Katie Kriz's blog

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One more for good measure

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I’ve been back home for a week now, and figured I would write one more post to wrap everything up. I just got over the jet lag yesterday – the longest it’s ever taken me to adjust to a time change. It’s been a little difficult getting back into the swing of things here, and coming back hasn’t really been all that I expected. I’ve found myself getting lost in memories and having hour long conversations at 1AM with the friends I’ve shared those five weeks with – catching up on each other’s lives and reliving some of the most memorable moments abroad. It’s a big change – going from spending days out from 8 in the morning until 10 at night with little or no time to sit down and relax. But it was so worth it. While I was on the dialogue, I hardly had time to do everything I wanted to in a day, and now I’m back home finding myself with tons of time on my hands, and no story to work on or interesting photos to take. I can’t walk five minutes down the road and find myself at one of the largest mosques in Turkey, or head down to the Grand Bazaar and haggle with shop owners for a lower price. I guess I could do that here, but I would instead find myself at the local Episcopal church and Farmer Pete’s vegetable stand. Somehow it’s just not the same.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve picked up running again – all the climbing and hiking made me realize that I was a little out of shape. I had training yesterday morning up in Cambridge for my co-op that I will be starting in July. I’ve downloaded new music and made plans for the upcoming weeks that I will be back on Northeastern’s campus. I spent a good weekend with friends back in Boston and went back to all my favorite restaurants around campus. I saw the Stanley cup from Copley Square, and spent nights back in CT catching up with my oldest friends. I have loved being back home and seeing everyone I missed while I was abroad.

But I can’t help but feel like there’s something missing. As I read through my blog over the weekend to complete my final assignment for Professor Sullivan’s class, I longed for the weekend trips to exotic places and the talks with the most interesting jewelry designers and photojournalists. I have realized that it’s difficult for some people to really understand the experience I had – it’s something only the other 31 students I traveled with can completely comprehend. But even though we only got back a week ago, it feels like it’s been so much longer. I keep thinking back to my first photo meeting in the lobby of the Imperial hotel in Jordan, and it feels like it happened a year ago. The time over there went much too fast, but everything that I gained from studying in the Middle East is going to follow me through the years, I’m sure. I certainly miss everyone I studied with, and I’m sure this fall will be full of reunion dinners once everyone gets back on campus. I miss our PJ-6 photos, and even writing 4-page papers late into the night. But I wouldn’t have traded that time for anything – I’m sure you’re all tired of everyone blogging all these cliches, but it’s all true. It’s been an experience of a lifetime, and I couldn’t have asked for better professors, better places, or people to share it with. I know there are more dialogues in store for many of us, and Insha’Allah, next summer I’ll get the chance to be another Northeastern student studying abroad. Many thanks for reading over these past five weeks. I hope you’ve enjoyed it! Until next time,

Katie

PJ-6 in Cappadocia

Our final group shot in Istanbul

Written by Katie Kriz

June 21, 2011 at 6:27 pm

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A bittersweet goodbye

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Sunrise in Wadi Rum on top of the plateau behind our camp

As I write my final post from Istanbul, I’m sitting in room 101 of the Grand Yavuz hotel with some of the closest friends I’ve made on this trip. It’s 2:30 AM, and I can guarantee we won’t be getting much, if any, sleep tonight. I can’t believe that in a matter of hours we will be lifting off from Istanbul and heading back home. This past month has gone by so incredibly fast, but in that time I have learned so much about photography and Middle Eastern politics and government, and I have made relationships that I know will last for a long time. Being in another country in such close vicinity with a group of talented, intelligent journalists and Arabic students, we have made unique bonds with one another, ones that can’t be created by attending classes on campus in Boston.

Dancing around the fire after sunset in Wadi Rum

This post is difficult to write because of everything I am thinking, and everything that I want to include in this post but can’t seem to get down on my computer.  I can’t even begin to explain how much I’m going to miss the people I have shared this experience with and how I will miss the countries that I’ve lived in for the past month. There is so much that I wasn’t able to say in these posts throughout the dialogue, and now I really wish I had written each post in a little more detail.

