This weekend, 46 Fulbrighters descended on the Aegean Sea-side town of Bodrum for our unofficial end-of-year celebration. With only a month to go in our grant period, and everyone finishing up classes at different times, this weekend was our last big-group hurrah.
We spent the weekend at a five-star, all-inclusive, seaside resort just outside of Bodrum proper. We traded in our whiteboard markers, textbooks, and listening tapes for bathing suits, booze, and middle-aged European tourists. Our two glorious days were spent drifting between from all-you-can-eat, nearly-24-hours-a-day buffet, to the beach, into the Aegean, and back to our lounge chairs, punctuated only by many trips to the bar for watered-down drinks. It was a weekend full of clothes I cannot wear in Afyon, day-drinking, delicious food, sunshine, sea water, and great friends.
Going home on Sunday was difficult. I didn’t want to leave this piece of paradise for another week of teaching. I didn’t want to be stuck on a nine-hour night bus. But mostly, I didn’t want to say good-bye to my friends. As the year draws to a close, it is difficult to say when or where we will meet again.
The Fulbright friendship is a rare, strange bird. We only met each other in September, and since then, have only seen each other on and off. Apart from my roommates, the Fulbrighters I see the most, I see about once a month. Others I see even less than that. By virtue of how much time we actually spend in each other’s company, we should be good acquaintances. But in reality, we’ve grown quite close, bonded by this weird place and experience into which we’ve been thrown together. Apparently close friendships are built on the foundation of crazy students, headache-inducing administrative issues, scary teyzes, and travel mishaps.
If there is one thing I can tell you about the Turkish Fulbright ETAs, it is that they are a weird bunch. They have atypical hobbies, tastes, interests, and experiences (I’ve witnessed a Dungeons and Dragons tournament in a hostel basement this year.). They are plagued by catastrophes and accidents (Such as falling off the teacher’s platform, pulling the teacher’s desk down with them, and showing their whole class their underwear in the process.). They are plagued by an offbeat sense of humor (Mostly cat-based). They love to dance, even though they know they’re not very good (Case in point, yours truly). But I love them. I love them for every awkward moment, every embarassing story, every cultural faux pas. There’s no way I would have made it through this year without their love, support, sympathy, distractions, entertainment, etc., etc. They are my tribe.