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Reflections from Turkey

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Turkey Day Two: The Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and Turkish identity – Will Sánchez

By Dena Bodian on March 20, 2013
View of Blue Mosque from Hotel Terrace

View of Blue Mosque from Hotel Terrace

Our start to the day was much more relaxed than our first day in Istanbul. The jetlag, unfortunately, is definitely making itself known amongst the group. Some of us had a little trouble adjusting to the time difference last night—a couple of us were wide awake at 7, 6, even 5am. Being awake at that hour definitely had its benefits, though, as I was able to hear the call to prayer for salat al-fajr, or “prayer of the dawn.” It was a beautiful thing to hear during the sacred stillness that is so characteristic of the early hours of dawn. Indeed, it’s the degree of religiosity here in Istanbul that has struck me the most since arriving. Read more

The Fortress of Rumeli – Gloria Kebirungi

By Dena Bodian on March 19, 2013
Rumeli Fortress with Gloria Kebirungi ('15) in the foreground

Rumeli Fortress with Gloria Kebirungi (’15) in the foreground

Rumeli Fortress is a beautiful castle located in the city of Istanbul on the European side of the Bosphorus.  Rumeli was built by Sultan Mehmed II. It was built on the opposite side of the Anadolihisari, the narrowest place of Bosphorus in order to control sea traffic and to conquer Istanbul which was then Constantinople.

It was built between 1451 and 1452 to prevent aid from the Black Sea to reach Constantinople in 1453 particularly from the Genoese colonies. This grand fortress was built in a period of four months! Read more

Imagined nostalgia in Ephesus – Erica Weston

By Erica Weston '15 on March 19, 2013

20130319-113057.jpgEphesus is an amazing city of Roman ruins. I was instantly transported back to my childhood when me and my friends would read about Ancient Greece and Rome in our history classes and then in the afternoon play-act in an imaginary world of gods and goddesses and temples. This ruinous city in Turkey was for me an imagined nostalgia*–I’ve seen so many pictures and pretended so many times that I lived in Rome and consorted with Artemis and Apollo that being in Ephesus didn’t feel strange and new, it felt amazingly old and familiar. Not that I wasn’t awed and breath-taken, but in my childhood imagination I’d been there many times before, that this place of the ancient past somehow also felt like my past. Read more

GALATASARAY! – Brandon Zaccardo

By Dena Bodian on March 19, 2013

On Tuesday evening Galatasaray, a Turkish soccer team, squared off against a German team, Shalke, in the 2nd game of their two game series. Since the first game ended in a 1-1 tie, the winner would advance closer to the Champion’s League Championship therefore making quite an important game not only for Galatasaray fans but for just about any Turk considering it isn’t every day a Turkish team makes it this far in the Champion’s League playoffs. Read more

I went to Turkey and all I got was this blog post – Saeed Mouzaffar

By Saeed Mouzaffar '15 on March 15, 2013

First off I need to say “Hi Mom, I’m still alive.” I was just told today you have been following these posts religiously so I finally gave in and decided to write my own blog post. As our last night in the hotel begins, I think I can look back and I’ve a fond recollection of my times here in Turkey. But, lets begin with what everyone wants to hear about, especially my mother, the food. Read more

Wrapping up Selçuk – Christopher Donnelly

By Christopher Donnelly '15 on March 15, 2013


There are ruins absolutely everywhere, and I’m absolutely giddy about it. We need to get some of these back in America, because I (and I’m sure many others) have had such an amazing time exploring the history, the culture, and the stories that go along with all of them. Each block of marble has a story to tell it seems, and there’s no end to the marble in this country side. Read more

Feeling like a kid again – Colin Shipley

By Dena Bodian on March 15, 2013

Wow! What can I say about my time in Turkey thus far? This trip has at the same time been inspiring and enthralling; it has found me deep in thought at times, and at others it has seen me bounding from ancient ruin to ancient ruin like an elementary school child on a playground. I never could have imagined such a diverse array of sights and emotions coming from this trip, but I am confident in saying I am very glad that Turkey was able to offer such contrast. Read more

Off to a new land – Becca Friedland

By Rebecca Friedland '13 on March 14, 2013

20130314-223625.jpgYesterday we left the beautiful city of Istanbul to explore another new and exciting part of Turkey- the Aegean Coast. The day started early with a ferry ride from Istanbul to the other side of the Sea of Marmara. It was a calm ride and we enjoyed a collection of Turkish snacks that Rabbi Dena collected from the bazaars in Istanbul. Some highlights included olives, REAL string cheese, and Simit, a ring like pretzel coated in sesame seeds. Read more

The pathos of the past: Existential ambiguity in Acropolis – Srikar Gullapalli

By Dena Bodian on March 13, 2013

To stand in Acropolis – a city alternatively ruled by the Greeks, the Romans and the Turks over thousands of years – and internalize the sheer humanity that has manifested itself here is overwhelming. Looking around at the ruins,  a Greek band of soldiers bending their heads in front of the altar of Zeus making way for a Roman merchant lugging up a new set of exotic supplies for the king who marvels at a Turkish boy throwing stones in the river, is all almost palpable. As the wind whistles by, the whole time-space canvas of the city comes alive, from pusillanimous kings who desperately cling to a legacy that has long abandoned them to overreaching empires that have crumbled under the yoke of time leaving behind only the faintest of architectural signatures to people of different creeds and eras who fought over and joked about the same small things we still fight over and joke about. Read more

Thoughts from the last day in Istanbul – Katie Grozier

By Dena Bodian on March 13, 2013

20130313-215343.jpgYesterday, on our last day in Istanbul, we visited the Basilica Cistern. It was built in 532 AD and it could hold tons of water. It was stylized with Roman age sculpture which was brought to Istanbul. After the Ottomans conquered Istanbul, the basilica was forgotten about and built around. It wasn’t until 20-30 years ago, when people wondered why certain people could fish out of their basements, that it was rediscovered. This notion of rediscovery is so intriguing because it is a hard concept to grasp as Americans. Read more