The Blue Mosque, Turkish breakfasts, and life in Etiler

On Sunday, a group of my exchange student friends and I went to the old city in Istanbul, planning to take an organized tour of all the major sites in the area. However, we couldn’t get our student Muzee cards, so instead we just decided to take our time and wander around Sultanahmet (the Blue Mosque), which is free to enter since it’s still a functioning mosque. The architecture and tile detailing inside were absolutely breathtaking.

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It was nice to be able to take in Sultanahmet at our own pace rather than following a tour. We will definitely return to this area to see the the Aya Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and the Roman Cisterne, but I’m here until June so I don’t feel rushed.

On Tuesday morning, I went out to breakfast with a few friends to a cafe that is just a couple minutes walk from the university. It was probably the best breakfast I’d ever had – pişi (sort of like funnel cake, but less sweet) with jam, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, olives, and of course tea. We liked it so much that we went back on Wednesday and I got the same thing.

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On Tuesday, I went to Kadikoy again with a group of friends. The weather was so gorgeous so we sat outside on the deck of the ferry during the ride across the river. We just wandered around, and then got a fish dinner – calamari, mussels, shrimp, and some kind of fried fish that I can’t remember the name of. I have never had such good seafood before, and now I’m not sure I can eat calamari in the US because this was so delicious! We went back to the European side at the perfect time, because the sun was setting just as we were taking the ferry back.

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I’m definitely beginning to adjust to life here, which is good since I’ll be living here for another four months. I’ve found the best place to buy groceries, the cheapest restaurants nearby, and the best wine for 9 TL. Classes start on Monday, and I’ve got a good schedule picked out. I’m taking 2 sociology courses, Turkish language, and yoga. It will be nice to settle into a good routine and be a student again – 2 months off from school has been too long!

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Week 3 in Istanbul

On Monday I left Hannah and Ryan’s house and moved into my dorm in Etiler. It’s nice, a little small, but I’ve been so busy this week that I’m rarely home. The dorm I’m living in is about a 10 minute walk from the south campus of Boğaziçi University, and the walk is really nice.

 

This is the view from the south campus...it doesn't seem like a college campus could be this beautiful!

This is the view from the south campus…it doesn’t seem like a college campus could be this beautiful!

Sabreen and me

Sabreen and me

Arts and sciences building on campus

Arts and sciences building on campus

I’ve met a ton of other exchange students in the past few days. It’s kind of overwhelming and it feels like freshman year all over again! Last night I went to a big pub crawl in Hisarüstü with a lot of the other exchange students.

Today I went with a group of about 10 students to the Grand Bazaar in the old city. I didn’t buy anything, but I plan to go back later in the semester.

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Something I’m really loving is the food here. In the area near the university there are a lot of different restaurants, some are more American style and a little pricey but there are a lot of really authentic and inexpensive options. We found a pide and lamacun restaurant where lamacun is only 2.50 TL, or about $1.40 in USD. I don’t have a stove in my dorm, but I’m able to go grocery shopping and stock up on fresh produce and bread and yogurt which is great, and inexpensive compared to home.