Springtime

By far the best thin about this time of the year is the ability to travel, enjoy the sun, and my university’s bahar şenlik–“spring festival”. The festival included daily events for all four days; they were packed with music, concerts, dancing, international cultural awareness, food, the arts, and parades. Campus seemed to be filled with a number of students that I sincerely doubt I have ever seen before. The general sense of community I had felt was something that I am really appreciative for, as it is one of the hardest things to truly connect with while traveling and living abroad. On the last day of şenlik, there was a pride parade (yes, here in Turkey). After rallying around the main part of campus, the pride parade took over the concert stage, in the middle of the campus stadium, chanting anti-hate slogans and uniting everyone in the crowd. It was the kickoff to one last super night, filled with some great company and fun music.

Spring Festival, ODTÜ (1)
not sure if I’ve ever seen mini honeydew melon halves used this way before, but I’m not sure I ever want to eat ice cream any other way; delicious.
Spring Festival, ODTÜ (2)
waiting for the concert to start.

Ever since the coup attempt in Turkey, last summer, many friends and members of family have asked how safe it is to be living in Turkey–and again with the results of the recent referendum (just one month ago). Truth be told, ODTÜ/METU, where I study in Ankara, has its own sort of community; it is separated from typical Turkish life (especially now due to the newest round of security measures). The university grounds are like a pocket of acceptance, progressiveness, and liberal thought, where people can express themselves as who they are freely. It’s truly been a great experience being part of this university so far. I don’t think I’ve felt so connected to a university abroad (and maybe even in general) before ODTÜ.

In the time I have to spare, I’ve become obsessed with Khaled Hosseini’s books. Though their contents are usually quite tragic and devastating, his writing pulls me in–before I know it half the book is gone, and the sun has shifted considerably in the sky. I’m currently reading his most recent book: “And the Mountains Echoed”, and not sure what I’ll do once I’ve finished. If anyone has any book suggestions (especially something similar to his style), please do let me know in the comments!

Winter European Travels (part III): Brussels & Gent

Brussles, Belgium (1)

Brussels, Belgium (2)
Banksy art exhibit. Thought it was interesting how he used are to tell a story. What do you think he means to provoke in this one?
Brussels, Belgium (3)
beautiful garden near one of the main libraries in the city.

Brussels, Belgium (4)

Brussels, Belgium (5)

Brussels, Belgium (6)

Brussels, Belgium (7)

Brussels, Belgium (8)

Brussels, Belgium (9)

Brussels, Belgium (10)
a beautiful cathedral near the center of the city.

Gent, Belgium (1)

Gent, Belgium (2)
inside one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the center of Gent.
Gent, Belgium (3)
from the top of the bell tower in Gent, overlooking the city.

Gent, Belgium (4)

Gent, Belgium (5)
the famous Vooruit building.
Gent, Belgium (6)
to our sweet surprise the blue skies in Gent seemed to stay throughout the day.

Winter European Travels (part II): Brugge

Brugge, Belgium (1)
the Venice of Belgium.

Brugge, Belgium (2)

Brugge, Belgium (3)
some of the houses in this part of Belgium remind me of gingerbread houses; I love this kind of architecture.

Brugge, Belgium (4)

Brugge, Belgium (5)
a beautiful pair of twin doors.
Brugge, Belgium (6)
although the day was completely overcast, the architecture, Belgian beer, and great company made up for it.
Brugge, Belgium (7)
stumbled across a museum full of Dali’s lesser known works; some were quite strange and intriguing.

Brugge, Belgium (8)

Brugge, Belgium (9)

Winter European Travels (part I): Angers & Nantes, France

Nantes, France (1)
if anyone is in Nantes, I encourage you to check out this open air museum: “In Memory of the Abolition of Slavery”. It gives an insight into the history of slavery itself, through the use of well known quotes, as well as a timeline from the start of slavery in the world.

