After less than two full days in Istanbul, our students are already quite at home in this exchange experience. Having landed in Ataturk International Airport on Sunday evening, the students were greeted with many hugs and smiles and promptly whisked off to their home students’ houses all around Istanbul. Trying to shake off the jet lag from a full day of travel, they arrived at Uskudar American Academy with bright smiles and positive attitudes.
The school is situated in Uskudar, a historic district of Istanbul on the Asian side of the Bosphorus River, which cuts through the city. With several buildings and a well-manicured campus, UAA is an oasis in the midst of a teeming metropolis of around 15 million. The school’s students follow a busy schedule much like their CA counterparts. Our five students are learning how to navigate their way and mostly following their hosts’ schedules, although there have been some specially arranged classes for us, including a wonderful art workshop in which students learned a traditional form of Turkish painting called ebru.
The hospitality of all the folks at the school and involved with the homestays has been nothing short of incredible. Truly, we are being treated very well. My teacher/host Mr. Ediz Kaya has guided me from my hotel to the school using all manner of public transportation, including taxi, subway, trolley, train, ferry, and my new favorite, the dolmus, which is sort of a shared taxi used for traveling short distances. We look forward to a few planned adventures in the city on Thursday and Friday. I will detail those excursions in the days ahead — or better yet, I will have the students write about they are seeing and doing.