We just finished our first week in Turkey and it was amazing, busy, hectic, and wonderful. Last saturday I arrived in Ankara and getting to TOBB was pretty simple, I found Katrina and Jay at the airport and there was a driver from TOBB waiting to pick us up and take us there. Sunday, we went to the mall, Armada, for breakfast at a restaurant called Mado. We then shopped around, got our cell phones and ate downtown in Kizilay.
On Monday we had a meeting with Ebru and she gave us a little orientation about our responsibilities for the week. During the week we held conversation classes with the students in the prep school. It's interesting, every first-year student has to get a certain score on the TOEFL in order to start taking classes in their department (major). The students have all been so welcoming and hospitable to us, I feel really lucky that we have them to show us around Ankara.
One of my favorite parts of the trip so far is trying all of the delicious turkish food. Every meal here has been so yummy and there is still so much to try! My favorite so far is probably the Iskender we had in Kizilay or pide. There are two very popular drinks: çay (tea) and ayran (a yogurt drink). However because I am a coffee fanatic, I have been loving the Turkish coffee here! Also, whenever you order coffee somewhere it always comes with a little turkish delight. Because the turkish coffee comes in a small cup, people also drink Nescafe coffee which is instant coffee. Nescafe is also pretty popular because it is a bigger cup of coffee, but the taste doesn't compare to the turkish coffee!
Before I left for Turkey, I had gotten sick and lost my voice so this whole week I have been fighting a cold. Something that helped me feel a lot better was the delicious fresh squeezed juices they have here. In the cafe in TOBB there is fresh squeezed orange juice, that contains 3 oranges worth of juice! Also they have street vendors in Kizilay that sell fresh squeezed juices and I tried pomegranate juice, it tasted so good. The cuisine is supposed to vary in different parts of Turkey. In Ankara there is mostly meat dishes because we are in the center of the country, not close to any body of water. I am excited to try different dishes when we travel and see how it differs from region to region!
|Turkish coffee, so cute and delicious!|
|Our first meal together: breakfast at Mado.|
|Pide fresh from the butcher and bakery!|
|Manti, a typical lunch at the TOBB cafe.|
This weekend we went to Cappadocia and stayed in a cute cave hotel in Goreme. I had called earlier in the week and talked to Farouk, the owner of the hotel, and he gave us a student discount on our rooms. Also, he was really generous to us and drove us around to many of the sites and on Saturday night, his wife prepared a home cooked meal for us. I've noticed that more people in Turkey go out of their way to talk to you and have genuine conversations. For example, Eric and I were walking around some of the little shops in Cappadocia and began talking to the shop owner. At the end of our conversation, he gave us a little key chain that said Kapadokya so that we would remember our trip. It was a simple yet thoughtful gesture and it sums up the affectionate nature of the Turkish people I have met so far.
There are a bunch of cave structures here and we hiked on one of them called Uchisar Castle. The top of the castle is the highest point in the city and you can see the villages surrounding the castle. When we got to the top of the castle, it started raining and then hailing so we took shelter in one of the caves for almost half an hour. Being up there and seeing everything below us was an incredible experience and worth being trapped up there by the hail!
When we were in Cappadocia we met three other groups of alumni from the University of Michigan! Meeting people from our university halfway across the world was awesome and showed me just how connected the University of Michigan family is. So far being in Turkey has been wonderful and I am so excited to see what else is in store for us these next 6 weeks!
|Me repping Michigan from a cliff on the castle!|
|All of us on Uchisar Castle!|