Well here we are. Where did the time go?
With some friends and colleagues from the sociology program leaving in the next few days, the bittersweet realization that we soon must do the same mounts. Shock. Nervousness. Visualizations of the arduous plane ride home and the attention as a minor celebrity in the first weeks back. How do I even begin communicate a semesters worth of experiences to friends and family? What will I do with myself when I no longer can eat at my go-to çorba spot? Have I squinted and stared hard enough at the skyline here so that I’ll be able to remember it perfectly?
I suppose the very first glimpses of Istanbul from the plane window posed just as many questions about what was ahead. The city seemed enormous, overwhelming, impermeable. It seemed like it would be impossible to learn the ropes.
A month later Istanbul felt very different. It was exciting and surreal to feel comfortable in a metropolis halfway around the world from home. Navigating tram routes and ferries, fighting upstream against the currents of pedestrians on Istiklal Caddesi, discovering the gems within the endless arrays of restaurants in Karaköy, Fatih, and Şişli. We were true, bonafide explorers. Equipped with very little Turkish phrases to communicate with, sketchbooks, metro cards, and each other we managed to meander the streets Istanbul and find our way home, no bread crumbs needed.
In the past few weeks approaching the end of this journey I feel as though I have returned to knowing nothing about this place. On the list of places I’ve known and visited, it doesn’t seem right to check off Istanbul yet. How could I? I assume that despite best efforts I have seen perhaps 1% of this sprawling ecumenopolis. In no way do I discredit the things I have experienced in my time in Istanbul. On the contrary, I am amazed that there has been so much diversity, density, and energy socially and politically in the neighborhoods of our isolated bubble of the city. I can hardly imagine the time it takes to truly understand and find a connection to the greater area of Istanbul. I am incredibly happy and thankful for what we accomplished here, and for what lies ahead in the final nine days of my time in Istanbul. I am only humbled that so much of the city remains a mystery even after all the things we have done.
Its difficult not to get a little emotional with thoughts of leaving this place. However, the anticipation of familiar faces and time with friends back home serves as a pleasant reminder of the good things to come.
I’ve had dreams of the Carnita Benedict from the Uptown Diner off of Hennepin Ave since the third week in Rome. Imagine with me– a perfect ratio of hollandaise sauce to english muffin, the salty savoriness of pulled pork delicately tucked between them, and the most playful sensation of salsa and yolk, dripping over a large potion of hashbrowns with every swoop of your fork. It is the first meal that I hope to eat when I get home. Its difficult not to get a little emotional about that too.
I have thought hard about what this trip has meant to me over the course of our semester. I predict that it may change, grow, wane, then grow some more. I hope that it continues to offer new insight back home and endless reminders that this been without a doubt the greatest semester of my college experience.
Hold on, Im coming home, Carnita