A quick update…

Hello! Long time no talk write.

I haven’t written for well over a month and I feel quite bad. I am includıng a couple links to some of my Facebook albums so that even if you’re not on Facebook, you can see some of my pictures. They also have some comments which will give you a bit of background.

I’m gearing up for the end of my midterms and finals in the next two weeks. Wish me luck! I’ll be home just in time for Winter term at OSU 🙂


Chora Church and Suleyman Mosque

Koç photos

Asian Adventure

Antalya and the end of Bayram (November)


(Side note: Yes I can legally order alcohol in Turkey. (The drinking age is 18) No I don’t go crazy. Yes I have a good time :])


For Kurban Bayrami, the biggest Muslim holiday of the year (kind of like Christmas for Christians), 5 friends (Hanane form Norway, Yao Sheng and Ee Lin from Singapore, Rumeysa from Holland, and Kiran from the US) and I are traveling around the Southern Aegean and Western Mediterranean region of Turkey.  We started with bus tickets to our first destination and plane tickets home from our final destination, but with no real plan for in between.  This is a lot different than my normal habits of planning everything.  We also booked a hostel for the first two nights of our trip in Selçuk.  Selçuk is located just 10 minutes away from Ephesus, one of the best ruins in Turkey.

We started our trip by taking an overnight bus to Izmir, the third largest town in Turkey. After some miscommunications with part of our group that traveled on a bus that left one hour earlier, we met at the Otogar and ate menemen for breakfast. This is becoming my favorite breakfast dish.  It is egg cooked with chopped tomatoes and peppers. Kind of like a watery omelet. You eat it with fresh bread which is always delicious.  After a relaxing breakfast, we took a dolmuĹź to Selçuk where we found our hostel.  This place was recommended ın our Lonely Planet guıdebook and was defınıtely worth the small price we paid. My only complaint was that breakfast wasn’t included with our rooms. My throat and allergies acted up a bit because of the dust, but I had to keep reminding myself that we only paid about $13 per night.  Other members of our group weren’t as happy with the accommodations because the room was quite chilly when we arrived, but I kept reminding them that at least we had our own bathroom and weren’t staying in the dorm style rooms that the hostel offered. 


Hanane, Kiran, Ee Lin, Yao Sheng, and Rumeysa


Our four person room.


The hostel where we stayed. There were many hotels and hostels around the area that had Australian and New Zealand names. Not sure why.

For the rest of the day we wandered around the sites in Selçuk and saw St. John’s Basilica where he is buried, a really old mosque, the remains of the Byzantine aqueduct, an old cistern, the Efes (Ephesus in English) museum. We also ate some some really great food because meals are always the highlight of our day with my friends and me. We went to lunch at a place recommended by our hostel where we met the really nice owner named Mehmet. He ended up helping us figure out the bus and train schedules so that we didn’t get ripped off at either place as well. Hanane and I shared gözleme which is called a Turkish pancake. It’s actually nothing like a pancake, but is more similar to a thin large quesadilla and is really delicious. It is filled with cheese (either white or yellow cheese) and sometimes potato and spinach. Ours was all three and it was DELICIOUS! Tavuk şış (Chicken shish kebab) is also quite popular with our group.


Our lunch group. Two girls staying at the hostel joined us for the day.


Some of the ruins at St. John’s Basilica. The guidebook said that most of the ruins here are reconstructed, but I still thought they were awesome.


For dinner we went to a restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet. Everyone except Yao Sheng ordered tavuk şış which was good, but the mezes that we ordered were fantastic! Mezes are like appetizers, but are much smaller than their US counterparts. Some are hot and some are cold, and they include many very traditional Turkish items. We had haydari(thick yogurt with garlic and roasted eggplant), dolma peppers (stuffed peppers), cheese filled mushrooms, sigara böreği (fried dough with cheese in the middle in a cigar shape) and normal dolma (stuffed grape leaves). I especially liked the mushrooms and garlicy yogurt. After dinner we found a Turkish delight store that was much more reasonable than places in Istanbul and bought some lokum to take back to the hostel with us.


The stuffed mushrooms Smile


Sigara böreği, haydari, and dolma beber(pepper).