As I spoke with one of my good friends from home earlier tonight, I was asked the typical questions – what have you learned? What was your favorite part of the trip? As I thought about these questions, I

On the way to the Asian side of Istanbul to watch the sunset over the Bosporous

realized that everything I’ve learned can’t be written down, and probably can’t even be explained. And as far as my favorite part goes…there is no way I could pick only one place or one instance. I loved the weekend we spent in Wadi Rum, Petra and Aqaba, the Dead Sea was unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and the relationships I’ve made are ones that will last for a while. I have spent the night sleeping in the sand in a desert and watched a sunrise and sunset in the same day from opposite sides of the Bosporous. I’ve been to the “land of beautiful horses,” hiked for four hours at a time, and danced in a desert after the sun set. I came on this trip expecting to learn about photography and journalism and the countries that we have lived in. Since the program was only a month long, I didn’t necessarily expect to make the same kind of bonds as I did when I studied in London. After all, that was a 4-month long program, and this dialogue was only one. But look how wrong I was. Through late

A group of us at the Dead Sea

nights writing papers and organizing photos, laughing about the silliest things and witnessing an unexpected swim while shooting the sunrise in Istanbul, I can’t believe how close we have all gotten. And for it to be over so quickly is actually really sad. I am not ready to leave this country and these people. I’m not ready to go back to Boston and begin my co-op, no matter how excited I am for it. It’s been so surreal here, and when I look back on my first thoughts about the program I can’t believe I was so unsure about it. I can comfortably write about this now. At the airport

A scenic view looking out over the Bosporous after our tour of the Dolma Bahce palace in Istanbul

in New York and during my first night in Amman, I didn’t want to be here. I thought I had made the wrong choice, and I should have stayed at home where I was comfortable. But now after being here I realize that I was almost too comfortable with everything at home, so this experience couldn’t have been better for me. I’ve learned so much about photography, Middle Eastern countries, and about myself (and yes, I am aware of how cliché that sounds). I have the most amazing stories to tell, and a portfolio to follow me through the application process to my last co-op (maybe National Geographic??) and a book that will hold some of my best work so far. Well, I’m off to finish up editing some photos, then savor these last few hours we have left in Istanbul. More posts to come even after I’m back in the US. Thanks for reading!

 

Written by Katie Kriz

June 12, 2011 at 11:58 pm

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Cappadocia day 2

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Written June 11

As I write this post I am on the flight back from Cappadocia. These past 2 days have been packed with hiking, sightseeing and tons of photo taking. We dined inside a cave, toured workshops where people made jewelry and pottery by hand, and watched a lightning storm next to the pool at our hotel. I have only one complaint about Cappadocia. The word “Cappadocia” is derived from an ancient word that means “land of beautiful horses.” When I learned this, I couldn’t wait for all the pictures I would get of horses in the breathtaking landscapes of Cappadocia. However, as I discovered, there aren’t many horses around – only the ones used for group riding. Ryan and I were planning on going today, but with all the rain in the morning it didn’t work out. But if that’s my only complaint for the weekend, I’d say it was a major success. I can’t thank Rob enough for organizing this trip for the six of us. Cappadocia was definitely one of the best places I’ve seen in my life. The landscapes seemingly go on forever, and the amount of history that has been preserved in all the caves and old cities is amazing. Churches that were made in the caves have paintings from as early as the 3rd century.

Another thing I learned this weekend is that the manual settings on my camera are really becoming second nature to me. I don’t switch into the automatic landscape or portrait settings anymore, and I’ve really started working more with manual focus along with manually adjusting the shutter speed and aperture of my camera. And as I work on my final project for my photo class, I have been looking through the pictures I took over the past month. I was surprised to see how much my photos have changed, and how the composition and use of my cameras features has really improved. While I was away this weekend, I realized just how close we have all gotten over the past 30 days. I found myself missing some of the students I have gotten closest to, but I really did enjoy spending time with the rest of the PJ-6, I just wish we could have done something like this a little earlier in the trip. But who am I to complain? I’ve been to some pretty amazing places with great people – I can’t believe it’s time to leave!

