Archives for posts with tag: Traveling

When I think of all the places in the world I have wanted to travel to, Turkey was never on my list. Call me crazy, but I thought of the places everyone goes to: Rome, Paris, or even Dublin. But that’s not where I was heading. I was on a plane to Istanbul. A place I had always thought of as the desert, a place where people ride camels and have giant turbans on their heads. A terrible stereotype that I’m sure many young people have in the US. I knew I was going to have fun with my classmates. I was going to make this trip as much fun as I possibly could. I mean, what could be waiting for me when I touched ground that was actually that exciting?

 

Speechless. That’s what I was. My roommate and I stared fixated tout our hotel window, in absolute awe of our view. Istanbul at night is beautiful. There was life and vitality pumping throughout the streets and the idea that 16 million people lived in this city was amazing. We could see a mosque in every direction we looked, hear car horns blasting from the street six stories below us. Lights were shining, golden, creating a halo-like effect on the horizon line. I had never seen anything as lovely as my view from the Grand Halic Hotel.

 

It was 6:00 in the morning. I woke up to the most interesting sounds. A man singing right outside my window. It was way to early in the morning for this kind of nonsense. Who in the world thinks it’s a good idea to blast their voice to the world? At 6:00. In. The. Morning. Doesn’t this man know that I didn’t get to bed until about one? Doesn’t he know that I have trouble sleeping the first night at any new place? The quiet is vital to make sure my brain is not a ball of mush when I try to function today. 

Then it dawned on me. The call to prayer. Five times a day the call to prayer was supposed to go off all over Istanbul. But couldn’t they make an exception? I thought to myself with a groan as I pulled the plush white covers over my head.

 

After a long day of visiting schools on the Asia side of Istanbul, we decided that we wanted to go to the Turkish bath. It was explained to us by our guide, Koray, that the baths are great. We could choose what kind of service we got, and it was a supposed to be a time where we relaxed. A time when we let go of our stresses and simply drifted away for a while. We were told about the “Turkish mamma’s” who would take good care of us while we were at the baths.

“There will be a slab that you lay on,” Koray said. “It will feel good on the skin and you will simply let the mamma scrub and massage you.” 

I was ready. This was going to be an adventure. It was going to be me, a Turkish mamma, a hot stone to lay on, and a drifting sensation. But that wasn’t was I got, exactly. There were about 25 or 30 of us that decided we wanted to go to the baths. I was in the last group that paid. For the full service, thank you very much. If I was doing this, I was going all out. No halfsies on this one. There were six of us in the last group. A man took us out of the building we were in and brought us around the corner to the woman’s part of the bath. We walked up some mosaic tiled stairs and came to a room that had a desk and little compartment rooms lining the back wall. One of the Turkish mamma’s aggressively guided myself and two other girls into one of the little cubby rooms…where you are supposed to get naked. She gave us wraps and left us to it.

the two girls I was with were great, laughing and making jokes to brush away fsp me of the awkward of the situation. For example, one of the girls, Haley Mae, noticed my bird tattoo on my right shoulder blade and said, “Hey! I have a bird tattoo, too! But if I tried to show it to you right now you would get a load of a whole bunch of lady parts.” Needless to say these girls were pretty awesome considering our first real social interaction involved us stripping down to our birthday suits. 

When we walked out of our little cubby room the mamma pushed the six of us through a door that went into a bathroom area with toilets and sinks running the length of either side of the room. We were then pushed through another door and I immediately gripped my wrap a little tighter to my body. All I saw was a sea of my bare naked classmates. All of them. Stripped naked sitting all around the room facing toward the middle where the hot slaps was located. My first thought was, absolutely not. This was not Happening. Koray did not say we were all going to be in the same huge room together, where four people were being served at the same time! This was where my thoughts were as I walked over to a free spot around the room, when suddenly my wrap was taken away from me! The Turkish mamma took away my wrap without giving me any chance to tell her no way Jose.

There is not a single DIS long study tour that got as close as mine did in Istanbul, Turkey. 

 

Being in an old building is like being in a part of something really special. There is so much history in old buildings such as the Hagia Sophia or the Blue Mosque. There is a feeling that washes over you  you think about how many people before you were walking in the same spot you were, seeing what you were seeing. I thought about that when Koray said that the Hagia Sophia was built 50 generations ago. What a way to put the building in prospective. It is breathtaking, really. 