Really good lokum from the store. It had nutella inside Smile

The next day we headed to Ephesus with help from Mehmet. His brother owned a big van and agreed to take all 8 (including the girls from the hostel) of us to the Virgin Mary’s House and Ephesus for 5TL per person. Considering that we would have had to take 2 taksis (taxis) for 50TL each to get to the Virgin Mary’s house, this was a superb deal. We got to see the house site, and the chapel at the Virgin Mary’s house site and then went to Ephesus.


The house site


Outside the chapel.


Candles outside the church and the prayer wall. People write prayers on tissues handkerchiefs and pieces of paper and tie them on the wall.


After seeing Mary’s house we were taken to Ephesus. I didn’t really know what to expect, except that some of my other friends from the exchange said it was pretty cool. We were dropped off at one end and were told to call our driver when we finished at the other end several hours later. This was a great option because we weren’t rushed and took a TON of pictures through the whole site. Here are some of the best pics of the day:


As you walk in it doesn’t look that impressive, but as you keep going, it is AMAZING!


Showing some Phi Rho Love in Ephesus 🙂


The columns


We experimented a lot with the pictures 🙂


The smaller of the two theaters


Kiran with Hanane, Yao Sheng and Ee Lin in the background.


I like arches and ceilings, and theaters…. and architecture in general.




Me with another arch


One of the smaller theaters that we’ve seen in Turkey.


Pretty columns


Some of the arches and columns have been reinforced so they are more impressive and safe. No problem for me. They still look amazingly cool.


Hanane didn’t wear good walking shoes and her feet hurt a lot after our long day at Ephesus. Again and again I am reminded that I am a true Oregonian when I bring my rain jacket with me even when it doesn’t look like it will rain and when I bring running shoes as my one pair for the trip. 


There were a lot of people at Ephesus, though it wasn’t even the busiest time of year. I’m glad we came when we did because there was beautiful weather and less people.


Just pretend that they are in the right order Smile


The Celcius library. SO COOL


This was the giant theater towards the end of Ephesus. My camera decided to die after just a few pictures here. Oh well, I can steal from everyone else.


Last picture and…. dead.


After Ephesus that day we went to Pamucak Beach to watch the sunset. We were practically the only ones there so we decided to do some jumping shots 🙂 Oh so cool….haha


After getting our train tickets to Izmir the next day, we walked around Selçuk. This is the aqueduct lit at night.


The next day (the first day of Kurban Bayrami) we took the train to Izmir (9TL round trip!!!!!). It takes about an hour and a half to get there each way. Many things were closed because of the holiday, but we still had a good time walking around.

Sidenote: Kurban Bayrami is a holdiay centered around sacrificing a lamb or cow to share with your family and the poor who can’t afford one themselves. Since Muslims only eat halal food, the animal prayed over and then the throat is slit to let the blood run out. Blood is considered unclean in Islam so the blood should all be removed from the animal before it is eaten.  In the morning of Kurban Bayrami, the men slaughter the animal and prepare for it to be shared among the family and poor.  As we were riding on the train through the country side, I saw many circles of men standing around animals.  Though I don’t think I could handle watching the animal die, it was cool hearing about the traditions for the holiday from the three Muslims in our traveling group. The holiday lasts three days, but the first day is the most important so most shops and restaurants are closed so people can celebrate with their families.

Pics from the day:


The view from the Kordon, the main walkway along the sea side.


There were a lot of bikes in Izmir as well. Much safer to ride one here than in Istanbul.


A very Turkish dress we saw in a shop window. Maybe for Miss Turkey???