Check out my gallery for some pictures from the trip.

Written by Katie Kriz

June 12, 2011 at 11:10 am

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Cappadocia travels: day 1

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The landscape of Cappadocia

Today I woke up at 4:30AM after finally getting to sleep around 2:00AM. This trip is certainly starting to take a toll on me, only because of the lack of sleep. If I could stop time, now would be the time I would do it. Once we boarded our 7:30 flight, I fell asleep as soon as I sat down, and didn’t wake up until I felt Rob poking me as the plane was landing in Cappadocia. The sites were amazing even from the tarmac of Nevsehir airport. As soon as we were out of the airport, we were promptly picked up by a wonderfully roomy bus/van with leather

A tunnel in the largest underground city in Cappadocia

seats and air conditioning, and we were whisked away to out first destination of the day. This first day in Cappadocia was fantastic. The sites are absolutely stunning, and I loved hiking through valleys and up mountains. The underground city was made to hold 3,000 people, but these passages got so narrow that we had to crouch down and almost waddle through the passages. These rooms were used to house Christian families when they needed to hide from Arab raids led by Mehmet the Conqueror circa 6th century. These caves go 85 meters deep, and included a full ventilation system, kitchens, store rooms, wine cellars, and churches.

The sites were unbelievable. We hiked about 4 kilometers through valleys surrounded by caves and amazing, natural structures. We spent the day exploring different parts of the city, and we were caught in a downpour around 3:00 this afternoon. Once we got back to the hotel, we were greeted with an amazing buffet dinner, some of the best food I have had during this trip. Then, after a group dinner with the 7 of us, we went outside where there was a lightning storm. Being with a group of photographers, of course we used this opportunity to whip out our cameras and tripods to catch the storm. It was incredibly hard to get these shots, but managing to pull off a few good ones

Caves of Cappadocia

really made it worth the time spent outside this evening. We all bonded a bit more, I’ve really enjoyed getting away with just the PJ-6. We shared laughs and embarrassing stories through the night. Now as I sit in a very luxurious hotel room, I am so exhausted I can hardly move – I don’t think I will be getting up until tomorrow morning. And even though I’ve gotten a cold from being so run down, I’m still having the time of my life here. Photographing these moments has been such a great reward for me, and I can’t wait to pursue my photography further once I get back to Boston. Speaking with Kate Brooks earlier this week really made me realize that I need to get myself out there and discover my own stories to tell – they won’t come looking for me. Mom and Dad, this is my newest hobby, but I think it

Lightning strikes by the pool of our hotel in Cappadocia

would be difficult to think of something else in my life that I’ve been so passionate about. Through t-ball games, dance recitals and horse shows, I’ve finally found something that I’m going to stick with for quite some time. At this point in the trip, it seems like my camera has become a part of me. I can honestly say there hasn’t been a time when I haven’t had my camera in my hands or at least in my immediate vicinity throughout this entire trip. Now that I have learned the manual settings better, I don’t even want to put it down, thinking that if I do I might miss an amazing shot…like the one of the lightning storm. Maybe I’ll even end up in Nat Geo someday…There are some shots in this post, but keep an eye on the PJ-6 site for a full gallery!

