I've been back in the states for some time now, and I thought it would be nice to reflect on my experience as a whole (now that I'm not overly jetlagged or sick or consumed with family and school).
As I was riding on one of the buses from one part of campus to another, it reminded me of the crazed mini-bus drivers in Üsküdar. Of course my bus driver the other night came to a full stop before opening the doors and waited until the coast was clear to shut them and move to the next stop, but that's besides the point. I noticed that I wasn't offered a seat because I was a woman or that people didn't shuffle around so others could fit more easily. BUT the most satisfying difference of my bus ride here was that I couldn't smell the person next to me. Traffic is another difference because we follow laws here. I've found myself many a time looking both ways about 6 times each before actually setting foot on the pavement to cross the street. Food of course is another thing to note. The produce here just isn't fresh. When I eat an apple, I don't want to eat wax.
When I first got home, I couldn't wait to get my blackberry back or drive a car. I never drove in Turkey mostly because I can't drive a stickshift nor was I willing to try in the 5th largest city in the world. Being able to use my hair dryer again was also a big plus - the converter didn't work in Turkey. Life has been made so simple for us, and it's made me more conscious about how I spend my time and money.
It seems that it was just yesterday that I arrived in Istanbul. Looking back, I was so out of it I don't even know how I functioned. Although the days of data entries seemed like they would never end, I've erased the majority of the miserable parts of work. Now it just seems that I went to work, learned Turkish, traveled, and went home at night to the dorms only to get in trouble with the dorm director.
In a nutshell, this experience changed my life.