Koc University and exploring Istanbul

Feb. 3th-Feb. 12th

Monday the 3rd was the first day of classes. I felt like a Freshman all over again. I was looking at my schedule trying to find where my classes are located. I finally got grasp of where all of them are. I am taking really interesting classes at Koc. I am taking two International Studies classes (The Politics and Government of the Middle East and The Middle East in a Globalized World). It is interested to learn about the region from a different perspective and in Turkey. Also I am taking an Art History class called “Painting in the Ottoman Empire”. This class gives an understating of Ottoman painting and manusicrips that date back from the 15th century. My History class in called the Ottoman in Transition which covers the history of the Ottomans in the 15th century until 17th century. Lastly, one of my favorite classes is Turkish.  I like the language and enjoy learning it. Hope to improve throughout the semester.

Off campus, I have seen great parts of the Istanbul.  I have been to Taksim square (Center of the city). Istiakli street offers so much , such as shops and restaurant it great during the day and night. It is one my favorite spots to go to. I like to also go to Sariyer (District where Koc is located in) have Cay (tea) by the Bosphorus, it is really beautiful. During the weekend, I go the chance to see visit the district of Sultanment, where the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia are located. Both architecture peaces are beautiful. The area is very different where I live in Sariyer. Sultanment is very touristy compared to Sariyer.

Moreover,  CIEE (the study abroad program) has hosted refugees at school to spend time with them and ice skate. The organization that helps the refugees is  ASAM/SGDD Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants. The youth are my age and come from Iran, Somalia, Afghanistan, Congo and etc. I enjoyed spending time with and showing them around campus. I talked to several of them, it was amazing to see how intelligent they are. Majority of them know more than 3 language, attending  school and have not seen their families for a few years. It was a pleasure meeting the youth and learn about much they sacrifice to have better life. I am looking forward to visiting the youth at the institution!

Living in Istanbul

Jan 22nd – Feb 1st.

I finally made in Istanbul. So far I love it!  The culture, the food, and language are great. They are different than I have experienced in the USA. Once I got out of the airport, I met people who are in CIEE (study abroad program), got on the bus and head our way to Koc University where I study and live. On the bus I was gazing outside the window looking at city. I was looking at how beautiful it looks and the fact I made it.

At Koc University we are assigned mentors that helped us settle in on Campus and show us around the district of Sariyer where the school is located. Sariyer is the “downtown” area by where the school is, I take the Dolmuce (mini bus) to get there. It’s the equivalent of  taking the Stag bus to go into town at Fairfield University. Sariyer offers a lot for students and the locals. It offers great resturants and shops. So far campus life is great.

Culture in Istanbul is unique. There are more traditions with Turkey. Also, it is very interesting to compare the values and identity that make up Turkey vs. the Unites sates. It helped me understand what is it to be Turkish and find ways to integrated myself within the culture. Turkish people are very kind and hospitable! They appreciate foreigners visiting and attempting to speak Turkish.

Food…You are all missing out! Traditional breakfast is delicious. There are a variety of cheese, such as feta and cheddar. There are different types of egg dishes. Also, I tried different meats such as Kofte, Kabab and Doure (gyro) for lunch and dinner. Some meat dishes may be served with pasta or rice. Desert is amazing! I has baklava with pistachio and nuts. If you get a chance you should try it.

Goal: I hope to truly learn more about the Turkish culture and immerse myself within it the next few month. Also, learn and improve my Turkish language skills. I am getting there. I decided to come to Turkey to get an experience that is different from the Fairfield University environment. I want to learn more about the Middle East reason, and there is no better way than living in Turkey.  Wish me Luck!