When I entered into the Masters of Science in Human Resources program at DePaul University’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business in June 2013, I knew I had a tough road ahead.
Not only did I have to reteach myself how to study (tests? what are those?), I also had to break out my planner and schedule my time like I had never scheduled it before. Balancing full-time work in Chicago with part-time school was a challenge, to say the least, but I was very lucky to have full support from Zeno as I made my way through night and weekend classes, group papers, and exams.
Suddenly, a year and a half had gone by and it was time to register for my final class. I had taken all the required courses, and I was hoping to end my graduate student career on a high note. I started perusing course options online, and none of the classes had the wow factor I was searching for.
Then, I remembered a presentation given by one of my professors a few weeks earlier about DePaul’s spring break study abroad activity, in particular the International Business Seminar focusing on management in Turkey. Eureka! I immediately started the application process and got in touch with my advisor to make sure it would count towards my degree. A few weeks later, I received confirmation the trip was approved and I would be finishing my Masters with eight days in Istanbul, Izmir and Capadoccia, learning about Turkey’s rich culture and history, and meeting with executives from several Turkish companies to gain their perspective on management.
I have enough material from those eight days that I could likely blog about my experience in Turkey for an entire year, so I’ll instead depart my top five moments from this amazing trip, in chronological order:
5. Hagia Sophia: our first day in Istanbul was spent touring historic buildings on the European side of the city including the Blue Mosque, the Topkapı Palace and Hagia Sophia. Although each was breathtaking, I was especially taken with Hagia Sophia. This incredible structure was built in little more than five years and finished in 537, and it was the largest church in the world for more than 1,000 years. Now it stands as a museum and exemplifies the nation’s struggle between eastern and western culture with both Islamic and Christian adornments.
4. Turkish Airlines/DO & Co: after a ten hour flight from Chicago to Istanbul, some people might have a few choice words to share with the airline, but in the case of Turkish Airlines all I wanted to do was say thank you! From moving me out of a dreaded middle seat, to the tasty (yes, I mean tasty) meals provided, to the unlimited wine, the entire experience was the best transatlantic flight I’ve ever had. I was thrilled to have the chance to speak with marketing executives and to go behind the scenes at Do & Co, its in-flight meal service partner, to see how the gourmet meals are made.
3. Ephesus: learning about the rich history of the Roman city of Ephesus and walking through the ancient ruins was spectacular. The Library of Celsus thrilled the bookworm in me, and I also loved seeing what is thought to be the world’s oldest advertisement.
2. Hot air ballooning: I will say this to every person who ever asks me about visiting Turkey – you must go on a hot air balloon ride in Capadoccia. In this case, I’ll let the picture do the talking.
1. Istanbul: We could have stayed in the city for all eight days and I still wouldn’t have been able to see all of it. The Bosphorus Strait, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar, Taksim Square, İstiklal Avenue, Kadıköy…the list goes on and on. The best we could do was to try to absorb every ounce of the city in the limited time we did have, which I mostly did through the food! Kokoreç, baklava, Turkish coffee, and the fish sandwiches are all must-eats. Believe me, the weight gain is worth it.
Settling back into my regular day-to-day routine was a little tough after experiencing Turkey, but I must say it was made easier knowing that my term-paper-writing, exam-cramming days are behind me.