Peace out Istanbul; Hello Mogadisho!

Tonight, I’ll be saying goodbye to Istanbul, a city that has been my home for the past five months.

Saying adios will be bitter-sweet, for there is much I will truly miss about this crazy place, but there’s also a lot of shit I look forward to never dealing with again (holla!).

In an effort to synthesize this post, let’s keep this simple shall we.

Things I will miss about Istanbul:

  1. The food: Good god, the food. Lahmacun, simit, cay, doner, manti, dondurma, ezogelin corba, kahvalti, supangle – the list goes on and on my friends. It has been truly amazing that I haven’t gained an obscene amount of weight here; everything tastes so good. There is also an amazing food delivery site here called yemeksepeti.com, and it has definitely improved the quality of my life. Basically, you can order takeout from various restaurants in your neighbourhood, with no extra charges! Can you say heaven? Countless hours have been spent watching TV and ordering from yemeksepeti *~bliss~* If we had a similar site in Montreal, you’d best believe my friends would never see me #antisociallife
  2. The sites: Istanbul is such a beautifully weird city – an amalgamation of mosques built in the 17th century surrounded by condos – it just doesn’t make sense, and I love it. Taking photos all around the city has been such a pleasure – it is truly in Turkey where my love for photography has come alive.
  3. The efficient and cheap transportation system: This speaks for itself. Considering how immense this city is, Istanbul’s transportation is top-notch. And if you’re a student, dirt cheap. My hometown of Toronto needs to take a couple notes, cause paying $100 for a monthly student pass just isn’t cutting it.
  4. The Bosphorus: Living in Istanbul made me realize how much I’d love to live by the water someday.
  5. The lira: Living in Turkey is dumb cheap, thanks to the cheap-ass lira. Without the lira, I wouldn’t have been able to take full advantage of living here. Best believe if I went to France for exchange, I would’ve spent many hours entertaining myself at home, cause the euro is truly ridiculous. And the pound! Don’t even get me started.

Now, for the inevitably longer list,

Things I won’t miss about Istanbul:

  1. Being the only black person around: Ya Allah, I’ve missed seeing other black people. I miss living in a city where being black wasn’t cause for you to be stared at. I miss wearing whatever I want because I’m not concerned about being lewdly stared at. I miss people not touching my hair. I miss feeling fully comfortable and safe in public places.
  2. My roommates: My Turkish roommates were nice girls, but its safe to say our lifestyles were very different. They were big party people, and many nights were spent wanting to punch them in the face as they blasted music at 3am on a Saturday directly outside my bedroom. They were also spectacularly messy (especially in the kitchen) and considering I’m far from being  cleaning aficionado, this says a lot.
  3. The dumbass exchange kids: Once exchange ended in May, and people began leaving Istanbul, I excitedly began to delete so many idiotic people from Facebook. And it felt GREAT! The people I met here were some of the most ignorant/sexist/racist motherfuckers I have ever had the displeasure of coming into contact with. And to think I’ll never have to see them again puts a smile on my face.
  4. The cats: Sure, I love cats. They’re cute and fluffy. But when feral cats begin sneaking into your apartment and giving birth, you start to get over it. And when cats begin climbing through your windows and giving you a perpetual heart-attack, you’re really really over it.
  5. Turkish men: Related to #1, Turkish men have been the bane of my existence during my stay. Most of them always made me feel uncomfortable, and stared at me as if I was a piece of meat.
  6. The language barrier: I overestimated the comfort that comes with understanding different languages. I can’t wait to be able understand what everyone is saying around me – I’ve truly missed eavesdropping on other people’s conversations.

Despite all the fuckery, I would still pick Istanbul if I had to do it all over again. Everyday in this city pushed me outside my comfort zone, and as a result I found courage and strength I never knew I had. I know that when I fly out today, I’ll be leaving far stronger and wiser and in-tune with myself than I’ve ever been before – and that’s a great feeling.

Now onto the next adventure: Somalia!

I’ll be living in Mogadishu for the next two months, and to say that I am excited would be a severe understatement.

Somalia has always been almost a fairy-tale like place to me – a mystical land far, far away that my parents spoke fondly of. To think that by tomorrow morning I’ll be physically stepping on the same soil as my ancestors BLOWS MY MIND #diasporakidproblems. It’s also amazing to think that if immigration did not exist, Somalia would have been my home, so in that way, as much as Canada has shaped me, it will never complete me.

On the other hand, I’m incredibly nervous, and I’m sure my Canadian-ness (cadaaniimo; whiteness) will come out full-score during my stay. You should’ve seen my face when my brother told me my uncle’s house doesn’t have a refrigerator – the first-world kid in me was appalled, but I tried my best to suppress it.

Here’s hoping I get there in one piece!

And Ramadan Kareem to all my fellow Muslims! Wishing you all an inspiring Ramadan :)

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