There is no doubt that Americans are highly cautioned by the state department any time they leave the relative safety of our borders for a tour abroad. I’m currently working in Istanbul, Turkey, arguably one of the most incredible cities in the world. Before hopping on a plane I checked my passport, flight information, the weather, and as always I made a brief stop at the US state department’s travel website. There you can find info about the culture, visa requirements, safety and security, American consulate information, and even medical emergency precautions.
I was a bit apprehensive to travel to this part of the world, especially with the daily news about social unrest in neighboring countries. It certainly did not help that the international community has decided to take military action in the past week against Libya, one thousand miles away. Luckily I am traveling with a large group of coworkers, all of whom take great care in being caution not to draw too much attention when abroad. That doesn’t always calm fears though, especially after reading this CNN article about a suicide bombing in a city square only a few blocks from our hotel.
Despite local current events, our first 48 hours has been a completely positive experience. The Turkish people are kind and respectful, the city is clean and well maintained, and the food is delicious. A large group of us spent the first day on the ground exploring historical sites in the “old city”, including the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, and the Grand Bazaar. After walking through a 1,500 year old cistern you realize that human civilization has already accomplished so much. You begin to wonder what you could possibly do to make any sort of meaningful contribution. Remember, this is a city where you can cross a bridge and be in a completely different continent.
Check back over the next 10 days as I explore one of the largest cities in the world with the rest of my coworkers. Don’t miss my next blog about loading in a large-scale corporate event and working with locals on a live event. Feel free to ask questions, especially those I could answer in a future blog, by emailing me at Scott.Renick@isquint.net or on twitter @sdrenick.