27 January, 2010

Life in Yurt 72

In Turkish, the word for dormitory is yurt. This 9-floored split-level building bears little resemblance to a goatskin tent. It is stucco-surfaced, and easy to spot at a distance: a bright lemon shade amid the blander beige of the other dorms. Inside, it is arranged around a central staircase; a shared kitchen and dining area on the third floor, and three to four student rooms and a bathroom on the floors above.

Here, unlike UMaine, we are allowed to do our own cooking on the three stoves and three grills, and small pets (including hamsters) are allowed with permission from the dormitories administration. But the differences are not necessarily positive: in the opening day of orientation we were told that residents should be in the building by 0:30 on weekdays and 2:00 on weekends. If not, we were asked to call ahead. The consequences for noncompliance are unclear, but the RFID cards one waves magically at the door will cease to work when curfew comes.

I'm sure all the peculiarities of yurt life at Bilkent will surface only with time. For now, here are few i have noticed thus far. The dorm attendants - a full-time employee at each hall's front desk - sometimes play their music loudly, and it echoes up through the tile-floored open stairwell.

Each resident is given a roll of toilet paper, i'm guessing one per week. As an RA at UMaine, people often expected me to make sure the restrooms had TP on the weekend - so i rather like this arrangement. If you're out of toilet paper, it's your own fault. And speaking of toilets, in our men's room there is an foreign bit of porcelain beside the more familiar fixtures: a squat toilet.

This morning, the first of my three Turkish roommates arrived. His name is Can - pronounced "Jahn". It might have been a poor idea to tell him i guessed from the sticky-notes on his desk that he is an engineer. The notes disappeared shortly after.

A second roommate was lounging in boxers when i returned from the final ESN orientation meeting. "Welcome to our room," he said, bridging the awkward moment.