Random ideas for ELT people, plus guest blogs & travel notes

My latest guest blogger is Karin Tıraşın, who I met at the IATEFL conference in Brighton in April. Karin is Norwegian and lives in Turkey, so I was as usual nosily interested in how she came to make that move, and what it was like to live in such a different environment. She graciously agreed to explain…

Karin Tıraşın

Instruction Manuals

It’s your birthday and you’ve just been given the best gift ever – some brand-new high-end super-sonic gadget you were dying to get your hands on. So, what’s the first thing you do? Start pressing buttons to see what miracles may happen? Or, do you read the instruction manual carefully from start to finish and then decide what to do?  The way people answer this question can tell you a lot about who they really are.

It can also tell you a thing or two about me. I’m Karin, a Norwegian, who because I’m near manual-fobic and only read instructions (and warnings) as a last resort (and usually after it’s too late anyway), suddenly found myself teaching English in Turkey about 10 years ago.

Most people assume that I settled in Turkey because I fell madly in love with a Turk, but that’s just half-true as I had already married and had a son with my Turk in Norway before deciding it would be fun to see what living in his country would be like.

If I had read the manual or listened to the warnings, I might never have left good old safe Norway. Luckily I didn’t. Also, if I had been less persistent (or “stubborn” or “like a dog with a bone” depending on which of my friends you ask), I might never have stayed. Thankfully I wasn’t. After surviving the culture shock that I should have (but didn’t) read about in the manual, I adapted so well and loved it here so much that now I don’t think I’ll ever leave.

My decision to become a teacher happened much in the same way, and I stayed a teacher for a long time much for the same reasons. When I was a student at University, teaching just seemed like a good enough idea. It certainly wasn’t a calling and it took me years to get from “I’m not really sure I like this” via “I think I can maybe do this OK after all” to honestly feeling that I love my job.

Thank God I didn’t read the fine script too carefully or give up too easily. I might have missed out on the best job in the world.

Another thing I’m glad I didn’t miss out on, is this year’s IATEFL conference (my first!) and all of the wonderful people that I had the pleasure of meeting and learning from there. It is funny how that also happened as a result of me not reading the manual very well. The manual in this case being an e-mail from my HOD telling me about a blogathon she thought I “would enjoy”. I didn’t realize how time-consuming and difficult it would actually be to edu-blog, but of course couldn’t just quit once I’d gotten myself into it.

Karin with colleagues from Turkey, or based in Turkey, at IATEFL Brighton

Well, I’m glad I didn’t because I discovered once again that miracles can happen when you press buttons at random; not only did I win the trip to Brighton, but I met a lot of truly remarkable people there – one of them even offered me a spot on his blog as a guest writer…

Thank you Ken for this opportunity, and thank you dear reader – for reading, in spite of the title! 

Love from Turkey

IATEFL Brighton collage designed by Vladimira Michalkova

Comments on: "Guest blog 11-17 – Karin Tıraşın on ignoring life’s instruction manuals…" (8)

  1. Yihhie, what a great metaphor! Reading the manual may actually kill the spirit to use that gadget🙂

  2. Nice to catch a bit more of your story, Karin, as it was fun to meet up at IATEFL.

    I think if I had read the ‘life instruction manual’, I would’ve still tried all those things it said to avoid. LOL Cheers, b

  3. A really great metaphor! Wonder though, how do you get your students to read the instructions in class? LOL!
    What an inspiring post!
    Naomi

  4. Very nice to learn a bit about you Karin – and as Brad said, it was wonderful to meet you at IATEFL🙂

    I sure could use a Life Instruction manual…. but then again, I never read manuals, why would it be any different? I think I’d rather go unplugged in life😉

  5. Hi Karin,

    I can fully relate to your decision making process in coming here to Turkey. I just took the plunge but had I researched it first, I may have had second thoughts! One difference for me was that I came single and fresh out of university so I always had the option of beating a hasty retreat if I didn’t like what I found. Despite experiencing some of the peculiarities anyone living abroad will come across, I started to love life here and, well,,, 11 years on here I am.

    It was great to share the blogathon experience with you and great that you set up your own blog and joined Twitter as a result.

    Have a great summer break!

    Dave in Ankara

  6. Hi Karin, great to find you over at Ken’s place.

  7. Ken Wilson said:

    Karin seems indeed to have the perfect life. She loves where she is and what she does, and it looks as if she’s unplugged the computer and headed off to her summer house until September. If this is a normal life for a teacher in Turkey, Mrs Wilson and I are re-locating there for the next academic year!😛

  8. Aisha Ertugrul said:

    Karin,

    you were the star on the blogathon from the beginning. Your determination showed through your frequent, strong opinions on relevant topics. I enjoyed reading your posts. It was also obvious that you were a devoted, reflective teacher.

    I came to Turkey for a year and stayed. I also met my Turk before coming.
    It took me about five years to adjust and then love it. Organization and planning is different here. So is being up front. They are more polite and less to the point. It is exciting here. Great nightlife, very loving, family oriented country. Very safe too.

    Signing off now. I’ll be unplugged for about six weeks. There is nothing like the Turkish coast in the summer.

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