Well, I’m back in Istanbul though perhaps not with any productive business in mind, mainly I’m just scoffing Milka and stodgy Turkish food and lolling around on a matress in my friends flat. Unfortunately I have returned to find that no one is in either my old flat, where my stuff is, or my new flat, where my bed is. Thankfully my exemplary hund luggage packing skills can cope with this difficult time.
Having been home for Christmas, here for New Year and exams and then back in Edinburgh for almost two weeks I have left the blog flagging I’m afraid. I’m sure a month ago I would have been very facinating on the subject of what I have learnt from my time here. Now I am more bothered with starting all over again; boring things like registration have been completed and, in contrast to the start of last term, I’m looking forward to meeting the new Erasmus students. I think this is largely to do with having been here for 4 months already and therefore feeling a bit cool and superior, not unlike returning to school in year 8 when at least you are not the most lowly in the school hierachy.
However, in acknowledgement of my first semester and its demise I will say a few words. So, if the entire effort of the Erasmus programme is to make me feel more fondly about Europe and happily integrate away then it has definitely worked. I have really appreciated meeting people who cause me to think properly about this cosy little continent. I even had a small identity crisis about half way through the semester concerning the English language – the strangeness of the fact that everyone can speak my language grew on me; having initially felt quite smug I started to left out of having a language not open to universal intepretation. Anyway I got over that but it was good to have some assumptions shaken around a bit.
It was of course lovely to make friends from other places, I’m not entirely sure how that will work out in the long run but it would be nice to maintain contact with those people and know how they’re getting on with their lives.
Before going back to Edinburgh I had a suspicion that I made end up wanting to stay and feel a bit deflated coming back to Istanbul, on one hand being in such a comfortable environment was seductive but actually I left feeling happy to be away for a year. Here you might not be able to relax in the same way you can in your best friends house, eating microwave-cake and watching Come Dine with Me but at least so much of what you do here is refreshing. And the routines you do establish are still quite novel. Anyway had I stayed in Edinburgh I’m sure afternoons watching Loose Women would have had less than half the allure.
I may as well point out that the courses here are not a hard as 3rd year Edinburgh courses, a fact I felt compelled to point out to my DoS, perhaps to my own detriment. To make up for that I’m sure I could spend a lot of time improving my Turkish… that is my goal for this year, especially because when you leave Istanbul many fewer people speak Turkish. This became apparent on a short trip I took further South to the Agean coast in January. It was a releif to get out of the city and see what another part of Turkey is like, some rural areas are really pleasant if not at their most beautiful in the rain. It reminded me that Istanbul is not representative of the whole of Tukey, the countryside can be more traditional than I expected in the west of Turkey. One fun fact gleaned from this trip is that you can haggle for the price of your bus ticket in Turkey. Somehow, when in another country 8 on hours on a bus seems perfectly acceptable whereas at home of course it must be avoided at all costs. Turkish buses definitley have one up on National Express as they are relatively comfortable and a man in a waistcoat comes to bring you tea periodically.
Knowing this encourages me to undertake some intrepid Erasmus activity this semester…