I was looking through my blog and, because I’m a very lazy person who doesn’t like to write out my experiences and am actually more of a visual person anyways, I noticed that it was clearly a photoblog. I just wanted to give a disclaimer about the possible misinterpretation of the YES Abroad Program.
So let me say very clearly: YES Abroad is not a travel agency.
If any of you who are looking through my blog are prospective YES Abroaders, just know that exchange is not a luxury adventure touring around your host country.
It is hard work. It is real life. It can be boring. It can be tiresome. It can be long. It can also be amazing, invigorating, enlightening, educational, mind-blowing.
But it certainly cannot be judged through a series of photographs highlighting the best parts. Although what I have posted is what I have experienced, it is only a small part.
Turkey, I think, has been shown beautifully here, but know that there’s a whole plethora of life that must be taken into account that simply can’t be shown; it must be lived.
So that’s all. YES Abroad definitely is not for the weak of heart, but it is for those who are dedicated to understanding, learning about, and seeing the world.
January held a lot of change for us here in Turkey. In Kayseri winter ended early, we reached our halfway point, we started a new year, and made new resolutions that had a unique light shed upon them from previous years; how to make the rest of our exchange as fulfilling and memorable as possible.
I was lucky enough to spend most of our two week long semester break in Istanbul, and then immediately after in Antalya; two of the most beautiful cities in all of Turkey.
Other than some great touring, memories, historical sightseeing and great food while in these Western parts of Turkey I was also enlightened to the contrasts between the cultural extremities brought on by geographical distances of Turkey. Whereas we in Kayseri are in Central Anatolia, in both Istanbul and Antalya we were far more West.
Even people who are Turkish or are living in Turkey have stigmas about both places, and although some of these paradigms hold truth as does any place, I also learned to appreciate both places so much more because I had the chance to experience both not as a tourist, but as someone immersed in the culture.
During this break we also had our mid-year orientation camp with AFS-Turkey. We had an invigorating 4 day camp on the shores of the Mediterranean, which was especially interesting because our Turkish skills were put to the test in not only activities, but also in an actual test. It was nice to see some visible progress to the struggle we’ve all had being in a foreign place speaking a totally foreign language.
Even though our break was enlightening and an unforgettable experience it also made a lot of us miss our host families and Turkish school friends. To have made such genuine connections with people so far from home sheds an optimistic light on the rest of this year with such a good ushering into it.