Turkey Reunion

Student connects with family while visiting the city bridging Europe, Asia

Isabella Vaz, Staff Writer

The opportunity of a lifetime arose for sophomore Veronica Sobolevsky who explored the nation of Turkey during an unforgettable family gathering.

“We went to Turkey to visit my grandma that we haven’t seen in five years because she lives in Belarus,” Sobolevsky said. “We had to go somewhere she could travel [since] she doesn’t have a Visa, so we went to Turkey and met her there.”

Sobolevsky had the chance to travel internationally in the past, but Turkey’s distance offered a unique experience. 

“I’ve been on a cruise to the Bahamas, Mexico and Honduras, which was really cool,” Sobolevsky said. “I’ve never really visited any part of the Middle East or Europe. [Traveling] that far internationally was different because just getting there was a whole entire day of travel.”

The trip to Turkey allowed for meaningful time with family and friends.

“I [went] with my dad’s side of the family — it was my dad, my stepmom, my little brother and me,” Sobolevsky said. “My grandma and some of our friends came with us, too.”

Another incredible opportunity to connect with someone special emerged.

“I met my half-sister that I’ve never met before — she’s my dad’s daughter from a different [mom] in Russia from before he moved to America,” Sobolevsky said. “He couldn’t stay with them because he had to move, so I met her for the first time, and he saw her for the first time since she was born, [which] was so cool for him.”

Concerning the current events of Russia and Belarus’ invasion of neighboring Ukraine, Sobolevsky is strongly opposed to the violence.

“My family and I are obviously against what’s happening in Russia,” Sobolevsky said. “What the [Russian] president is doing is not fair at all for Ukrainians.” 

The recent opportunity to see her family living throughout the regions of conflict is something she is extremely grateful for.

“It’s really nice [that we went to Turkey] because I don’t know when the next time I’m going to see my grandma is because the country that she lives in — Belarus — is also attacking Ukraine,” Sobolevsky said. “My parents are trying to see if they can get my grandma to Poland because it’s not as bad there as it is in Russia and Belarus.”

Although seeing family during her travels was most important to Sobolevsky, she loved touring a variety of attractions found in the famed city of Istanbul.

“We did a lot while we were there — we mostly explored the city and went to a lot of different historical landmarks,” Sobolevsky said. “We visited a lot of mosques, which were really cool and different buildings. One was really pretty, and at the top, we could see the whole city below.”

Sobolevsky also had some unexpected encounters during her strolls.

“My favorite thing was definitely the stray dogs and cats that walked around everywhere,” Sobolevsky said. “Everywhere you went, dogs and cats would just follow you.”

For Sobolevsky’s family, one dog, in particular, stood out.

“One time we were going up this mountain on a hike and this dog followed us all the way to the top and all the way back down,” Sobolevsky said. “[My little brother] Mark named it Cookies and Cream.”

Sobolevsky reflects on her travels with an appreciation for the grateful outlook it provided her.

“[Going to Turkey] was really good because it gave me an eye-opening experience to the different culture and the way their lifestyle is and how different it is from ours,” Sobelevsky said. “It made me appreciate our life a lot more because [life can be] not as good there, and we’re a lot more privileged here.”