Second day in Turkey
My second day in Turkey gave me a preview of how amazing my life was going to be here. The day started with traditional Turkish breakfast, which usually consists of vegetables, a hard boiled egg, and cheese. Our daily routine is breakfast at 7, then going back to bed until lunch. We ate a food called “mantı” at a restaurant close to my school with two friends, Elif and Kadir. This food is kind of like tiny dumplings with a great sauce on them. I was only able to eat about 25% of it because of the huge portion sizes, but it was delicious!
Afterwards, my host brother showed me around the suburb of Göktürk that I live in. What separates the looks of Göktürk from the downtown of any other American city is that it’s more modern architecturally, has more cafés, and has lots of stray dogs in the streets. (I’ve heard that the government picks up the stray dogs from Istanbul and just dumps them in Göktürk. I’m starting to recognize each stray dog now, so I guess I’m becoming a local!) When I asked my host brother how many people live in the suburb, he said there were 35,000 people. Coming from a city of comparable size, I found it funny that this is only considered a suburb. I suppose this makes sense if you live next to a city of 15 million people.
Afterwards, we went to Starbucks to get out of the heat (It’s super hot here, and wearing pants to fit in makes it even hotter.) We went for chocolate brownies at a restaurant, moved to a different restaurant to play backgammon (which is popular here), and then got ready to take a bus to downtown Istanbul to go out to eat with my Rotary counselor. If you’ve been counting, that means that I went to 5 restaurants/coffee shops that day. After being in Denmark where I went to a restaurant once a month, it’s so different to be in a culture where it’s normal to go to 3 or more restaurants in a day to hang out.
The bus to Istanbul is safe and easy to use, but being in a bus during rush hour was something I should avoid next time. Traffic is absolutely insane here. Cars drive within a few inches of each other, they drive a lot faster than I’m used to, and there are people walking in between the cars. I have literally never J-walked so much in my life as I do every day here.
Walking through Istanbul was incredible – the city was absolutely huge and the skyscrapers were beautiful, especially coming from a place like Wisconsin. I was completely stunned by the mall we went to to eat dinner with my Rotary counselor – it was easily more beautiful than any mall I’ve been in. My host brother laughed at my amazement, since this 3 floored mall is one of the smaller malls, and there were 3 bigger malls next door. Yes, there are 4 huge malls next door to each other. In fact, there’s about 140 malls in Istanbul. Considering the cheaply priced clothes, this city is paradise for me.
Everything about this day showed me how lucky I was to be living here. I have an absolutely amazing host family, a host brother who has become my best friend in Turkey, and I’m in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I can’t wait to see what this year brings me.