Money is a valuable thing. Some scholars debate if it is not the most valuable of all things. But what scholars do not care to ponder is the complex equation of time spent abroad multiplied by the shininess of the jewelry, divided by the exchange rate that you convince yourself works out in your favor, or how the product of that equation is directly related to the velocity of your fiscal losses. Are you lost? Me too. I’m an English major and not even sure if those mathematical operations are logical. So I’ll break this down for you, grandma style:

You are told to approach the study abroad experience as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” And while this could not be any more true, what you are not told (or should I say, what you do not listen to) is that you do not need some sort of trinket, pendant, flag, T-shirt or bracelet from every location where you spend more than 25 minutes to commemorate the experience.

Those large flowing pants with the low-set crotch and elaborate “Ottoman” designs they sell outside the Grand Bazaar are not in fact “authentically Turkish.” And Turkish food will be in Turkey for the entire time you are there. That extensive Turkish buffet is not the last time you will ever see this food again. You do not need to eat it as such. This spend-like-you’ll-never-see-these-items-again mentality hit me especially hard as I journeyed eastward on my first excursion outside of the Istanbul region.

I spent this past weekend in Cappadocia, a region in Central Anatolia (about 10 long hours east of Istanbul) most famous for its underground cities settled by early Christians, its “fairy chimney” rock formations and shiny, colorful ceramics priced at only 18 lira. And thus, my powers of self-control were aggressively tested this weekend. With every new tourist stop there was a gift shop. With every gift shop there was a bracelet, bowl or knitted bag that looked exactly like one I already have; and thus, I must buy it. It was particularly difficult to back away from these consumer challenges because I could logically and legitimately convince myself that I may never come back to this place ever again. And even though there is that exact same ceramic bowl in a gigantic mall not far from my university, this one is from Cappadocia. I was even able to convince myself that a wooden bracelet from a rest stop off the highway between Istanbul and Cappadocia was a wise purchase. (But in my defense, Turkey knows how to do rest stops … sorry, New Jersey).

Now of course, you can’t forget the exchange rate factor. At the moment, one U.S. dollar is equal to about 1.77 Turkish lira. As I mentioned above, I’m an English major. So guess what courses I haven’t taken in roughly four years? If you guessed math, then you have guessed correctly.

Not surprisingly, “18th Century Victorian Literature” and “Female Poets in the 20th Century” do not help with your mental math skills. So when I see that the price of that gold-plated pendant with Arabic writing is only 40 TL, in my head that’s a $20 pendant. Funny thing is, though, two $20 pendants actual equal $40. Who would’ve thunk it?

While in Cappadocia I quickly recognized how easily this could get out of hand. After a few purchases that I considered to be reasonable, I began to use the classic “leave your wallet at home” trick. What is it that made it back with me, you ask? A ceramic tile (because there’s just so much I can do with that). A ceramic ashtray (nope. I don’t smoke. You figure out the logic in that purchase).  A worn-down, “pre-owned” Zippo lighter with no lighter fluid in it. Two pairs of socks (I have no explanation for those except that they were three TL per pair). And finally, a bottle of wine (reasons for buying include: Because I can; my dad likes wine; I like wine; it was being sold at the winery at which it was made; because I can). All in all, however, I feel as though I can confidently say I employed a fair amount of fiscal self control, considering the number of necklaces and scarves that look exactly like ones I already own.

Meagan Kelly is a junior in the College. GRANDMA GOES TO TURKEY appears every other Friday in the guide.

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