Can you tell us about yourself?
My name is Maria Alvarez and I am an academician working at Boğaziçi University. I have been living in Istanbul for over 18 years. I teach tourism marketing, so I try to look at places from the tourism perspective. For me, Istanbul is the best city to be, a living case study and an inspiration for my research in tourism.
Why did you come to Istanbul? What changed your life since you arrived?
I came to Istanbul because I married a Turk and we decided to settle in Turkey. Istanbul, as a highly cosmopolitan city, was the obvious choice for us. I have never regretted this move. I love this city. I love its vibrancy, its colours, its people. Istanbul has welcome and adopted me, making me feel as one of its own, not a foreigner. The city of course is challenging at times, but it is part of its identity, its pulse. I have been enjoying myself for 18 years.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when we say Istanbul?
The first thing that comes to my mind is the Bosphorus. I love the blue of this strait and enjoy spending time by it. I am lucky that the university that I work for, Boğaziçi University, has an incomparable location overviewing the Bosphorus. I get to walk around the university’s beautiful South Campus and take in the spectacular view of the Rumeli Castle and the Bosphorus, or sit at a café nearby to watch the ships go by.
Which aspect of Istanbul excites you?
I really enjoy being among the people, socializing in small cafés, restaurants in the bustle of Beyoğlu, Galata, or overlooking the Bosphorus. I also enjoy the Turkish cuisine, which you can really get to taste at its best in Istanbul.
Could you tell us a memorable moment in Istanbul?
I have many memorable experiences in this city, but my last one is coming to a classical music concert at Boğaziçi University on a day where snow was everywhere. The campus was especially beautiful in the snow and the concert was perfect.