17/01/2009

Erasmus Life

A bit of therapeutic writing here, my original contribution to Middle East Technical University's magazine for International Students. Thanks to having completely avoided the subject of how drab and miserable a place to live Ankara really is, it has since been translated into Turkish on METU university's website.


WEEKLY NEWS FOR METU EXCHANGE STUDENTS BY ISES Volume 2, Issue 3

Liam Murray

At Kocatepe mosque, arabesque meets classical Turkish design – the great domes and minaret visible for miles around. Inside, the eye is immediately drawn to the great chandelier, a sphere of glass shimmering like a thousand stars. The hall faces south, so at midday prayers the light filters through the stained glass illuminating the congregation.

This is the Turkey of European fantasy. For one step outside and I have to remind myself where I am. For a second, I could be any European city. The buildings, the traffic and the pace of life here reminds me of home somewhat. But you only need scratch the surface to find that Turkey is something quite apart.

At this point I could list the novelties of Turkey – such as the fine cuisine, arts and music, describe the beauty of the country itself and probably dedicate a short treatise to the joys of
nargile smoking!

However all this would be in vain, as nothing really demonstrates the nature of Turkey better than the Turks themselves. Last week Monika extolled the famous Turkish hospitality and good nature, and for fear of this going to our host students’ heads I do not wish to repeat her. But I
think I can speak for everyone when I say that these are qualities that have really made the difference during some of the most daunting and hectic moments of the first two weeks here.

There is something about the Turkish way of life which completes its culture. For instance, what is the good in having a rich cuisine if you can’t enjoy it with friends? What is the good in having music if you can’t dance? It is this instant informality and intimacy which has really helped me settle in since I arrived here, and I look forward to what the next six months have to bring!

1 comment:

  1. Your writing style is unique!! I really love the last paragraph which effectively summarises the hospitable and collectivist nature of Turkish culture.

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