Finally, my first blog post from Istanbul! I am sorry I have not been updating at all but the past three weeks have been super busy and I was having trouble uploading pictures to the system! Anyway, I’m here!!!! And it’s been 3 weeks and I can’t believe it!
The trip here was one of the worst I’ve experienced internationally BUT I made it and that’s all that counts! During our first week here, protests in Taksim resurfaced and there was concern about what would happen but things seem to have settled for now and we are all hoping for the best. I decided to title this post “Welcome!” because I love that every time I go into a shop or restaurant or anything the Turks say it with such warmth it truly makes you feel welcome; and that’s honestly how I’ve felt ever since I arrived.
I admit I was very scared of coming here, I didn’t know what to expect and leaving my Hope friends was difficult but I knew this would be different than anything I’ve experienced- and it has been. In the best possible way.
During our CIEE orientation we had the opportunity to go on a scavenger hunt in groups around Istanbul. My group got to explore Sultanahmet, the historic district, and it was truly an adventure! That was honestly the moment the realization of being here hit me. We had the chance to visit our first mosque and we also went to the spice market – it was so much fun!
The language barrier has been the toughest part of my journey; Turkish is a very difficult language but I am working hard at it and I hope that by the end of my stay here I am able to communicate more efficiently.
Guys, I love it here. Istanbul is so alive and even though the traffic is insane and it’s so crowded everywhere, there is some magic in that chaos that I can’t put into words. My favorite historical site that I’ve visited is definitely the Hagia Sophia: formerly a church and now a museum. The mosaics and architecture are astounding and the walls and ceilings just took my breath away!
I just ended my second week of classes – registration was super stressful but I am happy with my final course selections and I look forward to learning more about Turkish culture and society and exploring things from a different perspective.
Next weekend we’re going on a trip to Kars, a small town in northeastern Turkey, very close to Armenia. It will definitely be interesting to see a whole different part of Turkey (I hear) and compare it to what I’ve seen in Istanbul so far. I think one of the reasons I’ve fallen in love with this city so quickly is it’s complexity; there is such a mix of EVERYTHING here and the tension between ‘modern’ and ‘traditional’, ‘east’ and ‘west’ is very tangible.
There is so much more that I could say, but I will leave it at that for now. I promise to be better about updating the blog! Hope you enjoy it! 🙂