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    Posted March 17, 2014 by
    Amtbennett
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    Why study abroad? Ask Michelle Obama

    Burasi Turkiye: An American Abroad

     
    Crossing the Bosphorous as the sun was setting, I distinctly remember looking up at the seemingly endless Bogazici Bridge thinking how amazing it was that, having just left the continent of Europe, I would be disembarking on Asian soil while speaking Kurdish with my religious Muslim friends underneath a Turkish flag next to a Byzantine tower. And this was just a normal Wednesday. Earlier that day, I had been translating for an Indian friend during a Human Rights Conference at the Swedish Embassy in the French quarter, all the while texting in Italian to my friend who needed help with her Turkish homework. And again, this was just a normal Wednesday.
    This mélange of cultures and ideas is what has influenced my passion for endless travel; I don’t want to merely see a country, I want to be it, to taste it, to hear it. I made it a personal goal to be bilingual by 16 in order to always understand both sides of a situation. Keeping that in mind, I decided to spend my sophomore year of high school abroad in Milan, learning and living the Italian culture, which in turn fanned the flames of my linguistic curiosity. Ever since I have made it my duty to travel and learn as many languages as conceivable; I have now studied, worked, and lived in 5 different countries while having studied 10 different languages.
    As a Boren Scholar, I was given the oppurtunity to study and live in Istanbul for an academic year, taking translation courses at Bogazici University. I was adopted into my roommate's kurdish family, and was able to travel the country hopping from one family member to another. That year cemented my love for Turkey and I have spent every subsequent summer working for Robert College in Istanbul.
    These combined international experiences have taught me how to truly understand the quotidian life of a given country and its subtle nuances of the language or unspoken social rules. My favorite part about living in a new country is learning the slang and etiquette of the country; taking your shoes off in a Turkish household, never putting your hand in your lap until the cheese course in a Parisian restaurant, or always drying your hair before leaving an Italian house to avoid giving others the mental image of you in the shower. Learning to observe these little cultural ambiguities is what has allowed me to become a better global citizen and appreciate different perspectives.
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