Time Abroad: Fall 2009
Major: International Studies
There was something magical about Istanbul at sunset; the city became a hive of art, music, dance, and intellectual conversation. One of my best moments in Turkey happened just after sunset on a typical school day. Some friends and I walked from campus to a bar. The downstairs portion was full so a waiter led us to the rooftop terrace from which we could see the whole city, the Bosphorus Sea, and the Blue Mosque. Right as we were ordering our drinks the daily call to pray came on every speaker in the hundreds of mosques. We sat talking and drinking for hours, each of us from a different country and telling our stories, our ideas, and our cultures.
Turkey combines the East and the West and in the process it has created its own unique culture which cannot be found in any one place. It is a collection of cultures and traditions, most of them are older then the nation itself. I was constantly amazed at all of the history that builds Turkey, from the Silk Road to St. Nicholas's cathedral the entire country is grounded in memoirs (yes, that is Santa Claus). Turkey is 99% Muslim, which can be intimidating at first, but the people are warm, friendly and curious, more then anything they want to learn about visitors. To them a friend is a gift to be cherished.
Every moment was an adventure for me while studying in Turkey; I learned so much about myself and my biases, and American culture. I actually developed a passion for the Balkan and Central Asian regions while I was in Turkey, and I cannot wait to continue my studies of them for my Masters degree. I really want to impress upon every prospective student that this study abroad experience can be life changing, if you open your mind, let go of your boundaries and swallow your fears. You will find a part of yourself that you never knew that you had.