Written by Katie Kriz

June 10, 2011 at 7:45 pm

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Sunset in Istanbul

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Right now, it’s past midnight on Thursday, and I’m sitting in Charles and Joe’s room with Kaileigh and Caitlin, and as Joe plays the guitar I’m working on editing photos for my final project. I’ve had some good ideas, but now the problem is just pulling it all together and making it as good as I think it can be. I’ll be getting up in about 4 hours to head for the airport with the PJ-6 to spend the next 2 days in Cappadocia. I couldn’t be more excited. This trip has provided me with such amazing experiences, and even with three full days left, I’m still being surprised by the people I’m with and by the opportunities I’ve been fortunate enough to take advantage of. Tomorrow night I will be staying in a 5-star hotel in a land full of ancient history and caves. It was an important part of Christian history

As far as my time spent in Istanbul goes, today was one of the best days I’ve had here. After watching the sunrise over the water this morning, I ended up having the perfect close to the day by watching the sunset from the other side of the river. After spending an hour or so in the Grand Bazaar with Ally, we came back and went to a lecture, then to Istanbul Modern – a museum of modern art. During this outing, I discovered that “kriz” means crisis in Turkish. Some of my lovely friends here had a good laugh about that, making all kinds of jokes about how fitting that is for me. Then we left the museum and Caitlin, Kaileigh and I joined Joe, Charles and Professor Rob on a trek across the river to Asia to try and go to the Maiden Tower. Unfortunately when we got there we realized that the last ferry left about 15 minutes before we got there. Instead we sat on makeshift couches that looked out over the water and had a cup of tea. We stayed and watched the sunset, bringing the day to a fitting and beautiful end. From watching the sunrise at 5:30 this morning to watching the sunset around 8:00 tonight, it seemed to bring the day full-circle. Even though this trip is coming to an end, today made me realize that I really am making lasting relationships on this trip and I can’t wait to spend time with everyone back in Boston. I will certainly miss both Jordan and Turkey, I can’t deny that, but at the same time, I am already looking forward to reunion dinners with everyone on this trip. Now, I would link to a site with photos from Cappadocia to give a taste of where I’ll be going tomorrow, but I’d rather just post my own photos when I get back. I have a feeling I won’t be able to do it justice, like many of the other places I’ve seen here, it will be something that can only be fully experienced by seeing it in person. Anyway, I promise more pictures will follow when I get back on Sunday morning.

Written by Katie Kriz

June 9, 2011 at 9:29 pm

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Sunrise in Istanbul

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This morning I went out around 5:30 to take pictures of the sunrise down at the water. After getting a late start, of course we had to make up time. So after complaining probably more than I should have about being tired, my feet hurting from miles of walking every day and the amount of steep hills we have to walk up to get away from our hotel, I was forced to eat my words when I saw how amazing the sunrise was. Even though we missed the beginning of it, the part where we could see the sun coming over the mountains, it was still quite a sight. The bright orange of the sky and silhouettes of fishermen getting an early start made the most amazing pictures. We probably walked for miles this morning, leaving around 5:30 and getting back by 7. But it was definitely worth the sore feet and hiking up all the hills. We also had a couple dogs follow us most of the way. I’m surprised with how much the people here despise dogs. The men we would pass would yell at them and some would look like they were about to hit them. It was sad to see. These two dogs had so much personality and loved to explore everything they could. But that’s enough about the “manges” as Rob would say. Today we have a lecture at 2, and then we’re going to a museum of modern art after. Then, tomorrow will be an early morning, we have a flight to Cappadocia at 7:30 AM, which means leaving the hotel by 5:00. I’ve accepted the fact that I won’t be sleeping much for these next few days, I’d rather be out exploring than in the hotel sleeping. Hopefully I can make it and I won’t get toocranky. After all, this experience has been so much more than I had hoped for.

