The university of Van is like a village, spread over a wide area and consisting of housing, teaching buildings, shops and cafes. Getting into the university requires passing a security check in the form of a man who boards the bus on which you’re travelling and checks that you are carrying a student card. Yusuf gave me his student card and with the man giving it just a cursory glance, I passed the test without having to utter a word. Yusuf simply told the guy that he was going to the university’s hospital, suggesting he is just a member of the public who has a medical issue.
I joined in all three classes that Yusuf had: English Application, English Literature, and English Speaking. Rather than the impersonal lectures that I associate with university learning, these classes reminded me of high school. Each one was carried out in a small room that would fit up to 30 students. Rather than being a fly on the wall, I was forced to be an active member of each class, with each teacher taking joy in addressing the only native speaker of English in the room.
In between classes, I was able to join students in the cafeteria for lunch. Each student scanned themselves in with their ID card and helped themselves to a white tray. I’m not sure what the deal was with me getting in, but I got in without any problems and got my own tray. The cafeteria abides by a ‘you get what you’re given’ rule, so as I carried my tray along a counter, its various depressions were filled with the day’s offerings. These included rice, soup, salad, bread roll, bottle of yoghurt drink and a bottle of water.
After lunch I was treated to a visit to the university ‘cat house’, where individuals of the famous Van Cat are held for breeding and studying. Inside the building, I donned plastic shoe coverings before stepping inside an enclosure holding about fifteen kittens. Outside, I got to see the two enclosures holding adults, the sexes being separated.
All the while I got to know a bunch of very cool people. Introductions began when I first arrived at the university and sat down for a cup of tea in a mini-café at the bottom of the building in which the three classes were held. There I met a whole bunch of Yusuf’s school friends. As the day went I met more and more people, all of whom were keen to find out who I was and what I was doing there.
After university, I joined Yusuf for a burger and chips in the city centre before heading home with a bunch of uni friends. It was the first time Yusuf has had friends over at his house, the night being a special occasion because I was there. We stayed up late chatting about all kinds of things and playing a rudimentary game of table tennis on a tiny desk.
|Accommodation||New friend’s house|
|Distance ridden today||0km|
|Total distance ridden||24,662|