Ivan Zhivkov, a Fall 2013 SU Istanbul student, is a History and International Relations Major at the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. His passions include reading, writing, traveling, history and global cultures. He submitted a guest blog about his first impressions of Istanbul, his new home.
Upon my arrival in Istanbul, I was taken aback by the beautiful city around me. It is an old city, full of hidden knowledge, experiences, and secrets waiting to be uncovered. I was ready to embark on an exploration and find the city for myself. I did not have any expectations as I arrived. It was a place that I have never been before and I was not expecting anything. I was going to make this new place my home. One that I could explore, learn from, and integrate into. I remember my dad always telling me, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” This was one thing that I had in mind when coming to the unfamiliar territory. All of the previous comforts and preconceptions were behind me and this was a clean slate that I am starting from. I was excited, but a bit nervous as well. I was not sure whether I was going to get along with the rest of my peers or how things will turn out to be. However, this is all a part of the excitement: venturing into the unknown and trying different things. I was ready.
The ride to the hotel from the airport was eventful. My first thought when looking out of the window at the numerous Turkish flags lining the streets was “Wow, either a very important national holiday is coming up or the people are just very patriotic.” Turns out it was both. Victory Day was the very same day that I arrived in this magical place. People paraded through the streets to celebrate the Turkish victory over the Greek army and the taking back of their land. Songs, marchers, and flags lined the streets of Kadikoy. Walking along, I ended up on a central square next to the harbor to listen in to the speakers. I was not sure what they were saying but the people responded with wild cheers. I was very excited and proud to hear such open sentiments regarding the national holiday.