Friday, January 28, 2011

My Ship is Sailing to Turkey (Past)

Here is a journal entry that I had to write before coming to Turkey for my school. I had to collaborate my ideas and write about my thoughts, worry's, and hope while studying abroad.

After hearing the country name, Turkey, what is it that you are thinking? In the process of talking about travelling abroad with family, friends, and strangers, I have had many answers: beaches, oriental, sheep, music, dirt roads, turban-covered women, Muslims, conservatives, no electric, packed cities and so many more guesses. I do not blame individuals; when first hearing of Turkey from my Turkish friend, I thought, desert filled land with conservatives drinking tea.

How the times have changed in my eyes as well as the many individuals I have explained Turkey’s culture and lifestyles. Last
year, college was a constant, eye-opening adventure. I was faced with new friendships, many of which were with the international students. I have gained knowledge – knowledge of customs, policies, culture, and life outside the American borders, to name a few. Last year I decided to embark on an adventure, an adventure I would submerge myself into a completely different culture and a language completely foreign to me. I travelled to Turkey for two months; I stayed with a close friend and began to pick up and formalize the language, the lifestyle, the warm hospitality that the Turkish people are well known for having.

Since then I have made it my goal to go back for a longer time frame. Studying abroad is my chance to do so in a semi-structured manner. I plan on studying at Yasar University, which is surrounded by Aegean-Mediterranean Sea in the city of Izmir Turkey.

In the midst of travelling I have so many plans. Firstly I would like to gain further cultural awareness, that from which I will grow and spread to individuals in America; especially my hometown which contains many untraveled, racist and conservative-minded individuals. I feel it is partly my duty to show that there are many opportunities outside of America, chances for growth and well-rounded education, both socially and intellectually. Furthermore, I will use this knowledge to spread to individuals so that many others like I will be moved, inspired, and have a different type of appreciation for abroad issues. My passion for international relations does not stop there. While abroad last year and the more recent months I have been studying the language, using Turkish-American friends, as well as Turkish language books listed at the end. My skill and appreciation for the Turkish language, and language barriers in general, makes this difficult language easy to learn and grasp. I see myself utilizing the language to bridge gaps later in my career, either through medicine, business salesmanship, or in an everyday grocery store.
The history dates back to thousands of years before Christ. Turkey is known as the bridge between two worlds, where the East and West connect. With a rich culture building through the Byzantine, Pontus, Ottomans, and the current Republic of Turkey, fighting and intermixing Persians, Arabs, Mongolians, Armenians, and Balkans; one can see the history and the many steps and processes it had to go through to get to present day Turkey. To fully understand the history and full cultural aspects I have been reading two novels: The Turks Today and Crescent and Star.
Through the times things such as the language, cuisine, extracurricular activities, and transportation have changed, but still held true to their roots. While there I expect to learn the style of cooking that the native Turks use, participate in the café scene, take walks along the bayside and practicing Turkish with friends. The café scene alone will be a prime spot for friend-making, culture observing, and language forming. This daily activity will be chiseled into me and will become like a second home I feel.
A few apprehensions that I have is being gone during the holidays. Being family oriented through the holidays, I must learn to cope while abroad. I am also fearful of my return; I have actually warned friends of the possible things that will be going through my mind while back: depression, apathy, dreadfulness, a sense of fulfillment that others will not have or understand, and a number of other things I could feel or do while back.
I am also fearful of not having enough money. I have been working non-stop since the age of 14, therefore always being independent and structured. Not that my life will not be structured or such, I am just fearful that I will be stressed and concerned constantly about money situations. Given that I work and save money all the time, money will not be an issue, and I must learn to get over this factor. I am just a “tight-wad” when I see that I am not working. I am also fearful of my return and how my financial situation will affect my psychology. It seems like such a simple thing that I should get over; however, being so independent this makes me more concerned on a student lifestyle and student salary, in a foreign country.
With the many apprehensions and hopes, I still look forward to a very good, safe, relaxing, eye-opening adventure. I look forward to look back on my journals, conversations, and my own thoughts/expectations, and seeing how far and how much I mature and develop into a more educated and compassionate individual.

"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you cannot do" ~Eleanor Roosevelt 

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