Saturday, March 30, 2013


Similar to the post I did about the Hotels, I thought I would do another one about some of the attractions we may see in Turkey and Greece. Hopefully, it is a good motivator to push through the last week of classes and finals!!! Good luck and finish strong!

Hagia Sophia: Istanbul, Turkey
Cappadocia Caves: Cappadocia, Turkey
Sultanhani: Catalhoyuk, Turkey
Cotton Castle: Pamukkale, Turkey
Hierapolis: Pamukkale, Turkey
Ancient Troy: Canakkale, Turkey
Bosporus Strait: Turkey
Mosque of Sulieman: Istanbul, Turkey
Acropolis: Athens, Greece
Syntagma Square: Athens, Greece
Idean Cave: Heraklion, Greece
Arkadi Monastery: Rethymnon, Greece
Ancient Olympic Stadium: Olympia, Greece
Corinth Canal: Corinth, Greece
Delphi Ruins/Ancient Oracle: Delphi, Greece
Greece Beaches: Aegean Sea

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

No Meeting Today!


Today was the last day for Michalis in the U.S. We will be meeting him in Istanbul, April 19th. No worries, but wishing him a safe flight!

For everyone doing a count down its in 22 days!! So if you see Miss Heidi in the next couple of days, give her a hello and a friendly face, she will need some cheering up. :)

Other than that, I hope everyone is getting ready for the trip and practicing their conversational skills. Remember to pack light, and bring a bag on wheels its easier to carry.

GOOD LUCK with the last week of classes and FINALS!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Last Meeting Before We Leave!

Hello Everyone,

Here is the long blog about everything that the last meeting we went over. Bare with me its long.

IMPORTANT: Send Heidi an email with your cell phone number, allergies (food, medicine), and if you are going to be meeting us at airport or if you will be riding the bus!

Give your parents the hotels and flight information, as well as set up a skype account or some sort of internet way to reach them, easier then calling. Emailing! If people will be bringing computers it's a way we can easily communicate in places we have internet access. 

About the journals, these are a note book that you record the details of the day and a memorabilia that you can look back on and remember what you did over there. Heidi will be looking at these so if you want it to be a personal dairy of the day, just know that she will be reading it. They will be helpful if you are in a museum and have to write about ten pieces of artwork and you can draw or figuratively describe the item.  That will help with the pop quizzes she will be giving us.

About packing, a 50 pound weight limit (ideal 45 lb, so you can bring home souvenirs). Bag can only be 27 inches or so, and wheels will be helpful when we are traveling everyday. You can only bring 1 carry on, plus a personal item (purse for women). We are flying United Airlines out of Newark, NJ -- you can see their website for more information if you need to know something.

Departure is APRIL 19th from EC Perry parking lot at 11 AM. This is important!! -- If you have a long drive, or want to come a night before we leave, make sure you contact your RLC and ask for that, and see if you can work out something. Also, if that is allowed, you will have to sign up at the CC info desk the week before break to say you will be coming to campus during break. -- I am thinking dinner and movie for people who come for the night before. (Only if you guys want to) --
If you're NOT driving with us, make sure you get to airport at least 3 hours before we have to depart so you can go through security and we will meet you at the gate! - If you have problems, you need to call Heidi!

Your Paper!  This is a big part of the grade. Heidi will read your drafts; she already sent out pointers and style tactics if you need some guidance, but she also wants to see your draft before finals week to give individual feedback. Make sure you have the final paper and handouts (20) for the presentation. PACK THESE!!

PASSPORT!! Heidi needs a copy of the first page with all of your information on it about your beautiful self. Heidi will need a copy to make reservations all the hotels, for example. I would also suggest making a copy for your parents at home, one to keep yourself, and one to give a trusted friend who will be staying at Elmira Term III. If you lose your passport on the trip (first of all, don't), but it will be easier and faster if we have copies if we have to visit the American Embassy over there. Please send that to her. It is also a good idea to make sure she has a copy of other medical issue papers.

