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Study Abroad Spring Break Adventures in Istanbul, Turkey

April 03, 2024
by Giselle Magana

Spring Break: Study Abroad Edition

When it comes to my spring break back home in the U.S., I rarely travel because that’s the only time I get to spend in my hometown, and the only time all my old friends are in town. I’ve done anything super extreme during the break and if I do travel, it’s within the U.S. Nothing too exciting.  

I was super excited to study abroad during the spring semester, one of the reasons being that I know I’ll have the opportunity to travel to a completely different country. That said, I was nervous about traveling without my family because even when I arrived in London, my parents came with me. But I had nothing to worry about! Spring break ended up being the most unique experience I’ve ever had and let me tell you why. 

Exploring the City 

My friends Sadri, Clarissa, and I decided to spend our spring break in Istanbul, Turkey! Like I previously explained, I was super nervous going into this because this was an extreme thing to do without my parents, and I had no idea what to expect.  

The study abroad excursions are one thing that really stood out to me. We arrived at our Airbnb late at night, so we didn’t start our planning until the next day. On our first official day, we decided to take it slow because we wanted to see what the city was like before we started doing anything too crazy. We went to this market called the Bazaar Market, and they sold souvenirs, jewelry, backpacks, and stuff like that. This market was huge, and it took us a couple of hours to get through it. There were vendors on every side of the street and overall, the prices weren’t bad at all.  

A room with many lamps and other objects

The knickknacks inside one of the markets! 

Another fun thing we did was we took a cruise at night that took us around the water, and it came with dinner and a traditional dance. The food was delicious and the view from the boat was incredible. I was fascinated by the traditional dances because it was like nothing I ever saw before, and their outfits were so pretty to look at.  

A city at night with lights on the water

Beautiful view of the city from the boat. 

One of the days we decided to make one of the traditional lamps that were placed all over the cities. We took a class, and even though the decorating part took hours to complete it was still so fun. The lamps came out amazing, and we liked it so much we ended up going back on a different day to make another one. During the classes we were taught where the lamps first originated and what the designs on the lamps meant which was so interesting.  

A group of lamps on a table

Finished product of our lamps. 

Throughout our trip, we went inside different mosques, one being the famous Blue Mosque. They were all so beautiful on both the inside and the outside and learning the history behind them was fascinating. The biggest palace in Turkey was also in Istanbul so we made it a priority to tour it and it was so worth the money. The ceiling art was beautiful, the architecture was beautiful, everything about it was beautiful. They didn’t allow photos inside or I would’ve loved to share the beauty of the palace and art abroad

A study abroad student holding a person in front of a large stone archway

The walkway of the biggest palace in Turkey. 

The Best Food Ever 

While the CEA CAPA excursions were extremely entertaining, the food abroad was the best thing I ever ate in my life. I didn’t have one bad meal here. Like I explained earlier, the first meal we had in Istanbul was the Turkish breakfast and let me tell you, it was a lot of food. I had no idea what to expect but it wasn’t what was put on our table. There was bread, different kinds of jams and cheeses, meat, eggs, meatballs, and olives. The portions were huge, so it filled everyone up. 

We also tried Pakistani food and I’ve never had it before, so I was really excited. We ordered buttered chicken, rice, and naan. I know I keep saying the food was amazing, but it really was. I cannot emphasize that enough. 

Overall, I’d give the food a ten out of ten. The hospitality was amazing as well. We got tea after every meal and oddly enough, I had more tea in Istanbul within that week than I’ve had in London during my study abroad program. 

A table with plates of food and a cup of coffee

The delicious Turkish breakfast.  

In Conclusion 

Istanbul was the most unique place I have ever been to and learning about its culture while touring was fascinating. Although I must say, I did get a little homesick since it was my first spring break without my family, but if you spend it with the right people, everything will be just fine. The residents there were also very sweet, so I had no problem feeling welcome. Istanbul never crossed my mind when I thought about places I wanted to travel to but I’m glad we went. If you are ever abroad, try a unique location like Istanbul. I promise you won’t regret it. 


Gisele Magana is a Spring '24 CEA CAPA Content Creator studying abroad in London, England.

Giselle Magana is the Content Creator - Blogger in London, England, and is currently studying at University of Houston.
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