''My first experience abroad was in Turkey, and studying there has given me the courage and skills to work abroad successfully in two more countries.'' - Abby from the U.S.
Why did you choose to study abroad?
I was afraid that as a student at a small liberal arts school in the U.S. I would never travel internationally if I didn't put myself out there and commit to studying in a new place. I chose Bogazici University because they offered all of their classes in English but they also had a good Turkish language department so I could learn the language while earning credits towards my degree in the U.S.
What made you choose Turkey as a study abroad destination?
Some of my friends were studying abroad in Spain and Belgium, but I wanted to experience a culture that was more different from my own - because if not now - when? I also really enjoy the author Orhan Pamuk and after reading so much in his interviews and books about Istanbul, I wanted to go there and see it come to life. I think the only thing that gave me pause in choosing Turkey was that it wouldn't be as easy to travel throughout Europe as many of my friends were. I ended up deciding that Turkey was such a diverse place with so many landscapes and different cultural heritages that I would be content to explore Turkey. And I was!
What skills from studying abroad have helped you in your career?
It's hard to know what type of professional I would be now if I hadn't studied abroad but I can say for certain that I would be a less resilient one.
It's important I think, especially for Americans like myself, is to learn what it's like to be a little uncomfortable and work through that feeling without being too discouraged. When you study abroad in Turkey, you will have amazing experiences, but you'll also face challenges in your new environment like working out your housing situation, public transport, and coping with the odd bits of bureaucracy. The kind of endurance you develop translates really well to the professional world where you'll have to step outside of your comfort zone on a regular basis and keep a positive attitude in a constantly changing environment. My first experience abroad was in Turkey, and that has given me the courage and skills to work abroad in two more countries.
What were some of your favorite memories of studying in Turkey?
I absolutely adored the food, and I miss it constantly! Manti, which is a sort of pasta yogurt dish, is amazing and something I think absolutely everyone should try. I can honestly say that I never had a bad meal while in Turkey. I loved the discussions that I had with a group of Turkish friends. They were so well-read and we were able to exchange so many different ideas and share so many writers because of our different up-bringing - I really learned a lot and I like to think we opened up each others worlds. I loved the hospitality as well and the strong openness to making new friends that I found on the Turkish campus.
What makes Turkey unique for international students?
Turkey has everything that other European countries offer international students with a little bit extra. Turkey's history is more rich and diverse than anywhere I've lived or traveled since - you have Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman ruins telling their different stories at every corner. I also had some outstanding professors who were challenging and excellent at nurturing class discussion - I remember being in awe by what we had covered in classes by the end of my experience. As far as social life goes, Turkish people are really warm and friendly so it is much easier to make local friends than in a lot of other study abroad locations where language is a barrier.