University: St. Lawrence University
Quintessential Experience: I spent days at the Hodja Pasha dance theater – it turns out I love making dance videos!
Overall Experience: The Istanbul Project was without doubt a learning experience. Having no prior multimedia experience, I knew I would have a challenging month, but I was surprised by how quickly I was able to pick up the new skills, and by how immediately I saw improvement in my photography. The program did feel short – I think the Venice portion of the trip was detrimental to the time we had to produce our work – but it was an amazing opportunity to work with professors who helped me make concrete improvements to my writing and video skills. I learned about my own preferences and style as well, an understanding that I am sure will help me to make my next decisions regarding my education and career. The city of Istanbul is incredible, and I am sorry I do not have more time to spend here.
University: Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania
Quintessential Experience: The street cats of Istanbul make everything better.
Overall Experience: After three weeks in Istanbul, I never got sick of waking up hearing the Islamic call to prayer in the breezy summer air. The beauty of the city, from amazing graffiti murals to the natural wonder of the Bosphorus, is enough to inspire any writer. The diversity of cultures, people (and cats!) in this city makes it a perfect place to be a journalist. Because my focus was food writing, I had the privilege of interviewing five-star chefs, cooking teachers and culinary managers. I saw a side of Turkey not often portrayed in Western media and feel so lucky that I get to share my experiences through writing for Transitions Abroad! I learned so much about food, culture and religion during my time here. However, the most important thing I learned from this trip is to be present and approach every situation with an open mind and a desire to learn.
University: University of Texas at Dallas
Quintessential Experience: Having the opportunity to learn the Turkish language while living in Turkey opened new doors and made locals more comfortable when speaking with me. (It also really helps when bargaining in the bazaars!)
Overall Experience: The last time I was in Istanbul, it was winter and it snowed for three consecutive days, so the chance to immerse myself for three weeks in the rich history and colorful culture of this city was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. To top it all off, it was also the month of Ramadan and my first time spending Ramadan and Bayram, or Eid al-Fitr, in a Muslim country. Although spending the day in shops, bazaars, boat cruises on the Bosphorous, and studying timeless architecture was amazing, the nights spent listening to street musicians, sipping hot and flavorful tea, and sitting in the grass of Gezi Park with new friends made this a true once in a lifetime experience. Now, knowing Istanbul as intimately as I do, I will always have the desire to return to the sites and sounds of this beautiful city.
University: University of Texas at Dallas
Quintessential Experience: Try as many new things as you can! Venture outside the realm of tourist activities to truly understand the culture.
Overall Experience: Istanbul left a strong cultural imprint in just one month. The city is constantly changing as it balances its rich history with an equally vibrant contemporary political climate. It was thrilling to report in this setting while immersing myself in all the culture had to offer. In such a large population, there are tons of stories left unheard. I am fortunate to have found one of those stories to amplify it for the world to see. With the help of our guides at Bahçeşehir University, I was able to find as much as I could on the story while exploring the city’s unique districts. I am grateful for the assistance of staff from both Bahçeşehir University and ieiMedia.
University: Christ University of Bangalore (India)
Quintessential Experience: Discovering a city full of stories.
Overall Experience: The Istanbul Project is an introduction to a great city — one that is so full of stories. Being equipped to voice even one of those stories will change your summer and mark your life.
University: Ryerson University of Toronto
Quintessential Experience: Breaking my fast during the Holy Month of Ramadan with a local Turkish community was a moment to cherish!
Overall Experience: Spending three weeks in Istanbul has been a fabulous experience that has helped me grow not only as a journalist, but also as a human being. Our small group of students made the program even more fun as we shared skills and ideas with one another, but also built memories together. My main takeaway from this trip is that while foreign reporting is not easy, it’s definitely fun and worth trying as it pushes you to step out of your comfort zone and learn the art of journalism in a whole new culture and language. Istanbul is a beautiful city, enriched with culture and history that I enjoyed learning about. I look forward to coming back here again some day!