Coming Home to Istanbul

by Jonas

Istanbul – the legendary city on two continents with maybe more than 18 Million inhabitants. A city full of people, melting many different cultures and traditions. A city full of delicious food and relaxing tea. A city full of flair and atmosphere.

-Jonas

As this quote of Jonas Monninger, a founder of IstKon, shows, Istanbul seems to be a worthy city to visit. In the first September week, three students of the University of Konstanz visited this city and wrote a short travel advice about their experience.

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Visit to Istanbul

This city has always attracted myself – I have seen it four times just from an airplane when I had to change flights at Atatürk airport on my way to other different places and I always wondered how this city would look, feel and smell like. After getting to know so many amazing people from this city during IstKon2017, which became our good friends, Felix, Johannes and myself decided to take the chance and visit them and their city in our summer break.

For us, this was a very easy decision to make, but many of our families and friends were not as happy as we were about our plans. Jokes like: “Send us a postcard from prison”, or real concerns were just some of the things we had to listen to uncountable times before boarding the plane to Istanbul on Monday 11. September. We were all tired from trying to explain our loved ones that they don’t have to worry about as because of going to Istanbul as we would be in the good care of our many friends there.

From the first second we arrived in Istanbul until we left one week later, we felt totally save and free there. This was mainly due to the amazing care of our many friends and especially our great host Erkam and the amazing programme organizer Ayse. Thanks to them and all our friends who spend their time with us, we experienced Istanbul from a totally non-touristic view, discovering hidden places and were eating the best food we would never have found without them.

From the first second we arrived in Istanbul until we left one week later, we felt totally save and free there.

The first days we experienced a part of the university life at Marmara University, where we meet the whole Istanbul IstKon family and looked around for some time. We were also warmly welcomed by Mr. Erhan Doghan, the head of the International Relation Department of their University who has visited us in June together with his students. Mr. Erhan emphasized his support for the IstKon project and invited everyone for the next IstKon18 in Istanbul. We also had some great discussions with him about the current political situation, which he calls a “lose – lose – situation” for Turkish and German people. He hopes that after the elections in Germany we will come back to better relationships and does not cut more ties, which is exactly the mission of the IstKon project. We additionally experienced an introduction lecture to Turkish foreign policies and a first semester event, during which Nursena and Johannes presented IstKon to all interested students.

{Mr Erhan} hopes that after the elections in Germany we will come back to better relationships and does not cut more ties, which is exactly the mission of the IstKon project.

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The next days we discovered the old part of Istanbul on the European side and many nice parts of the Asian side. Kadiköy is for example a very western and alternative quarter with a lot of nightlife, which remembered us to some areas of Berlin. There we had a very Turkish version of a pub crawl, visiting some bars and ending in a Restaurant for a great “Raki night” which included a lot of Raki and delicious Mezze. This very western flair in Kadiköy is contradicted by other districts which are more conservative and where some woman are wearing burkas instead of short dresses. This huge variety in lifestyle, religion and culture is what makes a lot of the great flair we experienced in Istanbul. During endless discussions in some of the various small cafés, we Germans also learned a lot about the current situation in Turkey and gained a better understanding of the difficult political situation this country is going through.

The huge variety in lifestyle, religion and culture is what makes a lot of the great flair we experienced in Istanbul.

The last days we enjoyed the great Turkish food when we were having a big Turkish breakfast and a great Kebab evening where we all struggled to keep pace with all the food which was brought to our table. I think the fact that I gained 3 kg of weight in just 6 days speaks for the quality and quantity of the food we enjoyed in Istanbul.

When we thought that there couldn’t be anything better, Ömer just brought up the idea of having a sailing trip on the last day altogether to the Prince islands, some beautiful islands in the Bosporus. As everyone loved this idea, we spend the last day in Istanbul sailing at the sea with the amazing view of the endless city and the sun burning from the blue sky. This was the perfect ending of our first visit in Istanbul, and we are sure that there are many more to follow.

We lastly want to thank you all so much for your amazing hospitality, for your time, food, tea and rooms you shared with us and which made this visit one of our best experiences so far. We three had an incredible time in Istanbul together with you and we are looking forward to coming back soon.

We three had an incredible time in Istanbul together with you and we are looking forward to coming back soon.

Now a small travel advice to everyone else:

Istanbul is a fabulous city to visit especially when having some friends there. Through the IstKon project you are in this lucky position and thus we three strongly recommend everyone reading this to use this unique possibility! Even though Istanbul offers a lot of famous sights which are all worthy to visit, it’s because of the people and our friends there why you should take the opportunity and experience Istanbul from its best side during IstKon18! So, don’t hesitate to join us – We are all coming home to Istanbul again in April 2018.

 

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