Cultural Adjustment, Global News, Living Abroad, Student Life Abroad, Traveling

Balat and Rumeli Feneri (Finding the Peace and Quiet in Istanbul)

March 26, 2016



**An update about Turkey and terrorism: Part of the reason I decided to add some updates to this SFSU blog is because I am worried that students will hesitate to pick Turkey as a destination after the recent attacks. While this is totally understandable I urge everyone to reconsider. Unfortunately attacks are occurring all over the world, be it Europe, or even California. While it is important to stay aware and take whatever precautions you can while traveling, Turkey is still a valid and wonderful place to study, live, and travel. Here’s a little glimpse of the more peaceful side of Istanbul right now.**

In certain ways I have adapted well to my life here. In fact Istanbul will always feel a little bit like home now.If traveling to Georgia taught me anything, it’s that I’m a little bit obsessed with Turkey. I could spend years here and still be as confused and in awe as I currently am. Anyways, onto the descriptions of photos because let’s be honest that’s the best part.

Although these photos are from two separate places it is easy to make the distinction between them. The colorful ones belong to Balat. The breathtaking ruins belong to Rumeli Feneri.

Balat is a uniquely colorful area in the Fatih district in Istanbul associated with it’s synagogues and churches. I saw a picture of colorful houses in comparison to San Francisco so I had to check it out. I must say, Balat is not a worthy opponent to San Francisco’s Victorian beauties but it still left me a little heartbroken for my City.

Rumeli Feneri is possibly my favorite place in Istanbul. I’m a dreamy lighthouse kind of person. Plus, there’s a castle. You can’t go wrong with a castle. Rumeli Feneri is just past the recently finished third bridge in Istanbul but hopefully the development won’t have a negative effect. The neighborhood is incredibly peaceful. At night it has that whole “men’s club” vibe going for it but nonetheless I could easily dream of living in one of those circle-window houses by the sea. Apparently this area even has a cool myth behind it which claims that the islets used to smash into each other as ships approached. In the myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece, Jason narrowly escaped death in this fashion. I will definitely be back to take more photos since most of these were taken with a phone.

Tips to stay as safe as you can:
1. Actually read the flood of embassy emails you get from enrolling in the STEP program. (MEANING YOU MUST FIRST ACTUALLY ENROLL IN THE STEP PROGRAM)
2. Read local news.
3. Ask locals. I was luckily informed about the Kurdish holidays last weekend which tend to stir up a lot of tension in Turkey. Therefore, I stayed within Sariyer and avoided crowds (and in doing so avoided an unrelated bombing).

Unexpected things:

I started a Pilates class on campus. Though I was startled at first, I’ve decided my teacher yelling “Basla!” and “Yukarda!” while I flail helplessly is actually very motivating. I don’t know why I assumed it would be in English.
Even though my Turkish is still ridiculously horrible I’m noticing some really interesting things linguistically. You can learn a lot about a culture just by their language. For instance Turks never say please. It is implied in other ways.
I still have to argue with people about whether America has a culture. *sigh*
Turkey has sincerely changed my feminism (for the better) (more on this bit at a later time).

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