Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Unlimited Nuance (Poem)

Unlimited Nuance
By: Dustin Sherman

Gently whisping through
Peace entails the

Four chambers hold its’
Beating, flowing, sifting
to strength.

The waves push it from
one shore to another
foreign land.

Pushing away from the
borders walls.
Terrified to embrace new
life with limbs.

Walls hosting deceit,
abstraction, endangerment.
Free spirits advance away from the

Death is imminent, as it is to
Prolong ignorance,
engulfed by knowledge.

Truth is lurking.
Fear less.
Life is honored.
Hope is succeeded.

Gentle words of
will not hinder its

Disguised as innocence,
powered by paranormal,
enlightenment, a
lack thereof.

Ajar windows to
the tallest
It pushes on.

Embraced by itself.
Strength learned.
Opened channels of its spongy matter.
The light piercing from its insides.

Bright self sufficient innerbeauty.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas In Turkey

How do you spend your Christmas? If you're in America, you are most likely going to a church service on Christmas Eve, singing jolly songs and having a family dinner. Then all the children go to sleep as early as they possibly can anticipating Santa to come, if you are on the "good list." The next morning you wake up, eat some fresh cinnamon rolls, and open presents in your PJ's. Families get together, exchange gifts, and maybe even go visit a special friend in the evening. At least this is how I remember Christmas, in America.

What Does Christmas Mean?
I have been and still being asked: "What are your plans for Christmas?" At first I responded with an answer like "nothing" or "sitting at a cafe." However, you see, what they mean is, what are you doing for New Years? While Turkey has a variety of respect for religion, Islam is still the majority, so Christmas, the religious and commercial version, is swept under the carpet. The Turks, in my opinion, consider New Years as Christmas.

What Makes Christmas in Turkey?
You won't see the Salvation Army people ringing their bells nonstop in front of Wal-Mart. You can and will see Christmas light on some trees, and some buildings, but nothing even remotely close to the intensity of America. You will see snowflake decorations in the windows of shops. Many homes buy a "Christmas tree," but for the purpose of New Years! Unlike my own tradition, you have to buy your tree from the store. While you may be able to cut a tree somewhere else in Turkey, I wouldn't know nor have I seen.

Decorating the "Christmas Tree"
My Christmas in Turkey:
Well, I lived life like any other day on Christmas. I did treat myself to a Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks as well as some cinnamon rolls and sat in front of Ege Park (A mall). Then went to Bostanli to play some Backgammon until 4AM.

I do remember last year a special friend, Gonca, came over with a card and a bottle of white wine. She was dressed up and made me get ready to go out and celebrate. Such a sweetheart! :D

Christmas AKA New Years:
Turkey has adapted their marketing and commercialization just like that of America. While turkey does not have "Black Friday" (Day after Thanksgiving shopping), they do start to market and promote bargains about the second week of December. While everyone in America buys and shares gifts on Christmas, Turks buy and share gifts on New Years Eve. If you are lucky you get a pair of brand new red underwear!!

Ceyda in her lucky red underwear, hahaha! :D
So I can say I miss my family and friends dearly, especially after missing my second year of Christmas. However I do look forward spending this "Christmas" in Uludag, a ski resort, with a "christmas tree, sharing gifts and laughter!

*I do not own the first Photo*

Saturday, December 17, 2011

TV Culture: Turkey Vs. America

Hadise on the Beyaz Talk Show
We all know that there is a significant culture surrounding the TV with movies, drama, music, reality shows, game shows, talk shows, and more. How has the TV culture rubbed off on Turkey/the world? How is the TV culture different between America and Turkey? What are commercials like in Turkey compared to America? Which are my favorite commercials in Turkey? (*Videos located at the bottom*) How much does a Turk watch a TV compared to an American? While I can't say personally that I watch much TV in American or Turkey, if not at all many times; however, let's see if I can dive into this and write something from my point of view.

According to a recent Business Week article "in 64% of (American) homes, the TV is on during meals." They also mention the relationship between obesity and the hours watching TV; while meals in Turkey are typically spent at the dinner table or restaurant surrounded by family or friends, not the TV.
To be objective with these facts though, I would point out that the average Turkish family has 1 or no car, while typically every American with a license has a car. Turks need and want to walk everywhere and typically spend more of their time outside than in front of the TV. An American does not need to walk, they will drive anywhere even when it's a 5 minute walk, and they will even drive around a parking lot searching for a front space. But this is going off topic.

While Turks do not spend as much time in front of the TV as an American, they still spend a significant amount of time in front of the TV. The main thing you will see on a TV is a football (Soccer), Basketball, or volleyball game. This culture has floated from America. American football and basketball is highly rated, marketed, and watched by Americans, and is being pushed internationally. Turks are quite into NBA, in fact, when I first arrived, I was frequently asked, "What is your favorite basketball team?" While in America you will have a football party at home, Turks will do the same, but typically they will gather in a cafe and chant, holler, and scream for their favorite team. For an American the Superbowl is probably the most important thing in the world, possibly the universe; while for a Turk, anytime Fenerbache and Galatasaray (A HUGE national soccer rival) plays it is as important as the Superbowl is for an American.

There is also a big push for game shows in Turkey the past year, like that of America. Many of the American game shows have been turned into shows here in Turkey. For example:
  • "So you think you can dance" is "Yok Boyle Dans/ Nothing like this dance"
  • Survivor is Survivor
  • America Got Talent is "Yetenik Sizsiniz Turkiye"
  • The Voice is "O Ses Turkiye/ The voice of Turkey"
  • Who wants to be a millionaire is "Kim milyoner olmak ister?"
  • Deal or No deal is "Var misin yok musun?"
  • The weakest Link is "En zayif halka"
  • Wheel of Fortune is "Carkifelek"
  • Are you smarter than a 5th grader? is "5'e gidenden akilli misin?"

