Farewell, Turkey.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Well folks, the end has come.
Or at least, one of the ends.

Today is our last day in Turkey.

Even saying that statement seems completely unreal. Did I seriously just spend the last three months in a foreign country, having ridiculous adventures, eating amazing food, meeting and engaging with people in every cross-cultural way possible, and growing so, so much? Yes - I did. And now, we have come to the end.

I have no words that could possibly encompass what these last three months have meant to me. Trying to put into words this adventure and opportunity is impossible. Attempting to explain to you what it is like to be dropped into a foreign country, to adapt and live here is not worth it. You will never know what it is really like until you step foot onto a plane, sit through a long red-eye international flight and arrive "home" in an unfamiliar place that blinks back at you as you stare wide-eyed through your airplane window, taking in the first sight of city lights and minarets.

The farewell to Turkey has been so, so, bittersweet.

After arriving back at Yeditepe from our weekend on the farm, we had three free days to go out and do as we pleased. A chance to see all the sites we hadn't gotten to you, see our favorites again, go on a last-minute shopping spree at the Grand Bazaar, and say the tearful good-byes to our Turkish friends we have met during our stay at the university. It was a time of "lasts."

The last trip on the ferry. The last barter in the bazaar. The last call to prayer heard. The last sunset over the old city. The last trip back to Yeditepe on the #19 bus. The last köfte sandwich from the cafeteria. The last time with Turkish friends. Everything suddenly became a last. My heart is heavy with the burden of leaving, but overjoyed and in anticipation for the coming month. It is such an odd place to be in.

Since I can't really encompass in words how I am feeling right now, here is a long slew of photos that take you through the last three months and how they have moved and shook my life - opening my eyes to see the world in a completely new perspective.

I have lived the adventure of a lifetime for the past three months. I have seen so much, grew in ways unimaginable, and was stretched thin. In the midst of moving and learning and adapting and seeing the world with eyes wide open, I became someone new. Someone who took the leap of faith into the opportunity of a lifetime: with motivation from others, I stepped back and sprinted into a running start, flung myself over the edge and into the adventure that has changed my life. I fell into a completely unfamiliar culture, city, and lifestyle - but I have "gone native" in my time here, falling in love with everything Turkey has to offer. This adventure has stolen my heart. And this adventure comes to a partial end tomorrow as we board our flight to Cairo and fly out from Atatürk International Airport bright and early at 6am.

Farewell, Turkey.

You have been so, so, incredibly good to me during this season of my life. Thank you for taking me in, showing me the world, and caring for me through the hospitality and love of your residents. Thank you for giving me every type of weather, from stormy days to snowy evenings to my favorite glorious sunny afternoons. Thank you for introducing me to unique food and drink, giving me Turkish friends to enjoy them with, and an opportunity to forget about my worries back home and enjoy the time we have together. Thank you for allowing me to learn about your rich culture and history - through my classes and through all the other opportunities I have taken advantage of. Thank you for becoming home to me during this unique season of my life.

I'll be back soon. I promise.

Cairo, Jordan, Israel and Palestine...we're coming for you.
T-minus 6 hours till departure.

"Goodnight, and joy be with you all."

Respectfully submitted,