A Final Farewell To Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Enjoying the scenery on our final outing

It was a very tearful goodbye yesterday morning to my fellow AIFS students in Istanbul, Turkey. We all have different plans- some are studying abroad again for fall semester so they are traveling around Turkey, some are going back to the states, and I’m traveling around Europe for a bit before heading home. I figure that I might as well take advantage of that while I’m here.

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Secular Republic, Muslim World: Participating in Turkish Ramadan

Tons of Muslims gathering for activities, Sultanahmet in the background.

Submitted by Rachel Whitcomb, Global Ambassador in Istanbul, Turkey

A long skirt and covered shoulders gets you through most neighborhood and sights safely.

One of the most interesting parts about Istanbul and Turkey in general is that although it’s a secular state, and has been for decades, the population is 98% Islamic and at this time of year, Ramadan, it certainly shows. This unique combination leads to a variety of clothing styles- modest coverings ranging from burqa (fully veiled except for the eyes), hijab (only the face is showing), and just covering all of the arms and legs, to the modern European/Western style dressing. There are certain parts of the city that you need to be aware of what you are wearing, but most of the time it’s not something we worry about.

I’ve been in solidarity with the half of the Muslim population here in Istanbul that has been fasting for Ramadan- that’s no food or water from morning prayer at 3:55 a.m. until the sun sets at 8:40 p.m. (yes, that many hours without food or water). It’s been a challenging and humbling experience, especially to be a part of it around so many other people! By day, the city and areas around my campus are pretty barren, but after the sun sets people come from all over and hang out and celebrate. It’s a beautiful sight to see!

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Breaking the Rules: Learn to ‘Flex for Culture’ in Turkey

Photo: AntoniO BonvinO

Submitted by Rachel Whitcomb, Global Ambassador in Istanbul, Turkey.


Oh that’s right…I’m STUDYING abroad…

Sometimes you get so caught up in the traveling aspect of being abroad that you lose sight of what sent you here in the first place.  But of course, I’m attending class and doing homework, I would never forget!

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Love the 2012 Olympics? Take part in the Abroad101 Global Gold Challenge!

Photo: GreenTea95


With the 2012 Olympics in London upon us, global competition is on our minds. The guts! The glory! The…awesome course selection and weekend excursions??

YES! Abroad101 is joining the fun with our own Global Gold Challenge, a head-to-head competition of countries competing for study abroad fame.  For an entire week during the Olympics (July 27 – August 3) we’ll be running a poll on our  asking YOU to get on board with whichever nation you think will come out of the Olympics with the most medals overall.

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Global Ambassador, Rachel, in Istanbul, Turkey!


Want to read insider reviews from fellow study abroad students? Click here to find your perfect study abroad program!


Merhaba! My name is Rachel Whitcomb and I’ll be spending the next 7 weeks in Istanbul, Turkey, through AIFS. I was raised in Colorado, went to high school in Maryland, and am now entering my senior year at Seattle University where I’m double majoring in History and Voice Performance. I am incredibly excited, scared, anxious, and thrilled to be embarking on my first study abroad experience!

Studying abroad has always been on my radar since coming to college but I began to worry that I wouldn’t be able to fit it in when I decided to take on my second major. My compromise was to do a summer program. I chose the AIFS Turkey program because it was the longest one I could find, I could choose from a huge variety of classes, and it was a totally unique place to study. There are also many weekend trips to visit art, architecture, and ruins including a day in Athens, Troy, Edrine, and guided tours of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, and many more! I was also looking for somewhere that would take me out of my comfort zone and get me as close to a semester abroad program as I could. I have high hopes that this one will do the trick.

One of the things I’m looking forward to the most is seeing how the people of Turkey come together to celebrate. Community and cultural activities are universal and are a huge part of why I wanted to study abroad. If I could bring a gift to my host country to tell them something about myself, I would “bring” them a music festival. I’ve been to many, and it’s a beautiful way that I see humans coming together, strangers becoming friends, through something we all love- music. Sure, we don’t get to shower, and we eat PB&J for three meals a day, but we get to dance and listen to music together, doing something we love. I’m excited to see how people are brought together on the other side of the world in Istanbul.



It’s the Little Things, Part Two

Studying abroad is all about new experiences, big and small. Although the smaller day to day details may be forgotten over the course of time, there are a few memories that I will never forget. These moments were branded on my memory, and every time I think about them I can’t help but smile, or even laugh to myself. It was the little moments during my time abroad in Florence, Italy that made my experience what it was; unique and extraordinary. I wanted to share a few of my small, yet favorite memories during my time abroad! They may seem silly to an outsider, but they will give you some insight into the kind of significant experiences that changed my life, broadened my perspectives, and taught me lessons that I won’t soon be forgetting. Continue reading

Abroad101’s Spotlight Country Series: Turkey

If you’re a traveler looking to step off the beaten path of your typical European destinations and venture into a country filled with fascinating history and attractions equally incredible as Paris’ Eiffel Tower then Turkey is the country for you! This seaside country has a landscape that is nothing short of amazing. From an outline of beautiful beach filled coastlines, to the inland landscape scattered with ancient battlegrounds, ruined castles, and palaces of great empires, you are sure to experience something astonishing. To help you define Turkey’s must-sees, we have hand selected the top things to do while you visit! Continue reading