ISIC Cards, these are those cards that Heidi gave us from the mail. If you haven't done so yet, please follow the instructions to activate the card.  These too need to be brought with you. Put it with your passport!!

Packing: Heidi suggested bring two weeks worth of underwear and bras and socks. (that way the underparts are always clean, and you won't run out) The outer clothes can be worn a couple of times. (We don't want smelly people)

Suitcase and Carry on (backpack)
  • ISIC Card
  • Debit Card-- from your bank -- let bank know you will be traveling so they don't freeze your account -- see what the international fee will be for ATM
  • Money belt
  • Journal and a couple pens or pencils
  • Possibly a little notebook to take notes while on hikes, or in museums 
  • Booklet -- the one we have been learning from -- has itinerary and important info -- give your parents copies of the important info.
  • Paper with Handouts (20 copies)
  • 1 pair of walking shoes (sneakers)
  • 1 pair of sandals or nice shoes to go out in
  • A draw bag -- those little backpacks that you can wear around to hold your booklet and water bottle on our hikes
  • Light Rain Coat -- Umbrella (small) 
  • Computer, IPad, Kindle -- if your bringing one -- put in carry on
  •  Ipod, Camera, Batteries, Chargers, Phones, headphones -- put in carry on
  • Adapter for outlets
  • Sun Glasses! Sun Screen - if you burn easily
  • A jacket- sweatshirt something for the nights it gets a little chilly
  • Bathing Suit, light Towel, Flip flops (beach possibilities)
  • Underwear - bras, socks, undershirts -- Two weeks worth
  • Sweater- Nice shirts (blouse for girls, button up shirt for classy men)  - for going out
  • T-shirts for normal day wear
  • Shorts or caprices, skirts or dress for Greece
  • In Turkey, Men are more likely to wear pants -- Women where caprices or pants or long skirts (No shorts) - especially in mosques (covered up)
  • Toiletries -- Shampoo, Conditioner, Body wash, Brush, Tooth Brush, Tooth Paste,  Deodorant (No funky smells allowed), perfume or cologne, lotion, Feminine products
  • Contacts or Glasses if you have them
  • Hair dryers and straighteners, try to share them -- not everyone needs to bring them.
  • Laundry- Tide baggies -- wash in sink at hotels
  • Rope and cloths pins, to hang dry cloths
  • Leisure books to read or something to occupy yourself on plane
Remember to pack only what you will need, don't over pack!

Read over the History parts of the booklets, so you have an idea of time periods -- (hint: could be on quizzes, plus good to know) -- long plane ride

Practice your Greek! So you can talk to the locals over there -- find a hot date one night! ;] haha sorry Heidi I had to do it.

If you have any other questions, please email Heidi and she will get back to you! Other then that be excited we have 28 days until we leave!!

Update on Sarai Sierra

Last month, I posted about the American tourist who was found murdered along a highway near Istanbul. Recently, Ziya Tasali, a paper collector, was charged with the attack. According to several statements from Tasali, he claims to have been angered after Sierra refused to kiss him and defended herself by hitting him with her cell phone. Although he did not intend on killing, Tasali took out his anger by hitting her back with a stone. Fearful of being caught, Tasali fled Istanbul to escape over Syrian border, but he was captured on Sunday upon his return to Turkey. Currently, he is being held in an Istanbul prison to await conviction. Tasali did not realize Sierra was a tourist until this case gained international attention.

Source: New York Times      


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Turkey & The European Union

#3 European Union Membership

The potential for Turkey to join the European Union is being explored. There are many benefits that would result from Turkish membership, including: greater obligation to cooperate politically, greater ability for Europe to influence the Middle East and fight terrorism, reduction in international trade barriers, and an increased flow of natural energy resources.  All of these will boost Turkey’s economy and quality of life. However, there are still many difficulties to be overcome before membership can be granted. In order to qualify for membership, Turkey must meet the guidelines outlined in 33 out of 35 chapters of EU policy. So far, Turkey has only successfully completed 1 chapter. Also, many citizens (both European and Turkish) do not want Turkey to join the EU. Lastly, it is a concern that Turkey’s history of international affairs (human rights violations, relations with the Armenia, Kurds, Cyprus, and the Middle East) as well as their somewhat lower economy (Europe already has enough problems) would not fit well with membership in the European Union.