This picture has a long story that goes with it. This man came up to our lunch table with a baby bunny. We didn’t want to pet it (who knows what a rabbit in Turkey is carrying), but thought it was quite cute. He then proceeded to have the grown rabbit “pick our fortunes” from little slips of paper.  He didn’t speak any English, so Rumeysa asked what they were for. He said they were a Bayram gift (normally gifts are free). Rumeysa translated them all for us since they were in Turkish, but the man was still standing there. We asked what he wanted and he said that we had to pay him 2.25TL per fortune! We didn’t want to pay since we didn’t ask for the fortunes in the first place. Rumeysa tried to negotiate with him, but he got rather angry. We ended up paying 1TL per person and trying to ignore him. He started cursing at us in Turkish (which doesn’t really do much good, since Rumeysa is the only one who can understand) and storming away. He then proceeded to walk by our table and point and complain about us to other people. Rumeysa talked to our waiter, and he told the man to leave the restaurant area. After asking Rumeysa what the bunny man said, she told us that they were really bad things and that he wished we wouldn’t make very much money since we didn’t pay for the fortunes (which he took back when we paid the partial amount). Oh well. It makes for a good story at least.


Turkish tea is delicious. It’s supposedly just black tea, but it tastes better than what I normally drink. It’s served in a tulip shaped glass with two or three sugar cubes and a small spoon on the side.


We’re a little bad at timing the jumping pictures.


We also did some perspective pictures Smile


Yao Sheng is good at jumping. He is also really patient with all of us girls. Props to him for putting up with us for more than a week.


A bit late…


The Kordon


One of the many Ataturk houses in Turkey.


Guess what? More dessert! This one had lots of pistachios. Yum


We found a carnival in the giant park in Izmir. So much like the county fair. Except that it was the place to be for people under 16. The girls were all dressed up in high heels and nice clothes and the boys stood around in groups really awkwardly. So funny 🙂 We were definitely the only tourists there.


The prizes for the games were packages of cigarettes. Weird.


My favorite, caramel Smile

Keep checking for the other days of our trip coming soon!

Photo Contest

OSU holds a photo contest for exchange students each year. These are the pictures I entered for 5 of the 6 categories. 


Excellent Miscellaneous


The Natural World






Beavers Abroad (this is at Pamukkale [Cotton Castle]. It’s all white travertines similar to Yellowstone.

Troy (Truva)

**continuation of Dedetepe Eco Farm post (the pictures in this post are not mine, but thanks to the people that took them!)

Shortly after leaving the farm I started feeling miserable. Something I ate must have not agreed with my, but I stuck to bland food and some Sprite for the rest of the day. As you can probably gather, this is not normal behavior for me. 

We drove to Troy first and got another tour from a very knowledgeable guide. I highly recommend getting a guide if you don’t know much about the sites, as the signage is fairly poor.  We learned about the 9 versions of the city of Troy which were inhabited by several different groups of people (Hittites, Romans and Ottomans). We then got to see the ruins, which were cool, but not as impressive as I was expecting. We also learned that the story of the Trojan horse is most likely not true. Slightly disappointing, but at least it makes a good movie. The real invasion probably involved an earthquake.  The Trojan horse that is at Troy is huge though! It is probably close to 50 ft tall and you can climb inside on two levels.  I was still feeling not so hot, so I joined in a bunch of group pics where we all look fabulous due to lack of showers, and chilled while we waited for the rest of the group to come down for the horse.



The CIEE group at Troy.


The Trojan horse!


The ruins at Troy.

Our next stop was a fantastic looking lunch in Çanakkale at a kebap restaurant.  I only ate pita bread since I didn’t feel good, but decided that I get sick at the worst times, because CIEE (meaning us) was paying and the food looked soooo good. 

After lunch we started the long bus ride back to campus. The roads were much rougher than in Istanbul and the driving was much calmer as well. Don’t rent a car if you plan on coming to Istanbul. Public transportation is quite adequate and you are likely to get in a wreck if you drive. 

We arrived back at Koç at 8pm and I was able to prepare for my 9:30am organic chemistry lab. 

Questions? Anyone want to come visit yet??  Thanks for reading!

