During exchange, reality is suspended for four months. Being away from the pressures of student life at Northwestern along with significant distance from the responsibilities of reality produces a relaxed environment. This gives you opportunity to explore a new environment, experience a different part of the world, and meet new people. The çay breaks are long, the lunch breaks longer, and the three day weekends spoiled me.
For the first time in awhile, school was not an overwhelming burden and I finally had the time to introduce some more variety into my life. I read for enjoyment, something I haven’t done in years, finishing off a few biographies of comedians. I exercised more and played quite a bit of soccer and Frisbee. I also got the chance to sightsee places that I’ve dreamed of visiting.
But above all of that, I just enjoyed hanging out with new faces that I’ve grown to cherish as friends. Although exchange is short, there is a desire to hang out and do as much as you can due to the fact that it is temporary with a quickly approaching finale. This shared urgency is really what allowed me to get close to a lot of people in such a short period time. During the last month and a half in Istanbul, I feel like I really lived, rarely saying no to a new or unfamiliar experience. In some ways, I hope this carries over to life in America.