Recent Developments

February 24 – Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, recently visited Turkey, where she expressed statements supporting Turkey’s potential membership in the EU. Germany and Turkey have strong relations, both in terms of strong trading partnership and German military support along the Syrian border. Following this, France has also opened the possibility of negotiations on another chapter that Turkey would have to qualify for. 

Member States of the European Union

New York Times
Hurriyet Daily News, Istanbul

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Turkey & The Middle East

#2 International Relations in the Middle East
Turkey & The Middle East
Armenia: In 1915-1917, Turkey (then the Ottoman Empire) exterminated upwards of 1 million Armenians, known as the Armenian Genocide. Although Turkey denies the occurrence of this, this shows the height of the strained relationship between these two bordering nations. Following this, there have also been numerous events that prevent any future attempts at developing more peaceful diplomatic ties. The current President of Turkey, Abdullah Gul, visited Armenia in 2007 (the first ever leader to do so) with the intentions of normalizing their relationship, but the intensity of prior disagreements was too strong to overcome.

Political Divisions in Cyrpus
Cyprus: Cyprus is an island state in the Mediterranean Sea that is composed of approximately of 50% people of Turkish decent in the north and 50% Greek decent in the south. Turkey is the only nation in the world that refuses to recognize the entire government of Cyprus as an independent state. Instead, Turkey acknowledges the Turkish population in the north as an independent state of Northern Cyprus, and recognizes disputed claims with Greece over the southern territory. However, Cyprus was admitted to the European Union in 2004, making it harder for Turkey to be admitted to the EU if it still maintains this view. 

Iran: Historically, Iran and Turkey are arguably major rivals. Both countries are seeking to extend their influence over the politics of other Middle Eastern states. This has resulted in some notable opposition in proxy conflicts (such as Syria) where Iran supports Assad's Shia regime, and Turkey supports the rebels for the purposes of protecting Turkey's security. However, despite outside tensions with their alliances, Turkey and Iran are highly cooperative for the purposes of economic development. Notably, there is a pipeline running from Northern Iran to Ankara to supply Turkey with gas imports. There are plans to further develop pipelines across Turkey to allow supplies to reach Europe. 

Israel: Turkey and Israel share many of the same goals. Both states claim to support the regional stability of the Middle East. However, Israel has poor relations with a large number of Middle Eastern states (Iran). Support of Israel could draw a line between some of the alliances that have been forming in this region, which could damage Turkey's relations with other powers. Though, economically, Turkey and Israel have a free-trade agreement, and both countries support each other in terms of investments and humanitarian relief.

Syrian Refugees
Syria: Although Syria and Turkey were coexisting peacefully, as members of such organizations as the OIC, the Civil War in Syria began to affect relations with Turkey when attacks began to cross borderlines and refugees (now totaling over 1 million Syrians) were displaced into Turkish territory. There are also disputes about the water supply and other resources in the area, as the Tigris and Euphrates river flow through both Turkey and Syria. As a scarce, valuable resource in the area, this could serve as a common dispute concerning many Middle Eastern nations in the future. 

New York Times
Hurriyet Daily News, Istanbul

Turkey & The Kurds

#1 Domestic Relations with the Kurds

The Kurds are group of people living in an area in the Middle East located primarily around Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq. They have faced a history of political suppression and human rights violations by each of these states. Turkey has maintained a policy to assimilate these people into their own culture; whereas, the Kurds have been trying keep their cultural identity and seek their own autonomous independence. One of the main groups within the Kurds (although not representative of all) is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has been fighting for Kurdish goals using military force, and is considered a terrorist organization by the Turkey, the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations. Attempts at peaceful negotiations were gaining within the last few decades, but the war in Syria has made this significantly more difficult.

