First day in Kayseri – 15.06.2015
I woke up excited knowing I’m going to arrive in a new city by the end of the day. Not knowing how it will be in Kayseri, made me feel a little anxious, but my curiosity about knowing new cultures and a different lifestyle kept me very optimistic about the whole experience.
4 am. I woke up, put a smile on my face, got ready for the long day that was ahead of me. I hugged my mother and kisses my dog goodbye (cuz I knew I’ll miss them). My father dropped me off at the airport (Henri Coanda International Bucharest Airport). I hugged him goodbye, and entered the airport, leaving behind all misconception about Turkish culture, because that that was my destination.
Flight from Bucharest to Istanbul
On my way to Kayseri, I had a stop in Istanbul (arriving at Atatürk Airport ) for about 7 hours. Good thing this was not my first time in Istanbul, and I have a friend there. I met with my friend, to get some breakfast on Galata Bridge and spend a couple of hours admiring the city.
Changing the airport in Istanbul from Atatürk to Sabiha
In Istanbul, I had to change the airport, because my second flight was from Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, which is located in the Asian part of the city. I’ve never been before in that part of the city, so at first I was a little worried how to get there, but it was really easy, because there are a lot of options (by bus or taxi). My friend from Istanbul helped me to take a shuttle to the airport, from the city center.
Sabiha Gökçen International Airport is a big airport, not as crowded as Atatürk. There were women working at the luggage check-in, and they were wearing headscarves (“eşarp” in Turkish). That was the first time I was starting to feel this was going to be a very different lifestyle from what I was used to. We had some difficulties communicating, since the women there was not speaking in English, but she understood that I was going to Kayseri, and gave me my boarding ticket.
Sabiha airport – flying in the Asian part of Turkey
On the plane, there were a lot of traditional people, some elders and a group of tourists (who were probably travelling to Cappadocia). From what I saw from my airplane window, the geography was different from was I saw before.
The land was consisting or full of rocks, and very few roads. When the plane approached Kayseri city, I was surprised to realize it was a big city, with a lot of buildings.
First thoughts when setting foot in the Kayseri Airport: It looks like a desert with an airport and a volcano in the horizon.
After I first set foot in Kayseri, I waited at the airport to be picked up by someone from IYACA. Serdar Dobur picked me up and we met with Büşra Akkaş and Nur Karakaya in the square of IYACA office, in the center of Kayseri. I was introduced to the traditional Turkish tea, called çay (pronounced Chai).
It was a typical afternoon in a quiet Turkish city. For me it wasn’t such a new thing the drink itself, because I have been in Turkey before, and I knew how mush tea they were drinking (all of the time). But the simple fact of sitting in a small square, drinking Turkish black tea from that special kind of glass, while getting to know new people, it was a perfect moment.
Barbeque party for the volunteers
Afterwards we went to one of the Turkish volunteer’s home, where we had a big barbeque and we had a lot of traditional foods like
Köfte – A Turkish staple, köfte is balls or patties of ground beef or lamb, and can be served stewed, in sandwiches, over salads, or plain with yogurt.
Sarma – Minced meat (usually beef, pork, veal, or a combination thereof, but also lamb, goat, sausage and various bird meat such as duck and goose), rice, onions, and various spices, including salt, pepper and various local herbs are mixed together and then rolled into large plant leaves, which may be cabbage (fresh or pickled), chard, sorrel, vine leaf (fresh or pickled) or broadleaf plantain leaves.
And bean and eggplant dishes, salads, hummus – all vegetarian, which was great for me and Miriam, because we are both vegetarians. And sarma was also also made only with rice, and it was delicious.
Getting to meet the association members
We got to know some of the IYACA volunteers from Kayseri, since we were around 10 people to attend the small gathering. We talk about our studies, jobs, political problems from each country and share some personal opinions on the subjects.
I was really impressed with their welcome, their friendly attitude and how they truly want to get involve and learn how is out culture different. Although they sometime have a hard time to communicate in English, I am really impressed how they try to overcome this obstacle, and they always keep a smile on their face.
And finally I’ve got to bed, after a long day filled with new information, new people, a lot of talking, but with a smile on my face and really excited to learn more.