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.

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Sarıyer market

To sum up the past few days:

Tuesday: Went to Istinye Park (a big mall in Istanbul)

Wednesday: Went to the weekly market in Sarıyer (see more below), met Hannah and Ryan’s friends

Thursday: Learned to play tavla (backgammon), saw The Hobbit at Istinye Park

Friday: Took the metro for the first time to Kanyon (a really neat outdoor-ish mall), tavla tournament with Hannah and Ryan

The market on Wednesday was a really cool experience. There were so many stands set up along the road under tents. Most of them were selling produce, but some were selling things like clothes, shoes, and bed linens. The produce was all fairly inexpensive compared to what I’m used to in the US. Here are some of the photos I took:

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First days in Istanbul

Hello friends and family! I’m in Istanbul, so I hope this blog will keep you all up to date on what I’m doing here for the next 5 months.

I arrived yesterday afternoon after a 9-ish hour long flight. The view of the city as we landed was beautiful. I was amazed at how warm it was when I got off the plane; it was around 12 degrees Celsius, or 53 degrees Fahrenheit.

I met up with my cousin Hannah and her husband Ryan at the airport, and then we took a cab back to their house in Sarıyer, which is the northernmost district on the European side of Istanbul. Hannah and Ryan both teach at Koç University, and I’ll be staying with them for a couple weeks until I can move into my dorm at Boğaziçi on Feb. 4th.

Last night, I got settled in and we got pide (Turkish flatbread pizza) for dinner.

Today the call to prayer from the mosque woke me up around 6 am, but I fell asleep once it stopped. It’s pretty loud since the mosque is literally right outside Hannah and Ryan’s house, but there’s something nice about hearing it.

the view from Hannah and Ryan's balcony; the mosque is really close and you can see the speakers on the minaret

The view from Hannah and Ryan’s balcony; the mosque is really close and you can see the speakers on the minaret

Today we took a minibus into downtown Sarıyer where we shopped, got döner for lunch, and sat by the river to eat. The weather today is beautiful – it’s been mostly sunny and around 60 degrees. We walked along the river for a while, I exchanged my American money for Turkish lira, we bought some eggs and baklava, and then we came back home.

eggs and pumpkin at an outdoor market

Eggs and pumpkin at an outdoor market

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View up the Bosphorus from Sarıyer

fish for sale in Sariyer

Fish for sale in Sarıyer

I’m realizing that I need to start working on my Turkish skills, which are basically non-existent. Since I haven’t traveled much it’s pretty disorienting to see every sign in a new language, even if I was expecting it. I’ll be taking a Turkish class at Boğaziçi, but that doesn’t begin until Feb. 18th so hopefully I can get a head start on my own.

I’ve only been here for a day, but I’m loving this part of the city and trying to learn as much as I can.