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.


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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Highlighted Articles

International Primary Curriculum: Children discover first-hand about the brain and learning

May 3, 2013

Children at The British Embassy School in Ankara, Turkey have been discovering first-hand about the brain and how people learn in, what teacher Tom Henley describes as a “profound learning experience.”

BESA (5) As the Entry Point to their learning with the International Primary Curriculum Brainwave unit, the 8 and 9 year old children from Year 4 took part in a hands-on experience to learn about the composition and layout of the brain.

“We used cow brains from a local Turkish butchers (they are on the menu here)” says Tom, the Year 4 class teacher. “We initially decided on sheep brains which are more common, but they were actually a little too small [for the learning experience].” The children wore science lab coats, glasses and gloves to conduct the investigation and used scalpels for dissection on wooden boards.

The school has a Science lab with a highly qualified specialist teacher and lab assistant who supported Tom with the learning. “They prepared the lab in advance and delivered a presentation on the parts of the brain and how, in very simple terms, the brain works in relation to learning,” explains Tom. “They modelled good lab practice such as how to use a scalpel safely, and wearing safety glasses, gloves and lab coats.”

The children dissected the brains to explore and see for themselves the major areas that had been identified and discussed during the presentation by the Science teacher. “We looked closely at how the brain is connected and in particular why greater surface area (wrinklyness) is a key indicator of greater brain power. Rabbits have quite smooth brains compared to dolphins or humans,” Tom explains.British Embassy School Turkey

“The children were very surprised at how soft the brains were, they expected them to be quite hard and firm,” says Tom. “After some initial squeamishness, they all got stuck in and really enjoyed themselves. It was a profound learning experience. They still talk about it now.”

The British Embassy School in Ankara is one of over 1,500 schools in 85 countries around the world learning with the International Primary Curriculum. The IPC leads children through an engaging learning process that has clear outcomes for academic, personal and international learning. It helps children look at everything they learn through a local and global perspective, developing adaptable, globally-minded learners prepared for the world of tomorrow that they will be living and working in. For more information about learning with the IPC go to


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