Recent Developments

March 5 – The Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, hopes to achieve greater support in his potential presidential campaign by showing his ability to shape Middle Eastern policy in Turkey. Coincidentally, this announcement concurs with a letter by Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdish military and founder of the PKK. In this letter, Ocalan (from his jail cell) calls for talks of a cease fire and the withdrawal of the PKK from Turkish areas as long as Turkey grants greater rights to the Kurdish people. It is possible that support from leaders with such authority could improve peaceful relations, yet it is also possible that war could intensify if demands are not met.

March 13 – The PKK released a group of captive Turkish soldiers who were being held in Northern Iraq by Kurdish militants. These soldiers were captured in 2011 and 2012, and their release was ordered by Ocalan. Following his earlier indication for peace talks, this shows another favorable sign for arrangements to potentially develop.

Kurdish Inhabited Area

New York Times
Hurriyet Daily News, Istanbul

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Worldwide Recognition

Since my blog post this week may be a little long, I thought I would do it in a few parts. First, I have some exciting news to share with everyone. I attended a conference in New York City this past weekend where I was able to meet a lot of people who work with media productions and publications. One of the people I met was a journalist in Turkey, Baris Mumyakmaz, who works for Bianet magazine, which focuses on human rights. I shared the information about our blog, and was able to get a few ideas about potential new posts, formatting, and tagging. I also think it is a tremendous accomplishment that our student-run blog in small town Elmira is now noticed by an actual news organization in a country we will be visiting!!

Also, as a side note, I have noticed from the stats about the site that we have been picking up a lot of views around the world as well. Germany, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt, France, Finland, Nigeria, Mexico, and Ireland are the most popular sources (outside of the US, of course). Something else I think is really exciting. 

For the current events section this week, I thought I would better clarify the three main stories that affect Turkish relations to provide a context for the news updates that I post. Greece’s current environment can basically be explained by the resulting sanctions and policies implemented by the European Union following a financial downfall as the root cause. However, Turkey has a much greater variety of issues. I will be posting more information about this soon.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Turkish Language

Hello Everyone!

So today we learned some Turkish, well we tried to. So as promised, the upload of the two YouTube videos are attached. (Also I did another post about Turkish Language before, so look back to also see those.)

They have the Greetings and the Common Sayings. 

This is one that has Directions, so to go with the page in our books we have Greetings and Directions.

Also Heidi reminded about papers, and getting a rough draft to her so she can help you with being on the right track. Get your passport information to her as well, and also activate those ID cards she gave us last week.

 Remember we have 36 days til we leave so plan accordingly. Hopefully everyone is getting excited!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Current Events: Greece

Flooding ravages Athens. Rainfall amounts totaling more than the average for an entire month fell in Athens in a period of about six hours. As a result, two rivers overflowed their banks, power was lost, and public transportation was shut down. This highlighted the issue of an outdated drainage system in Athens, which the city has been looking to improve. Due to the debt owed by the Greek government, they were not able to provide an estimate of damages. (February 22, 2013)

Hollande visits Greece. President Francois Hollande of France visited Greece recently in support of the existing programs in Greece involving economic revival. Hollande encouraged large businesses in France to help bolster these efforts by investing in Greece. He also suggested the idea of exploring natural gas and oil reserves in the Aegean Sea to further improvements. However, this could trigger a few disagreements with Turkey, who also has claims in this sea. (February 19, 2013)

Cyprus places further strains on the already struggling European Union. After the many bailout attempts with numerous countries including Greece, Portugal, and Ireland, Cyprus appears to be the next state on the verge of economic collapse. This story will be of particular interest to watch in the future, after officials in the European Union prepare to meet to discuss this issue. As of now, the suggested bailout measures total more than the Gross Domestic Product of Cyprus, raising concerns about how they would realistically be able to repay these loans. Cyprus has also looked to Greece for support. (March 11, 2013)

