Orientation was pretty fun; much better than my orientation in NY last summer. We had multiple sessions a day ranging from safety to culture differences to how to learn a language. We all really bonded. I shared a room with Sam, who is doing her Junior year in Samsun with me. Lucas, a Junior and Lena, a gap year student are also in Samsun for the year with NSLI-Y. Danielle, Victor, Sylvan, and Cristina are going to Trabzon for the fall semester with NSLI-Y. Two other senior girls joined us on our second evening of orientation. Marley will be in Ankara and Hayley will be in Istanbul; they are both with AFS. I actually got to lead a session with one of my friends from last year’s summer trip to Ankara, who was asked to speak last minute about the Turkish culture, lifestyle, and ways of life.
In New York, the 30 min delay for the bus seemed frustrating, especially since we were the last group to leave, but we had no idea what lay ahead. We got to the airport 3 hours in advance and that seemed like a long time. After 2 hours, our flight was delayed. Even though we had a small layover, we still had enough time. Then it was delayed again. At this point we were a little nervous about our connection because it got down to about 15 minutes. We boarded the plane and luckily fit all of our rolly-carry-ons under the seat so that we wouldn’t have to gate check them. We were prepared to run to our gate as soon as we got off the plane, and that is exactly what we did. We sprinted through the hallways, up and down escalators, along moving walkways, went on a train ride to another terminal, and down to the very end of the terminal where our gate was. It was at least a mile, and I’m not exaggerating. As I was on my way, we saw other students ahead drop their bags and they signaled to us that we had just missed our flight by 4 minutes.
It was 10pm at this time. Luckily we had a chaperone and she got us a very nice hotel in DC with extremely comfortable beds :). It was about 1am when we entered our rooms and since we had been up for so long, we ordered room service. Who knew cereal could be so expensive for such a little amount? I fell asleep around 2am (apparently the boys stayed up until 4… they were a little tired the next morning). Since we had the whole day to kill, we rented a van from the airport and toured Washington D.C. We went to the Lincoln Memorial, the World War 2 Memorial and walked along the Mall. Then we drove by the White House, and were only 2 blocks away from George Washington University!!! That was actually a lot of fun because we had each other and we got to see the nation’s capital before going abroad for the year. The only thing was that we had hoped to be in Istanbul at this time.
We arrived at the airport just to find out that we had troubles with our boarding passes. They needed to reissue them to us since we had changed our flights. They told us that they would give us new tickets in Frankfurt for our flight to Istanbul. We had dinner, exchanged money, and rested. On the plane I slept, ate dinner, and watched Letters to Juliet. It was an uneventful flight, which felt pretty good since so much else had gone on.
At the hotel before meeting my host family :)