Monday, August 8, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
My initial thoughts before coming to Berlin was the assumption the language barriers I would be encountering. The fact that I am in a different country with a bare minimum amount of knowledge of the place, it was scary feeling. If the person did not speak in English with me, I would have not been able to understand a thing. I am so reliant on the English language because I am so used to speaking and understanding it. After the first couple of days in Berlin, I have come to realized that I can get by without English. One of my first experience speaking with a German was asking for directions to go to the mall. I was in the bus tunnel and staring at my map. All of a sudden, a woman in her 50's came up to me and speaking in German. I had no idea what she was saying, but I knew she was trying to help me figure out where to go. I showed her the address and she looked at my map to point at the station I needed to get off. There were many hand gestures during her explanations. After she was done explaining, I followed her directions and found the mall. It was a weird and interesting feeling to have because she used no English during her explanations and somehow I understood what she was trying to say. Her help made me feel the sense of community in Berlin. Her thoughtfulness in trying to help me was very helpful and touching. I felt like an outsider by not knowing where to go, but she was a tremendous help to me. This experience made me realize that even though I am supposedly reliant on the English speaking culture, the universal language that everyone uses are hand gestures and facial expressions. So, no matter where I am, I can communicate with another person using the universal language. Although I believe that there is such a thing as a universal language, knowing the German language is also a resourceful tool as well. I feel like if I really want to experience the German culture, learning German would be a good start to it. Not knowing German has made me feel out of place. Although, I do know enough to get by, it is really hard to carry a conversation with someone in German. Coming to Berlin, I did not think that I would feel so awkward at times. In the end, I have learned a lot from this trip.
Monday, July 4, 2011
The sixth picture I took was when I was in the Topkapi Palace, which is where the Ottomans lived. I think this picture relates the most to Orhan's lecture because of all the historical buildings he talked about. The Topkapi Palace has been in Istanbul for a very long time and served as a prominent feature of the roots of Istanbul. Much of the history relies at the Palace, which tells the history of what the royal family went through. Orhan talked about how most of the buildings in the neighborhood were being renovated and to preserve the culture. When something or somewhere is preserved, anyone who comes across that object or place and understand what had happened. When someone is in the know, he or she is more knowledgeable. The fact that the Palace serves as an exhibit is a way of showing people that Turkey has an incredible story to tell and that it once was one of the most powerful empire of all times. This triumph of the Turkish culture is very important to the people in Turkey because of how much depth it has in the culture. The means of creating an empire was not easy. Without the past, such as the Ottoman Empire, Turkey would not be like it is now.
The seventh picture I took was from one of the mosque. This was a very unique experience for me because I am not a religious person. When I was at the mosque, I knew that the locals and some of the tourists were connecting themselves with the idea of being in the mosque. On the other hand, I felt disconnected even though I tried to connect myself. It was interesting to know from Jen that there is a calling of prayer 5 times a day. The Turkish people hold the Islam culture very close to them. The culture of it is very different from what I am used to because in the States, everyone comes from a different background and have diverse beliefs. In Turkey, however, everyone seems to share one belief to fit into a homogeneous society. One of Istanbul's main goal to is to have a homogeneous society. There were many struggles during the process of creating a homogeneous society such as deporting people from Greece to Istanbul and vice versa. For example, if an Islam person was originally from Turkey and settled in Greece, that person would have to be shipped back to Turkey.
Looking at these two pictures make me think of the power Turkey once had. The accomplishments of the Turkish people is very fascinating to me. The amount of effort it took to create a one of a kind society in so little time proves that Istanbul led a powerful reign. Turkey was able to thrive and preserve their culture for many generations. In some cases, I learned that some buildings were rebuilt to sustain longer and better due to various reasons such as natural disasters. The unique experience I had in Istanbul has definitely left an imprint on me.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
We started off our day at 9am. Not too bad, but if only you knew that one tour lasted the entire day (until 7pm to be more specific). It was well worth it though, I learned some pretty interesting facts about Istanbul. The first picture is of a Catholic church. Apparently, they receive their revenue from the stores they own. There's actually a picture of some of the stores below the first one.
So we walked around some more. Walked walked walked. I could go on forever, but I want to get to the high lights of the day.
After a couple of hours of the tour we went to this restaurant called the Istanbul Culinary Institute. The interesting part of this lunch was that everything was pre-ordered except for the drinks. The first dish was a yogurt soup. It was all right, except it had a minty flavor. The second dish had a heart artichoke, mash potatoes, carrots, peas, and onions. This was pretty good. I really liked the potatoes. It had a sweet flavor. The third dish, which was also my FAVORITE dish in this entire meal had pita bread, meat sauce, yogurt, and meat balls. Last but not least, the desert. No idea what it was, some sort of custard. It had a neutral flavor so I couldn't compare it with any of the foods I've had before. Oh yeah, it was sprinkled with pistachios. :9
I lie. The last picture for my meal is this Turkish tea. Everyone here drinks it like all the time. It's like people in Seattle with Starbucks.
