Wednesday, June 6, 2012

It's beginning to feel like summer in Istanbul...


10 more days in Istanbul… I can't believe it. I don't think I'm ready to leave; there is so much more in this city to be explored! I am now in the home stretch with school—took a final exam on Monday, turned in my 30-page research paper yesterday, and now I have one more project and paper.

Before we got to crunch time, I had some adventures. I made a quick trip to the American Hospital, because I'm dedicated to exploring gastroenterology departments around the world. Ok, kidding. I had a check up on my intestines and tried to communicate with the nurses in limited English/Turkish. So that was, in some ways, an adventure.

I went to another guitar jam session/Erasmus dinner, which was great fun. We two Americans were outnumbered, so it was nice to meet students from other countries. 

My group also took a wonderful trip to the Black Sea region--towns called Bolu and Safronbolu (famous for it's saffron!). It was so great to get out of the city—we had a relaxed picnic by a lake in Bolu, went to the hamam, took an early morning hike, and then explored the UNESCO world heritage town of Safronbolu. It was a totally different world from Istanbul, and a relaxing weekend. 

I also spent a lot of time filming little video clips around Istanbul for my final project for my sound design class (I'll be uploading it soon!). My roommates and I went to the old part of town and did a lot of wandering in the Grand Bazaar. I think I have finally gotten over my fear of bargaining! Got some presents for friends, a scarf, and some sunglasses which I managed to bargain down from 25 TL to 10 TL. 

I had also had another great adventure with a friend from home, who performs on a cruise ship and happened to stop in Istanbul for a night! We wandered around the old town (got a bit lost…), had overpriced ice cream on Istiklal, and played a lot of backgammon. I also tried nargile (hookah) for the first time, and was overall underwhelmed, but I figure that's ok. 

Since the semester is coming to an end, some of my friends have already left to get back to jobs and internships. We had some nice farewell dinners (though of course the 'farewell' part wasn't nice)—one of which was an elaborate hot pot dinner including quail eggs and chicken liver! Plus other delicious things, home cooked by another friend of ours. Yum! Some friends and I also went out for a big Turkish breakfast at 3 PM with our Turkish roommate (don't worry, breakfast at 3 PM is totally normal). 

In the process of trying to find places in which to do schoolwork, I've spent some time wandering around Cihangir—a cool, trendy neighborhood with lots of antique shops and a cafe that I have fallen in love with. I got a little inspiration to do work, but still, doing school in Istanbul is a struggle.

I also spent a great afternoon on the Asian side with two friends from college—one who is on my program, and one who is from Istanbul. We even stopped at Caribou Coffee, and I may have gotten a bit of reverse culture shock. Heh!

Now that I have finished my research paper, life feels a lot lighter. Time for some more exploring!

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