Iyi Gunler! Or, in English, good day!

Well, today is the day I will gather my bags and board a plane and begin my journey abroad! The first leg of my journey will take me to Frankfurt, Germany where I will have a 6 hour layover! I have never waited in an airport for more than 2 hours so it shall be interesting to see how I cope with sitting and waiting while also dealing with jetlag. After the LONG layover I will have a short (3 hour) flight to Casablanca, Morocco. Once in Morocco I will spend the next 9 days trekking all over the country and visiting two former OU exchange students who live in the capital, Rabat. A friend of mine, a recent graduate from OU, who now lives in Istanbul, will be accompanying me on my Moroccan trip. We will begin our adventure in the famous city of Casablanca where Humphrey Bogart uttered those timeless words. Then, a short train ride away, we will arrive in Rabat, where we plan to stay and take part in Ramadan with the families of my two exchange friends who attended OU last year. It will be such a unique experience to participate in Ramadan and Iftar (breaking of the day-long fast) with a native family. I hope I am invited to help with the food preparations. Morocco is known for its cuisine, especially the dish known as Tagine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tajine). After two nights in the capital of Rabat, our journey will take us to Fes, known as the spiritual center of Morocco. Fes is the final resting place of Idris I, who is credited with establishing Morocco as a Muslim nation, As a result, Fes, over the years has become a pilgrimage site for many Muslims. Next, after days getting lost in the souks (markets) and monuments of Fes, we will board a train for Marrakech. Marrakech is located in central Morocco (about an 8 hour train ride from Fes). Marrakech is a popular destination for many visitors. Famous sights include the Djemaa el Fna, a marketplace full of dancers, artisans, snake charmers, and plenty of food. Our last destination will be Essaouira, a relatively small beach town known for its fresh fish and perfect weather for surfing.

After my adventure in Morocco, Istanbul awaits. September 9, the day I  arrive in Istanbul, marks the last day of Ramadan. In Istanbul there should be plenty of celebrations throughout the city marking the end of the month long fast. Although I am sure to be exhausted from the previous week, I cannot wait to see the festivities in what I have been told is one of the most fascinating cities on earth. Istanbul, has been the capital of 3 different empires (Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman) which has contributed to its unique history that is uniquely both eastern and western. While in Istanbul I will attend, Boğaziçi  (pronouned Boazichee) University, renowned as one if not the best university in Turkey. When first founded in 1863, Boğaziçi, then known as Roberts College, was an American university. It wasn’t until 1971 that Boğaziçi was handed over to the Turkish government. Located along the Bosphorous, a straight connecting the Black Sea and Sea of Marmara, the university gets its name from the Turkish word for Bosphorous. It has been said by many that Boğaziçi has some of the most beautiful views of the Bosphorous in the entire city.

After so much anticipation, leaving seems so surreal. I remember early in January when I first decided to study abroad in Istanbul, that my departure seemed so distant, as if the day would never arrive. Now, here I am, bags packed and by the door, ready to board a plane. The past few weeks have been filled with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. Norman and OU have been such a special part of the past two years of my life. I will miss so much of the culture – football games, the busyness of the South Oval, lunch on campus corner with my girls, meeting and befriending the new exchange and international students. Yet, as I look back at what I might be missing if I were to leave Norman, I am reminded of the incredible opportunity before me. To study and live in a city as unique as Istanbul is an experience that I may never again be given. I must sieze the adventure now and appreciate the home I may occasionally miss. I hope my adventures, experiences, and stories, of this next year will encourage those of you who read this to look at the world around you and possibly venture out past your comfort level. There is a quote I once read which has become somewhat of a life motto, “Maybe the road to discovery is to go to other places, not to those that everyone goes to.” So, as I prepare to depart, excited and somewhat anxious, I repeat those words, like a rosary prayer, to remind myself of the epic and wonderful year that awaits.

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