41° 2′ 17.8296″ N, 28° 58′ 13.188″ E
Studying abroad is an amazing experience. You know what studying abroad is, right? You can travel to different places around the world that you have never seen before. You have to attend classes while you are there too. Study abroad programs are usually a month or longer.
I was very excited to leave the United States until I was on my way to the airport. Traveling to a new place can be very scary. I almost told my mom to turn the car around!
It was early in the afternoon, and my mother and I were grabbing my overly stuffed suitcases. I had never packed for a five-month trip before. If you look at the picture, you will see that I have too many clothes to fit inside my suitcase. My mother and I both had to move one suitcase! Once my two suitcases, carry-on and backpack were loaded into the car, we left for the airport.
While my mother was driving, she asked, “So are you excited now?”
I told her, “I am anxious, meaning I am both excited and nervous.”
“Why?” she asked again. I was excited because this was my first time leaving the country. Then I started to get very nervous because I realized I am leaving the U.S. for five months, which is a very long time! I thought about being away from my family and friends. Have you ever been away from your family and friends for many months?
Once I explained this to my mom, she said, “Yes, you are going to miss your family and friends, but this is a once in lifetime opportunity. Yes, it is going to be scary and difficult to adjust to a new place, but it will make you a better person.” I listened to those words and my nerves began to disappear. I will always cherish those words in my heart while I am studying abroad.
We arrived at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia. Wow, that airport is huge! Again, my mother helped me with my suitcases. I hoped my suitcases would fit on the plane. My flight did not leave until 5:30 PM. Most people went to sleep on the plane but I saw movies instead. I watched Madagascar 3, Brave and Taken 2. Have you seen these movies? All the movies were great, but my favorite was Madagascar 3. I really liked the circus afro song from Madagascar 3. “Polka dot, polka dot, afro!”
After an eight hour flight, I arrived in Amsterdam. I only had an hour to get to my next flight. I ran into students in my study abroad program at the airport. We were starving, so we decided to eat lunch together. We ate McDonald’s at the airport. My McDonald’s meal was six euros, which is about eight United States dollars. After lunch, we hurried to board the plane. In the next four hours, I would be in Istanbul, Turkey. I slept on this plane ride. I guess I was tired from the McDonald’s meal I ate. When I woke up, I began to snap pictures from the plane. Look at my photos!
After a total of 18 hours of flight time, I was in Istanbul, Turkey! I am sure you want to know what it looks like. Well, it is really similar to New York. New York is big city and that is how Istanbul looks. There are bright lights everywhere. There are tall buildings called skyscrapers. There are stores, like Nike, that are seven stories high. Also, there is a lot of traffic in Istanbul. The taxi cabs were driving strangely and very close to the other cars. A taxi cab almost hit our car! I was scared.
Finally, we arrived at our home in Istanbul. It is located in district called “Beyoğlu,” which is a very old neighborhood. The houses are very small and close together. The sidewalk is made of bricks, not of concrete, so it is very difficult to walk on. There are no garages and people park their cars in the street. The streets are really narrow too. Our car almost hit a parked car!
Once we arrived to the house, we were greeted by Turkish people and our professor. When you greet a Turkish person, you are supposed kiss both of their cheeks. However, you do not actually kiss both cheeks but only pretend as if you are kissing their cheeks. It is really different from how you greet people in the U.S., with a simple wave or a hug. Then the owners of the house and my professor showed all the students around the house. We got to pick our rooms. I love my room! After we moved our heavy suitcases up the stairs to our rooms, our professor took us out to dinner. The food was really different from the United States, but so tasty! Do you want to know about food from Turkey? After dinner we all walked back to our house to get some rest.
Although I was anxious on the drive to the airport, my first day in Istanbul was fun! I have only been in Istanbul for a few days, but it already feels like home. I do not miss my family or friends. I do not feel homesick. I already feel like I belong in Istanbul!
Therefore, I am reminded of what my mom told me: “Do not be afraid or nervous to try something new or to go somewhere you have never been before. It is a once in a lifetime experience where you can learn about how someone else lives in this world.” I love Istanbul, Turkey!