Lastly, I found this really interesting article, if you want to read. It details the story of a Syrian family who escaped the country (illegally) after their home was bombed. They hoped to find some sort of safety in Europe, but were later arrested by the Greek police. Fleeing War, Syrians Face New Misery in Greece

New York Times

Monday, March 11, 2013

Greece Encore: Music of the Aegean

Galaxávra, Music of the Greek Aegean, musicians Joe Teja, Konatatino Lampros, and Panayotis League provided beautiful Grecian melodies Friday night in Peterson Chapel, Cowles Hall. While their music was clearly skilled and easily enjoyable, their relaxed and humorous personas rose in between pieces as they spoke to the audience.

Joe Teja first became exposed to Greek music after he moved to Boston, where he then learned to play the oud (a short-necked lute). He became skilled in Greek folk music, and classical and regional Turkish and Arab music. Teja took many musical trips to the Greek island Mytilene, which brought him insight in the traditional music played specifically on the island, and in the Greek culture. Through these experiences he became an expert in guitar accompaniment, as observed by the islanders.

Konatatino Lampros experienced Grecian culture and music through growing up in Lynn, Massachusetts. There he was enriched with Mytilene’s music with an Asian minor. Through having family members as performers, he learned the complex music from the village his family immigrated from on the same Mytilene island that fellow Galaxávra member Joe Teja studied in. Through these experiences, he became one of today’s few US-based performers with a specialization in the Greek instrument santouri, which he studied in Greece with masters of the instrument. With the other two members, he is also the leader of their group called Skordalia, in Boston, where they play music from Lesbros and Asian Minor at traditional dances and concerts in Greek-American communities.

Panayotis League plays a large array of instruments, but from Friday’s performance, he played the violin, the tsambouna, and provided the vocals for their songs. Though most do not know much about Grecian culture and music, it is safe to assume that members of the audience knew all of his instruments until he began to talk about the tsambouna. This instrument is made from goat hide, and was originally played by Greek shepherds, who quite obviously had the materials to construct the instrument. This goat bag-like instrument also has two additional attachments: one for the mouthpiece (to inflate the instrument), and the other consisted of two pipes with holes in them for producing notes. This combination of parts resulted in a balloon-like structure that deflated slowly enough for League to sing and play musical notes while the hide deflated. League also provided the at-ease feel during the performance with occasional humorous one-liners, such as when he was describing what the song Proússa was about (smuggling drugs and heroine) and how it was not fit for the environment of the chapel.

Overall, Galaxávra provided a demonstration skillful and beautiful Grecian music, while charming the crowd with their casual feel and their knowledgeable backgrounds. We were particularly fortunate to be able to see a taste of both Turkish and Greek culture before our trip in just 1 month!!

Contributed by Samera Chapman

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Learning the Lang (food, coffee, numbers)

Γεια σας, Τι κάνετε?
Hope everyone is enjoying the weekend, Here is the update on learning.

If you have not received the bound Greece and Turkey Study Tour book, You need to get one from Heidi! They are very important!!! They have all the travel information, where we will be and doing on what day, it has the pages for learning the Language which is how I am going to update from now on. 

As for Last two Week's Class:

We got to meet Michalis, Heidi's fiancé, and spoke in Greek just a little. That was a fun experience. Hopefully he learns our names, and also we pick up some of the accent so we don't sound so American. We had to answer the questions and ask questions, so overall I we had to answer questions that they asked and ask questions back, so overall I would say the majority of the people going on the trip are picking up the language. 

We learned the words for the different  types of Coffees: (That is a page in the book)

We learned the Tavern food with Appetizers and Fruits.

The numbers up to twenty are here for help, however we learned them up to 100:

Hope you all are practicing with each other!