It’s very difficult from 7,851 pictures (no exaggeration, I counted) and an endless amount of memories, to chose a time that sums up my incredible experience. I think in the end one of the most memorable of things is the walk from our apartment to school. That might seem mundane as we did it nearly every single day, but every day we noticed something new and got our simits from a different simit guy. Every day the walk woke us up with the sights, smells, and noises of Istanbul and reminded us of where we were. The walk took us through Taksim and down historic Istiklal street, and is roughly a brisk 30 minute walk. Walking down the length of Istiklal was always incredibly energizing- the mornings a bit quieter as people began to open their shops, and the evenings bursting with smells and noises that automatically make you feel so alive. That’s the best way to sum it all up- Between the groups of street performers, the guy selling ice cream by yelling out to everyone that passes, the ring of the nostalgic tram, people setting up their shops, the call to prayer- being a part of all that movement really made us feel alive. It was the perfect wake up and uplifting walk and I’ll be missing it incredibly when I’m walking between classes back at the U. I’m feeling nostalgic already. It was beginning to really feel like home.
Time sure flies! What a fantastic study abroad experience. As I lay here in bed in Natalia and I’s cozy apartment that we’ve now called home for two and a half months, we listen to the morning call to prayer one last time (4:38 a.m.-something I’ve been awake for a few too many times these last two weeks). Oh how I’ll miss it. Istanbul is amazing. The city is always vibrant, full of color, smells and life. One of my favorite parts about this city is that for how busy it is, there is such a sense of leisure built in to ones daily life. On any day of the week, at any time of day you can find people playing soccer in the park (something some local kids let us join in on), drinking cay everywhere, playing backgammon in the back of your boat on the Golden Horn (see picture), or enjoying the wonderful Bosphorus. I have thoroughly enjoyed jumping into this lifestyle where it’s okay to take a break from work or school to have a glass of cay (or two) and I’m not ready to leave. Until next time, Istanbul.
By now I’m sure you have heard several stories of the wonderful and amazing things that we have experienced while studying abroad. We have had the opportunity to visit all the impressive and unique things of Istanbul, but for me, the things I will miss the most are those wispy moments in between events. The quick game of chess on the bus, the çay sipped while taking the ferry over to Asia, the couple minutes you watch the neighbor kids play soccer as you wait for a friend to come out of their apartment. Istanbul is an unbelievably large city, and transportation takes quite a while sometimes. Strange as it may seem, waiting is what I’ll remember. Waiting is what I’ll remember because it’s those minutes that crack open to pour out time-unbound memories. There is something visceral in that experience when Ozayr would tell us we have a few minutes, and we would exchange a familiar glance and a small smile that meant, “Euchre?” or “Chess?” or “Let’s go find an ice cream bar.” It’s here that the friendships really reveal themselves. The breadth of connection that those glances betray trough deep into the stories that have built up to give them such meaning. And I think thats kinda beautiful.
I made a friend! His name is Mr. Murat and he owns the small breakfast place our group visited almost daily. I speak no Turkish, and he speaks no English, so we get along just fine. Halfway through the semester I bought a print from a shop near the Galata Tower. I liked the style and tried to imitate it by creating Murat’s restaurant in Adobe Illustrator. Towards the end of the semester I found an empty frame sitting on the street (one often finds odd things on the street here) and decided to give Murat a framed copy of my design. He was surprised and understandably confused, but put it up on his wall anyway, just as I had hoped! I hope to return to Istanbul someday, and Murat better still have that art up on his wall when I do.
Well my time has come to leave Istanbul; it feels like it flew by so fast! The last few weeks felt like no time at all. We had become so busy, the end had come and we didn’t even notice it. There are many things I will miss about Istanbul, and a few things I wont. I will definitely miss being able to get food so easily on the street. Some personal favorites were the fruits and vegetable, and the simit. The views from Shishane Otopark and the Galata Bridge are breathtaking and will forever be ingrained in my mind. A couple things I wont miss are the hoards of people everywhere we went, and the smelling the polluted air. This trip has been truly amazing and has opened up my eyes to a completely different way of living. I have done a lot of traveling but Istanbul is something very unique and unexplainable. The city is mysterious, yet functions as a whole somehow. Living in such a large city has put certain aspects of life into perspectives. I learned how to live a minimalist lifestyle with a small apartment and bedroom. Also the people begging for food and change on the street put things in a larger picture. A constant reminder of how fortunate I am. This was an opportunity of a lifetime that taught me so much. I am going home with a vast amount of knowledge that I didn’t have before.
My time in Istanbul has been a Roller coaster of ups and downs, just like any other semester. One Day I am sad to be away from home, getting ripped off at the Bazaar, other days I am so Thankful to be here, energized by the city that pulses life through its veins. Recently a few of us launched lanterns in Taksim square at night, and it was so magical. Every night we have seen people doing this, and we finally decided to give it a go. It was a long semester for us abroad, we learned a lot, got really close with each other as a group of good friends, and we were able to release our dreams into the air by launching the balloons. I loved being able to be part of such a lively atmosphere here and Istanbul, and it will definitely be the thing I miss most when I come back home. I have travelled to many cities, and there is no place like Istanbul.
