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Studying and Living Abroad in Turkey

By: Umayr Koshul

Independently studying and living abroad at the age of 18 has presented its challenges, but also endless benefits and opportunities. Making the decision to graduate from Wheaton North a semester early and to move to Europe to study for a semester was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

I always had a vision to come to Turkey as far back as freshman year. However, I did not begin the true preparation for this journey until June of 2021. I started with the basics, and I was able to find a great online tutor who I would take one hour lessons with any day I could make time. There would be days where I would get out of Wheaton North at 2:15 and rush home for a one hour lesson that started at 2:40, only to rush again to arrive at my part time job at 4.

I tried my best to do as many lessons with my tutor as possible, in order to learn the basics of Turkish before I would arrive in Istanbul. This would be an effort that would only present benefits. Turkish is a unique language that is hard to learn for most people. In English, we follow the basic subject-verb-object pattern, but in Turkish it is flipped to subject-object-verb. This makes sentences such as “I am going to the park” literally translate over to “I park go to.” Giving myself this head start has made learning complex topics easier.

Istanbul is an incredibly unique city, because it actually splits into two different continents, those being Europe and Asia. This makes it a different type of experience, because you can take a ferry or metro from one continent to the other. I currently live on the European side of the city, but I make a trip over to the Asian side of the city about twice a week. It is only about a 20 minute commute to cross from one continent to the other.

I live in a dorm, and I have met some great people here. The majority of the students at the dorm do not know English, so I communicate with them in Turkish in order to build fluency. There are also a decent amount of Syrian refugees who live in the dorm that have come to Turkey to get their college education. These students have to learn Turkish first, then they can begin their college education, which is a tough task. Whether Turkish or Syrian, every student in the dorm has a common goal: to learn English in hopes of coming to the USA or Canada to work in their future. It is because of this that I have been trying my best to teach them some English for the five months I am here. I hold brief 30-45 minutes study sessions 4-5 days a week in order to help them learn English. This experience has not only given me an idea of what it is like to be an international student, but also an educator. It has taught me the value of properly presenting information effectively. These are some of the most sincere people I have ever met, and being able to help them begin the journey of their dreams is a privilege.

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