The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Tarsus American College (Turkey)

January 30, 2019


The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries at which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at the Tarsus American College (Mersin, Turkey), described the way she gets to work as follows:

The road to Tarsus American College (Turkey)

Tarsus is a city near the Mediterranean near the larger cities of Mersin and Adana. The school is located in the old part of the town means rich Roman and Biblical historical sites, that include an old Roman road, the Well of St. Paul, mosques, a bazaar, crumbling Roman Baths, Cleopatra’s Gate and a nearby waterfall.

I’m originally from a small town in the state of Iowa in the Midwest USA, so while Tarsus is not a major city, it is larger than where I grew up, but smaller than the capital cities I worked in before coming to Turkey.

My commute to work is a five-minute walk from my school furnished apartment located near campus. Most local teachers live off campus, in the nearby towns of Adana or Mersin and take school buses each morning and afternoon. Most international faculty live on or near campus.

Living on or near campus means teachers can use the school’s, fitness equipment or join others to play tennis on the outdoor courts while walkers and joggers can find flat paths or stroll through parks in the city.

Tarsus American College is a bilingual school that follows the Turkish Ministry of Education and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. International teachers work in English, Science, and Math Departments or International University Counseling and Administration.

The school is located near a number of shops and bakeries, so In the morning, I don’t have to walk far to find a warm simit at a nearby bakeries or bring in office treats such as a box of cezerye, a Turkish dessert made from caramelized carrots, shredded coconut, and roasted walnuts, hazelnuts or pistachios. Following are more photos of food that can be found near campus.

On the way home from school I usually pick up fresh produce oranges, lemons, mandarins and grapefruit. Pomegranate season means I eat delicious pomegranates every day.

A few new drinks I’ve grown to love while living in Tarsus.

Şalgam Suyu, is fermented turnip juice, it can be spicy and draink alone, or enjoyed with rakka on a night out.

Cinnamon topped salep is made from a flour of ground tubers of wild orchids, and is a warm alternative to coffee or tea.

Baklava is commonly known as the Turkish dessert, but there are many more treats to try. Turkish Künefe is served with the same sweet syrup, but has cheese inside a crispy shredded wheat type outer coating and covered in pistachios.

On the weekends, I can find a traditional Turkish breakfast served with tea and Turkish coffee, break, cheeses, olives, butter, honey, jam, and eggs.

Hummus is served hot and is a full meal, not just an appetizer when served with bread, tomatoes, and pickled vegetables. Most restaurants allow diners to choose from traditional covered in olive oil, or served with beef.

A common meal here is the Turkish kebab and the best kebab in my opinion comes with decision salads.

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author, Ellen Johnston.

What to know more what it is like to visit and live in Turkey?  Out of a total of 25 international schools we have listed in Turkey, 17 have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

Bilkent Laboratory & International School (135 comments)
Enka Schools (Istanbul) (45 Comments)
Istanbul International Community School (54 Comments)
MEF International School Istanbul (156 Comments)
MEF International School Izmir (58 Comments)
Robert College of Istanbul (47 Comments)
Tarsus American College (47 Comments)

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn one year free of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

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Traveling Around

Traveling Around: Istanbul, Turkey (The life of an international school teacher is good!)

June 24, 2015


Traveling Around: Istanbul, Turkey

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Can you relate?

• Walking around in a non-tourist area and using the GPS on our phone to navigate the hilly streets and alleys and at times the uneven sidewalks and roads.
• Trying to fit/blend in while also observing the locals at the same time, then having a local walk by and say “hello” to us (we didn’t pass for Turkish I guess.)
• Thinking you are the well-experienced traveler, and yet getting easily ripped off or conned by a local salesman.
• Tasting the local ice cream and finding out it is quite different from the ice cream you are used to.
• Realizing that there are people everywhere in this city, way bigger than the city you are currently living in.
• Wanting to finally try (after visiting Istanbul three times) a simit and finding out it tasted very good!
• Going out to eat at a variety of places in the city, some super cheap and really good and some super expensive and not so good tasting.
• Finding stray cats EVERYWHERE! There were cute ones, but some really looked like they needed some tender loving care.
• Taking a second look when running into restaurants and stores that you thought would never be in Istanbul (Shake Shack, Arby’s, etc.)
• Lucking out and having the best weather possible for our visit. The rain and clouds ended just as we arrive and came back just as we left.
• Being amazed at not just the Blue Mosque, but ALL the many mosques around the city; all works of art and just beautiful!
• Walking next to the Blue Mosque at just the right time for when Iftar was happening. There were local bands playing songs and tons of people all around eating donated food. Wonderful community feeling!
• Eating at a really local place and not being able to communicate at all because both parties didn’t know each others’ languages. Showing kindness and giving kind gestures created, though, a wonderful cultural exchange.
• Finding some fruit in a local green market that we had never seen before, and the store owner giving us one to try. Actually, in many stores the people were so generous by giving us free samples.
• Taking a boat down the Bosphorus River and enjoying the wonderful sea breeze and sunshine on such a beautiful day.
• Arriving in a small town realizing that it was a complete tourist trap!
• Seeing some locals protesting some issue from their boats in the Bosphorus, wishing we knew what they were protesting about.
• Feeling happy by supporting the local businesses and the businesses that are trying to support local people in their work by paying them an honest wage.

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Currently we have 14 international schools listed in Istanbul, Turkey on International School Community. Here are a few of them that have had comments submitted on them:

•  Enka Schools (Istanbul) (Istanbul, Turkey)13 Comments
•  Hisar School (Istanbul, Turkey)17 Comments
•  Istanbul International Community School (Istanbul, Turkey)12 Comments
•  
ISTEK Schools, Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey)8 Comments
•  
Koc School Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey)10 Comments
•  
Kultur 2000 Koleji (Istanbul, Turkey)27 Comments
•  
MEF International School Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey)43 Comments
•  
Robert College of Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey)19 Comments
•  
TED Istanbul College (Istanbul, Turkey)17 Comments
•  
The British International School – Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey)9 Comments
•  
Uskudar American Academy & Sev Elementary (Istanbul, Turkey)15 Comments

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us at admin@internationalschoolcommunity.com with your “Can you relate?” traveling experiences.  Tell us where you are traveling in the world, what you are seeing and how you are coping with any culture shock.  Once your Traveling Around experience is posted on our blog, International School Community will give you 6 free months of premium membership!

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