So yesterday was the one month mark for my stay in Istanbul. I was planning on writing a long blog post updating you on my adjustments, but that didn’t happen. I dragged my Turkish roommates into taking Jake and me out to dinner. They took us to a kebap shack right inside of the Old City walls. We feasted on tava, ayran and an assortment of kebaps. But the highlight of the meal was the dessert called dondurmalı irmik tatlısı. Irmik means semolina which I didn’t know before. But it’s basically a semolina dough stuffed with ice cream and topped off with some raisins. Jake is obsessed with it now. It was an awesome meal and I was looking forward to coming back to my room and cranking out some blog posts.
As soon as I started typing, my Turkish roomie’s friend showed and they came into my room to talk to me. For the next three hours I was grilled on why America is evil and how bad the “occupation” of Iraq was. I was shocked but enjoyed the challenge of thinking through assumptions I had typically taken for granted. I welcomed such a different perspective and hopefully they learned as much from me as I did from them. It’s worth noting that one of the Turkish kids thinks all governments (including his own) are evil so I wasn’t too offended by his attacks on my government. While I stayed up until 2 a.m. because of this discussion, I recognize that I am in a unique position to hear these perspectives. In fact, these lengthy conversations are quickly becoming the norm.
Two nights ago I sat down to write on this blog when my Turkish roommate Mustafa came in. The next thing I know, we’ve spent 2 hours comparing constitutions. He has also promised to explain the Fethullah Gülen movement but warns that it will take at least a couple of hours. I love it. I am always fascinated and challenged to think about my own country and my own principles. The trade-off is that my blog is slacking right now. I come back to the dorm from the gym with a list of things to do in my mind and I am lucky if I cross off the first one. I’ve been trying to call my parents for a week.
This spontaneous lifestyle has been a huge adjustment for me. Sometimes I have felt lost and but then I think back through these conversations and realize that I am learning so much even though I did more homework in high school.