Turkey is beautiful. That is probably the most obvious discovery I have made so far. University started a month ago, but it is only now that I’m finally leaving my vacation mood. After our trip to Çeşme and the first introductory weeks of classes, the national holiday of Bayram „forced“ us to take advantage of the long weekend and venture on another trip to Ephesus and Pamukkale. Then we spent two nights back in our beds before hopping on another bus, taking us to the dreamlands of Cappadocia. In 8 days I spent about 60 hours in a bus.
All these locations are not only stunningly gorgeous, but also trigger your historical imagination. We visited the hot springs where Cleopatra enjoyed a bath, an ancient city that housed 200.000 people during Jesus’ lifetime, and monasteries and caves carved out by early Christians. Not to forget the more modern attractions like a Turkish night filled with dancers, a massage in a Turkish bath, and to top it all off: A flight amidst a fantastical and balloon-filled sky.
Many comments I received included either the question what exactly I’m studying here or if I’m studying at all. I guess these comments are justified when all my Facebook pictures are more about beautiful landscapes than beautiful books. But behold my friends, I am still a student at a university and today I want to share with you what my professors are teaching me.
9.00 – 13.00 Images, Sounds, and Cultures: An introductory media course for designers to learn about the hidden meanings and cultural impact of their work. While it’s fascinating to witness the skills of people who for example worked on the Iron Man movie (that guy is the afternoon session of this class), it can be frustrating because I’m the only non-Turkish student. I know I came here to not fit in, but there better things than being excluded from class jokes and discussions.
16.00 – 19.00 Islam and the West – Bridging the Gap: Maybe my favorite class. Since it is so interesting and important for today’s world I would rather like to dedicate a whole blog post to it than describing it now.
19.00 – 21.00 Cyber Anthropology: Yes, this is still Monday. And yes, by now I’m very tired. And yes, this is the most complicated course since it’s a master class. However, since it’s a master class, our professor told us “that grades don’t really matter” and after asking us whether he should take attendance he answered his own question with “I don’t think so”. I think I’ll like my masters program.
12.00 – 14.00 Turkish for Foreigners: Turkish is a very logical and beautiful language, but it has absolutely nothing in common with the languages I speak. Still, I really hope to speak it before I leave.
9.00 – 12.00 History of Istanbul: Another great class. We discuss the Byzantium empire (4th – 15th century) and each week we focus on a different monument and its social and political context. Not only does it help me to understand the city, it also helps me to be a tour guide!
Since my last term in Rotterdam ended early and classes in Istanbul started late, I had not visited a classroom for an incredible period of 120 days. As I’ve written before, it was a challenge to switch back to school after slumbering in vacation mode for so long. Nonetheless, I was very excited and eager to commence my studies again. Especially because university really makes you think.
Courses like Cyber Anthropology and Islam and the West really get my heartbeat going. They teach you how this world and humanity functions and in turn equip you with a mind- and skill set to go out and do something good with it. While some people use words to sound smart, these subjects often require a new expression to communicate their ideas and in turn, they really make you think differently. It has been good to switch my brain on again. As much as I love traveling, I would never want to trade my education for it.