 

Nantes, France (2)
“You cannot hate a people or a community that has stopped hating you, you cannot truly love a people or a community that continues to hate you, or silently despises you. For when it comes to relations among communities, forgetting is a particular and unilateral way to build relationships with others, whereas memory, which is not simply a remedy for forgetting, but literally its bursting and its opening , can only be common to all. Forgetting offends, and memory, when shared, abolishes this offense. Each one of us needs the memory of the other because what is at stake is not a virtue of compassion or charity, but a new clarity within a process of Relation. And should we wish to share the beauty of the world, should we wish to stand alongside its sufferings, we must learn to remember together.” Edouard Glissant, 2006
Angers, France (1)
a walk around town on a sunny day.
Angers, France (2)
just as I remembered it; Place du Raillement.
Angers, France (3)
favorite breakfast: dried fruit baguette smothered in butter, and an espresso.
Angers, France (4)
Angers is well known for this specific type of historic architecture.
Angers, France (5)
one of my favorite spots in the city–right next to the base of the Cathedral, looking toward the residential part of the city.
Angers, France (6)
Cathédrale Saint-Maurice d’Angers
Angers, France (7)
Château d’Angers

Catch-up

Merhabalar! Nasılsınız, iyi misinsiz? // Hi there! How are you?

I realize it’s been quite a long while since I’ve last written. Truth be told, part of the time I forgot, and the other part of the time I didn’t have internet connection. Needless to say the “notes” section of my phone is full, but I’ve been terrible at transferring over my ideas to my blog.

Where to start? Since my last post, quite a bit has changed: my level of Turkish, I’ve moved onto campus, traveled briefly to Europe, and had a few revelations.

French countryside
oh how I missed the train rides

Maybe it’s the short daily exchanging of words with the doorman, or course mates around campus, or attempting to explain things in broken English, which has helped me progress in Turkish; I can’t be sure. In one way or another, I have learned so much since the beginning of the semester alone.

Nantes, France
famous slanted buildings that can be found alone the river running through Nantes.
Angers, France (1)
from the top of the stairs that lead to the Cathedral, overlooking the Loire river and the residential side of Angers.
Angers, France (2)
it’s hard to believe that it’s been four years since I was studying here; miss it all the time. Université catholique de l’Ouest
Angers, France, (3)
Place du Raillement, centre ville

During the break between the first semester and second semester (three weeks), I was able to travel briefly to France, and then to Belgium. I had a great time catching up with good friends and family before heading back to Ankara. We enjoyed some nice French wine and happy moments in each others company. I managed to catch some photos of a somewhat blue sky in France, but Belgium was all clouds and rain for the majority of the time. (I’ll make sure to post more photos of my travels in the post to follow this one.)

Getting away from Turkey changed my perspective on living life here, and I somehow grew in my linguistic abilities (I can’t exactly be sure, since I spoke French for three weeks straight). Perhaps vital connections between French and Turkish were made in my mind, in any case, upon my return back to Ankara, it was as if there were an entirely new set of Turkish words ready to roll off of my tongue. I had missed its melody and rhythm.

One the way back from my European get away, I visited Istanbul and briefly wandered the Marmara seaside near Bursa, Turkey.

Istanbul, Turkey (1)
the view of Haia Sofia from an entrance of Sultan Ahmet Mosque in Istanbul.
Istanbul, Turkey (2)
Haia Sofia–once a Byzantine Christian church, which was later converted into an Islamic mosque, and now is open as a museum.
Bursa, Turkey (1)
enjoying the sun and sea just south of Bursa.

Winter in Ankara was pretty brutal–harsh winds and too dry; it felt as though the wind was ripping the skin from my face on my short walks from the bus station to my department building–needless to say that I couldn’t be happier that spring has finally arrived. Pollen from various trees and flowers floats around in the air, and then finally regroups on street corners like summer snow. It’s quite the beautiful sight, unless you suffer from seasonal allergies, as I do…the floating fluffs of summer snow usually result in a coughing or sneezing attack on my part. Besides that it’s nice to have beautiful weather, even if it does make writing papers, researching, and focusing on course work a bit harder.

