Saturday, August 10, 2013

If You Fall Behind, You Stay Behind

This wonderful lesson emphasized by our own Ian Grace finally got to me on my last day here in Istanbul. I am one of those unfortunate souls who stayed an extra day. Essentially, I fell and stayed behind. And even while I wither away during this abandonment, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my time than to muse on all the wonderful things we did here in Istanbul. Because this is the final post on this blog (tear), I feel the need to do a summary, to share with everyone the lessons that I’ve learned along the way.

Shaheen’s Lessons Learned in Turkey (on behalf of all Global Scholars):

7. Chai is the bridge between worlds (besides the actual bridge between the East & West here)
The Turks love giving out tea. For breakfast, after lunch, inside of their shop in the Grand Bazaar, it’s everywhere. Even today, I got free chai while waiting for my to-go order. I personally don’t like tea that much, but I’ve adapted pretty well. All it takes is adding about four sugar cubes.

6. Keep a serious look on your face when passing by tourist places
            Turkish vendors love to entice you into their store by any means. For example, I have been called “chocolate,” “ India,” “Chinese,” and “Japanese” in order to get my attention. The last two make me wonder how sane those Turkish men were (I’m half Polish, half Indian, and no-Pacific East Asian). I learned that by looking very serious with a slight grimace prevents them from really harassing you. In fact, I think they got a little intimidated.

5. Bus Tours are extremely tiring
Gah. Adorableness.
            I’m sure you’ve heard the adventures we had on our bus tour. I love the fact that we saw a lot of sites, but getting up that morning at 4:30 tends to add a layer of sleepiness throughout the entire thing. It’s even worse when your tour guide makes jokes about how tired we all are.

4.5. CATS ARE EVERYWHERE. And they are so cute.

4. Baklava is heaven enclosed in fila dough and drenched in divine syrup
            This one probably only applies to me, but Baklava is the world’s best creation. I can eat it for breakfast, as a snack between breakfast and lunch, for lunch, as a mid-afternoon snack, and for dessert (I did do that… almost everyday). Just to put my love for baklava into something more relatable, I spent about 150 liras on it. About a third of that is a present going home, but the rest I ate lovingly.

3. Get on top of a hill or a building and just look around
          Every single time I had to climb up a hill or go up a bunch of steps, I knew it would be worth it. The views are spectacular (could even be better than baklava). One of my favorite places was on top of the Galata Tower. I had to elbow and push my way around it, but it was truly incredible. Istanbul’s buildings and mosques are picturesque, especially when there is water running right through the city casting gorgeous reflections. Can you tell how amazing I think it is? That’s because it is. No question.

A truly great picture taken in Pamukkale (credit to Tristan)

2. Turkey feels just like home
            I mean that more in the weather sense. Our bus tour led us to the Middle of Nowhere, Turkey (actually called Ephesus and Pamukkale), which had the most beautiful weather I could’ve imagined. Hot. Arid. Sweltering. Made me feel right at home (home being Arizona). I actually enjoyed seeing other people experience my kind of weather. I finally found a place where my ability to conserve water was appreciated, so that the rest of them could finish off my water bottle. I was quite happy.

1. If you fall behind, you stay behind.
            This encompasses all the woes of large group transportation. Our Vatican experience in Rome was one of the worst, but our airplane fiasco definitely wins. Side note: Local Turkish airlines are rather incompetent in so far that they had to individually write out each of our tickets, causing us to board our plane at the final call. Talk about a high stress adventure. We never actually left anyone behind (that would be just awful), but this was a common phrase to be repeated yet never implemented.

We had our bumps, our mountains, and our valleys on this trip. As much as we stressed or fell asleep in class, we all loved every second of this trip. I even feel lucky that I got to snatch a couple of extra seconds here on my last day in an empty dorm hall. I hope to see you again soon, baklava. I mean Istanbul. 

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