Friday, January 22, 2016

Winter Break in Europe

It was an uphill battle to get 10 days off from our university. They are sticklers of rules and therefore were keen on only granting us 10 days out of the country, the same amount for any other teacher employee, instead of two weeks. There are a few things frustrating about this approach. Firstly, we are not like other Akdeniz University teachers in any sense of the word; we do not have established classroom of students, we teach only 5-10 hours a week, and our duties can be summed up with optional speaking clubs and on-call substitute teaching. As Fulbright students, our circumstances are special and should, therefore, in my opinion, be dealt as such. We should be afforded special circumstances because quite frankly, we have special contracts. Secondly, I'm having a hard time understanding why our weekends count as part of the 10 days we are out of the country. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about following the rules, but their stance on this simply seems absurd. Thirdly, if we really do want to talk about contracts and legal language, I believe we are allotted 14 full days out of the country, per Article 12.

Not to mention that the school itself has winter break from January 15 to February 1st, which means there are no students at school for us to teach! I don't understand why the university can't just give us that same time frame off. I think the admin is being bureaucratic just for the sake of exercising its muscles, and as a result, making our lives miserable. This is further creating a negative experience. I cannot wait to provide this feedback to the Turkish Fulbright Commission in hopes that the situation improves for future scholars.

Anyhow, despite our efforts, the administration did not budge and officially only approved our leave for January 18-28.

As if things couldn't get any worse, we were miserable during the week leading up to our trip. All of a sudden, regular teachers were calling out sick (suspicious no?) and we became the scapegoats. Alex and I substituted a ton of classes during the week of student midterms, teaching almost 20 hours that week. It felt weird to be administering an exam for a class I never taught; it felt even more unethical to give oral speaking grades to students I had never worked with before. The entire situation was awful, and added to our growing frustration with the school bureaucracy.

Ok, enough venting. On to the better stuff, the actual places we'll be visiting on our trip! Our itinerary for the next two weeks includes: Barcelona, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Berlin. If we didn't have to come back on the 28th, we would have added Prague, Vienna, and Budapest to our trip, but unfortunately they had to be cut because we are good girls and we follow school rules. We'll be returning on Friday and going to school just to show the administration our faces so that they can see we stayed within their approved dates. Plus, we'll use the weekend to catch up on rest!

Stay tuned for adventures from each of the above-mentioned cities! Let the #EuropeTrip start!

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