It’s been about a month since I arrived in Istanbul and life has been fast paced and non-stop ever since. I won’t lie, but I was unsure at first if Istanbul would be a good fit for me and I struggled at first to get comfortable here. Everywhere I turned there were people, noises, smells, and buildings. So many that I originally was stressed out. After the first week though, I slowed myself down and started finding beauty in all the chaos swirling around me. Little things began to stick out to me, like the variation of color or shape of the skyline.
It’s the simple things here that make me smile, a sunny day, a warm cup of Çay, a fish sandwich, walking inside a mosque. By embracing these things I am able to appreciate more of what Istanbul has to offer. It is not just a city of 14 million but a place where you can learn about how others live differently from yourself. One of my favorite experiences here is entering a mosque.
When entering a mosque, everyone is required to remove their shoes and women must be dressed modestly and have their head covered. Inside, there are usually separate areas for men and women (sometimes they allow tourists to mix in these areas, sometimes not). This separation is to keep the concept of modesty between the genders. Typically the women are placed behind the men or behind a partition, or on an upper balcony area. I love having the opportunity to access these upper areas in all of the mosques because it gives a different view of the space that seems special and sacred to me.
Overall, Istanbul is a city that I have fallen in love with. No matter how chaotic it may seem, there is an underlying beauty of how the people live and the spaces in which they do as well. I could not have chosen a better city to study abroad in!