Thursday, February 11, 2010

A week-old post

Yesterday I left home for the dorm at METU.  I am living in a state dorm for the next week until they move us into our permanent housing arrangements (could be the same dorm for all I know) (Ed. It’s not).  My host parents were of the impression that the state dorms would be awful.  In reality, they compare favorably to a dorm I stayed at in Michigan State.  There are four people to a room (though only three in the room for now) with a separate desk room for working and a useless foyer.  I will have to adjust to (read: figure out how to use) the squat toilet, but I assumed that I would have to take the plunge (hopefully not literally) at some point during my tenure in Turkey.

Leaving home was sad.  I really got to like my family and given my limited Turkish, I couldn’t really even express that to them.  They told me that I should be sure to visit and I told them I would.  As I will still need to make the trek to that part of the city twice a week and the bus leaves right outside my dorm, it will be easy to pop my head in on occasion, perhaps being able to hold a conversation without a dictionary.

In other news, I went out for dinner yesterday and lunch today with some Iranians.  They were friends of the temporary roommate of a Pitzer student.  They were all from different parts of the country, different ages and had been in METU for different amounts of time, but they were sticking together as an issue of national camaraderie.  We talked a good deal about politics and such.  They were universally opposed to Ahmedinijad and the forces keeping him in power.  The whole thing made me feel pretty hopeful about Iran actually.  The people are genuinely fed up and believe that it is only a matter of time before the country becomes a democracy.  I also learned that America’s most powerful tool of foreign democracy is “Friends.”  Apparently Iranians love the show and it is pretty common among wealthier Iranians to have a DVD box set of the entire show.  The man sitting across from me seemed equally concerned with Chandler’s antics as he was with election fraud.

Turkish television, on the other hand is terrible for America.  Turks love action shows about spies or the mafia.  Americans are usually evil gang lords.  One of the most popular shows (the name roughly translates to Wolf Valley) pits the good Turks against the evil Americans and Israelis.  The best scene of the series has an American soldier in Iraq screaming “GIVE ME MORE ORGANS!!”

In short, the culture war is very real, and it is our job as Americans to combat foreign influence through superior television.

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