Another week has come and passed, but this one was filled with many sensations. The first was disappointment as I journeyed to the Turkish police department for the fifth time (yes FIVE TIMES) and was turned away without my residence permit. You see when an individual is studying in Turkey they must obtain a residence permit to leave and re-enter the country and that same individual must travel to the farthest and most out of the way police department to obtain that permit. Granted I can only blame myself for why I had to go five times BUT I was really hoping the fifth times the charm… sadly the sixth will have to be. On the plus side of being turned away disappointed I was determined not to let this get me down so I went on an adventure to cross of some things on my Istanbul bucket list.
The first stop was the Archeological Museum! For those of you who didn’t know I am kind of a history nerd and when I was younger I really wanted to be an archeologist (this may help you better understand why this museum was the first I ventured to). It was really impressive and after passing through a number of sarcophagi I stumbled upon Alexander the Greats. It also had a number of greek and roman statutes and a very cool exhibit on Istanbul through the ages, as well as the oldest peace treaty. Next I took on the Egyptian Spice Bazaar in Eminönö. Meeting up with two of my friends here we took on the hustling and bustling bazaar. Each stall was filled with dried fruits, spices, and different nick knacks. So I love strawberries, and really anything strawberry flavored BUT finding dried strawberries was possibly the most amazing discovery. If you’ve never had them DO IT, it will possible be the best decision of… your day. After all the excitement we headed to the Galata Bridge and had a great fish dinner overlooking the Bosphorus Strait and Istanbul. In all it was a pretty great day!
The next day I took on the Grand Bazaar and well lets just say I couldn’t shake the sensation of being watched. A. I went with one of my roommates and a friend from my program-an all girl group. B. We all are very attractive young women, if I say so myself. C. All the merchants we passed were men, Turkish men. We were angels… Charlie’s Angels, we were the Spice Girls (even though there were only 3 of us), and then we were beautiful ladies, etc. While all comments were very flattering, we only had a little bit of time to spend before the bazaar was to close so we couldn’t stop for them all. But really the bazaar was amazing- huge, beautiful, and extraordinary. There isn’t anything like it or at least not that I’ve seen. I will definitely be going back multiple times throughout this semester!
On Friday I had the strong sense of finally belonging in Istanbul. There’s no doubt that I am not originally Turkish- My light hair and eyes are a dead give away and well my Turkish or the lack there of is also a pretty big give away. But just feeling comfortable getting around, and being in a place is a pretty big step when you think about how far away from home I am. I feel it a lot when I’m in the more touristy parts of the City and seeing the way the tourist act makes me realize that I’m not one of them. I am a student here and am truly trying to learn the culture, the language, and the city. I may never physically fit in but emotionally I’m starting to sense at home here. Part of this was going to Ortaköy with one of my roommates and as we walked among the jewelry vendors I found myself feeling excited to use my Turkish and in return the vendors were pleasantly surprised with it. They could tell I was learning but that didn’t matter to them- they still thought it was pretty cool. Then when I split from my roommate and had to get back on my own I wasn’t nervous or scared because I knew I could do it.
Saturday is the reason for the title of this post really because I went to Sensation and well I definitely felt a number of sensations while I was there! For those who don’t know Sensation is “an indoor electronic dance music event” (Wikipedia) that began in the Netherlands but now is a global event.
You have to wear all white, they bring a couple of really famous house DJs, and then decorate the arena according to the theme (Turkey’s was ‘Wicked Wonderland’)/do a light show in rhythm with the beat of the music.
It was a night and a morning that I’ll remember forever because A. I’ve never experienced anything like it B. We were right up in front of the stage and C. It was AWESOME!!
What wasn’t so awesome was having to wake up at 8:00AM that morning and only getting maybe an hour of sleep. You see on Sunday I was sensing major sleep deprivation as I ventured out on our programs Sunday excursion to Princes’ Islands. Luckily this was possibly the best excursion for having little to no sleep because all we had to do was sit on a boat and listen to our tour guide as she talked about the surrounding sites of Istanbul. Then when we got to the Island we had a short hike up to the top (after getting to ride a horse drawn carriage to the midway point) and see an old Greek Orthodox Church. Plus the day was beautiful and the absolute perfect weather for a boat trip. While I did do a good bit of napping, I did take a way a few things from the trip I promise. First Istanbul is HUGE, like it’s really big and that really didn’t hit me until we were about two hours from the city center and the area on the land was still considered within the city limits. Over time it seems that as Istanbul has grown in population size it has just overtaken the outlying towns and villages adding them to the city. Second, I have grown so accustomed to the art and architecture of Mosques that I was not really that impressed with the church and felt overwhelmed by all of the depictions of people on the walls and ceiling.
Well there you go! My week of many sensations ended with exhaustion but a happy exhaustion as I had a busy and adventurous week. Look forward to more exciting stories from Istanbul and other places around Turkey as our program begins our big fall break trip this coming Saturday.