Since school has started things have been quite hectic for me here. Lots of reading and lots of activities! There is one group on campus here at Bogazici, the Erasmus Student Network, which caters specifically to Erasmus and exchange students. During the first month of school they have organized several events for us, one being a weekend trip to the Black Sea region of Turkey. We went to the towns of Safranbolu (, famous for its saffron Turkish Delight and Ottoman architecture, and Amasra, an incredibly beautiful town along the Black Sea.  The trip was incredible! We ate lunch at the old Safranbolu caravansary and went to hear Turkish music at night, where I learned to dance the Halay, a traditional Turkish dance.  In Amasra, we wondered the small picturesque town which sits calmly along the Black Sea. We were lucky enough to take a boat ride which cost only 4 Liras! It was absolutely breathtaking. As I sat at the bow of the boat the sun gleamed and the waves crashed into the surrounding cliffs. Going back to chaotic Istanbul was slightly sad, I had loved the time in the peaceful Black Sea region!

A week later was Turkish Republic Day! It celebrates when Turkey became an independent republic under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. As I wondered the city, I had never seen so many national flags displayed! Every shop, building, and school proudly displayed the red and white banner. That night, a group of us went to Besiktas to watch the yearly fireworks display. The fireworks are shot from four different locations along the Bosphorous. As we looked across the Bosphorous to Asia, we saw one of the most incredible firework shows any in our group had ever seen! Brilliant colors from all angles illuminated a clear sky. All of us were awestruck. It was truly wonderful to join in with Turkish people, as well as others from around the world, to celebrate their national holiday.

As I said earlier, ESN has been so great at organizing events for the exchange students. This past Thursday they held a traditional Fasil Night. A Fasil Night consists of mezes (Turkish h’ordeuvres),Raki ( and of course, lots of dancing. The night began with eating and sipping Raki, which I personally do not care for. It is an alcoholic beverage heavily flavored with anise. I have never been a fan of licorice so Raki, while ok in small doses, was not my favorite drink of the night. After we ate and sipped our Raki, we commenced dancing to traditional Turkish music. We all crowded together singing and dancing!  The night did not end until about 2am!

This next week is a Turkish religious holiday, or Bayram. We have the whole week off from school, so I will be traveling to Gaziantep and Urfa in southeastern Turkey, both cities famous for their cuisine. An exchange friend of mine has family there, so I, with two other exchange students from France and Japan, will stay and tour the city with their family. I cannot wait to see how people from the complete opposite side of Turkey live, and how it compares to life in Istanbul!

I will be sure and write about my next adventures soon! Görüşürüz!


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