NSB Turkish Exchange 2015
A Turkish Delight
Turkish exchange May 16th – May 22nd
On Saturday May 16th seven students (Bradley Wilson, Daniel Couldrake, Matthew Aldridge, Hakan Alti, Alex Ao, John Nartey and Bradley Gordon-Taylor) met with Mrs Minai and me at Northampton station. Our destination was Birmingham Airport where we were to fly out to Istanbul on the first leg of the Turkish exchange. Our boys would stay with families in Istanbul and in turn their hosts would return to Northampton at the end of June.
We had an excellent journey arriving around 9.30pm local time. A minibus from our partner school: Coskun Kasimoglu Lisessi was waiting for us and whisked us across the Bosphorus, from the European side of city into Asia. Our boys met with their host families and went back to their homes. For the rest of the weekend they saw some of the most impressive sights that the city had to offer
Mrs Minai and I met up with the boys on Monday morning where they told us all about their families and what they had done. The unanimous verdict was that Istanbul was an amazing place and that their host families were incredibly hospitable, generous and great fun.
After a day spent in the teeming metropolis (16 million people inhabit the city) we had a quiet and restful Monday. We had a mini cruise to Princes Island. This was one of a small chain islands just a short trip from the city that are now a weekend and holiday destination for those looking for a peaceful break. No cars are allowed on the island so the only way to get around was on foot, in a horse and cart or by bike. Our boys took the last option and cycled round the island with their hosts.
After a leisurely cruise back via the other islands we were treated to a beach side lunch provided buy our host school. Possibly the biggest sandwiches we have ever seen and really tasty!!
Istanbul is seen as one of the great cities in the world. It is a fascinating blend of East and West, old and new, noise and calm and every type of religion and person you could think of. Its sights are world famous and we were lucky to visit many of them including the Blue Mosque (famous not only for its stunning exterior but the thousands of blue tiles inside), the Hagia Sofia (once a Christian church, now a mosque and museum), the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar (where you can buy pretty much anything as long as you are prepared to haggle!) to name but a few.
Mrs Minai coached us all in the art of haggling and this was put to good practice as we searched for presents in the bazaars. Some hard bargains were made and everyone emerged with bulging shopping bags and not a little Turkish delight!!
One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the Turkish students in their school. Our boys attended lessons (apparently the Maths lesson was hard) and we had lunch with the head teacher. He also presented us with certificates to mark the visit in his office. He was fascinated to hear about our school and how it runs and we invited him to come and visit whenever he could.
Special thanks must also go to our host teacher Uğur Açıkgöz who went above and beyond the call of the duty to ensure that we had a memorable, comfortable and utterly brilliant trip.
All too soon it was our last day and we took the ferry one last time across the continental divide. For the last time we visited the historic heart of the city, reluctant to leave and soaking up all the atmosphere and sights that we could before heading back.
One last meal with the families and then it time for an early night as we had to get up very early to catch our flight home. With the prospect of the return visit in a few weeks the boys bade their hosts’ goodbye, a lot wiser about a very different culture and a few pounds heavier due to the fantastic food! Friendships have been made and no doubt return trips to Turkey will happen.
We cannot thank our hosts enough and look forward to entertaining the Turkish lads back here in Northampton.
It was an absolute pleasure for Mrs Minai and I to accompany our boys and we hope that next year another group of boys in NSB will have the chance of a lifetime and take part in the exchange.