Friday, March 6, 2009

Back Again

I'm back to Turkiye! And very happy.

It was, as usual, a very interesting and exciting time before leaving for the plane--I had some papers due as midterms and I finished all of them around one or two hours before they were due. I turned them in right on time, but the writing and everything happened very fast. The second paper I wrote just wasn't good, and this made me really sad because the topic was actually really awesome but my mind just wasn't there with it so the result wasn't good at all. But we'll see. I warned my professor about it already so hopefully not everything will be horrible.

After turning in my papers, we went home in order to get all our stuff and from there we went to the airport. We got there in good time, and got through security relatively fast despite a problem with my father forgetting his knife in his bag. Once he got rid of that we all got through and started on our way to our gate and got there in such an awesome time that we didn't really have to wait for the gate to open. We got on the plane to go to London--direct flight from RDU to London Heathrow, and then from London direct to Istanbul. Both of the flights went really well, and the times between them weren't long at all so we didn't get really tired. The flights were sort of long but I was able to sleep through most of the flight.

Arriving was awesome. Getting out of the airport and then breathing in the air was even better. Its true--the air is mostly made up of smog and smoke and gas and whatnot, and there was fog, but still, coming back has a good effect no matter how you're welcomed. The traffic is as crazy as ever. Can't really do much about it though, and I wouldn't want to change anything about this country anyways. May it be protected from harm and back-stabbing.

I didn't take any pictures today but hopefully I will, and I promise, inshaallah, to post them up. With descriptions :D

We heard the maghrib azan for the first time in a long time and it was beautiful!!!!!! I miss the sound of the azan. We've decided that we're going to try and pray at a different mosque for every prayer time. And take pictures of them, of course. Despite the fact that their use is the same in general, their ornateness, both architecturally and in design are really different and complex and very beautiful.

Its 10:51 pm here in Istanbul right now, and its 3:51 in Chapel Hill. I'm still really sleepy though so hopefully I'll be able to sleep and adjust as well as I can without suffering too much from the jetlag factor.

Much love and salaams from Istanbul!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Thoughts and Feelings

I've never really known what it means to lose someone. My great-grandmother died when I was 5 years old, but I can't remember anything from that time, even though I do feel sadness at not remembering her and not having seen her before her death.

I lost another family member just recently. I'd never seen him before either, and now I'm never going to have the opportunity to see him ever again. He was young, 6 or 7 years old, and he was the son of my mom's cousin.

Its interesting but its a similar situation with my cousin and my great-grandmother. I've seen pictures and photos of both, and I think I've met them, but I don't have any recollections. They will remain in my heart, and I know they will look down on me and help me whenever I'm in need. I look at the moon and I can see my great-grandmother, and I believe that she will have taken my cousin under her wing to protect him as well.

Here's another thing that I'm pretty set on not doing, ever: drinking. I have no idea if the less-than-human person driving that car around at 8 in the morning who later hit my cousin was drunk or not, but why take that risk? Obviously your mind isn't working right when you're drunk, so maybe you argue yourself into driving around, but you shouldn't. It only causes pain. Maybe you think you're the one person who can make it home without harming anything, but luck only goes so far. This is one of those things where its better to be safe and just not drive. Its not that hard. Especially if you have friends.

I don't know if I still have any readers, but if I do, I'd like to ask you all to pray for this little man that passed away quite recently. I know he's in a better place, even though I wish he hadn't gone up there quite so soon. Or that at least I would've been able to go up there before him to prepare the area for him. Rest in peace, little one. In peace.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Few Things That Popped Into My Head :D

Hello again. I know it's been a while but I just had this random urge to write again on my blog so here I am.

I'm safely back in America now and school is well under way. I'm a sophomore now, and I've declared my major--international studies, concentrating on the Middle East and with a political/diplomatic focus.

I was cleaning up a part of my room today and I don't remember exactly what sparked this realization, but I just figured out that there a lot of even small and seemingly insignificant things that are different in Turkiye and USA. The biggest thing is obviously the bathroom--squatty vs. sitty--but there are some other differences as well. The size of paper for example--paper in Turkiye is longer than paper in America. Interestingly enough, paper you get in America will fit just fine in folders in Turkiye, but paper from Turkiye will not fit in American folders; there'll be a bit of it hanging out of the folder. I don't know about width, but length is definitely different among these two.

Something else: the date. I've always confused what comes first: the month or day. However you do it in America, it's the opposite in Turkiye.

Sounds of the night--those are also different. Right now, I'm sitting here typing and all I hear from my window are cicadas. Granted, we do live far enough away from the main road to not have too much sound, but it's still different. In Turkiye, you would hear cats and dogs screaming or fighting or whatever cat and dog noises they do. Weirdly enough, I don't remember hearing a dog (a street dog) bark, but the cats were always loud.

Measuring units are obviously different--metric vs the random system used here.

What else is different? I mean there are definitely a lot of other stuff that's totally obviously different, but I just wanted to put out some of the ones that aren't paid attention to all that much.

