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: (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!

Teşekküler (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!

The Princes’ Islands and Model

The same weekend I went to the Spice and Grand bazaars I also went to The Princes’ Islands. A large group of us arranged a shuttle from Koç (A) to the ferry dock at Kabataş. If you have over 17 people going to a certain place, you can arrange a shuttle to take you there and back. Everyone pays a flat rate (much cheaper than public transportation with all the transfers) and you get where you are going much faster. The ferry ride was about an hour and a half long and stopped at multiple islands in the archipelago.  Our group went to Büyükada (Large Island)(B), the largest island. This is a major tourist attraction and the ferry was packed.  The islands are named the Princes’ islands because during the Byzantine period, princes were exiled here. The Ottomans also sent their exiled sultans to the islands.  During the nineteenth century the islands were a popular destination for Istanbul’s well to do. There are still many well preserved Victorian era houses today.  Leon Trotsky also spent a good amount of time there when he was exiled from the Soviet Union. image

Büyükada is known as a tourist destination because there are many beach resorts and nice restaurants. When the weather is clear, you can see the southern Asian Istanbul coastline. There are no cars on the island (except for emergency vehicles) but you can take a horse drawn carriage almost anywhere. You can also rent bikes from about 100 different rental shops for 10TL ($5.50) for the whole day. This was my third day of sightseeing this weekend so I was pretty wiped out by the time we got to the islands. I have decided that I need a rest day during each weekend so I don’t go crazy and get super exhausted.

Hanane, Eelin, Jenn and I broke off from the large group and headed into the middle of town to look around. One major thing I noticed was that the horses were not the healthy strong ones of Oregon, but skinny, boney unhealthy looking ones that made me sad. We decided to not take a carriage ride because of that.

Here are some pics of the day:


A traditional Turkish breakfast includes: beyaz peynir (white cheese-kinda like feta), kaşar peyniri (melty cheese), cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, salam (kinda like bologna or salami), a bell pepper slice, honey, butter and lots of bread. I am hooked and am really going to miss this when I get back to the US.


Jenn at breakfast


Hanane and Eelin at breakfast.


The main street on Büyükada


The rear view of the carriages. I didn’t take a picture of the horses because they were too sad.


This was a really nice neighborhood. Very fancy houses with great views!


I have no idea what this building is.


Just like campus and Istanbul there were cats everywhere.


It was a bit overcast so the view wasn’t the best, but still pretty great!


The shore near the restaurants. I didn’t see the beach resorts, but I think they were on the other side of the island.


And of course we had dessert! This was kadayıf with pistachios. Yummy! The ice cream here is almost chewy in texture, but is very delicious.


I also found loukoumades which are actually Greek! I get them every year at the Greek Food fest in Portland, so I had to get some here as well!


My new bag that is helping to dress up my wardrobe. It’s real leather and a fake Mulberry (which I have been told is really expensive).


This is my roommate Nalan. She is a 4th year Industrial Engr. major. We get along really well Smile

Model Concert

I decided to include the concert at Koç in this post because there were only a couple pictures of it. Koç held a welcome party for the school to start off the semester. They were going to have a bar at the event (normally alcohol is illegal on campus and in the dorms) but something happened and they didn’t have one. There were two performances: Model, a really popular Turkish band came and then a DJ. Model was really good, but I didn’t enjoy it a whole lot because I couldn’t understand any of the lyrics. I am still learning about Turkish music Smile Some of the girls wanted to dance once the DJ came on, but the music was super mixed and even the good songs were hard to dance to. DJs play a lot of American pop music at clubs and at concerts.


Koç only has about 4,000 students, so this was a huge gathering!


Me, Aida (Bosnia), Hanane (Norway), Wing (Hong Kong), Stephanie (Hong Kong), and Rumeysa (Holland).


These giant stairs provide a semi amphitheater experience. Though there is also an amphitheater on campus as well.


People started lighting off fireworks, no biggie…


Three of us shared a waffle which is a fairly common street dessert. The waffle is a lot more sugary than the ones we make for breakfast and has ice cream and other toppings on it.

I’m getting closer to being caught up on posts! I should be almost done with catch-up by the end of the weekend. Smile

Spice Bazaar and The Grand Bazaar

Things have been so hectic here that I haven’t had time to blog in the past two weeks. I already broke my promise of a post per week. DARN!

Day 1: The Spice Bazaar

Anyway, two weekends ago I went to the Spice Bazaar with my friends Hanane (from Norway, but her family is Moroccan), Aida (from Bosnia), Muhammed (from Pakistan) and Omer (also from Pakistan). On Friday morning we all went to Karaköy to get our student travel cards. These cards are just like the metro/bus/tram/funicular cards that anyone can get, but give you a discounted fare each time you ride. The first trip is 1TL (about 50cents), the second is 45 kuruş and the third (if you need that many transfers) is 30 kuruş. Kuruş are like cents. I believe normal fare is about 2TL per ride without a discount. The line to get a travel card was extremely long, but Hanane and Aida grabbed me a number early because they went two hours before my group left. This was SUPER nice because I only had to wait about an hour rather than 3 hrs. After getting our cards, the group of us decided to walk across the Galata Bridge to Eminönü where the Spice Bazaar is located. Since there were several practicing Muslims in the group, our first mission was to find a mosque for prayer. The mosques here are beautiful and most allow tourists to visit if they cover their heads, shoulders and legs. After prayer time, we were hungry and decided to ask around to see if any of the restaurants served mantı (the turkish raviloli that I had the week before). People kept referring us to a specific restaurant, but the street signs are so bad that we had a lot of trouble finding it. We wandered around the shops outside the spice bazaar and asked various people for directions. Aida has taken Turkish language class for 2 years so she can carry a conversation very well and help translate for us. After finding the restaurant, we learned that mantı is only served on a certain day of the week. Oh well. The food was delicious like always and very reasonable.

