9 Things I Learned in Istanbul.
NUMERO UNO: I LEARNED THAT 'SELFIE STICK' IS A UNIVERSAL WORD
Whether it’s spelled #selife #celfie or in Turkey #selfi This word is understood all around the globe and Istanbul is no exception.
However, I am sad to announce that much to the dismay of the rather alluring street vendors of Istanbul—I already have my own selfie stick, thank you very much! #LongLiveTheSelfieStick
2. I LEARNED HOW TO BARGAIN…CORRECTION: I LEARNED THAT I NEED TO LEARN HOW TO BARGAIN.
I can say that where Istanbul definitely excels is alluring people to buy all sorts of crazy things. There is the obvious Grand Bazzarr and the spice/vegetable markets—where I was TRICKED into buying about 100 Lera worth of shoes (30 Euros). TRICKED, I tell you! TRICKED!!!
3. GETTING LOST IS SCARY…BUT THEN AGAIN SO ARE monday mornings.
Yes, I got lost in Istanbul…by myself…at questionable hours late at night…but guess what? Life goes on. Sitting there in the middle of some creepy dark, alley in Istanbul was not an option. I just had to put my big girl pants on and figure it out and guess what? I did.
5. I LEARNED WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO GET FOOD POISONING while alone IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY.
Oh yeah…and then there was that day that I was throwing up my guts because I ate some questionable meat off a street vendor… Note to self: Perhaps this is a sign that I should return to my vegetarianism…. ;)
5. MY EXPERIENCES WILL NEVER LOOK AS AWESOME IN PICTURES AS THEY ACTUALLY ARE.
I don’t date deny that I’m actually obsessed with my Instagram and my Snapchat Story…I mean, can you blame me? I like to keep my friends and family in the loop!
So much so, that I sometimes find myself getting disheartened when looking at a photo I took and I find myself feeling like it doesn’t capture all of the amazingness that I’m surrounded by.
Istanbul is the most amazing melting pot of people, cultures, religions, and images. If I could slap a camera to my forehead to live-stream it to all-y’all, I totally would (sidenote: I feel as though this will be a thing in the 22nd century. Perhaps I should patent this idea now…)
But for today, I can’t share everything and anyway, it doesn’t really matter. My experiences are my own. My world is full of moments that I will personally remember and cherish all on my own and as long as thinking back on them will always make me smile, that’s all that really matters.
….which leads me to my next point…
6. WHEN YOU STOP WORRYING ABOUT SHARING YOUR WORLD, YOU ENJOY IT MORE.
People these days, myself 200% included, have become so, totally fixated on their phones and social media accounts. Moreover, I think …no, I KNOW that I am ten times worse than the average person, rather honestly speaking.
For me, my relationship with social media has come to a point where it’s not just the fact that I spend so much time attached my phone screen—lately I can feel social media obsession creeping into my own thoughts…and that ain’t good for nobody.
I had so many moments on this vacation where I caught myself thinking ‘’Ah I gotta get a good ‘gram of this gorgeous view!’ or… ‘’OMG I love this new friend I made, I gotta get her in the Snapchat Story!’’
….and to that I’m like…"Really Edwina? Get over yourself."
So, as a result, I decided to elect a whole day to unplug from technology (that’s a lot of time for me okay?!) I actually had to do that thing that grownups tell you to do: "living in the moment"—Hashtag: SCARY…am I right?!
I was forced to actually look up more, breathe and take in the amazing city and experiences and people around me without pausing to log it into Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat. WOW, I know AMAZING accomplishment. *Clap Clap Clap*
In a way though, I did feel weirdly selfish… I was experiencing so much and not able to share it with anyone…but at the same time, I reminded myself of two important points:
Number One. No one really cares about me THAT MUCH.
Number Two.I don’t really care about anyone else THAT MUCH either
Unplugging for a day in Istanbul was interesting and it’s definitely something I need to be doing more often. At least for a day, to refocus my mind on what really matters:
--->Making sure that my happiness depends on me rather than what other people think of me.
7. IF I EVER SAY « I HATE____CITY » IT PROBABLY MEANS I HAVEN’T SPENT ENOUGH TIME THERE.
I’ll admit it. I’ve been that girl. That girl who miseducates everyone else about other cities and who talks about them, when she actually knows nothing.
Talk to me at the beginning of my Istanbul experience and talk to me at the end and it was like two different worlds—-and that was only after ONE week in the city. I could probably find hundreds more aspects to love about Istanbul if I had the time to stay.
But this lesson really goes back to my experiences in Berlin. When I visited Berlin last year, it was a quick 24 hour trip. The weather was gross, I was tired, and needless to say I left with a bad taste in my mouth and vowed never to come back.
But when I did come back this year to visit my dear friend, I stayed for much longer and… wouldn’t ya know? Berlin totally transformed for me from ‘an ugly, touristy, gray town’ to ‘an amazingly colorful vibrant, liberal fun city!’
I remember even my first impression of Paris not being so hot… I cannot believe I’m saying that, especially knowing how much I love Paris now. That’s it: The phrase: «I hate ____ city » is one that no longer exists in my vocabulary.
8. THE RELIGION THAT YOU CELEBRATE ISN'T AS IMPORTANT AS THE BIGGER PICTURE: BEING A GOOD PERSON.
I encountered many, many, many people this week of all different backgrounds from all over the world in a melting pot of a city.
Naturally, many women in Istanbul, on the Asian side especially, were covered from head to toe in fabric in an effort to be modest. And others dressed more like me, in shorts or tank tops, etc. (PS It was extremely hot. I don't know how those women in traditional garb don't faint... #FemalePower)
But real talk, seeing these obvious physical differences got me thinking---Gosh, at first glance, it seems like we all are just so different and it may even seem like we come from such different worlds, such different ways of thinking...and yes, of course there is truth it that, but then I realized that, that very small truth shouldn't hold us back from getting to know, connect, and have real compassion for each other.
The small intricacies in beliefs whether it be religious, or political, or economic--- they are come in second place when we compare them to the bigger picture of just being a good human in general. And this we can do by creating as much happiness and as many smiles as possible.
Mother Theresa put it well when she said: "Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier."
9. AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST: I LEARNED THAT I AM INCAPABLE OF LEARNING A SINGLE WORD OF TURKISH.
I try to make it a mission that with each country I visit and each new language I come across, I have to at least learn how to say « Thank you »
I mean, I did it in Icelandic, why wouldn’t I be able to do it in Turkish…right??
WRONG. From what I gathered, the word « thank you » in Turkish goes something like: « Tea-Sugar-Eggcream » (If any of you reading this speak Turkish, please feel free to let me know if I'm in anywhere close)
….Sorry Turkey, I tried my best. Maybe I’ll get it next time. ;)