A quick note: Apologies for being an incompetent blogger! I thought I posted this in mid-June (thus the now-untimely references to Ramazan and the first week of CLS Bursa). It goes to show, though, how I’ve neglected this space in the intervening weeks. For convenience, though, I’m leaving this post as-written in June. Sorry!
My first few days in Bursa definitively deserve more words than I will provide here, but– after many late nights– I’m determined to break the pattern today! In the meantime, here is Bursa, in a few pictures:
I live in Nilüfer, a section of Bursa where the majority of other CLS participants are also staying. My particular spot in Nilüfer is near a street called Fatıh Sultan Mehmet or “FSM.” According to students I’ve spoken to, FSM is apparently the place to be. The boulevard is a fairly quiet now because of Ramazan, but it sounds like we can expect it to get more crowded (kalabalık) after Ramazan ends in July.
During Ramazan, though, the street still buzzes at certain times of day. Every night, a little before 9pm, the mosque lights up and the streets fill with people for iftar, the breaking of the day’s fast. Tuesday, I walked around FSM as the muezzin called and the neighborhood flooded with families. It was an interesting time to be out and about!
Yesterday, I did a bit of wandering around my part of Nilüfer, breaking off from the main drag of FSM. I started by playing a game I’m calling, for now, “follow-the-minaret.” It’s as simple as it sounds: find a minaret on the horizon and walk until you find it. While I lost sight of my original destination, it ultimately led to this discovery:
And then other surprises:
Apart from stumbling upon the mosques, this particular walk was great for a couple of reasons. For one, walking has become my favorite way to get to know any city. I actually wrote about that in my CLS application, but–in the intervening months–I’d forgotten how important a tool it can be. Riding the metro to school every day masked just how much I love the observations you can have while walking. For another, I got off the beaten track and wandered through a neighborhood where laundry hung from balconies, children played in side streets, and grandmothers chatted through grated windows. And finally, it was just plain healthy–both mentally and physically– to just put foot to pavement after spending so much time sitting still.
On this walk, I also stumbled across patch after patch of these flowers:
They are fairly pretty up-close, but they also line the highways and–as we saw on our drive from Istanbul to Bursa–are absolutely gorgeous from afar.
In one of Nilüfer’s quirks, the neighborhood has miles of well-kept bike lines (seriously, they’re both the safest and the cleanest I’ve ever seen). However, in four days here, I’ve only seen one guy on a bike. And he was riding along the sidewalk.
Bursa proper is quite crowded with people, cars, and normal city life. However, green spaces like Atatürk Kent Ormanı and Kültürpark provide a nice respite. I’ve already made two trips to the first (Atatürk City Forest)– Wednesday night for a barbecue (mangal) and again this afternoon for a CLS-sponsored picnic.
The scene above provided the backdrop for Wednesday’s cookout. We stayed close to the tables and fire pits, though, and I’d love to go back and explore further. And, just for kicks, here I am below “helping” with the mangal (although this was purely a photo-op; they took the tongs back immediately).
And finally, we’ll wrap things up with a nighttime view of my favorite homework spot: