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Islamic Studies

turkey trip 2009.

Reflections and photos courtesy of UNO International Studies major Amy Swanson:

I had been thinking about studying abroad for many years before finally deciding to go to Turkey in the summer of 2009. It was one of the best decisions of my life. The month spent in Turkey studying everything from religion and history, to film and architecture was so culturally enriching that I left with a whole new idea of Turkey and Islam. It was an experience that opened my mind and my heart to the differences and similarities that exist between life in the United States and life in Turkey.

Throughout our trip, while travelling and studying, I feel that the students in our group developed a lasting bond in the time we spent together that was founded on our love of Turkey. While not in class or on the road between cities, we had plenty of time to enjoy the sights and sounds of Turkey by listening to Sufi music and drinking tea, or by shopping in a local bazaars. Looking back at my portfolio and journal that were assigned on the trip is always a bittersweet reminder of the fun experiences we shared with each other and with the Turkish people we encountered on our trip. It was odd to feel so at home in a foreign country due to the friendly and hospitable hosts we met. Through excursions to mosques, ancient ruins, and tombs of great Sufis we were able to experience sights firsthand, rather than by learning about them in textbooks.

I learned so much more in one month in Turkey than I do in a usual full semester of college. Between seeing historical sights and religious rituals in person and the time spent in class on the road and at Selcuk University, the 2009 trip to Turkey has become one of my dearest memories and the most eye-opening experience of my life.

 

 

Whilst in Istanbul, we had our first experience with the Whirling Dervishes.

 

 

 

In Konya we were treated to another performance of the mesmerizing dance of the Dervishes.

 

We were fortunate enough to witness the steady, patient hand of this calligrapher as he showed us this beautiful art form during our Turkish art and architecture class.

 

After a day of bargaining in the Konya bazaar, our students spent the evening at Mevlana’s Tomb watching a dervish sema.

 

Hagia Sophia just before sunset on one of the last days of our Turkey trip. Students were allowed to explore Istanbul and make any last minute souvenir purchases for family and friends

 

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, or more commonly, The Blue Mosque in Istanbul was within a short walk from our lodging during our time in Istanbul. It was even clearly visible from our rooftop, making a breathtakingly beautiful sight.

 

The gorgeous blue tiles inside the mosque are what gave the Blue Mosque its name. The attention to detail and ornamentation made it feel like a palace.