Bosphorus Cruise

A group of about 17 exchange students and I decided to take the Bosphorus Cruise and ended up having a crazy adventure. We got off at the first dock on the Asian side of Istanbul, took a bus to Kadıköy, barely caught the ferry back to Beşiktaş and rode two more dolmuşes to get home. Here are some pictures from our adventure!

P1060053 - Copy

From the ferry dock in Sariyer.


Our large group, minus Hanane (Hannah) from Norway.


One of the bridges across the Bosphorus


Really great sunset pictures.


The Maiden’s Tower. Not sure about the history on this one yet.


So Young and Logan with an Education Star in Beşiktaş


Börek, my new favorite food. It is phyllo pastry dough stuffed with meat, cheese, onions, pine nuts and spices. YUM!

As always, feel free to leave me some comments!

Turkish Classes and Koç Culture

Classes started on Monday and have been fine. Everything is taught in English and fairly easy to understand, but some questions and things are explained in Turkish.  I am taking 4 Koç classes and a two credit CIEE exchange seminar. I need to fulfill my Pro-School entrance requirements for OSU, so I am taking Organic Chemistry, Differential Equations, Material and Energy Balances and Basic Turkish. My Turkish class is all exchange students, but I am the only foreign student in my other three classes. In math on Monday one student wanted to ask a question, but wasn’t comfortable enough with his language skills to use English. the professor made him ask my permission to ask a question in Turkish so that I would not be offended.

As you can see, everyone is very nice and helpful here which is really welcoming and nice. There is at least one girl that I have all three of my core classes with as well. She is nice and we seem to have several things in common.

I am including some pictures of the campus so you can get a feel for what it looks like. The campus is 62 acres (twice the size of my family’s property at home) and very modern since it was built in 1995.


This is the Engineering courtyard. I am sitting in one of the below ground level seating areas.


The Science Building Courtyard. Many seating areas and places for students to hang out.


More of the Science courtyard. The campus is situated on a large hill so there are many sets of huge stairs separating the buildings. (My OSU peeps can understand how this is a disappointment… haha)


The Social Sciences courtyard. I love these benches!!!


The walkway in the Social Sciences courtyard. There are many pieces of marble architecture used as decoration for this building.


Another view of the courtyard.


A view of the side of the library and another courtyard area.


Mom! They have Crape Myrtles that are just blooming!


The clock tower and the Turkish flag which is seen everywhere. I am buying one before I go home!


The main fountain where we meet for all events.


The dorm area. The trees are surrounded by dorms A-S I think.


My dorm! I live on the first floor which is a luxury after climbing all the stairs all over campus. We have laundry facilities in the basement and a large kitchen on the 4th floor with a balcony and a nice view.



This a view from the bathroom door. 3 sinks, 2 stalls, and 2 showers for approx. 10 people.  Very nice and clean.

I wanted to mention that one of my biggest shocks has been the European chicness of everything. Being from Oregon, I almost never have the need to dress nicely except for church. Here, everyone dresses up in what I would consider VERY nice clothes every day making me feel underdressed.  I brought my Birkenstocks which will be fine once the weather cools down (It’s been in the mid 80’s with a bit more humidity than I’m used to), but right now I am wearing my only pair of shorts with sneakers and my more dressy t-shirts that I brought almost every day.

I brought fairly modest clothing because I wasn’t sure how much I needed to cover up. On campus students wear anything from short shorts to spaghetti strap tops and fancy sandals (A lot of birks, but the colorful thong-strap style). This weekend I am going shopping with two other exchange students from Norway and Bosnia.

I am making friends with many exchange students and have met some very nice Koç students mostly from the engineering department.

My roommate is from Izmir, Turkey (about 6hrs away) and is a senior in Industrial Engineering. I am her third exchange roommate from the US (but first engineer!) and we are getting along great!

Turkey is different than Oregon for sure, but I really like it here. Feel free to buy a plane ticket and come visit me!!!!

Sultanahmet District

Istanbul is an amazing place! If you can’t tell from the pictures, come visit for yourself. I could spend years here and not be able to see everything.  On Saturday all the exchange students (there are about 200) were bussed to Sultanahmet in downtown Istanbul. (There really isn’t a downtown Istanbul, but this is the touristy area)  We were herded into a restaurant for lunch which was delicious as usual and then split into mentor groups to tour the historic sites.  We went to 4 places during the day (I included a map of where we went for reference). First our group went to Topkapı Palace ( A ) where the sultans lived before building a European style Palace.  Next we headed to Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya in Turkish—B). Hagia Sophia was built in 393 and was first a Greek cathedral, then a Roman Catholic Church and the a Mosque from 1453-1931 when it was converted to a museum for the public. After Hagia Sophia we went to the Blue Mosque ( C ), so called because of the amazing tile work on the inside. This mosque is a still a mosque, but can be toured by the public. We also stopped by the Basilica Cistern, though I decided to come back another time to see it. Afterwards we made our way to the Grand Bazaar. This was my favorite because it reminded me so much of shopping in Mexico. Check out my pictures below and ask any questions that you might have.


Scavenger Hunt

This week has gone by so fast because of all the activities and trips around town. Things also move slower here so when we are supposed to start at a certain time it usually ends up being 15-30 mins late. Lots of waiting and chatting with people.

On Tuesday the CIEE (my exchange program) directors split us into groups of 4 or so and sent us out into different districts of Istanbul with directions of what to look for. We all met for dinner on the Asian side of Istanbul at the end of the day.