The defining factor for my time in Istanbul was the sheer vibrancy of the city. So many people and cultures living in one space combine in ways that are unique and sometimes wonderful and sometimes terrible but all wholly Istanbul. From the street vendors selling fresh fruit at 2 am on weeknights to the way buildings get built and abandoned every day, the city is very alive. The most fantastic indicator of that liveliness for me, however, was the street art. From the time-consuming, splendidly rendered art of Leo Lunatic and Hero to all the smaller-time taggers, the drive to mark the city and put art into the streets is visible everywhere. For me this is a sign of the city’s health and appreciation of not only art but art accessibility, and it made every walk to a new place all the more exciting. The area around ACCENT was one of the most decorated, with the ground floor of every abandoned building being covered in psychedelic images or ornate lettering or even sculptural constructions. Seeing them every day was made all the more interesting by the fact that the images were not static- new ones would appear and cover old, making it a delight to walk the same path to class. The artists respect new and ancient buildings and focus their energy on abandoned or harsh spaces, in this way the city became more beautiful through the act of grafiti. The respect paid off- Istanbul has recently sponsored street art festivals and now its streets feature some of the best murals I have ever seen. It’s this spirit and energy to paint the streets that I’d like to see more of in Minneapolis, in a way that brings the vibrance of Istanbul home.
Reflecting back on my time in Istanbul I know with 100% certainty the thing I will miss most are the people. Turkish people are some of the kindest, most passionate and curious people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. Since our classes were all just students from the trip meeting Turkish people at school wasn’t really an option but we made sure to find other ways. While in Turkey I attended a church regularly and through that was able to be shown around Istanbul at least once a week by people who knew it far better than I. In Cappadocia a few of us were guided through the cave homes by two local children that lived in them. Back in Istanbul we made sure to visit our borek, chorba, juice and chai suppliers frequently. One of the people several of us got to connect with the most though was the owner of our local gym in which we had joined while abroad. From our very first visit Arkin made us feel very welcome, showing us around the gym, helping us when we were’t sure what to do, he taught us a little bit of Turkish and answered any questions we had about Istanbul and the Turkish culture. Through these relationships Istanbul certainly felt more like home, goodbyes were tough but I know I will be back and knowing that all of these wonderful people will be there to welcome me home only makes the heart grow founder. Görüşürüz Istanbul.
You can’t imagine how the life is with 16 architecture people 24/7 about 4 months, and we made it! It is just like yesterday, that I flew with Jack, Skyler, Jess, Peter and Lucy. Even though we had been seeing around in the Rapson all the time, it was quite different feeling met them at the airport and heading to Rome together for a semester long experience. When 8 girls and 8 boys were living in one apartment in Rome, we’ve been very closer to each other, and even we were living several different apartments in Istanbul we were still one big family. As time goes, we are very familiar with each other that now we can even ‘judging’ each other.. Everytime I go shopping, when I found some feather earrings, I always said it’s Madison’s or some flower shippon shirts it’s totally Jess’ some brown walker boots ‘Jenny’ Chess board Charlie and peter and so on. It is amazing that all of us have very strong personality and during the time well blended together, support each other, learn from each other and became a one big family now. So, I’m going to introduce some words that represent us, and their role in the group. (In my opinion) Charlie “Fadison” Bird lover, All animal lovers! And love so much some other things, but I’ll keep his secret. Madison “Thanks dialing” pretzel lover and very delicate person! She’s full of love! Doug “I love Chopsticks!” Yes, everyone knows what “Doug being Doug” means. Jack “I got chu” Always got us back, takes care of all and he is also the life of the party! Peter “I want to know more about that” I remember his creepy voice questions haha. Peter is Peter! Indescribable from my vocabularies. Yun “So cold” I’ll describe myself as a foreigner. If someone has better idea, I’ll take it! Frank “Yun, you sou courld?” “Shoulder” “Shorder” very obsessive English teacher. Thinker. Jess “I’m Jenny-” She is the most positive girl I’ve ever met, plus cute dresser! Plus… sleeper haha Jenny “You know what I’m saying “ Everyone knows this grid girls. She loves grid more than I do! Megan D “What did you just do?” Puppy lover, if I know more extreme word than lover, she will be that! Megan A “Hey Love” Amazing speaker! I always ended up open my mouth after she presents something. Skyler “I’ll wait.” He’s a guy who understands girls! Lucy “Guys-” Icebreaker! She always starts something and make a decision for the group. Natalia “upkeep something” She is such an writer. She uses so many unbelievable words that I’ve never heard of. Sam “Let’s go here!” Explorer. Always ahead of doing something new, plus great singer. Jordan “Yooooun” He knows everything! Have so much information where we should to go at night haha orange shirt construction worker boy. Ozayr and Rachel, no comments other than two amazing people. I wish this strong bond will be continued and I believe it will! Thank you so much everyone for everything. 2015 spring was ‘the’ amazing semester with you all.
