Saturday, July 20, 2013

Day 21: Keeping Academics in Mind

The grounds around the Hagia Sophia
     The last person to post for our Italy rotation; no pressure. Our time in Rome has concluded and the Global Scholars have made their way back to Istanbul. Despite how the media portrayed Istanbul, life continues normally for many here or, at least, as normal as life is during Ramazan. Even in secular Turkey, the signs of this Muslim holiday are obvious from signs on city streets to being asked to leave a restaurant because it is reserved for those breaking fast at sundown. To compare Istanbul and Rome is to compare apples and oranges. After some experience with both fruits today, I can assure you both make great juice.
The Grand Bazaar
Blue Mosque Interior
     Some say "if you cannot find it in the Grand Bazaar it does not exist," meaning they sell everything there but, when it comes to cats, they give them away for free. Istanbul's, or, as I like to call it, "Catstantinople," cat problem is immediately apparently to anyone who sets foot in this impossible city. Young boys hustling grown men out of 100 lira when they got the knockoff Armani for less than 10, restaurants giving away free drinks just to get potential customers inside, brand new metros speeding past century old buildings; the list of unbelievable sights is endless in Istanbul. I began my Saturday by visiting the Grand Bazaar and joining the aforementioned group of men getting hustled by purchasing two Turkish leather belts over the, what I can believe were, counterfeit belts. With thoughts of international political economy still at the forefront of my mind, I saw globalization at every turn in the bazaar.
The Blue Mosque
     Wanting to resist purchasing any more unnecessary items, I quickly left the bazaar, but not before rehyrdrating myself with two cups of juice, and made my way to two of Turkey's other popular attractions: the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. (I'll have to make a second trip to visit the interior of the former as the line was too long today). Needless to say, both were beautiful even after three weeks spent living a tram ride away from sights like the Colosseum and the Vatican. Istanbul's split personality came out as I looked over to the Blue Mosque's unique six minarets (towers) while waiting for the tram having just bought my Istanbulcard with lira I had converted from euros just a few hours prior. The modern and ancient surprisingly didn't clash but instead blended together to create a image of Istanbul representative of the city's location bridging Europe and Asia. Istanbul provides a environment exceptionally conducive to studying international development.

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