öğrenci (or student) life:
Our first encounter with Boğaziçi was orientation- having been in Istanbul for over 4 days acclimatizing and getting to know the city, we were all excited to see the campus and meet the people we'll be taking classes with. While the functional details and warm welcomes extended by the Summer program coordinators proved to be useful, the main thing that struck me was the setting of the campus and the natural beauty that accompanied sidewalks that overlook the Bosphorus. Boğaziçi is Turkish for Bosphorus and from most points of campus, one has a clear view of the sea and its surrounding communities. The pilot in me hesitates to use the term "birds-eye view" but it certainly comes close!
There are small elcoves along the walkway into the South Campus which entice passing students to pause and take in the beauty- to perhaps spread out on a bench with a book. Each time I've passed by, the benches have been well used and I've made a mental note to arrive earlier to earn my spot some day. The unique vantage point of campus redefines the mundane walk from class to class. I find myself walking at a slightly slower pace, willing myself to match the calmness of the surroundings. Perhaps the typical "spring in my step" definition of my commutes has been replaced with a peaceful pace and a lighter heart.
Orientation soon transitioned into classes starting proper. As I walked into the classroom, I find myself wondering about the commonalities of education across cultures. During a conversation with a friend, we wondered if Turkish has similar words for human anatomy- it must have been interesting for researchers of different tongues in the past to converge and colllaborate in the field of academia. Yet even with language barriers, the core spirit of education remains the same- the pursuit of knowledge, the desire for discovery, the mandate to explore, to challenge and to create. I'm excited for this 7 weeks to enrich my own educational experience and perhaps provide new lenses with which to perceive education.
Some musings about the typical student life: [many from a boat ride down the Bosphorous]
1. Dedicate some part of the day to reflect on how life is more than our immediate circumstances. It's not just about us, not just about what we face. Pause and appreciate nature, to celebrate the achievement and progress of humankind. Routine and expectations may contribute to tunnel vision but our surroundings provide many opportunities to take a step back and find our place on a larger platform.
2. The idea that individuals can come across borders and form new communities is amazing. We all speak different languages yet find common ground in our pursuit of education, of truth. Just as students of different experiences pour over lesson material, students with their own stories also meet at the canteen for a meal (which, by the way, is $0.55 at the University). The complexity of so many factors converging to bring 2 people together- face to face- in a sea of so many others is precious and we should make the most of that.