That’s all for the moment, but please do keep an eye out for my next two posts: one solely dedicated to pictures of my travels in France and Belgium, and the other about the past few weeks.

Hope all is well in your corner of the world. Until next time!

Madeline

 

Bugün pazara gittim // Sunday pazaar 

No better way to spend a beautiful fall day than wandering around the Sunday farmers market!

(Look at all of these delicious dried fruits!)
(Nuts, berries, and grains)

I have been feeling especially homesick this last week–craving all of the typical autumn foods and activities back in Michigan–so I decided to wander around the market with my roommates, enjoy the sun, and buy some goodies.

One of the best parts of the local market is that it’s quite simple to find almost anything you can imagine. Fresh cheese, village eggs, assorted nuts and dried berries, fruits, and veggies…I definitely wouldn’t recommend going while hungry, though you could probably come out full if you ask for a taste of something at every other stand. The farmers are quite generous.

Though I had gone to the market with the intention of only buying a few different things, I ended up nearly buying my weight in pumpkin and apples. What can I say, I grew up taking trips to the market with my grandmother and always loved it. I guess somethings will never change…like dillydallying through the stalls, smelling the fresh produce, and tasting everything that I can get my hands on.

(Fresh pumpkin, purple & orange carrots, garlic, dried blueberries, assorted apples, leeks, spinach, clementines, lemon, and red peppers)

Turkish foods are quite delicious, but I have missed being creative in the kitchen with my grandmother and my mom–something quite typical around this time of the year. With a market like this so close to where I live, I’m hoping to continue on my culinary creativity and experiment with spices, fruits, and veggies as often as possible.

Wherever you are I hope you’re enjoying your Sunday as much as I am.

Why Turkey?

“Why Turkey?”…the basic question that I’ve been asked nearly every day that I’ve been here (and definitely each time I meet someone new). “Why did you choose to do your Master’s here? Everyone wants to go to the States for that.”

My answer always boils down to perspective and location. Being an international relations student, I study many things about the international community. And while I have learned much from my undergraduate studies both in the US and Europe, I’ve realized that something is lacking.

Perspective.

Though I do have a developed understanding in my area of study, my education has always been through a Western lens. As I branch out and read more and more articles about war, negotiation, migration, and general international politics, I realize how much that I don’t know.

Perspective is something that can explain or give a better understanding as to why certain things happen in this world. That’s why international relations students study theory in general. But the type of perspectives you gain by living outside of your culture opens up an understanding of an entirely different side of events happening in our world.

The importance of perspective seems to be pretty underrated in my opinion. There are so many strategic reasons as to why countries act the way that they do in the international community. It’s kind of fascinating once you put yourself in a different country, learn the history and the culture, and begin to truly understand events from another perspective.

My thought (and maybe I’m wrong) is that if more of the worlds leaders were to put themselves in the place of the other–to make an effort to understand the needs, insecurities, strengths, and histories of the other–there might be more peace in the world.

Second, being that my area of interest in international relations is migration, I chose Turkey in light of the recent refugee crises (both in Syria and in Afghanistan). Being that Turkey shares a border with Syria, the largest number of Syrian refugees are currently within Turkey. The number is somewhere roughly around 3.3 million, though most studies conducted have only noted about 2.5 million.

Studying in Ankara has meant that I am able to work more closely with the refugee crises and refugees themselves. Being that there are so many Syrian refugees in Turkey, public policy hasn’t been able to help all of them with integration or basic education in some cases. There are a few local volunteer groups who work specifically with refugee children in order to educate them in both English and Turkish, as well as teaching them basic math and science skills. In the coming months, I look forward to working with refugees, as well as sharing more of my experiences of life in Turkey on this blog.

This experience is unlike any other, and nothing that I could’ve imagined experiencing in my own community back in the States. I’m so grateful for this opportunity to go outside of my comfort zone, learn, and grow in my abilities and perspectives.