More tours. Eventually we went to the Istanbul Saphire which is this really tall tower that has about 50ish levels. When you reach to the very top of the building you can see a 360 degree view of Istanbul. Pretty awesome.
On a side note. I am really pushing for the no facebook thing until I get back. So, if you leave me a message on it anytime this summer, well, hope to get a response in August. The best way to contact me is through e-mail. I check it at least once before I go to bed.
How is my toe you wonder? It is doing a lot better. It doesn't hurt as much compared to yesterday and that's because I've been applying neosporin. I really want this blister to go away though. Thanks for caring. :)
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
The flight was technically 9hrs, but I consider it 14hrs because of the different time zones. Either way, the plane ride was too long for me. I almost puked halfway through because it was so bumpy. The flight attendant welcomed me with open arms and a delicious curry chicken, corn salad, a roll with butter, and a strawberry swirled cheese cake. It was pretty good for airplane food. Just kidding about the open arms though. I'm really not sure. They did however, had a killer British accent.
The plane from London to Istanbul took 5.5hrs. Better, but still long. The lunch/dinner was terrible...I had a penne pasta with a roll and a strawberry mouse. Ugh. You would think it would be delicious, but it tasted like cardboard.
This is the place we're staying at. It's pretty nice considering it being a hostel. There are so many stairs (no elevator). I live on the 2nd (I think...too many stairs to figure out the sets) with these folks minus three people. I live on the bunk with the blue mattress! We can see the Galata Tower from the window and it is breathtaking. When we first arrived, there were birds flying around the tip of it...at night! I took a picture, but it's real bad. If you'd like to see, see at the end. You can't really see the birds because my camera is not smart enough to capture the birds, but it's okay. Just imagine.
The shower room is two doors away. The lights in this hostel is triggered by lights. Just to start this off, I almost slipped to my death in the showers. As I was showering, the lights turned off and I freaked the F out and started panicking. I opened up the screen and started waving my arms to get the lights on again. As I was waving my hands in the air, I slipped a little and then the lights turned back on.
Here is my lunch from today. So delicious. It's called an "adap kabap" which is basically a kabob without the stick.
Baklava!!! The chocolate (in my opinion) was the tastiest! The one in the middle had pistachios. The one on the far right had almonds.
We rode this ferry across the sea just for kicks. It was a pretty good experience, except I was dozing off for the most part. Hey! It was a long day!
First off, there are a shitload of cats in Istanbul. HOOLLLLERRR! As you can see, I look hella scared in this picture and that's because I was. And you know why? Because of fleas! There are stray cats/kittens/dogs all over where we live so it is no wonder that I'd be freaked out. Fleas and I are not homies.
This is the Monument of the Republic. It's located in Taksim Square.
On a final note, I'd like to end the day with a blister between my toes. It freaking hurts like a ...bleeep. I am not sure how I am going to survive in the next few days because we will be walking a lot. I think I got it from walking for 1+ hrs with my flip flops that I was trying to break in. Bad idea.
Here's the picture of the birds that are supposedly flying around this building. It was an incredible sight that you'd have to see it for yourself.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
I would like to research about the fall of the Berlin Wall because of the historical importance it serves. The Berlin Wall separated West and East Germany, which also divided democracy and Communism during the Cold War. The separation between these two landmarks led people that lived in either West or East Germany to live different lives. The West part of Germany had more freedom and was able to thrive. The East part, however, was more constrained. By the 60s, people from East Germany wanted to get out and migrate to West Germany. As a result, many of the people from East Germany fled to reside in a more promising part of the country. The communists were not happy so they decided to build the Berlin Wall. They wanted to keep everyone contained in one area, especially the people who resided in East Germany. The Berlin Wall underwent different physical transformations. The wall started off with barbed wire and concrete blocks. By the mid-70s, the Berlin Wall was converted to a sturdy wall at 12-feet and 4-feet wide.
There were signs that East Germany was falling. One evening, an East German government official said that they are going to open up the borders. Soon enough, the guards that were patrolling at the borders started to let people go to West Germany. People started chipping the walls with hammers. Eventually, bulldozers started tearing the wall down. The wall was not completely down, there is still a small portion left today. By October 1990, Germany became one country again. When the wall fell down, it basically ended the Cold War.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall was so important to the German culture, it is important for me to understand why. Going into Germany with some awareness will help me learn more about Berlin when I am there. I will have already known how to tolerate their customs and culture. Prior knowledge will amplify my experience in Berlin because of what I already know and prepare myself to learn what I do not already know.