After lunch we headed toward the main building of the Spice Bazaar. This was my favorite part of the day by far! The inside of the bazaar has stall after stall of spices, Turkish delight and other sweets. The spices are mainly labeled in Turkish, but many of the shopkeepers speak English since it is a super touristy destination. You can always ask to smell what you are interested in to make sure you are getting the correct spice. Prices for most spices are between 20 and 40 TL per kilogram (2.2 lbs). Since all spices are lightweight this is really cheap. I paid 4TL for cinnamon, cumin, and red pepper. Before I return home, I plan on visiting the bazaar again to pick up some spices to use in my cooking at home. After a fun day of shopping we decided to find dinner and then head back to school so the Pakistanis could go to the International Student Society Beach Party. (Since I am a big partier, *insert laugh here*,  I skipped the party and went to bed Smile  SLEEP >>PARTY


The inside garden of a mosque where we waited while Hanane prayed.


The view across the Golden Horn from near the Galata Bridge.


Hanane, Aida, me, Muhammed, and Omer


The northern side of the Golden Horn.


A really beautiful mosque in Eminönü


Another group picture.


The area outside and around the Spice Bazaar is filled with seed shops. They have huge bags of seeds for sale by the kilo.


Since seeds and bulbs don’t really smell, you need to have a really good dictionary or speak Turkish to know what you’re getting here.


You can also buy leeches for whatever your pleasure is.


My second Turkish coffee of the trip. It is served with water because it is so strong and unfiltered. It’s delicious with a medium amount of sugar added. When you order you have to specify how much sugar you want because it is added part way through the brewing process.


More spices, and dried fruit outside the Spice bazaar. The brown things hanging from the roof are dried hollow eggplants used to make dolma.


Some type of dessert. I haven’t tried this one yet, but knowing my sweet tooth, I know that I would like it : )


How spices are displayed at the Spice Bazaar. It smells fantastic as soon as you walk in!


Beautiful pottery at the spice bazaar. This style can be found in any touristy place. I am creating a set, but slowly buying pieces of the same turquoise color.

Day 2: The Grand Bazaar!

On Saturday we set out early from campus and headed back to Eminönü/Sultanahmet.  The Grand Bazaar is very touristy, but is really fun to go to because of the range of goods sold there. My goal was to upgrade my “hippy purse” to a nicer leather one that better matches the culture at Koç. (Though I love my green Mexico purse, I stand out like a sore thumb even more than normal when I carry it)  I also wanted to look for some small gifts that I could give to people back in Oregon. Hanane and Aida told me to chill out as soon as I asked if they knew what they wanted to get. Apparently, my American engineer-to-be traits of time management and efficiency also stand out a little too much here 🙂  The bazaar is amazing and you can easily get lost if you’re not careful. The many gates are numbered and there are signs in case you get lost. I have a great sense of direction so I was in charge of getting us out of the bazaar at the end of the day, while Hanane helped everyone bargain and Aida translated if necessary. We make a good team Smile  Here are some pictures of our day


Chocolate pudding at lunch.


Pistachio baklava at lunch. Pistachios are one of the most common nut in Turkey.


Kunefe= the best dessert I have ever had. It has crunchy pastry noodles on the outside with warm stringy cheese filling. It is soaked in butter and sugar syrup and served straight from the oven. DELICIOUS!


Aida and Hanane at lunch 🙂


The jewelry aisle in the bazaar. The most common line from the shopkeepers is, “Hello beautiful! Where are you from?” As an American I am really good at walking away, but European culture is different and Hanane and Aida always start a conversation. After finding out where I am from, they want to know if I live in L.A. or New York, the only two cities in America. haha no.


More pottery at the bazaar. Everything is really colorful.


Leather jackets are seen everywhere in Turkey as well. I plan on buying one, just so I have one for special occasions. It’s very European chic, you know 🙂


The look of a common shop.


Hanane wanted to go to the mall as well, so we found this one. It’s the 2nd biggest mall in Europe and makes Clackamas Town Center look like our local grocery store. I wanted to go to H & M, but they didn’t have it, so I will have to go to Taksim another time.


They did have Starbucks though!


And I got my usual drink (cough cough, Lizzy Baker) a caramel machiato Smile so yummy.  And this is how my name turned out when I told the barista. haha


Here is my new bag!! A fake Mulberry bag from the bazaar! Woohoo Smile I also got a matching teal wallet.


My roommate, Nalan, modeling my bag as well. We are getting along great!

I love questions and comments, so ask away! I miss you all 🙂