Spring break in summary

Dublin: got to see my friend Maura and the city she’s been living in, enjoyed the pub scene and a pint (or two) of Guinness, saw the Book of Kells in the Trinity College library, took a train to the coastal suburb of Howth, experienced just about every type of weather, wandered around St. Stephen’s Green, ate a burrito for the first time in about 4 months

Great pub in Dublin where Maura took me to listen to an Irish band

Great pub in Dublin where Maura took me to listen to an Irish band

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Maura and me in Dalkey on a blustery, but sunny day

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Hiking the cliffs of Howth…my favorite part of the trip

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Trinity College library, a bookworm’s dream

Edinburgh: had my first real solo travel experience, almost cried when I saw the exchange rate of Turkish Lira to pounds, toured a haunted graveyard (where I saw Tom Riddle’s grave), tried on a few kilts, hiked Arthur’s Seat for a great view of the city, saw the cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter, enjoyed some more Guinness and whiskey, tried the tiniest bite of haggis, stayed in a fantastic hostel and met some great people from all over the world

Greyfriar's Kirkyard, a cemetery that is supposedly one of the most haunted places in Europe

Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, a cemetery that is supposedly one of the most haunted places in Europe

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Another view of the cemetery and surrounding houses in the Old Town

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St. Gile’s Cathedral

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View from Arthur’s Seat

A great trip, but it’s good to be home – and good to be able to call Istanbul home, at least for now.

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Mom and Dad in Istanbul

Dad and me at the Hagia Sophia

Dad and me at the Hagia Sophia (note the Rick Steves guidebook…the best!)

Mom in the Grand Bazaar

Mom in the Grand Bazaar

I had a great visit with my parents while they were here last week. It’s so nice to feel like I know enough about this city to show them around.

Spring break is almost here! At the end of the week I leave for my trip to Ireland and Scotland. Once I get back, I only have four weeks of classes left. Time flies…

 

Cats and Dogs in Istanbul

One of the first things that struck me as odd when I came to Istanbul was the number of cats and dogs living on the streets.

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Over time, I came to see that many of these animals are fairly well taken care of. I often see people with bags of bread, meat, or even cat food that they bring to a central location to feed the cats and dogs. One time on campus, I saw a girl buy a cup of ayran (a salty, yogurt-y Turkish drink) specifically for one of the dogs that hangs out on the lawn. IMG_3147

Although no one really “owns” these animals, I don’t think of them as strays. It seems that many people here take responsibility for them, which is a good example of how Turkish society is more collectivist than the society I’m used to in the United States. Sometimes it’s sad to see these animals roaming about without a roof over their heads, but it’s a good lesson in cultural differences, and I think “pet culture” is one of them.

I do think dogs are more well liked than cats. Cats constantly beg for food and only want attention when you are eating, whereas the dogs love unconditionally.

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Recently…

I enjoyed studying outdoors in 70° F+ temperatures.

I attended my first-ever Catholic mass on Easter Sunday at a church in Istanbul.

I biked around an island in the Sea of Marmara as the sun was setting.

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Up next: Mom and Dad in Istanbul!