I can't even begin to describe how much I loved the IES Abroad: Istanbul program, and everyone at IES who played a role in getting me there. First, I found that the IES staff who helped students with their pre-departure issues were absolutely fantastic. I had such wonderful assistance from my representative at IES, and she helped me a great deal with all the little things that students have to do before departure. The staff on location in Istanbul were just as incredible - the Istanbul center director was the kindest, smartest, most passionate and helpful person. The students on my program, myself included, were so fond of him, and some of my favorite memories were of going on his walking tours of the city. Once I was finally in Istanbul, the culture shock and realization that I was finally abroad after over a year of preparation was rather overwhelming. However, after adjusting to all the new experiences, I had the most incredible time. I made life-long friendships and was lucky enough to experience one of the most beautiful cities on Earth. My program was even lucky enough to take a five day trip to Jordan, which was absolutely unforgettable. I wish I could do it all again - studying abroad pushes you in ways you never thought possible, but in your journey you realize just how much this experience changes you for the better. Studying abroad should broaden your worldview and immerse you in another culture , challenge you and shape how you view the world. Everyone should be able to have this opportunity - especially so in Istanbul. I'm hoping that the programs in Istanbul don't stay suspended after the political turmoil of this summer because it is a beautiful place filled with beautiful people. I'm so thankful I got to experience a semester in Istanbul and have amazing adventures every time I stepped out the door. I'm also incredibly grateful that IES made this possible for me... and someday I'll return to Istanbul with the friends I made to experience the magic again.