Here are some observations from my trip:
1. The universities I visited were well-equipped and modern. The faculty members were very professional but also welcoming and friendly. As usual, it was the people that made the experience special. Thank you to all the professors who took the time to show me around, have lunch with me, and trust me enough to let me spend time with their students.
2. Istanbul is a wonderful city to visit. It is great for walking around and taking photos; when your feet get tired the public transportation system is efficient and affordable. It was interesting to see so many cats and dogs roaming the streets that seemed to be able to find someone to feed them. People dress fashionably and there are a lot of smokers. I felt safe walking around the city and the police presence was reassuring more than intimidating. I was also (pleasantly) surprised not to see many homeless people.
3. Cappadocia is amazing! The landscape was beautiful in an alien way and the hot air balloons added to the already striking scenery. While the locals complained about the lack of tourists, it was great to be able to hike without seeing other people for hours at a time and the hotels and restaurants weren't packed so the service level increased. If you're planning a trip (as you should) and would like some tips on hotels, places to eat, tours, etc. feel free to send me an email.
Teşekkür ederim to my new friends and PLN in Turkey. I hope to be able to visit again next year.