Buyurun is an all-purpose turkish word. According to my pocket-sized dictionary it means ‘Please!’ My Turkish Survival Guide says that it can also mean any of the following words and phrases: ‘welcome’, ‘please come in’, ‘sit down’, ‘there you are’, ‘how can I help you’, and ‘would you like anything else.’

I’m sure that it has more meanings and it is definitely the all-time favorite turkish word. Unfortunately I still don’t feel confident enough in turkish to use Buyurunn, but hopefully I will soon!

Here’s a taste of this amazingly beautiful city, I will post more soon :)

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Studies in Koç University. Lives in Istanbul.

Hello from Turkey.

After a 20 hour bus ride from Corfu -on the fanciest bus I’ve ever been in – I arrived to Koç early Friday morning and happily proceeded to sleep all day. I’ve settled into my dorm room and fortunately my roommate is not here yet, as (of course) most of my things are still on the floor.

I haven’t seen the city centre yet, but Koç has a very nice campus. Everything is very planned. It’s all new and it all matches and everything seems to be in the perfect spot. The dorms are definitely much nicer (and cheaper) than the ones in UBC – if Marine Drive had dorms they would look like this. We even get a mini fridge!

Until now I haven’t really felt like I’m in a university… It’s more like a very fancy resort with ocean view. Every time you walk into the campus (or take the bus) your ID is checked, and they have cameras and security agents everywhere (I’m not quite sure of how I feel about this yet). There’s a pool that is nothing like the Aquatic Centre at UBC but totally amazing – it has beach chairs and umbrellas and such a vacationy feel about it that I find it hard to believe that in a few days I’ll be taking classes here.

Orientation starts tomorrow and exchange students have been arriving at all times for the last two days. They’re easily spotted as the somewhat awkward circles of english-speaking people. I’ve been meeting lots of people, mostly from Europe and the US. I also met a girl who says ‘eh?’ at the end of every other sentence !! Guess where she’s from :).

Luckily I’ve met some other vegetarians, so we’ve been navigating our way through the food options, slowly figuring out the turkish words for food we don’t eat. On that note, my turkish sucks. I clearly remember writing a to-do-list for the summer that had ‘learn turkish’ as item number one. What a fail.

And so life is good and now I have to get ready for dinner – we’re going down to Sariyer, the closest town (city?) to Koç. I promise to post some pictures soon!

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I was going to send you a postcard

…. but even though Greece has some of the most breath-taking sceneries I have ever seen, they have no taste for postcards. Why would you ruin a perfect picture by photoshoping a smiling dolphin on it and writing ‘Grece’ in huge, italic, yellow letters right in the middle of it?

So I will write you a blog post instead.

I’ve fallen in love with the Greek beaches! They are BEAUTIFUL. The waters are of all shades of blue and the mountains and rocks around them make them look like drawings. I’ve seen sunrises and sunsets and each time I am more amazed at how filling it can be to just sit and watch the sun for two hours, no talking no nothing.

A few thoughts from Greece:

  • It’s great to do things that I always thought I couldn’t do – like traveling alone.
  • It’s scary to walk into a super market and find it empty.
  • I’m already feeling the results of being vegetarian in an “everything-has-meat” diet. And I should learn more about basic nutrition facts to make sure that I survive Turkey.
  • Ouzo (a traditional Greek alcohol) is delicious but kills my body. Do not drink again. Ever. And this time I mean it.
  • There are actually some people who I wish I could strangle in their sleep.
  • “Free” is actually “Available”

As Istanbul approaches I’m getting edgy and impatient. I’m even looking forward to my classes. To be honest, I’ve already done some of the readings for one, Islamic Cites. Too much? I know.








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Encontré un lugar en el que manejan peor que en Guatemala. Los carros, las motos, los peatones, parece que estan bailando en las pequeñas calles de Napoli. Sólo les faltan los tuctucs.

Napoli es una ciudad caótica. Es una ciudad viva, emocionante. No se puede caminar por las calles y no sentir el mundo al rededor, los gritos en Napoletano, los vendendores de comida/ropa/juguetes, el graffitti en las paredes, las irregularidades del paisaje.

En la iglesia central tienen unos objetos -tipo cuadros- de oro y piedras preciosas. Adentro: huesos. De adultos, de niños, de manos, de piernas, dientes. También tienen un viál con sangre coagulada del santo de la ciudad. Dos veces al año miles de persona van a esta iglesia a insultar al santo hasta que la sangre se vuelva líquida. Durante los cientos de años que llevan haciendo este ritual sólo dos veces se quedó coagulada la sangre; la primera vez hubo un terremoto, la segunda llegó la peste a la ciudad.

Y está, por supuesto, Pompei. Mítica. Casas, pinturas, hornos en los que encontraron pan, teatros, y hasta prostíbulos (que para dejar claro lo que pasaba adentro tenían penes grabados en las piedras frente al edificio). Cuerpos en agonía desde hace más de dos mil años.

Napoli es una ciudad un poco macabra.

Es una ciudad supersticiosa. Apenas llegué Eleonora (la chava de Couch con la que me quedé) me regaló un cornetto rojo de la suerte con una moneda, para raspar Gratta e Vinci (que por cierto, gané 15 euros en uno!).

Me encanta!!

