Istanbul Reflections

I was excited to return to Istanbul to see a city I fell in love with 4 years ago. The city has a way of captivating the mind, and looking out across the Bosphorus Strait and seeing the many beautifully ornate Mosques against its skyline will always be a sight I cherish. I feel a sense of historical significance whilst being in this place, and it is a city that offers a unique blend of modernity and antiquity simultaneously, both in terms of the architecture and the people themselves. Istanbul, like many metropolitan cities, has a distinct mix of fashion, styles, and culture, yet Istanbul has always struck me as different to other cities I have been to. Its geographical position as a connector between Europe and Asia, from West to East, has brought a unique cultural mix that is hard to find elsewhere.

As part of our trip, we were fortunate enough to have a group of academics from several local universities teach us about the nuances of Istanbul’s economic and social development. In previous years, we were told the event had been held on university campuses; however, this year, we attended the event at a local bookshop in the Kadıköy area of the city. Whilst all 25 of us were sat in this cosy bookshop, with a fire on in the background, I gave thought to the other academic and ideological congregations that had come together in similar scenes across the city over the years and reflected on the exciting nature of ideas and information being shared across cultures, amongst a group of people with a shared interest in studying our world.

The lectures covered a variety of topics, from looking at Türkiye’s economic performance in comparison to other economic success stories to analysing the differences in gender participation throughout the country’s economic sectors and understanding the social changes that Türkiye has gone through over the centuries under different governing bodies and rulers. All these topics brought a fresh and exciting perspective to the collaborative event.   

As I leave, I reflect on my time in this city and the new perspectives that academia has given me. Istanbul was my final stop on a six-month trip in 2019 that was a transformative point in my life and was a time when I decided to pursue a vision for the future I now wanted. What I find so interesting about the city is the constant tug-of-war that I sense between old and new, secular and religious; liberalism and conservatism, which I think highlights the unique geopolitical position that Türkiye (and Istanbul specifically) represents.

Jake Beasley

  1. Jamesadvon

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