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Ambiguous feelings about Turkey

After graduating from high school, I decided to take a gap year. College will always be here; nothing will change about it. Many things happened to me during high school-an accident, my grandfather’s death, etc- and I never took the time to actually cope with them; I was always rushing, always focusing on my schoolwork and my activities. Taking a gap year can be stressing though, especially for someone like me. I am the person who likes to be busy, who, in fact, will do the extra credit and take up many positions to occupy my time, who is addicted to school, who takes writing classes and volunteers at a library during the summer, despite having experienced an exhausting and high on emotions, senior year. After interning for two months at a cardiologist’s office in Paris, where my life has been constrained for 17 years, I decided to go to Istanbul, Turkey.

I have always known Istanbul, even before I was born, even before I was an actual human form, when I was inside my pregnant mother. Because my grandfather was a French diplomat there, my mother spent her childhood on the seven hills and made us visit religiously like pilgrims. Over the years, I have picked up some words (sus, merhaba, su, food-related words), customs, traditions (unbeatable patriotism and adulation for Atatürk, the use of French words in their language) or stereotypes. Yet, I have learnt more over my two-week stay than during ...