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Adios Toscana

Tengo el corazón en la garganta, en esa forma tan extraña que pasa sólo cuando tengo miedo, nervios, felicidad y tristeza, todo junto, revuelto, al mismo tiempo. Me siento un poco como cuando viajo de Vancouver a Guatemala o de Guatemala a Vancouver. Siempre sé que lo que me espera es hermoso, que me va a hacer felíz, pero tambi én sé que lo que estoy dejando es igual. Me siento un poco así. Otro poco es diferente. Porque voy a un lugar desconocido, sola, por un camino que no conozco. Esta vez la ecuación tiene un poco más de miedo.

Acabo de pasar dos semanas demasiado lindas con Sara, Nico, Isola y el bebé que todavía no nace. El lugar: espectacular, como siempre. Ellos también. Fuimos a unos festivales de arte callejero y musica rock en pueblos que tienen más años de los que me puedo imaginar. Fuimos a nadar a playas rocosas de agua cristalina. Comimos. Sopa toscana. Pasta. Pasta. Pasta. Al pesto. Bianca. Fresca al pomodoro. Sudice. Vino. Olio di oliva. Higos recién cosechados. Pan sin sal. Quesos (s) (s). El campo de olivos, la casa vieja, la vista al mar. El almuerzo que dura tres horas: el pan, la pasta, los quesos, las frutas, el café, la digestión. El desayuno de galletas mojadas en el caffélatte. Dormir hasta tarde. Hacerse tatuajes de crayón. Ponerse calzoneta y vestido, y estoy lista.

Escribo esto y me tranquilizo un poco. Voy a Roma.

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today a country was born and a poet was killed

I wake up to these news. Facundo Cabral. Killed in my country. I read the tweets, the facebook messages, the news. People all over are expressing their disdain, their shame, their sadness.

I join them, but not without a deep feeling of hypocrisy. Why is it that we don’t do this for every life that is lost (taken) with guns and hatred? Every day in Guatemala people are killed. Murdered. For money? For what? Every day around the world violence breaks up families and we take our sisters, our brothers, our fathers, our mothers, our children to their graves.

To die is natural. To be killed isn’t.

I pity the person who is capable of shooting 14 bullets at a human being and walk away. I pity myself for living in a bubble, for being so useless and unable to stop what I know is unfair. I pity myself because I can’t cry for every assassination and injustice. I pity myself for being too fragile, too little.

No soy de aquí, ni soy de allá

In what seems like another world South Sudan is born. I’ve seen the videos of celebrations, flags, dances and speeches and I can’t help but be fascinated by the way in which our borders and our history shape our identity.

A new country. We live in a time when countries are still being created. A fluid world with moving lines. I smile.

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Did you know that Gatorade was invented at the University of Florida?

As it turns out, the University of Florida’s mascot is the Gator. And they’re really into sports. So into sports that they have a football stadium for 90,000 people! And it’s always full during games!

I’m in Gainesville, Florida, and as a student ambassador at UBC (and because I have nothing to do for 2 weeks) I was curious to see the UF campus and go on a tour of a university as big as UBC.

I was surprised to notice that a lot of the things are very similar on the tours. Their tour guides highlight the same things we do about big schools – all the student groups, involvement, opportunities, resources… etc. They also have 12 libraries, and class sizes are about the same. Also, they have the exact same emergency pole system!

What I liked the most was the campus – it’s green and lushy (is that a word?). All their buildings are made of brick, which makes it kind of nice. I guess I also liked the school spirit -it’s all Gators and everything is blue and orange- but I’m not a fan of school spirit coming from violent sports.

The tour guide was very friendly and approachable (as I hope we are!) and people go to class in dresses and flip flops. However, even though it was a great tour and it seems like a great university, I wouldn’t think it twice if I had to decide between UF and UBC.

While Gainesville is a nice town, it doesn’t even compare to Vancouver. Our online systems seem to be much better (library/ssc/vista/websites), and I don’t see how I could concentrate in academics with such a humid and stuffy weather! It doesn’t seem to be as multicultural as UBC, or to have as many international experience opportunities.

I guess it’s a good sign that after two years I’m still in love with UBC  :D.

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Stages of Procrastination

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All-you-can-eat Chocolate Fondue !!!

Why didn’t I know about this place before?

This Friday I went with some friends to Capstone Tea, an amazing place on Robson St. They have bubble teas, normal teas, milk teas, cheese fondue, and all-you-can-eat chocolate fondue! It was absolutely delicious, although we probably should have stopped at the third pot of fondue…

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This year: Involvement

Probably the most fulfilling side of my experience in my second year.

As the VP External of the International Students Association I had the opportunity to work with an amazing team of about 15 people, all from different countries, speaking different languages and have amazing ideas and visions.

I worked with many UBC admin and staff and helped in the organizing an incredible set of events, including consultations on issues that affect international students -with amazing results. The most fun, however, was working with A LOT of other UBC clubs in putting social events together. A few coming up are Camp 2 Campus and Cherry(ty) on Top: A Dessert Buffet From Around the World! I also had a great time in the committee of the Tandem Project, a community of language learning, and had the best luck in being part of the Global Lounge community.

Also, as an organizing member of i.Lead, a network of international students with scholarships, I was immersed in an incredibly rich community of amazing students. I learnt lots and also had SO much fun doing things like volunteering downtown in Quest. Finally, my year was also dotted with short-term involvement throughout the year, including Imagine and GALA.

Overall, I have found that in these two years most of my best experiences have been outside of the classroom. Yes, I have been overwhelmed at times and I have had a few sleepless nights, but it’s been completely worth it. My first recommendation for people coming in: try new things, get involved, find your passion. AND COME TO CHERRY(TY)

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