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.
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!