Erasmus in Istanbul – first week, first impressions

My third exchange abroad most probably is the last one as I am about to graduate from my second faculty and leave the student’s years behind. I chose Istanbul for Erasmus because I have always been interested in Turkey and I considered Istanbul as a fascinating city. This choice caused a lot of problems because, unlike in the EU countries, to live in Turkey we need to do a lot of paper work. It was also the first time I was going to live abroad knowing totally nobody. The struggle with formalities and flat search made me feel that I should be rather looking for a job and stable life in Poland but of course the very first second here changed everything.

I was flying via Belgrade with 15 hours stopover. My luggage was too big even though I removed a lot of things. And if it wasn’t stresful enough just before I got to the airport I received a message that my flat deal in cancelled due to problems with the owner. I felt like crying but I had no other choice than going there and just trying to make it all work. I went for a private lesson of Turkish language (which was an awesome gift from my friends for my graduation) right before my departue and when my family left me at the airport I had long 20 hours to reach Istanbul. 15ย hours in Belgrade changed into 17 thanks to the delay and when I arrived to Istanbul it was already dark, cold and raining. I took a bus to the city, met a French guy and an hour in the rain and traffic passed quickly. Problems started when I had to take a taxi to my host’s house – there was only one cab and the driver knew my situation (a girl alone at night with 5 pieces of luggage, not knowing the city and quite desperate) so I paid MUCH more than I should have. I made it to the house that I was at first supposed to stay for my whole Erasmus and my host, who had to move out as well, was so nice to give me a shelter for the first night and day. He even left his job to receive me and he welcomed me with Turkish food, gave his own bedroom and overall I felt like it started well. I had a funny night there thanks to… cats. While sleeping I realized that something just happened over my head and it took my a few seconds to notice a cat just close to my face. And then another one, and one more… Wtf, they jumped from the street by the open window, I was scared to death and actually laughing hard at the same time. Such a welcome ๐Ÿ˜‰ Anyway thanks for everything Akin if you are reading this!

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I wasn’t that happy actually ;p

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17 hours alone and go

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The yellow cabs at the airport reminded me of Kolkata

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Couchsurfing and the place of crime – the cats sneaked into right here

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Welcome Turkish dinner by my host

The first day I spent wandering around Taksim, trying my first Turkish coffee and snacks and then meeting with my future classmates for beef and dinner. I liked the city so much from the very first moment but at the ame time I was nervuous about a place to stay. Second day gave me another lifesaver who proposed me to stay in his house until I find something permanent. One host helped me with taxi and luggage and another one received me so I got another home. I was welcomed with a walk around the district and a beautiful view of the Bosphorus and the shore. How can I not love this city when everyone is so helpful and welcoming. Strangers becoming friends is the best what happened at the beginning. I was allowed to stay, use all the facilities and I got tons of help and information. THANKS UGUR! However I had to move from there too to find something for the next 4 months. The search was hard and I was walking 20 kms daily. Once, when I was already tired and feeling ill, going back to my friend’s place, still homeless, the bus I was in broke and I had to walk one more hour. Everything seemed to be so complicated and my first 4 nights were almost sleepless. When I finally got to see the flat I wanted to stay in, my phone fell on the street, the screen broke and half of it didn’t work. AND I couldn’t turn it on becuse my PIN code required using the not-working part. How bad could that all go, I was about to buy a flight back home and forget about this mess. But I managed my phone to work a little, seen the flat, decided in a second that I wanna move in and things started going just better. I moved, cured the fever, unpacked, met the people and started living. And it is all awesome over here.

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In the meantime I got to know a lot of other Erasmus, visited some university places, solved some other problems (register your phone, antyhing else, please?) and seen a lot of beauty in the city. I am amazed and even though I have seen a big part of the world already, I am still left speechless anny times here. The people, the views, beauldings, culture, atmosphere, parties (first real boat party in my life was a great welcome to the city). This city never sleeps, I do not recall a crowd at 5 am in any other city that I have been to. And I mean crowd, not just bunch of drunk students after the party. Awesome.

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It’s so crazy here, it feels like “wtf” every time. I live in two-storey apartment with 7 other people. Everyone comes and goes all the time. The doors are always open. Turkish people come and speak Turkish and I stand there, stare, try to use some “Turkenglish” and wish I knew what is going on. I hear muezins calling for prayers 5 times a day, people screaming on the streets selling vegetables, kids playing even in the late evening, cars driving so fast on the hills. There is everything in this city – women covered totally and girls in miniskirts, darkskinned people and blondes, muslims, jews, rich guys, hipsters, a lot of students, conservative traditional families, syrian refugees and everyone else. Diversity is the word. I love it. My classes haven’t started yet and I am still very very new to the city. I know nothing but I like everything. The mosques are stunning, the views are breathtaking, the people are extra helpful, the atmohpere is wonderful and it was just one week. Everything makes me stop and stare. I might be a little over reacting but I am in love with Istanbul. And I can’t even describe all the “adventures” Iย had so far. I came alone, I made tons of friends. We already planned a few trips and had a few parties. Did I say I love it? ๐Ÿ™‚

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Grand Bazar

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Party party

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It’s pretty crowded here in Istanbul

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Some more party party

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Beauty

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Local market in my district

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It feels a bit like early Christmas over here (I know, it’s not)

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And some more food. I haven’t tried much of Turkish specialities here yet but I already know many of them from other places anyway.

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Window view

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I wasn’t very happy before going to the airport. I am very happy a week after ๐Ÿ˜‰

And so so much more to come.

Merhaba Turkey!

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