Here are some pictures of my day:


We traveled from Koç (Coach-A) to Beşiktaş (B) to Kadiköy (C)


The McDonalds in Beşiktaş (Beshiktash) All c’s and s’s with little things on the bottom have the ch and sh sound.


Faraz, Me, Leah, and Bethany with an Eagle Statue in Beşiktaş shopping district. I think it was to commemorate 100 years of the neighborhood being around or something.


A view of the street in Beşiktaş.


This reminded me of Pike Place Market in Seattle! Though they don’t use much ice to keep the fish cold. They just throw cold water on the fish every few minutes.


Leah, Bethany and Faraz


My delicious lunch! This is called Manti (Turkish ravioli). Here is recipe for it as well: Recipe


Faraz and Bethany


Leah and I


Some cats at a mosque playing in the cemetery.  There are cats everywhere here! My first night on campus there was a dog that hung out in the dorm lobby all night.  The students seem to feed them and make sure that they are ok.


We crossed the Bosphorus to Asian Istanbul. Our second destination was Kadiköy.


One of the ferrys


Though you can’t tell, the view behind us was fantastic!!


This is the bull statue in Kadiköy. The bull is the Fenerbache (one of Istanbul’s soccer clubs) symbol.


A cool little artsy side street we found.


A mosque in Kadiköy


They had carmel ice cream which made me extremely happy!


My major sweet tooth is going to be happy here. There are pastry shops everywhere!!


The streets are filled with clothing shops. The main street seemed to be mostly women’s clothing and the side streets carry men’s. Anyone for some man legs??


Open air market


Bethany at dinner. All the groups were sent to different parts of the city and had to meet for dinner at 6pm in Kadiköy. We went to a restaurant called Çiya (Chia) where they are famous for incorporating foods from all over Turkey into their menu. We shared family style dishes, so I got to try everything!


This is a stuffed dried eggplant. It is filled with rice, meat and spices.


Everyone at dinner. There was SOOO much food. The bread here is one of my favorite things. It is soft and tastes delicious. I have yet to see sandwich style bread served anywhere.


This was by far my favorite dish. I asked what it is and was told that it is just a beef stew. Man, not that interesting for how good it tastes.


A rice dish


I think this has okra in it. I haven’t had okra before, but it is pretty tasty in different dishes.


We only drink bottled water here. (I know, stab me in the heart!!!) But, I found some water coolers at school where I can refill my 1.5 liter bottles to keep them in my room. This is the water served in most of the restaurants. Please notice that they inform you that no coliform or fecal streptococcus bacteria are present. Awesome!

This was by far my favorite day this week because I got to see so much of the city. Any questions?? I miss you all!


I have determined that riding a dolmuş while standing up is pretty much like riding the Knight Bus in Harry Potter. It is slightly scary and a really good core and arm workout.

Pictures from today:


Jimmie and Alix at the café having Türkçe Kahve (Turkish coffee). There are 4 exchange students from my program in my “group” with one mentor.


Michele and Can (pronounced John). Can is our mentor and studies Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Koç.


Michele and I. She has çay (Tea-pronounced chai, though it is just black tea) and I have kahve.


The school supply store in Sarıyer.


They sold many of the classics, but written in Turkish of course.



Hanging out at the student center after shopping in Sarıyer.


A café in the student center.  Yes it is called Pi gastro Smile

Arrival and Turkish Time

I made it through all of my transfers ok and arrived to the airport yesterday (9/10) evening. Riding any mode of transportation is interesting in Istanbul. The bus to KU was quite large compared to the cars and other minibuses (Dolmuş—pronounced dolmush) but drove just like a 5-person car. Cars also don’t really drive in lanes—they move at will and don’t signal very often. They also use the wide shoulders as lanes to pass people. It’s definitely different than the U.S.. Here are some pictures from my first days at KU : )


The inflight GPS that my dad would have LOVED!


My dorm room (not showing my very large wardrobe closet and fridge).


Breakfast (olives, tomatoes, cucumber, fresh fruit, soft bread, sliced meat and strong cheese are all served at breakfast). I did find some stuff like Nutella that was fantastic with the bread.


Boats on the Bosphorus while riding the ferry to Asian Istanbul.


The castle we hiked to in Asian Istanbul. Turkish flags are EVERYWHERE!


The Bosphorus Straight leading into the Black Sea.


The Bosphorus and view of European Istanbul.


Public bathrooms that you pay 1 Turkish Lira (75 cents) to use.


Part of the CIEE exchange group getting beer in Asian Istanbul. The waiter was very friendly and even bartered with us on pricing.


Tomorrow we are going back to Sariyer to get cell phones and anything else we need from the city before classes begin next Monday (9/19).

I love comments so feel free to ask questions and anything else!!

Countdown Mode

It is now time for the Facebook/public countdown to begin. I have 6 more days until I leave. And in that time we have a dahlia show, we’re going camping and I get to see several more friends. I’ve sorta packed, but not really. It’s mostly a box of stuff in my room that I might take with me. My suitcases are looking really small for 4 months. My Oregonian pride is showing through with all the postcards, magnets and stickers from Oregon. The Turks won’t know what hit them : )

Yesterday I took one of the best friends, Lizzy to the airport. This is our last picture until January!


One of my other favorite bloggers, Gretchen @ honeyIshrunkthegretchen is doing a giveaway from her blog merchandise store. Check it out: HERE