclusion, I would like to add that these are my experiences and only my impressions. I also want to add that I feel incredibly comfortable here and am very, very glad to be here.