An ordinary day in Turkey’s 'Mathematics Village'
Altuğ KARAKURT* – ŞİRİNCEBeing surrounded by the post-elective atmosphere in Turkey, I really need some time away from the political tension. So, a week later from my departure from there, I think it is time for my second piece on Nesin Mathematics Village.
This time, I would like to narrate an ordinary day in Mathematics Village.
I would wake up at 6:30, welcoming the day with the company of cicadas’ endless symphony. I would step out of my cozy tent and walk toward the village under the shadow of large pine trees, to get ready for a refreshing breakfast at 7. I had really enjoyed my morning tea with tasty cheese and olives, fresh tomatoes and delicious (probably home-made) jams, together with all the other sleepy eyes around me.
I would generally have half an hour of free time between my breakfast and the first lesson of the day, at 8 o’clock. That’s when I would stop by the library’s porch and have my daily news update on my smartphone. There, actually, was my favorite zone in the whole village. I would leave myself to the comfortable large sofas, facing the green hills as the light breeze cools me down.
Then, I would head to the open-air class with a pencil and a notebook in my hand. The lessons were rarely stressful or boring. The lecturers were as relaxed as the students were. It was fun to chat with successful academics from well-known universities, on their research areas, with their slippers and shorts on.
After the first lesson, I had two hours of free time before lunch, which I would generally spend in the library, working on the random books that I got ahold of. Believe me, taking a quick look at various mathematics textbooks can teach you a lot.
Lunch time may be really chaotic if you are late. About 300 students rush to the lunch hall and the line sometimes feels endless. However, thanks to my free time right before lunch, I was fine, except for the few times when I sank in the books and lost the track of time.
Lunches and dinners are really tasty and healthy in the village. The chef, Asım Usta, creates wonders for such a large group of people in such short notice.
The duties are simple tasks to be completed by groups of participants to keep the village running and most of them are scheduled right after the lunch break and don’t take more than an hour of work. So, mostly my after lunch free time would be occupied by cleaning toilets, washing dishes or sweeping. Some of the tasks were quite tiresome, but I had never felt exhausted after finishing them. I would appreciate the effort of the people who take care of these in my daily life and I would feel happy for contributing to village life.
Afterward, I would have two more hours of lecture and then I would be free for the rest of the day. My free time in the village was mostly dedicated to revising my past mathematics courses and devouring any new knowledge that I could make sense of.
After dinner, I would generally take a seat on the porch of the library again. During the night time, the green hills would be hidden by the darkness and the wonderful sky would take the leading role. Thanks to the absence of light pollution, the view of the stars is stunning. Relaxing on the porch and watching this scene with the cicadas singing in the background, is possibly the most relaxing experience I have had in my life.
After a while, I would start walking around to find one of my new friends there to dive into a deep conversation. One day, we would discuss politics and the other, our plans for the future. The day would end in such a calm mood, in my relatively cool tent.
As I said, it has been a week since I returned to my normal life and I still miss the atmosphere of Mathematics Village. I think those two weeks were really a unique experience for me.
On my next piece, I will try to evaluate what I gained from Mathematics Village.
* This piece is a follow-up to “A Brief Introduction to Turkey’s Mathematics Village." If you have any questions about Mathematics Village, you can contact Altuğ Karakurt by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org and if you are a Turkish speaker, you can find his Turkish Village Diaries at altugkarakurt.blogspot.com.tr