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.