This pushing change for these game shows is bringing Turks closer and closer to the TV. While the Turks love their soap operas and drama series, there is something about games and winning. Turks are driven by winning, it runs in their blood. So to watch these sports and game shows, they get excited and almost drawn to watch more and more.

Commercials have a few distinct differences between America and Turkey. If you ask any American, they will instantly tell you they hate commercials, especially during political elections. You will be watching a show for only 5-10 minutes and then there will be 5 minutes of commercials. By the end of your show, you have watched 2 programs, the show and the commercial. In Turkey, the commercials are not nearly as frequent. While the commercials in Turkey can last 5-10 minutes, they occur every 30-40 minutes. Political advertisements are also regulated and not haunting your brain after watching, in Turkey. In Turkey, a company is not legally allowed to compare their products with other companies. In America, for example, a laundry detergent commercial would show 2 or 3 brands and deface the competitor's brands; however, this would never happen in Turkey. Turkish businesses are focused on showing its unique factors. They use a lot of graphic design and computer generated cartoons. While in America, commercials, in my point of view, are trying to strike an emotion and try to relate to its customers on a personal level. On this note, I find Turkish commercials much more innovative and creative. (At the bottom at a few of my favorites).

Hadise, Murat Boz, and Mustafa Sandal on O Ses Turkiye!
Lastly, not to make bad amends with anyone, I would have to add that while Americans will curl up under a blanket eating ice cream, chips, or cookies; a Turk will grab a huge bag of sun flower seeds and munch away at them while enjoying TV and a Turkish coffee. So I will grab my sunflower seeds for now and watch some O Ses Turkiye cheering on my favorite judge, Hadise!

My Favorite Commercials
Finance Bank:

Coca - Cola:

Kitchen Appliances:

*I do not own the rights to these photos*

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Turkish Newspaper Interview - Fresh Off the Press

This week I was asked to prepare a newspaper interview as an international student in Turkey. The link to the article is located at the bottom. Here are the questions and how I responded to them!

1. What country are you from?
I am from Columbus, Ohio, America.

2. Advantages/Disadvantages of being a student in Turkey?
Studying at Yasar University has been a blessing to say the least. The staff is very helpful, nice, and willing to help you with your future as an adult. The class sizes are small with many students that are willing to bridge the language barrier. The education system is different. You attend classes and are tested twice: midterms and final exams. Rarely do I see homework, projects, or presentations, which in America helps supplement your grade. While I understand this may be a European style, it puts more stress during exam time. Studying at Yasar University has helped bring additional perspectives to my learning, forcing me to look outside the box and try new thinking methods and business techniques. It is much cheaper to study in Turkey than in America; however in america it is easier to select any department and change departments as you wish. After travelling to other universities that I could have studied at, I can happily and proudly say that I made a good choice in choosing Yasar University, there is something special that can't be described unless you experience it.

3. How you imagined Turkey before you came here, how it matched with reality?
To be honest, most of Americans have not been abroad, nor are surrounded by the vast majority of countries like that of Europe. As a whole I could say we also tend to focus on national news rather than international news. I imagined Turkey much more conservative, with a quiet attitude. I imagined much more repression, but still developed. With its geographical location I wondered whether it would have a more western or middle eastern style. How I can now describe Turkey is that it is a country full of pride, outspokenness, diversity, and warm people; like a sister country to America.

4. What sort of difficulties have you encountered?
The language barrier between English and Turkish has been my only major difficulty. While at Yasar University, however, I have made it a point to surround myself with Turkish friends to slowly but certainly learn. The students at Yasar University and general society have really been receptive and helpful; I have made many lifelong friendships in Turkey. Another main difficulty has been keeping in contact with my family and friends back in America. There is a 7 hour time difference which speaks for itself. The internet has been a major help to prevent any disconnections.

5. What would you put for a list of what you loved most about Turkey?
If being around the sea and one of the best sunsets in the world isn’t enough, there are plenty more reasons. I can go to the barber for an hour and be treated like a prince for only 10TL. One is always greeted with a smile, kiss on the cheek, and possibly a plate of food; meaning the countries hospitality is like none that I have ever seen. Even strangers treat you like family in Turkey. The bazaar offers many food items, clothing, and odds and ends for a great price. There is never a boundary while travelling in Turkey. The public transportation can be late sometimes, but I can travel as far as from Mavisehir to Alsancak for less than 2TL or from Izmir to Marmaris for 30TL; these are great as a foreigner, there is no need for a car in Turkey. The living style is very modern, staying up to date with the most recent fashion and technology. Turkey also has such a great presence of culture and history that makes it intriguing. I also love Turkish music, with just a few of my favorites being Hadise, Gulsen,  Sila, Athena, Sertab Erener, and Sebnem Ferah.

6. Compared with your country what sort of differences would you list?
America is more organized and structured. The food in Turkey is fresh, always prepared, and not filled with chemicals or hormones. The Turkish family will offer you more food than you can imagine, but you can still stay very healthy here. Electronics are much more expensive in Turkey but travelling and getting around the cities is much cheaper and available. The cafĂ© scene filled with conversation, tavla, and Turkish coffee is much more present in Turkey than in America. It is typical for an American student to work while studying starting in their teens, but in Turkey most students rely on their families to support them. Americans are typically knowledgeable in their own politics and society; however Turks are more aware of the world’s geography and politics. I have really enjoyed learning the differences; it has helped influence my love and respect for Turkey!

**The link to my article as is appears in the newspaper**