Oh yeah, here's the best one: the division sign used in long division is different. I've never been able to do long division with the American sign. I've always done it with the Turkish one. I just couldn't comprehend the American one. Still can't. So I go Turkish on that one. Not that I have to do long division too much. I so love my calculator :D

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Last Post For Now

Our last week in Istanbul was pretty chill. We visited the US Consulate, did some last minute shopping, went to see the really awesome cistern left over from way back when much like everything in Istanbul :D The cistern was really cool though, because it was all dark except for a couple of lights that were red or green. There wasn't too much water, only about a foot, but there were some interesting fish swimming around underneath there. There were also these two huge Medusa heads--one was sideways and the other upside-down. Also, the columns in the place were really interesting--none of them looked similar to the others, but there was one column in particular that drew my attention because the design on it was truly different and it had a hole in it that looked like the wish hole that Gunhan pointed out to us in Aya Sofya. Basically you stick your thumb in there and turn your hand the full 360 degrees while wishing for something. If you can do the full 360, your wish gets accepted. Good deal, since all you have to do is take a step and your hand can do the full rotation, sans problems.

How to sum up my feelings for this place and these people that I came with? They were both wonderful, to be very simply put. The way the students were willing to accept everything as it came to them was pretty awesome, and trust me, Turkiye throws a lot of unexpected things at you, ranging from creepers during the partying after a big win in a soccer match to a small but lovely little mosque just around the corner of a big and awesome church. Neighborhood children pop out every now and then and there also.

I love Turkiye. Istanbul has become, if it already wasn't the center of THE universe, well, at least the center of MY universe.

I want to thank Professor Shields for organizing this program and taking us to Turkiye. I want to thank all the other students for making the experience even more wonderful. And definitely a big thanks to William for making the experience infinitely more delicious by cooking for us once a week.

Thanks go to my grandparents and my uncle and aunt for putting up with me in Istanbul. Thanks go to my aunts and grandmother and grandfather on my mom's side for helping me whenever we came to the city where they were located.

Thanks go definitely and infinitely to my mom and dad, because they can never be repaid, but I'm thinking they did a pretty good investment because now they have a tour guide who can take them around Istanbul, free of charge, and make them see what the tourists can't. Not just Istanbul, of course. Turkiye, in general. So woot :D

Thanks to my readers, for reading. I hope, for those who haven't ever been to Turkiye, that you'll want to go. And I hope you read the blogs of the others as well, because they each give a different perspective on the country.

And thanks to Turkiye, that wonderful country. I'll miss you, and I'll definitely come back to you.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Just a Note

Sorry about the no pictures of the last posts. I'll try to update again when I'm in a more internet savvy place and put up my photos.

Sunday, June 29, 2008 Ankara

We’re finally in Ankara. After a most adventurous trip from Kapadokya to Ankara where our driver almost refused to take us to Ankara and was on his way to Istanbul, we finally arrived in Ankara and went to Bilkent University where we stayed in dorms.

Ankara was nice. The first day we went over to Gordion and walked around those interesting ancient ruins and visited King Midas’ tomb. That’s right. The tomb of the guy whose touch turned everything to gold. Apparently it doesn’t work when you’re dead because his tomb was of wood not gold. But now they’re saying that the guy they found in the tomb might be Midas’ father instead of Midas, so maybe the golden touch skips a couple generations. We were taken around the Gordion ruins by Ken Sams, a professor from UNC who’s been working on this site for quite some time.

The next day, we went to Anitkabir, the place where the man of Turkey, Ataturk is buried. I’d asked for my grandfather to take us around the place because he has many interesting stories and he kindly accepted and showed us around. After Anitkabir we went over to the castle and to the Anatolian Civilizations museum and walked and explored around that. The museum we toured with another professor friend of Prof Shields’, I don’t remember his name at this time but if I do I’ll re-update and note it.

The night of the 30th we took the train instead of the disastrous Fez Travel bus to get back to Istanbul. The next morning, we were finally back home. I had missed Istanbul.

Thursday, June 26, 2008 Kapadokya

The pension we stayed at here was also a really nice place called Kilim Pension. Wonderful view from it’s terrace which we all frequented often during our three day stay. Kapadokya is a really nice place and an interesting place; because of all the interesting and naturally formed caves and towers and other random stuff like that, it really does seem like you’re in a different planet. Cool enough.

We hiked around a lot in Kapadokya and went to an outdoor museum where we walked around to a bunch of churches from centuries ago that still had some paintings and images of Christ and the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist and other stories from the Bible and whatnot on the walls. Also cool enough.

Our most interesting day was our second day there I think when we decided to do a nature walk through Ihlara Valley. It was pretty cool; we walked the 7 kilometer road and got to see some more churches and got up close and personal with Turkish nature. After the walk, we went to the crater lake and we decided to swim in it. That decision alone was crazy; some of us then also decided to swim across the lake and believe me, not a feat to be attempted by the faint of heart. Or the weak of body and mind. It was long. 1 entire freaking kilometer in diameter. And yeah. We swam across that. Call us brave or crazy. I don’t even know how to describe ourselves.

We had a lot of adventures in Kapadokya, not the least of which was when we were almost losing our minds because of too much nature while walking through Ihlara valley so we decided to start singing, starting with the Sound of Music and continuing with Disney. I’m pretty sure we scared off some birds and other wild animals.