9 DAYS IN MY DREAMLAND
One of the happiest moments of my life was when I got an e-mail from Diyarbakır ÇEVKA. I can’t even describe how excited I was when I learnt I was going to Iceland. I had been dreaming about going there for years but because of the financial reasons it seemed like a very unlikely dream. I met the other Turkish participants at Reykjavik KEF Airport. They were very friendly and helpful from the day one. I knew that Iceland wasn’t like any country I’ve visited before and I was ready for an adventure. First challenge we had was arriving at Borgarnes -the city in which the project would take place. Airport shuttle took us to the bus station. From there we tried to catch the bus to Borgarnes but we missed it in a very unfortunate way. The next bus was hours later so we went back to the bus station. While we were waiting there, Romanian participants joined us and it was the first coincidental ice-breaking. When in Iceland, the term ice-breaking has almost a literal meaning. Our journey wasn’t easy. We had to change busses and while waiting for the other bus we had to find somewhere in order not to freeze. Since everywhere was closed from an early hour, we ended up in a gas station. That night was really memorable to me. I was impressed by everything I saw. The next day we went out to discover Borgarnes. We were divided into groups to discover the city and do some fun challenges. Borgarnes has a population of 1,763. I was actually surprised with the number because it looked like even less people lived there. We hardly ever saw 3 local people at the same time. Some of the things we did in Borgarnes: Visiting the cosiest cafe I’ve seen in my life Enjoying the beautiful nature Playing in the playground: Bjössaróló is a playground built entirely from recycled materials by an old man in the 90s. Visiting Brakin Monument Tasting-cooking delicious food: Participants from differents countries cooked meals for each other during this project. So we had a chance to appreciate the food from different cultures and learn how to co-ordinate and prepare meals. Culture nights: Each night a different country’s participants would present their culture. Those nights helped us get to know each other better. We also learnt about the culture of the project countries Climbing up a mountain: This was my first mountain climb. It was a very special experience for me. I was a bit scared and wasn’t sure how far I could go but my international friends kept motivating me. I felt that I went beyond myself and while looking down at the scenery, I thought there was nothing I couldn’t do in life. Doing trekking in a snowy path: I had probably never been more tired in my life. When we got to a frozen lake i enjoyed resting on the snow. On our way back, we hitchhiked and was picked up by a local farmer woman. We enjoyed a conversation with her about the life in Borgarnes. During this trip some friends and I partly fell in a swamp. It was almost like an Indiana Jones movie. We managed it through helping each other. And maybe the best part of the trip was seeing Icelandic horses closely. Hunting the northern lights: One of the most thrilling moments of our days were the ones when we were hunting for the northern lights. It wasn’t easy at all. We would go out and wait in the freezing cold for some time. The first time I saw them with two other friends, we rushed back to our hostel to let others know. Unfortunately when we were back, it was impossible to see them. However, after seeing them for the first time, I was strongly encouraged for my hunt. Eventually, one night we were lucky enough to see them dancing in different colors! Unfortunately it is really difficult to capture them in a photo. Going to the thermal pool: We went to a thermal pool in Borgarnes. It was mind-blowing because we were in our swimsuits in an outside pool when it was -7 degrees! While our bodies were in the hot thermal water, our eyebrows and hair was frozen. We had a chance to listen to a local music band singing in the pool. Hot water and northern music, I couldn’t have asked for more. I met some locals there and when I asked the secret of their good governing and economy, they answered: “It’s the hot water!” Trips around Iceland: Discovering Reykjavik: Reykjavik is the capital and the largest city of Iceland. It is the world’s northernmost capital. 122.141 people live there. It has a stunning view of the sea and the snowy mountains. I loved the houses and the frozen lake. I decided I wanted live there for a while. Seeing landscapes: I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful and unique the nature of Iceland is. We enjoyed the snowy mountain views, saw natural wonders in the Golden Circle. I saw a frozen waterfall (Gulfoss) for the first time in my life. We admired Geysir even though the wind and ice was making it almost impossible to stand still at some point. I am grateful to Diyarbakır ÇEVKA for making me a participant in this amazing project.