Being back in the States has certainly been a crazy experience. Its so different, I can barely believe it sometimes. The first thing I noticed was the roads. They’re massive here! And the cars too! I’ve been used to the winding cobble streets of Istanbul that more often than not feel like alleyways, and certainly don’t appear wide enough for a car to squeeze through.
The food is different too. While in Istanbul, I found myself facing my fears and eating just about anything put in front of me without complaint. At restaurants, nothing was off limits, and it was always the right choice to choose something completely new. Now that I’m back home, I’m finding it so easy to be at a restaurant, looking over the menu, and be drawn to the same old boringly familiar meals. I’m doing my best to try and order something new at each place I find myself, against the temptation of my favorite dishes that I’ve been eating for years. Luckily, so far, I’m enjoying everything and feeling almost as adventurous as I did abroad!
Since arriving back in the U.S., in the same way that food is familiar, it has been all too easy to fall into a routine here. I have been waking up, eating the same breakfasts everyday, heading off to work, and then returning home or visiting friends at their houses that I’ve been to a million times. It’s truly amazing to be back, to see family and of course close friends, and to jump back into life after being gone so long, and pick up right where we left off, as though I never left. At the same time, I find myself longing for more new adventures, new friends, and incredible new sites to see.
It was more than amazing to experience such great people, and to share in their culture, and to truly live life ala turca. I wouldn’t trade my time in Istanbul for anything in the world. I loved every minute of every day, even the tough ones, working on little to no sleep. And now after being back for almost a month, I think I’ve determined exactly what I miss most. In Istanbul, I noticed that wherever I was, whether it were in a tea shop, or sitting down for a nice dinner at Kiva by the Galata Tower, or simply walking down Istiklal or in the Old City, I was surrounded by language I didn’t understand. I came to realize, that not being able to understand what was being said around me caused a sense of isolation and independence, and meant one less type of distraction for me as I tried to experience all that I could in the relatively short time I was there. I think it was that feeling that made my time in Istanbul seem so amazing. I was able to live life entirely in the moment, with no distraction, and truly dive into Turkish life and culture. It also gave me the opportunity to get to know myself, and learn things about who I am that I may never have realized if I had simply stayed home, and stuck with what was familiar. I learned that I am capable of so much more than I ever thought I was, in terms of being adventurous and trying new things, and in terms of my skills and knowledge as a student. I had such an amazing trip, and I truly can’t believe all that has happened to me. Even though some of the aspects of life in the States feel so foreign to me now, I am happy to be home for the time being, and just as as excited and ready to get back out there and see what else the world has to offer.