Dedetepe Eco Farm

Since I am so far behind on my blog, I feel that I should just keep going and try to catch up a little. Right now I am on the bus to Pamukkale and it is November 6th.  Now, look several weeks back to the second to last weekend in October. I traveled with the CIEE crew to Çanakkale, Galippoli and Troy.  CIEE had us stay at an ecofarm which unlike my expectations was actually my favorite part of the trip.  I will start at the beginning of our trip so everyone gets a better idea of the amount of activities packed into 3 days. We left campus early on Friday morning (7am!!—haha this is probably the earliest that I have gotten up since being here) after some minor fiascos involving the alarm clocks and drinking habits of some of the other students. Let’s just say that we didn’t leave until closer to 7:35am and our coordinators were not happy. Ten minutes into the bus ride we were headed down the hill from campus and could see the beautiful view of the Bosphorus. This of course inspired me to take a picture, only to discover that my camera was sitting uselessly on my desk back in my dorm Sad smile!!!! Oh no! Though I was pretty upset with myself, I decided to make use of the other 17 cameras on the trip and hop into as many pictures as possible. (At this point you should realize that this post will contain a lot more writing than normal. The pictures below were not taken by me, so I give all the credit to the students that I stole them from.)

On the way to Çanakkale, we stopped at the Galippoli battle fields along the Dardenelles. image   Our guide was a very interesting older man who seemed to love what he was taking about and tried to give us a very good image of what occurred there.  (He was a Fulbright Scholar to the U.S. and studied at OSU!!!) This battlefield is from WWI, just before the Turkish Republic was founded in 1923.  Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, was a general for the Turkish army at this site.  Four nations were involved in the battles here: Turkey, France, Australia and New Zealand.  Australia, New Zealand and Turkey all have cemeteries and monuments around the site. The graves, statues and stories really reminded me of Gettysburg in the US.  We got to see the landing site of the Australians and New Zealanders (ANZAC), the trenches where the soldiers of opposing sides were no more than a couple yards away in some places, and the monuments to honor the soldiers that died there. Though I wasn’t affected by the war, I could see how moving the site could be for people with connections to the war. 




Walking in the trenches.

IMG_2564 (1)

The Turkish soldier cemetery.

Our next stop was the ecofarm which was several more hours drive.  Dedetepe (Grandfather Hill) is an ecofarm run by the BuÄźday Association which manages and promotes ecofarms around the region.  BuÄźday means wheat in Turkish which fits with the organization’s message of sustainable farming and as close to subsistence farming as possible.  Volunteers are the main source of labor (we were guests, not volunteers) and in return they receive home-cooked vegetarian meals.  At Dedetepe there is a flock of chickens, bunnies, a horse (with one eye), and many olive trees.  The couple that started and run the farm are very nice and laid back. When we arrived dinner was ready (cooked by the volunteers that were already there) and we sat down to eat. Of course the food was good. (Sidenote: Sometimes on the CIEE trips I feel as though we move from meal to meal instead of site to site. The food is always plentiful and delicious! I think I’m going to miss the flavorful dishes the most.)  We got to talk with the people staying at the farm throughout dinner and the campfire afterward.  Jesse, from Portland, OR, and I were so excited to see a campfire because we had both been Outdoor School counselors for middle school students when we were in high school. We attempted to lead a few campfire songs without much enthusiasm from the other students. Oh well.  We also really missed having s’mores. Marshmallows are outrageously expensive in Turkey because they have to be imported or made with beef gelatin instead of pork gelatin (Muslims can’t eat pork products). 

That night we were divided into groups for the yurts and cabins.  I shared a yurt with Jesse (Oregonians for the win).  It was unheated (something that wasn’t quite mentioned in the pre-trip e-mail from our coordinators), but comfy and definitely fun.  I slept with all my clothes on and three wool blankets to stay warm.  The showers and weekend schedule were a little inconvenient for showers, so our group mostly went without and looked extremely attractive by the time we headed home.  My OSU beanie and sweatshirt made me stand out in all the group pics just like normal. (Sidenote: everyone in Turkey owns either a dark brown or black coat, so when I wear my OSU sweatshirt, my Phi Rho letter sweatshirt or my blue rain jacket, I am always the brightest one in the crowd)

The next day we started with a fun Turkish breakfast filled with shooing away wasps from the honey.  We learned that the farm trades it’s products (olives and olive oil soap) with other farms for ingredients for their meals. So the honey we were eating was produced by local bees from another farm nearby.  We took a small tour of the farm and learned that it is disconnected from the power grid and produces all the electricity that is needed from a few solar panels, a wind turbine and a water wheel during the winter.  There is a river right down the hill that provides water for the bathrooms and showers. Drinking water is brought in from the nearest town.  The farm has many olive tress on the property and is also surrounded by cultivated olive groves.  I learned that all the trees are grafted so that the roots are that of the wild olive that is native, and the branches are from the preferred eating olive.  This way, the tree grows well in the climate and produces the desired product as well.  We took a trip to the sustainable farm cultural center where we learned about the philosophy of the farm.  They told us that their mission is to reduce the distance that food travels and keep everything organic so that it is healthier for you. Though this is great, I think we were the wrong audience because we were all students with limited budgets. Organic food is expensive!

