Sricharana Muppidi - Student Profile
Stanford in Istanbul, Winter Quarter 2014-15
College year while abroad: Sophomore
Questions and Answers with Sricharana
Why did you choose to study abroad in Istanbul?
I wanted to study abroad in Istanbul because I thought it was an interesting city, blending both the cultures of the East and West. I hadn’t traveled to Europe before, but I had
studied abroad in Oman and had been studying Arabic for the past two years, so I thought Istanbul would be an interesting intersection. Istanbul was the perfect opportunity for me to immerse myself in a culture that was somewhat familiar yet simultaneously different. I also wanted to learn more about Turkey’s position as a regional power and of its
democratic history and government. Baklava was also an important reason.
What were your expectations before you went and how did those change once you arrived in Istanbul?
As a Muslim democracy, I thought that Istanbul would be influenced greatly by Islam. However, compared to my experience in Oman, Istanbul was much less conservative than I expected. This proves how cosmopolitan Istanbul really is. It is at the center of both the East and West. Nevertheless, in areas outside of Istanbul, Turkey had stronger Muslim influences, which I compared to the traditions of Oman. I also didn’t expect Turkey to be so cold! Since it’s in the Mediterranean region, I assumed that Turkey would be warm and sunny even in the winter. This was definitely not the case. I pretty much experienced all types of weather—snow, hail, sleet, and rain. Because I wasn’t used to this type of weather, it took some time to get used to.
What were some of the academic benefits from studying abroad in Istanbul?
As an Economics major, I didn’t have many opportunities to take history or political science courses. In Istanbul, each class gave me a different perspective. The classes focused on Middle Eastern politics and history as well as Turkey’s social, economic, and
political systems. These classes were a great opportunity for me to diversify my interests and learn beyond my major.
What was the most challenging experience you encountered while you were abroad and what did you learn from it?
The most challenging part of being abroad was not speaking the language. Many Turkish people don’t know English, and since I didn’t have any background in Turkish, it was very difficult to communicate. While I didn’t have space to take a Turkish class before going to Istanbul, I wish I had practiced basic Turkish on my own beforehand so that I would have been more prepared.
What did you learn about yourself while you were studying abroad?
I absolutely love traveling, but once I was in Turkey and had traveled extensively throughout the region, I still missed home. I hadn’t expected to be homesick. Nevertheless, I was able to overcome my homesickness by staying connected with my family and friends. I also learned that it takes me a while to adjust to new people. I tend to be more reserved in the beginning but warm up to people a little while after.
What was the biggest cultural adjustment you had to make?
Istanbul is massive, and it was a bit overwhelming to adjust to the city. Compared to Stanford and the small California town I’m from, it took a bit of time to adjust to everything happening in Istanbul. Also, many social events start late and end even later into the night in Istanbul.
What was your favorite part of your everyday life in Istanbul?
During the week, the other Stanford students and I would make an effort to play
basketball for a few hours everyday. There was only one basketball court in the gym, but we would wait for the court to be empty, staking out to hold our place so that we could play. It was really fun because it was a way for all of us to get together and play after a day’s work.
What was the most memorable experience you had while you were in Istanbul?
Two friends and I had a flight to catch from Istanbul to Denizle to visit Pamukkale. Look up Pamukkale- it’s beautiful! Our flight’s departure time was 8:40 PM.
6:20- We finished our dinner and paid our bill at the restaurant.
6:28- We sprinted to the bus and took our seats, with the door immediately closing behind us. We were the last passengers to board.
7:45- I woke up from my nap. We were stuck in traffic. 8:00- We were still a few miles away from the airport. We started panicking. We pulled out our laptops to hold in our hands, and took off belts and watches to be ready for the security check.
8:20- We arrived at the airport.
8:25- The check-in time was up. The kiosks didn’t print our tickets. We ran to the manager and begged him to let us on.
8:27- We got our tickets.
8:30- We cut the security lines, swiftly passing through with our laptops still in our hands.
8:35- Our tickets are collected. We boarded the plane.
What 5 words would you use to describe your experience?
Freezing, ja feel, baklava, bumbling, dolmus
What was your favorite food you had in Istanbul?
Chicken Iksender Kebap
What was the most valuable item you took with you on the program?
What was your favorite music/band that you discovered in Istanbul?