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Istanbul culture

    By Saige Martin. October 24, 2011 - 6:43 pm

It’s three and a half weeks into my study abroad and I have already had plenty of life lessons.  I have listed a few things that have been interesting, entertaining and some of my first culture shock moments:

• There are dogs everywhere in Istanbul. They don’t have strict, if any, spay and neuter laws for the animals here so dogs and cats roam the streets like small herds of sheep. There are quite a few campus dogs as well, which I have already named and buy dog food for on a weekly basis.

Needless to say they are often waiting for me every morning outside of my dorm room and I doubt that my RA appreciates this. Maybe if I brought him food too he wouldn’t care as much.

 • I recently went to my first Turkish movie theater and saw the movie “Friends With Benefits,” which I really enjoyed. However, about half way through the movie, the lights came up and Turkish music started playing.

I looked at my friend and asked if the film was over because I was going to ask for my money back. The scene was cut in the middle of a sex scene, which is not really the way to finish a movie in my opinion.

My Turkish friend laughed at me and said it was a bathroom break.

“What a great idea,” I thought, “but who needs a bathroom break when the sodas are about half the size of what we normally get in the US?”

•  Koç University (pronounced Koch) is the most prestigious private university in all of Turkey so I expected a campus lacking a night life. Two weeks ago I was expecting my alarm clock to wake me up for my 10:30 a.m. Turkish 201 class, but instead a DJ on the other side of campus was blasting music at 9:30 a.m., and I woke up to “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga.

Welcome to the Harvard of Turkey!

• The driving habits of Turks are straight from a movie. It seems like everyone is in his own video game version of Drive Istanbul: you get points for every time you honk your horn; near collisions can win the entire game and hitting pedestrians loses you half of a point.

Since I don’t drive here, I have learned quickly to look both ways and run as fast as I can.

• The use of deodorant is rare with most men. I don’t think everyone needs to walk around wearing the freshest Dolce and Gabana scent but a swipe of some Old Spice would do my metro ride wonders.

Even though I have become quite accustomed to the smell, the first day I was here I nearly gagged when I got off my plane. For those of you who experience the Waikiki B.O. smell on your way to and from campus, imagine that all day long.