If you’d asked me a week ago what I thought about my experience abroad I would have said, “I want every moment of the rest of my life to be like the last three months.” On the ferry from Beşiktaş to Kadıköy, while Istanbulites busied themselves with their evening commute, I had that peculiar sensation of having nowhere in particular to be when everyone around you is in a hurry. For two lira, the price of a pack of gum, this ferry takes you across the Bosphorus Strait from Europe to Asia. The idea of crossing continents, a momentous event for most people, is just part of the everyday grind of a rush hour commute for the people of this magical city.
This time has been filled with all the lush clichés of travel narrative. I overcame the depths of disabled despair and had the trip of a lifetime. I fell into the ecstasy of love with countless people, places, things and, above all, foods. Every day was a new adventure to discover the myriad wonders this world has to offer. Words trite enough to make an English teacher queasy, and arguably I’ve been conditioned by the literature to feel this way, but all of it rings undeniably true.
When I first arrived, I was taken aback by the aggressive Turkish nationalism that pervades every aspect of society. Yet, I quickly learned that such passion applies to Turkish art, music, cuisine and especially the polarization of domestic politics. At the risk of making too broad a generalization, Turks are simply a passionate people. The people of Turkey are right to be energized and proud of their country. Turkey has gone from an impoverished backwater to one of the most prosperous, dynamic countries in the world over a period of time that even teenagers can remember.