Back at the farm we took a small hike to the top of the nearby hills to see the view. We also got to see an old grist mill and bridge that we climbed on. Of course there were no safety measures, as this is Turkey, and our residence director and her boss who was along for the trip looked rather worried a few times.  We also got to pick olives so that we could make our own to take home. We picked the fattest completely green olives, smashed them with flat rocks so that the flesh cracked, and put them in a jar full of water.  Erkan, the farm owner instructed us to change the water after each three days, for nine days and then change the water and add a good amount of salt.  This removes the bitterness and cures the olives when the salt is added.  My olives are now sitting in the salt water waiting for my taste test when I return from my weeklong holiday vacation.  Hopefully they turn out ok. 


The old bridge near the grist mill.




Smashing olives. Yes, those rocks are from the ground. Hopefully none of us get sick from the olives.

For dinner we got to help the volunteers cook!  (I was soooo excited!) Remember that there isn’t very much electricity available.  We made falafel, hummus, salad, rolls, apple and pumpkin tart and quince cake.  I was on the falafel and hummus team. We used a hand grinder to grind the chickpeas (Garbanzo beans) and herb mixture that were used for the falafel and then cooked the remaining chickpeas and ground those for hummus.  It took a little over two hours to cook everything for dinner, but it turned out delicious!


The open air kitchen.

That night we joined in a Turkish wedding celebration. The farm’s owners had been invited to the wedding, and they asked if they could bring our group and the family agreed. This was really fun cause we got to learn how to do a traditional Turkish dance, learned about the henna night of the wedding (Turkish weddings last for three days) and congratulate the bride with our limited Turkish language skills.


Dancing at the Turkish wedding! The bride was dressed beautifully! This was the first day of the wedding or the henna night.


Ignore my face in this photo (I thought he was just taking a picture of our hands). This is the henna that the girls get at the wedding celebration.

Our last day of the trip included another great breakfast, receiving a lot of olive oil soap from the farm, touring an olive oil museum, and touring Troy! (see next blog entry)

Did you know….?

Things that are surprisingly expensive in Turkey:

  • Conditioner – 8TL (~$4.50)
  • Marshmallows—16TL (~$9.50)
  • Postcard Stamps—1.30TL (~$.76)
  • Facewash – 14TL (~$8.30)

Things that are super cheap:

  • Soap—.40TL (~$.25)
  • Shampoo—1TL (~$.55)
  • Pomegranates—1TL/kg or .45 TL/lb (~$.26/lb)
  • Doner (meat and veggie sandwich)—2TL (~$1.20)
  • Crappy cell phones—50-70 TL (~$30-40)
  • Cashmere scarves—10-15 TL (~$5.80-$8.80)
  • Leather (medium sized purse) – 60-100TL (~$35-55)
  • Mailing Small Packages to the US—6TL (~$3.50)


In the CIEE program we take two “study trips” during the term. The first was to Ankara and our next one is to Çanakkale (pronounced: Cha nawk ah lee) in another week. Ankara is the capital and the second largest city in Turkey.  We took an overnight train on Thursday and arrived at 8am Friday morning just in time for an entire day of sightseeing.


The sleeper compartments were very comfortable and reasonably priced. 37.75TL each way which is $20.63. Amtrak easily costs 4 to 5 times that. The train provides sheets and a pillow and the compartments have heaters, electric outlets, and locking doors. Four people sleep in one room.  Does this look Harry Potterish to anyone else?? One of the guys in our program got his backpack stolen while he was in the dining car. His ipod, dictionary and a few other things were stolen. He was actually most upset about losing his dictionary.


