I left Alanya early in the morning a few weeks ago, after sleeping only two hours and struggling to make it to the Antalya airport. Despite the chaos at 4 in the morning, I made it to Istanbul safely and managed to enjoy a few hours in the museum of modern art before heading back to the airport to catch a flight to Ukraine. It’s been a whirlwind semester – it seems like just yesterday that I was crammed in the back of a cab with six people at 5 in the morning yelling about swan sculptures in Ankara, swearing I couldn’t finish the Iskender kebap put in front of me and devouring it twenty minutes later, gazing at the Black Sea from the top of the Bosphorus Strait, squealing with glee the first time I looked out the window in my apartment, spending Tuesday mornings reading and swimming at the beach, sailing at 1,000km in a hot air balloon watching the sun rise over Kapadokya, getting married in Izmir, reenacting scenes from the Trojan War on the field where they actually happened, or participating in a Sufi mystic tradition.
This semester, I was forced out of my academic and personal comfort zone. I took classes about culture and religion, and regions I’d previously been unfamiliar with. The books I read and the papers I wrote were totally different than the ideas I usually confront in my studies at Georgetown, and I’m thankful to have dipped my toe into an entirely different academic concentration. I hope to incorporate what I’ve learned this semester into the rest of my work at Georgetown and later on. Coming to Turkey, I hoped to have an Eat, Pray, Love sort of experience. I wanted to feel magically changed and new – I’ve realized the process of growing up isn’t as glamorous as Gilbert makes it out to be in her book. It’s been a bumpy ride, and I’ve made mistakes and I still don’t have a clear idea of what I want next year, or in the year after graduation, or in the year after that.. But, I have a somewhat clearer picture of the people and ideas that interest and inspire me. I’m so grateful to have had this experience and thankful to study at a university where this trip was possible, to have family and friends who supported me along the way, and to have met so many lovely and caring people in the past four months.
Çok tesekkür ederim, Türkiye – it’s been swell.