Warning: Cliché Up Ahead

Zachary Schmelzer - Warning Cliche up ahead

This look out point is a fantastic five-minute walk from my apartment. The bridge in this picture is one of two bridges in Istanbul that connects Europe and Asia. When I took this picture I was standing on the European side looking toward the Asian side of Istanbul. This is also the spot where I first really talked to someone in Turkey.

Living abroad is an amazing thing. So amazing, that you start to realize all of your firsts when you look back… The first time you correctly use the host language, the first time you successfully use the subway system, and even the first time you are going down the slippery steps of said subway system and you fall and nearly break your wrist. Every time you do something even close to noteworthy you feel as if you should write a novel about it: “The time I was being chased by a dragon in Istanbul and I slipped down the stairs to the subway…”

Seriously though, I had been in Istanbul for about a week and I had yet to really talk to anybody. I already finished all eight Harry Potter movies, so I think I was more than ready to take on the city. It was early September, so the weather was perfect, and I wanted to take full advantage of it. I grabbed my wand and went for a walk. I had absolutely no idea where I was, so when I left my apartment building I took a left and hoped for the best. Fortunately, it turned out great, and I ran into this amazing place that overlooked the Bosphorus.

After taking some pictures I noticed someone had joined me at the lookout. I pretended to not notice the new company, while silently hoping he would come talk to me because I hadn’t had real human interaction since the flight attendant asked if I wanted the normal or vegetarian meal. Finally, I noticed he was approaching me. For about two seconds I was excited until I realized I knew zero Turkish. I was about to turn away until I heard him say “hello.” I vividly remember thinking, “Thank God, English!” (Now, I love the Turkish language, but it is a beautiful thing to understand someone and to be understood fully.)

Anyway, we started talking about who we were and what we did. We even helped an elderly Turkish man take a picture of the view with his non-camera phone… See what I mean by fully understanding someone?

Now, this guy and I never became friends. I talked to him probably five more times after the lookout, and he has since graduated and moved away. However, this is the first conversation I had with someone while abroad, and I walked home that day with a smile on my face. My confidence level grew exponentially and since then I have met more people than I could have ever imagined. The friendships I have made with people here are some of the best friendships I have ever made. There is something about knowing you both have this new, foreign land in common that makes you skip the boring acquaintance step and move to close friends right away. I’m glad this is how my friendships here have played out because we don’t have the same homeland in common, and my time here will unfortunately come to an end.

With that being said, I have made friends all over the world and I know these friendships are permanent. I cannot wait to further my travels while visiting my new friends’ host countries and let them visit mine.

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Filed under Western Europe, Zachary in Turkey

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