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Friday, May 23, 2014

Lejing--Istanbul--Week 1

My life at Istanbul started on a Monday morning. Landing the Ataturk airport at 0:20 am, I was amazed by how many people there were still at the airport. The driver who was supposed to pick me up thought I was coming in the afternoon, because the Turkish people don't use am and pm. So I had to find a taxi on my own, and it was easy to do that, but the price of $110 for a one-hour ride shocked me a bit. The taxi driver was really nice. He drove into Koc and found me the dorm management people. 

Pareesa, my co-intern, and I live with two Turkish girls in a four-people dorm room at Koc University. The room is spacious compared to my dorm for freshman year at UMich. Everyone has a bed, a desk, a closet, and a little nightstand. Thankfully, our roommates speak English and are very helpful.

 Freshly made orange juice from 5 oranges and Ayran, a combination of yoghurt and water, a popular drink in Turkey.

Turkish coffee.

Koc University is on a hill, surrounded by lots of green and blue sky and the blue Black Sea. The scenery is absolutely beautiful. The pace here is about the same as Ann Arbor.
A live jazz concert at school.

I started to work at the Graduate School of Business office the second day. My work has been helping the MBA exchange program to contact business schools all over the world, recording teacher evaluations into the computer, and helping with their business school event. I did not have much work to do, but it was fun to talk to our coworkers in the office. Our coworkers are really nice. One day they took Pareesa and I to a restaurant by the Black Sea for lunch. We had freshly caught fish and rice-stuffed mussels. After lunch, we heard the real call for prayer the first time, because Koc is on a hill, far from the mosques. The Islamic culture is fascinating.

Seafood by the Black Sea
Speaking of food, Turkish food is very different from the American one. The Turkish people put a huge emphasis on breakfast. Cheese, bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, eggs, Turkish tea, and Turkish coffee are common on a Turkish breakfast plate. For lunch and dinner at the school cafeteria, there is usually a meat dish, sometimes fish, soup, rice or pasta, salad, and dessert. Beef and lamb are usual meat dish, chicken sometimes, but no pork at all, considering the Islamic tradition.

Turkish delight and Turkish tea.

The third day we were here, we decided to venture out. We took a minibus for half an hour to Sariyer, the little town where Koc is. Convenience stores, fruit and vegetable shops, phone stores, clothes stores, construction material stores all squeeze on the little street. It was a little frustrating that almost no one there knew English and we did not know Turkish, although somehow we managed to get a plug converter and grab dinner.

Inside of the metro station in Istanbul.

The next day we went from Sariyer to downtown Istanbul by metro. Public transportation here is convenient but also not cheap. Metros, minibus, bus, metrobus, Tram, Tunnel all cost 3 liras every time. Sometimes it cost us 20 to 30 liras per day only for transportation.

Taksim square is the center of political demonstration. Actually, the real Taksim is only a little stone sculpture. Big parts of Taksim are shopping streets where no cars can enter. There were police forces holding shields and other weapon to protect and guard the safety of people. Taksim definitely attracts a lot of tourism. I felt the crowds which I could only feel in Shanghai before. Burger King, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, and KFC made us feel a little homesick and home-food-sick actually.

Anyways, the first week at Koc consisted of nice people, adventures, different food, and a beautiful tradition, which was very interesting. I look forward to more venturing out the next several weeks.

1 comment:

  1. Lejing,

    My name is Tammy Mida. I am interning in LSA International Internships this summer, so I will be reading and responding to your blog posts.

    I am counting this post for 5/18-5/24. It's a great post! I love the descriptions and pictures. Transportation does seem really expensive. Maybe you can find an alternative or one option that isn't so costly and just use it consistently. I'm glad that you took some time to "venture out". I'm sure that the language barrier is quite frustrating, but you're doing a great job! Getting dinner and shopping is no small feat.

    Your job sounds really interesting. When you call other schools, I assume you are speaking English. How is that working? I was surprised to hear that the pace is about the same as Ann Arbor; for some reason I thought it would be slower.

    I'm looking forward to your next post.