Little Istanbul and a Big Shopping Spree

The morning started out with a friendly breakfast – literally.  Check out the hotel’s hard boiled eggs.  There are happy faces and friendly messages drawn on every one:

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I’ve had croissants and a nutella/raspberry jam combo every morning since arriving in Germany.  I think by the end of the trip I might have gained three pounds in just nutella, and I am totally okay with that.

We spent a lot of today in Little Istanbul, where we learned about Turkish immigrants.  I had no idea there was such a huge Turkish population in Germany – they are one of the largest ethnic minorities.  We ate lunch at a place that reminded me of Las Vegas’s Chicken Shack, but with a more urban vibe.

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A tour guide took us through the city and explained about a bunch of the places, and I was once again struck by a huge difference between Europe and Asia – Europeans are so open about everything.  This guy told us about the fact that he was born out of wedlock to teen parents, the troubles he’s having in his marriage, the way he shaves his…well, never mind about that one.  Let’s just say he was more open than ANYONE in Asia (or most of America) would be.  I don’t like or dislike this fact – it’s just another culture difference.  We visited a mosque, and our tour guide told us about his Islamic beliefs.  Dinner was at a traditional Turkish restaurant, and I was initially nervous about this.  I needn’t have worried; it turned out to be delicious.  We ate a ton of food, and the birds enjoyed some bread left by the people behind our table.  As we were leaving it started to rain, so Johanna and I put our scarves up to cover our heads.  I hope no one thought we were being culturally insensitive or anything…we really just wanted to stay dry.

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We had some time off in the evening, so some girls and I went shopping (have you caught on to the fact that I am digging the European fashion here?).  My grandma sent me some euros months ago as “mad money” to spend on myself while in Germany, and um…that money is gone now.  Ha ha.  I found a fantastic store, and I got a trench coat (which is good because it’s freezing this week and I had no coat), a hoodie, a cardigan, a fancy top, a new pajama set, a scarf, two pairs of sunglasses, and even a SATCHEL!  I am in love with my new satchel.  Or perhaps I am in love with the word “satchel.”  Maybe both.  I took pictures of my new outfits to send in a thank-you e-mail to my grandma.  I won’t post them all here and look like an egotistical freak, but you can see my trench coat (SO EXCITED TO BE WARM TOMORROW), satchel, and a few of my other favorites.  The weirdest item I bought was definitely the hoodie – randomly amidst an assortment of American-themed hoodies (New York!  Los Angeles! Miami!) there was one for…Michigan State.  What?!  This was surprising to say the least.  I mean, I know that Michigan State is the best college in the US, but I didn’t know Berlin knew that.  These Germans know what’s up.

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When I went back to the hotel, some teachers were hanging out in the lobby.  I showed them my shopping successes, and we talked for a while.  Trisha brought over two friends she met at the hotel bar named Nick and Hailey.  This is where things get weird.  Hailey and I started talking, and we discovered the following:

1. We grew up about forty minutes from each other.

2. We both graduated high school in the same year.

3. We both ran cross country and actually RACED EACH OTHER in a few races.

4. We both went to Michigan State.

5. We hung out in the same part of campus (she was a music major; I lived right next to the music school).

6. I’ve attended at least two operas in which she was singing.

7. We became friends on facebook, and we already had four mutual friends.

What a small world, right?!  Here we are, halfway across the world after crossing paths that many times, and NOW we finally meet.  Strange.  I got a solid “go green, go white” in a way only a fellow Spartan understands to go with my new Berlin/MSU hoodie, so this made me happy.

I’ve learned that traveling is completely unpredictable.  Bring on tomorrow.

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P.S. Speaking of tomorrow, I might have to go back to the Primark store for these shoes.  I passed on them because they cost eighteen euros, but now I’m maybe regretting that decision.  They’re pretty fabulous…someone convince me to buy them.  I think I need these shoes in my life.

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