A view from the train in the morning.


I liked this building because it had so many signs on it. I am so used to Canby having very short buildings, that it is still quite strange when I am directed to a different floor to pay for items in stores.


We stayed at a nice hotel in Ankara. They had triple rooms with three beds! Much better than Cappadocia where 3 beds were squished into a 2 bed room.


A statue on the campus of METU (Middle Eastern Technical University). Some of the students showed us around the campus. Apparently it is known for being an activist center.


Devrim means revolution. This is the futbol stadium at METU. According to the student giving us the tour, a few years ago chemistry students thought it would be fun to use chemicals to etch this into the seats. Haha I love Chemistry!


After METU, we visited Ataturk’s Mausoleum. Ataturk is the founder of the Turkish Republic and is considered to be the ultimate Turkish hero. It is actually against the law to disrespect his memory.


This statue represents the female Turkish population.  Not sure what they all stand for.


And these represent the male Turkish population. All men are required to serve 15 months in the military either right after high school (if not attending college), or after college for a shorter amount of time.


This is the walkway to the mausoleum square and museum. The stones are set far enough apart to make you trip a little. This is supposed to keep your head bowed while you approach Ataturk’s tomb.


The lions


The second tallest flagpole in Europe. (Turkey/Istanbul seems to have the second biggest of a lot of things)


Pretty passage way pictures.


This is the tomb of Ataturk’s right hand man.


They have guards similar to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington DC. They even get wiped down every so often because they aren’t allowed to move and it’s fairly warm outside.


Ataturk’s tomb. Dignitaries from all over the world come to visit here when they are in Turkey. The wreath on my right is from someone who visited that morning.


It looks a whole lot like the Lincoln Memorial


A cool Turkey map planted with flowers. Note that the purple is all the water surrounding Turkey. The crescent and star are on Turkey’s flag and a very recognizable everywhere.


The changing of the guard. It was very formal and their marching style made me remember marching band in high school because it would hurt really bad to play an instrument with the way they were marching. They slammed each foot into the ground after lifting their entire leg up. Ouch.P1060369

Lahmacun. Kind of like pide (Turkish pizza), but cheaper and thinner. This one has ground meat, tomatoes and spices on it. Delicious!


Hilal (one of our mentors) and Kim


There was a side street in Ankara that had only bookshops! Heaven! I found my Turkish Harry Potter book here SmileP1060457


A cool café we heard about. It really reminded me of the Portland atmosphere Smile


This is the Temple of Augustus. It has a long history of being used by different religious groups. It is connected to the corner of a famous mosque in Ankara so it has a bit more protection than some of the other ruins in Turkey.


Ancient inscriptions, linking the temple to a specific religious group. Not sure which one. whoops


Pretty fountains Smile


Prayer beads and the inside of the famous mosque. Men and women pray separately in mosques, so we toured both sections.


Does anyone else think this looks like the Space Needle?? The castle in the background was one of our next stops.


Busts (Hanane that’s for you) at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.


Carvings and statues at the museum. Most of the stuff there was from the Hittites and Phrygians, but this statue shows the Assyrian influence as well.


Think this is a cuneiform tablet.  How cool is that? Western Civ is so real here Smile


This sun disk used to be the symbol of Ankara until a few years ago. Cool design and even cooler that it is so old. I really have a hard time remembering that there is soooo much history spanning many centuries here. (The U.S. is a baby compared to this large amount of history)


Yes, that original, and yes you can touch it. So weird.


My favorite ceiling from the trip! So cool!


A rather awful picture of myself at the castle I showed in the previous picture. It was really high up and we were walking on the outer walls with no supports. A little more than I was comfortable with.


The view from the castle.


The part I couldn’t bring myself to walk on. A little lot too high.


We ate lunch as a big group at little restaurant nearby. We had my favorite, mantı.


In the afternoon we headed to Beypazarı, a small town about an hour outside of Ankara. It is known for carrots (juice etc) and traditional Turkish crafts.


This was one of the few times where I didn’t eat any baklava. Apparently (according to Wikipedia) Beypazarı is known for 80 layer baklava. YUM!

