See you later Istanbul…

In Turkey, when you part ways, it is not common to say ‘goodbye’ but rather, ‘see you later’. ‘Görüşmek’ in Turkish means ‘to meet’. Adding the ‘ürüz’ to the end changes the word to mean ‘we will meet soon’. How Turks bid each other farewell tell a lot about their culture and their outlook on life. My short time here has shown me that Turks enjoy the moment, and questions about the uncertain future are left to the future. Turks like the serendipitous nature of life, and like to leave all possibilities open. Saying ‘görüşürüz’ to my friends here has not been a heart-wrenching task, but rather a joyful ‘hello’ to the next phase. The Turks around me do not dwell on the time I will be away, but they smile and wholeheartedly wish me the best of luck. My friends do not know when they will seen again, but they smile at the possibility of a future meeting.

I have come to feel, that in our culture, we fear an uncertain future. We seek to plan almost every moment, and become filled with anxiety when an unknown factor enters the equation. Unknown possibilities often frighten us, especially when parting from loved ones. We ask ourselves, “When will we meet again?”, “Will we get to speak to each other frequently?”. “What if this or that?”. We are nearly paralyzed with these questions, unable to look forward positively to a future full of countless possibilities. This is why, in my time in Turkey, I have come to admire the Turkish outlook of life.

Instead of obsessing or dwelling on the future they leave it up to the cosmos. You will often hear Turks say, ‘inşallah’, when referring to the future. “God willing” they say. It is not so much a religious mantra, but an acknowledgment that not everything can be controlled. We are only capable of so much in this world, everything else must be left up to chance.

So, as I leave an amazing city, country, and people, I do not shed tears of sadness, but of joy. I smile, bittersweetly, at the end of one chapter and beginning of another. I am filled with excitement at the possibilities the future may hold. I hope to return to Turkey upon graduation in December, but as I have learned here, nothing can be certain in the future. I must keep my heart and mind open, and enjoy the unexpected twists and turns life may bring me. So, as I pack my bags and head back to the US, I smile and say,

İstanbul, görüşürüz inşallah…


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