Local fishermen getting an early start to their day

Train tracks we found on the way back from the water

The sunrise over the water on the Asian side of Istanbul

One of the dogs that followed us on our trek around Istanbul this morning

Written by Katie Kriz

June 9, 2011 at 8:24 am

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Late night reflections

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As I sit down to write this blog, I realize that in a mere 2 and a half hours I will be getting up to go shoot the sunrise at the blue mosque. With an average of 4 hours of sleep per night since we arrived in Istanbul, I have forgotten what it’s like to get a full night’s sleep. But honestly, even through the frustrations and stress heightened by the lack of sleep, I couldn’t be happier. This trip has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had, and I can’t believe the things I’ve learned from the professors, lecturers, and just by being out immersing ourselves in the culture. Since this is partly a journalism dialogue, going out with the reporters has proven to be a fantastic experience. I’ve learned and seen things that I wouldn’t have otherwise. For example, Lorena and I covered a story on jewelry making – we went to the store to see all the jewelry, then we were brought to the workshop to see how it was all made. I went out with Emily and learned about the art of making and restoring rugs, and I’ve even just taken some opportunities to go into shops and have a cup of tea when it’s offered to me. I’ll admit that many people, myself included, would think it’s a little sketchy if a guy asks you on the street to come into his shop and have a cup of tea. In America, that might be the case. But here in Istanbul, it’s the norm. Having a cup of tea is just their hospitality, and you can learn so much just by sitting and speaking with shop owners and craftsmen for anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. Every day I learn so many new things – about a craft that is practiced, such as jewelry making and designing ceramics, or about the art of photography and the city in general.

Today the J-19 was fortunate enough to meet with Kate Brooks, a renowned photojournalist. This woman is absolutely amazing. She has committed her life to her career, photographing war scenes and orphanages and educating the rest of the world on real-life problems and situations in places like the Middle East and Russia. I loved all the work she showed us, and was surprised when I heard that she began her first project at age 19 (a package about an orphanage in Russia), and worked with National Geographic right out of college. She is certainly someone to look up to, and her photography was stunning. I have realized that a career in photojournalism, a title that only about 15 women hold globally, takes a great amount of commitment and sacrifice. For women, she told us, it’s much more difficult to gain and hold a career in this field. Since there is a lot of traveling and risk involved in the job, holding down a relationship and a family is extremely difficult, leaving a decision between settling down and having such a great career. I can’t say if I’ll ever make it to the point where I am a full-time practicing photojournalist, but I can say right now that it really is a strong possibility. I love photography, and being able to bring some of these images to people around the world would be incredibly rewarding for me. Kate told us the key to breaking into the world of photojournalism is to find something you’re passionate about, because if you aren’t passionate enough then the necessary amount of commitment won’t follow, leading to a change in career and seemingly a waste of time. After participating in this dialogue and learning just how powerful a photo can be, I can see myself traveling around places like the Middle East and bringing photos to people around the world, telling stories through the lens of my camera. I have loved every minute I have a camera in my hands, and learning new techniques every day has made it that much better. I can’t remember the last time I was so excited about going out and doing an assignment for school. But this is exactly how dialogues can change students. We all grow, and we learn more about what we are interested in while learning more about the global community. I feel like Americans are very sheltered, so getting the opportunity to get out of the country and explore the world while doing something I am so passionate about is amazing. I can’t wait to share more of my photos with you on my blog, and to have the photo book of all my best work at the end. Looking back to where I was a few weeks ago, I really do feel like a lot has changed – both with the photos I’ve been taking and with myself in general. It’s funny how study abroad programs always tend to do this to its participants; change them as they grow and learn in another country. It never fails. I’m getting a little nervous for the amount of culture shock I will have once I get back to the US. I know that sounds a little strange, culture shock in my own culture, but I know it happens. To me, I think culture shock is worse coming home from a trip than it is going on a trip. We have learned all these new customs and we’ve all changed. But the world we left back in Boston and at home is still very much the same. So now the challenge is fitting in our new perspectives in our old worlds. I found this when I came home from studying for 4 months in London – the shock of going back to the familiar after learning and changing so much can definitely be overwhelming. I won’t be ready to step on that plane on Monday morning, but I know I will have to, and once I get home it will be good to be there. But the whole time in between I will be missing both Jordan and Turkey. And then, once we land and the bus brings us back to Boston, we will be leaving this family we created. We won’t be able to walk down the hall to each other’s rooms and go out at 5AM for sunrise photo shoots. I know I’m going to miss all of this, but I am so grateful to have had this experience with no regrets.

Check out Kate’s website here!

Written by Katie Kriz

June 8, 2011 at 11:30 pm

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