We went to a traditional crafts museum where people dress up and tell about ancient crafts and rituals. This reminded me of all the Oregon Trail and Lewis and Clark museums that I have been to.


We tried water marbling (Ebru) which was awesome! You flick paint of different concentrations (this makes it spread out differently) on top of water that has a special plant dissolved in it.  Then when you finish making your design, you place a piece of paper on top and slide it off the top. The paint clings to the paper with the design that you made.


(not mine, but you get the idea)


A really fuzzy version of what mine looked like when it was finished.


We also had our evil-eye removed.  The idea that everyone has some evil eye in them is a very common idea in Turkey. People with blue eyes get it easier as well. You can get your evil eye removed by having a gypsy woman melt lead and pour the molten metal into a bowl of water above your head.  You are covered with a white sheet during this process. She then “reads” the resulting shape and flicks your with water. You also eat a grain of rice, and a pinch of sugar and salt.  This is to help you lead a balanced life. For extra protection, people carry evil eye beads (nazar boncuğu).



I found this super cute penguin puzzle at the museum in Beypazarı as well. Penguins are the mascots of my sorority (Phi Sigma Rho-the engineering sorority) so my future little (little sister) is definitely going to inherit this Smile

I epically fail at posting blog entries, but at least I get some of them up Smile Leave me some comments! I love hearing from you.

Earthquake Assistance


As you all know, Van, Turkey was hit with a 7.2 magnitude earthquake just this past weekend. The death toll is rising quickly and any assistance possible is being sent to the region.  At Koç, donation boxes are set up all over the campus for warm clothes, hygiene products and other necessities.  If any of you would like to help in the relief efforts, you can donate a few dollars to the Turkish Red Crescent (Very similar to the American Red Cross). The American dollar is quite strong against the Turkish Lira right now, so each dollar you donate is approximately 1.75TL.   Here is the link: http://www.kizilay.org.tr/english/index.php (This site is in Turkish, but if you use Google Chrome as a browser it will automatically translate the page for you)

Please keep the victims in your thoughts and prayers!

TeĹźekkĂĽler (thanks)

Earthquake Update

Merhabalar! (Hello to all)

I just wanted to let everyone know that the earthquake that hit Eastern Turkey did not effect me or any of the exchange students. We were traveling in Western Turkey (fairly close to Istanbul) this weekend. Please keep everyone who was affected in your thoughts though.

Thanks and have a good day 🙂

Cappadocia (Kapadokya)

Cappadocia (pronounced: Kapadokia), is a region in the middle of Turkey that is known for it’s landscape. The main features are the fairy chimneys and beautiful valleys that look similar to the grand canyon. Each year the ISS (International Student Society) organizes a trip to Cappadocia, filled with activities and tours.


Expand around the red dot about a quarter inch in all directions and that is the Cappadocia region.

My pictures should help explain what we did while we were there:

Thursday night and Friday:


My swollen knee. I fell up the stairs and landed on this knee with all my weight about 2 hours before we left for Cappadocia. That red line developed into a very pretty purple bruise within the next couple hours.


Bus buddies. This is Jenn Smile She is from Prince Edward Island in Canada. (think Anne of Green Gables)


We left campus at around 10:30pm (it was supposed to be 9pm, but it’s Turkey!) on buses that we rented through the school. They were like Raz busses without TVs. This was a view of the pretty sunrise in the morning. We arrived at our hotel (owned by the family of the president of ISS) at about 11am the next morning.


We took three busses full of people which is about 135 exchange students!


Everyone chilling in the lobby while we waited for our room assignments. The theme of this trip was not knowing what was going on at any given time. (As many of you know, I love organization and having a plan, so I was frustrated for most of the weekend. As I have learned, flexible timing is part of Turkish culture, so I am working on being accepting :] )


A new hotel being built on the street near the hotel. We stayed at Dadak Thermal Spa & Welness Hotel in Kozaklı. This is north of most of the attractions in Cappadocia. The hotel is right behind this building in the picture. It was really nice.

As soon as we got to the hotel, my roommates and I settled in and waited around for instructions. Of course noone knew what was going on, so when we finally went to the lobby to find out, everyone was getting ready to leave the hotel for sightseeing.


