Turkey Diaries: Part I

So I have now spent two and a half weeks in Turkey as an Erasmus+ doctoral exchange student at Hacettepe University in Ankara. This blog post will be mainly a quick photo bomb-type thing but I’ll try to write some more in-depth stuff later at a better time (yeah I know, I always say that).

Anyway, I had a small culture shock arriving in Ankara. Since I hadn’t been able to find a proper place to stay before my departure, I just checked in to a cheap hotel and hoped that I would find something better eventually. Little did I know that the area I stayed at is known among the locals as the ‘red light district’ of Ankara, and that even many of the locals (at least the urbane, intellectual university types that I have mostly hung out with) are a little scared of going there due to its rough atmosphere (meaning prostitutes staying in my hotel and mafia types walking the streets, and so forth). I wish Lonely Planet had mentioned that but oh well, at least it was an interesting experience while it lasted (about a week), and I didn’t at any time feel any actual threat towards me.

I was lucky enough to integrate quickly into the friendly local climbing community and through them I met some good people and got myself a sweet place to stay in a really nice part of town so all’s well now.

The local climbing gym (which is conveniently about a hundred meters from my apartment), Kisakaya Bouldering:

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It’s not exactly huge for a metropolis of 5 million people but, then again, so isn’t climbing in Turkey. There are apparently a couple of indoor walls for roped climbing, too, but from what I hear they’re not that great, and may even be somewhat dangerous, which is a big no-no when it comes to indoor climbing.

Needless to say, there needs to be a statue of a good guy like Nursultan Nazarbayev in any decent-sized city:

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Well, I’m sure it’s actually the Kazakh embassy or some such thing. This was close to the old part of the city where I was initially staying.

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Anyhoo, happy to finally have found and settled in the nice, modern part of the city where you can actually get a beer to accompany your meal:

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Kocattepe Camii, the biggest mosque in Ankara:

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This is actually pretty close to where I’m staying. It’s hard to do justice to the size of the place in a picture but trust me it’s big. First of all, it sits on top of a hill to add to its grandeur, and those minarets alone are each about the height of the Statue of Liberty.

First time at the Uni. Lots of people queing for the campus buses:

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This says The Department of English Language and Literature in Turkish:

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This is the ‘local’ crag at Karakaya, some 150 kms from the city. A real cool place. Only a small part of it is showing in the pic. It’s mainly sport climbing but there are also some trad lines and loads of potential for more (sorry for the climber lingo):

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Then, finally, a small portion of the actual reading list for the course Culture and Environment that I’m taking under prominent ecocritic Serpil Oppermann:image

Yeah I know… It’s some 35 books and 70 papers in three months for 10 ECTS (study points) plus all the other material that the teacher sees fit. No rest for the wicked, I guess.

So now I’ll just quickly pack, do some more  reading and head to meet my family who are coming to visit me. Tesekkurler for reading!

Featured image credit (not visible in mobile theme): unz.com, the Borat pic by someplace I can’t remember anymore. Sorry…

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