After completing an internship in summer, I travelled to Turkey with two close friends for 10 days. This was a fantastic opportunity to discover a new culture and explore a new city, as well as getting to relax after a full-on first year.
We had a reasonable mix of being able to chill by the pool and go swimming – something I haven’t done in ages – as well as going into the city centre to explore and going on day trips. Unfortunately, just two days in, I managed to fall ill from food poisoning, which meant a couple of days were spent in the apartment but at least I managed to get through a good book!
Luckily, I felt better in time for the boat trip we had booked, on which we journeyed to five different islands, swam in the sea and went snorkelling. The snorkelling was a challenge for me as I have tried and failed on several occasions before but I actually succeeded this time and it was incredible to see the fish we were swimming amongst and the water was beautiful and clear.
In addition to visiting markets and improving our bartering skills, we also took a day trip to Ephesus – an ancient Greek city that has been restored to the point that you can walk through the ruins and feel like you’re there centuries ago, walking through the streets as if the shops were still there and bustling. It was fantastic to explore the site, despite the super slippery floor, and it was fascinating to read all the information boards, learning about the history of the place.
Amongst all the exploring, we also got to eat a lot of good Turkish food – ranging from Turkish delight and köfte (similar to meatballs) to baklava (I honestly wish I’d brought some back!) and various types of kebab. I learnt that almost all meals come with not only rice, but also chips and potato (or sometimes bread instead).
Altogether, it was a fantastic experience and I’m grateful for the Gateway programme enabling me to travel and allowing me to take up these great opportunities. I believe the programme is more than worthwhile doing, as the sessions can help both academically and personally, as well as leading to fantastic opportunities to explore the world.