Our first stop was to see fairy chimneys. There was a camel there for touristy rides.


According to the tour guide, the fairy chimneys were formed when erosion took away the soft rock layers (Tuff) and left the hard rock layers (Basalt) in place.


Cappadocia has been occupied by various powers (including the Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, and Byzantines, Ottomans and finally the Turks) since the Bronze Age. The fairy chimneys have been used as houses, churches and hideouts for centuries and many can still be toured.


Jenn and Rumeysa (from Holland, but she is Turkish in heritage).


The landscape here is beautiful in every direction.


Another view


This is a church built in the fairy chimneys. It is several stories tall, but there aren’t any ladders inside anymore. Of course that didn’t stop some of the more adventurous people from climbing the walls and through the holes to the top stories.


Civil engineers should really take some lessons from the people that built these. They are well designed and very sturdy.  The rooms are comfortable and shelves, benches and tables are built into the stone in some of the chimneys.


A window in the church.


It’s so weird to me that we can walk all over the chimneys. This would never fly in the US at the National Parks.




Cappadocia is also famous for wine. The grapes are grown low to the ground without tresses.


Our next stop was Imagination Valley where many of the fairy chimneys look like shapes. can you guess what this one is??? Answer: It’s a camel


Aida, Rumeysa and me.


This one is supposed to look like the Virgin Mary.


We then went to Pigeon Valley, so named for the large amount of pigeons there.


There was a tree there that you could tie evil-eye protectors onto. This symbol is everywhere in Turkey.  It is called Nazar Boncuğu in Turkish. You are supposed to wear one at all times to ward off the evil-eye.


Every single touristy shop sells these, so be prepared to get one from me when I return Smile


After a REALLY late lunch (4pm) we went across the street to a pottery workshop where one girl got to try throwing a pot. We were then told that everything in the shop was 50% off. More like each price was double the actual price so we thought we were getting a deal. The pottery was beautiful, but taking it home is going to be a challenge, so I only bought one piece.


We left the hotel midmorning and went to Kaymaklı where the underground cities are located. These cities were up to 8 levels below ground, VERY well engineered to let fresh air into the even the lowest levels, and built around 2000BC but the Hittites.  They were mainly used in the time of the Romans by Christians looking for a hideout. The cities could accommodate up to 50,000 people and be completely sealed off so no above ground trace was visible.


A room in the underground city.


Our tour guide showing us a mill stone.


This is not a place to go if you are claustrophobic. The tunnels are very small and even I had to bend at the waist to move through them. I did bonk my head on the ceiling and lost a bunch of hair since the rock in so rough. No worries, I didn’t go bald in that spot Smile


Huge grates have been added over the holes in the floor that show the lower layers.


Another room.


This is an open air natural castle. I can’t remember the name though.


This was our next stop.  The view was fantastic and the sky even cleared up to give us better picture weather!


These are whirling dervishes. I haven’t seen them yet, but I plan to.


So Young (from Vancouver, BC). We are Pacific NW buddies.


Rumeysa with a bunch of pretty lamps. I want to buy one, but don’t know how I will bring it home without it breaking.


This picture is from the Göreme Open Air Museum. This museum includes about 10 churches carved in the fairy chimneys. They date back to the 4th-11th centuries. St. Basil was instrumental in developing Christianity in this region and the churches are still here with mostly original murals and painted decorations. We couldn’t take any pictures inside the churches, but you can see some pictures of what it looks like here.


Some of the entrances to the churches at the museum.


After the open air museum, we stopped a winery to taste some Cappadocian wine. (the drinking age is 18 in Turkey, but they never check IDs so I’m sure you could be much younger)


I have no idea what kind of white wine I tasted, but it was yummy. It was really cheap as well, but I didn’t buy any.


We got on the buses Sunday afternoon (We didn’t leave in the morning because everyone [not me] wanted to party at the discotek (just a club) at the hotel on Saturday night. Getting up for the bus ride home was hard enough for them I think.) We arrived back to campus at 1am on Monday morning. And of course I had my first Ochem lab at 9:30am that day.

Getting closer to being caught up! One more weekend to post about Smile Leave me some comments like always!