 

I have been in towers before and the Galata Tower didn’t seems like anything that impressive in comparison to what I had already seen in Istanbul. It was around sunset, the time recommended to us to go up into the tower. We bought our tickets, 13 Lyra each, and then we went up. At the top, we gazed upon the whole of Istanbul. It was gorgeous, watching the sun set over this incredible city. You could see the city pulse with life and you could feel the glowing aura around the city. It was in possible not to sigh at such a gorgeous sight. I thought we had hit the jackpot when my friend suggested we stay up in the tower long enough to hear the call to prayer go off. Brilliant idea! So we waited, and I personally grew impatient as the sun continued to set with no prayer. But then…the call to prayer started at one mosque, reaching high into the brisk night air. I smiled, loving the sound of the man singing the prayer, when another mosque joined in, adding a sort of echo effect. Soon another mosque went off, and another. There was a chorus of voices sing the call to prayer, mixing and melting together.it was captivating, like seeing the world for the first time after not being able to see for 20 years. It was like a magic spell, reaching its hands out toward me and gripping my attention  entirely. Never before had I been able to witness something so extraordinary. And I don’t think I will ever again.

Advertisements

I am so excited for Turkey! (The English translation of my title)

AHHH! I can’t believe it!! This time next week I will be in Turkey. It’s unbelievable how quickly time has passed. Very soon it will be March and I will have been here for two months. I have this weird feeling that I have been here so long, but sometimes I also feel like I have been here for only two weeks. I’m not sure how to explain it. But it’s weird.

(Ps. As I am writing this blog I have a puppy biting my chin. This is both cute and painful.)

I have been learning about the education system in Turkey, which is not in the greatest condition right now, and the more I learn the more I am interesting to see what the culture is like firsthand. I have heard so many different opinions, even from people on the street. Literally. We had to go up to people on the street outside of our classroom and ask them about Turkey. Very interesting assignment. People from Turkey are the biggest immigrant population here in Denmark. Think about the feelings toward the Mexican population in America, it is very similar in Denmark toward the Turkish population.

I will be getting a rundown of what my stay in Turkey will be like tomorrow. My professor, Maja (a different spelling of my name. Maja is actually a fairly popular name in Denmark. Said My-Ahh), grew up in Turkey as a child and even went to school there. I’m told by a student who went to Turkey with Maja last semester that she is a mother bear when it comes to her students visiting Turkey. She is uber protective. It will be nice to have someone there who knows the area pretty well and who knows the language.

Here are some things I might see when I am in Istanbul:

Image

Image

Image

It will be so different than what I am used to and I just can’t wait! (Sorry, Uncle Bruce. I know you don’t like that expression very much for some pretty great philosophical reasons, but it needs to be used here!) Also, I turn 21 in Turkey so that should be interesting.

I’m not exactly sure what I will be doing exactly while I am there, but it doesn’t really matter as long as I am there!

Just thought I would share some excitement with you all!

Enjoy your day/night!

Hello there, my lovely readers. It’s been a while, huh? I’m sure you are all wondering where I have been since the last time I blogged. I’m going to enlighten you, but first I would like to talk about what happened this morning because not only was it funny, but it should go down in the books. It’s about my bike.

This morning Christina and I were on our way to the train station and everything was fine and dandy. I was eating my breakfast of champions (bread and butter because I was a little slow this morning) and we were on a role riding down the bike lane. When suddenly…Christina, who is riding in front of me, stops because a car wanted to go into a parking lot we were about to pass. I didn’t hear her breaking and I realized I was going a whole lot faster than she was. I quickly slammed on my break (you have to pedal backwards to stop) but I knew I wouldn’t stop soon enough, so I jerked to the right and proceeded to crash to the ground. Not too much damage came from the crash, but I have a pretty good gash on my knee that is not going to be fun to look at tomorrow or the day after. My bike? It is alright but I had to readjust the handlebars because they had been twisted and my basket is a bit wonky looking now. All in all Everything is in working order. My host dad is going to have a look at my bike just in case.

Alright, now to where I have been these last couple days. This week for DIS was called Core Course Week. This means that we don’t have classes and we travel with the people in our core course class to somewhere outside of Copenhagen. So, because I am in Child Diversity and Development as my core course, I spent three wonderful days with a great group of ladies plus one boy. We had crazy schedules, but I will try to tell you about our day to day activities, starting with Monday, February the 4th.

