Istanbul's culture and way of life is incredibly distinct from that of the US. For one, Istanbul is a commuter city so some people travel 4 hours a day to and from work. As a New Yorker, I can't believe I'm saying this but traffic is absolutely much more terrible here. Times 10!
One of our first adventures was to Capitol, a beautiful mall. I am interning at FIBA Retail which owns stores such as Banana Republic, GAP, Aeropostale, etc. and I found out that there are 342 beautiful gigantic malls in Turkey. Absolutely ridiculous.
At Capitol, I bought a smoothie which the lady spent 10 minutes blending and adding fruits. It was delicious and it only cost me 7 lira which is about $3.50. As ridiculous as it may sound, I have paid up to $10 for an identical smoothie in the States. Food is incredibly cheap here! I love eating so many yummy and interesting things for half the price I would pay for in the states. However, I soon discovered or at least form what I can see, the standard of living here is higher. Everyday, I dine in the same restaurant with my coworkers and the meal is about $15 (give or take a dollar), and I'm essentially paying $7.50 but it quickly adds up for my coworkers. For a traveler to eat in Turkey is wonderful and a bargain but for the people who reside here, not so much!
The past weekend we walked down the long street, Istiklal, which is essentially Taksim. There were many interesting street vendors selling interesting foods such as chestnuts, wet burgers, mussels with rice, etc. I had a Dondurma which is an interesting somewhat marshmallowy ice cream. He also performed a bit when he scooped it. The vendor ripped me off and I paid 10 lira ($5) but it was so worth it! In contrast to the more standard ice cream I got back in my dorm, which was just as delicious if I might add.
The next day, we visited Faith which is where many of the historical sites are located. One of the other UofM kids, Boming, and I did a half day guided tour and we visited the Blue Mosque, Hagia, Sophia, the Basilica Cistern and one or two other places (the names escape me!).