One of the things that I will miss most about Turkey is all of the stay animals that are scattered throughout the streets. Some are dirty and others are adorable; many are mean but most are sweet and just want attention. It is astounding that the city tags all of the stray dogs and keeps track of them. One of the most memorable times we saw cats was in Eyup when we were on the hill that was a graveyard, and there was two little kittens stretching and eating food with crowds of people gawking at them on the wall. They were as cute as can be, and we all of course went to pet them and give them the attention that they so craved. When we arrived in Istanbul, we were amazed to see all of these random cats and dogs run around, and it remains that way in my mind still today as the trip has come to an end. I love seeing them every day, and try to give them as much attention as I can when I am not in a rush to get through the bustling city. This cat, the white one, we saw in Kadikoy while looking at art murals throughout the neighborhood. I happened to capture this perfect picture of it’s personality, as it was a very giddy and sporadic cat. I thought its eyes were very interesting, and this was the first cat that I had seen with two different colored eyes. These stray animals have been floating around in my mind the entire time I have been in Turkey, and I will never forget the abundance of them and how it reminds me of the experience.
I think it is hard to come up with only one favorite memory from the Istanbul portion of our trip (though Jess tripping down the caves of Cappadocia was pretty up there, maybe I am bias). I am instead going to write about the moment that had the most impact on me. Within the first couple of weeks of the Istanbul portion of the trip, our class got to experience the city from the rooftops. Though I feel like neither my writing or pictures will be able to do the sights and sounds experienced justice, I will give it a good college try. The weather was absolutely beautiful, sun shining the way that I will forever remember it when I think of Istanbul. The city was surrounding us for as far as the eye can see. We heard the call to prayer from all different directions, melding the sound together into something indescribable. I think it could have been one of the few moments that left the class silent. It was a moment that was so unique to Istanbul, with nowhere else able to replicate the sights, smells, feel, and sounds of the city. When I think of Istanbul, I think about that moment.
This semester was far from what I was expecting for my Rome/Istanbul study abroad, but in the best way possible. Leaving Istanbul today didn’t seem real, it felt like just another small trip of which afterwards I would return back to where I’ve been calling home these last few months: Babil Sokak 50, Sisil, Istanbul, Turkey. While others may disagree with me, one of the things I will miss about Istanbul is the call to prayer. This prayer projected from loudspeakers from every mosque, every day, five times a day, served as a constant reminder of the cultural fusion that defined Istanbul as a city. I absolutely loved how it was always very evident that you were in Istanbul; even through the late nights cooped up in the apartment, you would still here the call to prayer late at night and early in the morning reminding you of the majestic city you were living in. I also became quite accustomed to using it as a time reference throughout the day. Even though the prayer times changed every day, when I heard the first call to prayer in the morning after staying up all night, I knew that’s when it was time to go to bed and get some sleep before class. The call to prayer was a beautiful harmony of religion and every day life living in harmony together and is something that I will miss back in the states. I also will miss the seeing the men constantly fiddling with their prayer beads on the tram, or walking to the grocery store, or sitting on park benches. And will miss seeing the patterns of the various women’s hijab, proudly displaying their beliefs. I will miss how in addition to the people displaying their religion, how the city itself proudly displayed it through their mosques. Mosques in Istanbul defined its skyline, its tram stops, its landmarks, and waters edge. As a city it displayed and lived this harmonious breath, and I will definitely miss this part of Istanbul, but even more importantly, always remember it as a beautiful and singular pulse that helped make Istanbul what it was and still is today.
Doug [Looking Back…Literally]
There was a strong parallelism to how my trip started and ended. Today I was heading to London Heathrow International airport for my international flight back to Minneapolis, the same flight that I anxiously boarded four months ago. That was the start of my study abroad journey, and now I was almost home again for graduation. Swooshing down in my cab ride to Ataturk Airport, I glimpsed into the rearview mirror in which the reflection of the Theodosian Wall was flickering between blurred images of trees and buildings. I couldn’t help but think back to the day that we just landed from Rome and passed through the gates for the first time. At first sight, Istanbul was a shock, registering as an overbuilt, chaotic place, nothing like the slow-paced Italy. We cruised down the winding streets that conformed to the hilly topography of the city. Passed us by were all kinds of districts selling things that were far weirder and beyond imagination—like an entire area with tens if not hundreds of Mannequins shops stocked up with faceless or realistic or futuristic looking models staring down at us as we drove by. As we finally reached our residence, I remember the mixed feelings swirling in my head as I saw the lofty little apartment building that stood on what was at least a 10-degree slop. The density with which the city is built and the way people maneuver through urban space were definitely something needing getting used to. But as I was leaving now I realized that these things don’t bother me anymore. They’ve become a part of what I will remember this enchanted city by. With the amount of time that I’ve spent in the city, I was allowed the time to appreciate the city differently than as if I was one of the rushing tourists. I’ve made my routine in the city, finding myself frequenting specific borek stations, or getting chicken doners and fresh pressed orange juice from that one particular food vendor who baked the crispy wrapper just right. More importantly, I got to know people, to turn acquaintances into friends in all sorts of settings. Getting the kind of knowing and warm smiles from the locals is just something that makes Istanbul that much more of a great experience. Looking back, study abroad is definitely the one experience that I will never forget and do again in a heart beat.