Monday

We needed to be on the bus in Copenhagen at 7am. I slept until 7:40am. Do you see the problem with this situation? I had set my iPod to a crazy early time because I had a few clothes that I needed to pack still since they were drying from the night before. And I didn’t hear it. Let’s talk about the alarm on my iPod real quick. It sucks. It decides when it wants to go off and half the time that means it doesn’t go off at all. Figures. (I’m getting my new phone tomorrow, so this will not be a problem anymore.) Plus I’m sick and when I’m sick I’m def. So, anyway. I missed the bus because they left without, which I knew could happen and has happened in the past. I frantically called Jennifer (one of the teachers for my program that was going with my class on this trip) and she was very nice and understand of my situation. She helped me figure out how to meet up with the group in Kolding. I had to take the Regional train, which was actually pretty nice:

Image

Very comfortable indeed! Andddd to get to Kolding (pronounced Cooling) you have to cross two bodies of water as you can see on this map

Image

Once I got to Kolding I went to the Koldinghus to wait. In case you don’t know what that is, let me show you:

Image

Yay, for castles! It was really fun to go inside once the bus of my classmates got there!

Once we were done at the castle, we went to the hostel in Kolding. This was so exciting because I have never been to a hostel before. I’m told that hostels in Scandinavia are really reliable and nice like the one we stayed in. This was my reaction to my first hostel:

Image

Once we had our rooms and were all set we had a very nice dinner together as a group and then it was lights out.

Tuesday

We got up early and had a nice breakfast at the hostel. It was sooo super tasty! Breakfast here is amazing. There is a lot of cheese, bread, fruits, vegetables, yogurt, oats, boiled eggs…mmmm. So good! After breakfast we drove to Odense (see the map previously shown) and we went to a school called the H.C. Anderson Skolen. It was really cool to go into the school and hear the teachers explanations of what the school is like before we went on a tour of the school. It is in a more lower income part of the city and it is known for being a troublesome, yet their idea of low income and “ghetto” as they said, was nowhere near what we think of as “ghetto” in America. The school was still really nice because of the welfare system in Denmark and how much money is put toward education. We talked with some of the older students their and helped them with the projects they were working on, which was fun. I helped one group talked about American football.

When we were done visiting the school we had lunch and then went to the Vollsmose Kulturehus and made some fun masks:

Image

After we were done with our masks we went to our hostel in Odense. Once we were settled we went on a scavenger hunt around the city center! It was great and we saw some amazing churches and gardens.

Image

When we finished the scavenger hunt we had dinner at a Turkish restaurant to prepare for our trip to Istanbul in March, just a few weeks from now! We stayed at the restaurant for a while and then went back to the hostel for bed.

Wednesday

Another morning of yummy breakfast and I actually ran into Christina because we were staying at the same hostel. That morning we had some time to ourselves to explore more in the beautiful  daylight. That town is amazing and is great in the sunlight! Our whole group met up around 11 and went through the H.C. Anderson museum, which was really fun and cool to see. In case you don’t know who he is, he wrote fairy tales, such as The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, The Emperors New Clothes, and more. We even got to see and walk through the house he was born in!

Image

To keep with the fairy tales, we ate lunch at The Ugly Duckling (a tale which Anderson wrote) and had some wonderful Danish food. It was so great and there were some things I had never had before, like mint jelly. After lunch we went to an art museum that was awesome. It had many exhibits in it that we got to see, but the reason we went there was for one particular exhibit. It was one designed for children dealing with the senses and it had some fun things in it.

Image

Image

Image

It was so funny to see all these 20/21 year old’s running around and having a good time with this exhibit. The rest of the museum was fun too, they had some really beautiful photographs there and some nice sculptures made of glass from the 1970’s.

The last thing we did before heading home was stop and get tea/coffee and cake at a place called the Cuckoo’s Nest. It was very delicious! This is what I had:

Image

Yup. Be jealous.

The ride home was about 2 hours and most people were asleep for that bus ride. When we got home we were welcomed with a nice snow fall that was really pretty and sparkly. And extra nice ’cause it didn’t stick! haha

Well, that was my weekend in a nutshell. I’m sorry it’s a bit rushed! If I’m friends with you on Facebook than you can go look at my pictures from the trip (which totaled to be more than 360 photos)! Thanks for reading, everyone!

P.s. For my Babajo….I will go back and edit this tomorrow. So, I’m sorry if there are really bad mistakes. I’ll fix it, I promise! :DD