It’s my last night in Istanbul, sitting in the public square in between the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. I’m with an old friend of mine that I’ve known since freshman year of high school. Both of us at the time were studying abroad in London, and took an opportunity to take this trip together.

We’re next to the night market, just absorbing our environment, and forever in awe of this city. We’re eating roasted chestnuts out of a paper bag, watching as children run by playfully chasing each other, and families spread out on blankets and enjoying the night. Wafts of grilled corn float under our noses, intermingling with the ambient chatter of everyone else around us. At one point the call to prayer rings out loud and clear from the Blue Mosque, and even though we don’t understand Turkish, it is strikingly beautiful and powerful.

That night, I was struck with the ancient ways of the city. Observing those around me that night, experiencing the night market, along with everything else during the previous couple of days I was in Istanbul with my friend, I gained a true sense that the lifestyle of the people came from an ancient history so ingrained, and still continuous into the present day. It reminded me that the world is immensely vast and diverse, and of old societies with a history that goes so much farther back in time than I can really imagine.