Shylean along the Bosphorus bridge

Merhaba! My name is Shylean and this summer I was sent to Istanbul, Turkey to take part in the Myself My world project where I was an English Language and Culture Assistant to Turkish High School students. I had a wonderful experience teaching as I met so many new people, including students and other interns. There were 60 of us, interns, who came from all over the world to help these kids with their English and teach them about our own individual cultures. Working at the school was great. We worked for 4 out of the 6 weeks and we made country presentations, participated in Global Villages, taught the kids presentation and organizational skills, participated in activities with them outside of class, etc.

Shylean with her class 

Students doing a “roll call” dance at the school

Not only did we teach the students, but they taught us interns many things about the Turkish culture as well, along with many other things. You can only imagine how crazy and fun the experience was, living with 60 other people from around the world in dorms and learning about each others cultures every day! I can easily say that I have made so many new friendships that I’m sure will last a lifetime. And I’m not going to lie… it’s great knowing that I have friends from all over the world that I can visit whenever I like! The great thing is that the people I met were very open-minded, daring, and adventurous, like myself, so we had the chance to experience Istanbul together, with all the wonderful things this crazy city has to offer.

The famous trolley passing through Istiklal street, (main street in the center of the city)

Borek (Cheese pastry) and Chai (Tea): Traditional breakfast

I want to highlight the word “crazy” when I describe this city, because there is no better way of putting it. Istanbul is a city full of life and colour, non-stop busyness, and quirkiness; and honestly, very hard to read. It is a city very hard to read in the sense that there is a clear divide between the Middle Eastern and the European, with how men treat women, religion, politics, even the city’s architecture; and even though this city is labelled as “liberal” the underlying tension between the European and the Middle Eastern creates a certain discomforting feeling in the midst city, in my opinion. However, this tension does add to the city’s craziness and quirkiness along with its wonderful nightlife, beautiful cafes along the side streets and in cobblestone back alleys, Nargile (Hookah/Smoke pipe) cafes where we would drink tea, smoke, and have Baklava (traditional Turkish desert), nightclubs along the Bosphorus, street festivals, etc. Oh and how could I forget the Dolmus rides home (A Dolmus is a very old volkswagon type van where random people would jump in from at any time. At times this Dolmus was packed with people that there would even be little stools set up by the car seats…and don’t forget the Turkish pop music blasting from the driver’s car while driving extremely fast like a maniac). Istanbul was truly a city of endless possibilities and there was never a dull moment where we thought to ourselves, “What should we do today?”

Inside the Grand Bazaar

I also got the chance to visit a lot of the sights this city had to offer, the mosques, palaces, historical neighbourhoods; such as, Sultanahamet, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Dolmabahce Palace, Grand Bazaar, Ortakoy, etc. My internship was a truly memorable experience and I feel that it is important to keep an open-mind, be willing to take risks, and really take everything in and enjoy it day by day no matter where you are in the world! This internship has definitely changed my life in so many ways and I’m so happy I got the chance to take part in this project!

Teşekkürler! (“Thank you” in Turkish)