ISTANBUL__Day one of our two week adventure started out like any normal day. Alarm goes off, I rolled my way out of bed muttering to myself how it is way to early for this, but then I remember, through the jet lag and exhaustion, I am in Turkey. I immediately perk right up, throw on some clothes and can not wait to start my day. I do not want to waste a single moment, and on day one I did not.
My roommate Kristen Audette and I head to the student union for breakfast at the Istanbul Technical University-Maslack Campus, the school hosting us. Breakfast starts off interesting because we only know the word for tea which is cay, so we end up pointing to different pastries hoping for the best. I end up with something baked with some sort of ground beef but no worries it is delicious. I will most likely get it again tomorrow. After downing copious amounts of coffee at we meet the rest of the group and start to walk in the rain to the metro station to head to the main ITU campus close to Taksim Square.
The metro station is extremely clean and murals made of tile and paintings cover the walls as you walk deep underground. Finally we arrive at Gezi Park and head to ITU’s architecture campus where we meet the students and faculty who will be working with us over the next two weeks. They were extremely welcoming and after we walk up four flights of stunning marble chairs we enter our classroom for the next three and a half hours. We sit at a conference table and drink tea while learning about the history of Istanbul and all about ITU.
We eat lunch in the cafeteria then we head out to explore the city. We head to Taksim Square. As we enter the square the sun is shining as we look up on the giant monument known as the Monument of the Republic. We walk down Istiklal street and everywhere you look there are stores and cafes. The first five minutes walking with my eyes just wandering everywhere trying to take everything in. The street was filled with tourists but it was really one of the first times we got to interact with so many different people.
When we got to the end of street we headed to the Galata Tower, built in 1453 and used for many different purposes throughout the years. Once on the of top the tower, that stands at 219.5 feet, we could see the whole city, and it was there we all started to get our bearings. We could see across the Bosphorus to the Asia side, across the golden horn where we could see the palace, the Hagia Sophia, and the Blue Mosque. The views were absolutely stunning and you could see for miles.
The day wrapped up after that and we dispersed doing different things on our own. It was here, without Professor Celik, we really got to emerge ourselves into Istanbul. Communication was key. The girls went to cafe and we got drinks and pointed to things on the menu talking to the waiter trying to learn how to say the different drinks and food. Our waiter was extremely nice and kept correcting us by telling us how to say different words and laughed with us all we all butchered what we were actually trying to order.
The day wrapped up and as we unwounded in our group meeting we debriefed on what we had learned throughout the day and it turned out we learned so much. Besides the crash course in history we learned just how important communication is. A language barrier is tough but everyone we encountered was more than willing to help us. We also talked about sustainability, the endurance of systems and cities, and we discovered just how sustainable Istanbul is. A city that was founded around 660 BC has sustained itself to be one of the largest cities in the world, having a population of around 14 million. It was a great first day and tomorrow we will embark on a journey down the Bosphorus and enter the world of the Spice Bazaar were we can really test out how well all of us are learning turkish.
By: Emily White