So, I`m finally in Istanbul… 🙂
For those reading my blog for the first time, I just started a traineeship in Microsoft Middle East & Africa regional office in Istanbul as Community Affairs Coordinator. It is basically a CSR job and I will be enjoying it for one year. Those who know me better know that CSR has been my passion for some years already and that I`ve been waiting for such an opportunity for a long time… Since it was my first day at work today, I`ll just say it`s quite exciting and that the working conditions are really awesome…
So, what about my first days in Istanbul? I arrived last Thursday, unpacked in an apartment near Taksim square (if there is a place in Istanbul that you can call city center, then Taksim is the place), where I`m living with a flatmate Mohammad Shawky (also a new trainee in Microsoft MEA, ex-MCP of AIESEC in Egypt). The apartment is quite small and kinda made for one person, so we`re trying to make it comfortable by moving things around… It is indeed based in a city center, 1 minute from the square and all the buses/metro that I could need, but it is also settled in a dark, freaky street full of transvestites, dogs and cats (god, do I hate cats in February and March)… OK, it`s not that freaky as it sounds since transvestites are not aggressive (yet?), but it still may be uncomfortable to walk alone there at night.
Anyways, Istanbul is huuuuuuge and beautiful! And what amazes me the most is not it`s size, but the atmosphere it holds. It actually reminds me of Pec (my hometown in Kosovo) or Prizren (also a city in Kosovo), just 10000 times bigger… All those small shops everywhere, coffee shops, even mosques…
Since now, I visited the Grand Bazaar (expected more of it, actually, it`s just a place for tourists now), the Blue Mosque, Aya Sophia mosque (both huge and beautiful), tomb of Sultan Mehmet II, even made it to check out the Picasso Exhibition with more then 130 paintings in one fancy gallery and to see Turkish left wing demonstrating because of some social reforms done by right wing government (demonstrations were too organized for my taste – I like riots :)). Have also been to see the Galata Tower, but didn`t want to go up and check the view (waiting for Sandra to show up with nice weather – there`s a nice restaurant on the top ;)). Also enjoyed numerous café bars that are just perfect for chilling out all day long (especially those at Galata Bridge, with wonderful view).
People-wise, there`s a lot of trainees in Istanbul at all times. Mostly Germans apparently :)… And they are all really cool people. Cecilia is doing her second traineeship here, Magda also arrived recently, Ewa is here for some time already and she was using apartment I`m in now before I arrived, then there is Nadine who has to wake up at 5:30 every morning to make it to the work. There`s also a Greek girl, Turkish-German guy and many more foreigners, but I forgot their names (met them all in one night, so…). Ah, yeah, there`s also Aysha who is Turkish and non-aiesecer (her boyfriend Fernando was a trainee here), but she made the biggest impression on me so far. People from LC Istanbul I won`t mention in this message – I`m still giving them a chance… 🙂
Pictures are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/peckopivo