Hello OW Community!
So here I am trying to summarize my six month trip abroad to Turkey but I cannot seem to do so without getting bombarded with memories flushing through my mind of how great of an experience I had — almost too great to be true, almost as if it were all a dream, as if it all never really happened. But it had. Because here I am, back in Long Island, back at Old Westbury, back at the old routine, starting my junior year of college.
That’s what it was. I can sum up the whole trip with that one measly word: bittersweet. It’s an easy word to define. However, when put into actual reality, it’s somewhat of a difficult thing to experience – because essentially you don’t know what or how to feel. You’re sort of just in a state of confusion. And it’s like a tug-of-war. Should I be happy? Should be sad?
Or maybe I am just being too emotional – I really don’t know.
But I do know that in my case, it wasn’t the fact that I just simply “studied abroad” in another country. It was the fact that I studied abroad in my country – the country I was born in. And that alone added more value in understanding my culture and it set a different perspective throughout my journey there.
I have to say that it was absolutely one of the greatest experiences of my life and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. The more I reminisce about my adventure in Turkey, the more I realize how lucky I was to have had the opportunity to do something like this – something I never thought I would do.
The reason for that is because ever since I was little, I would do anything I could to avoid talking about my culture, my language, my name and how it’s pronounced and why it’s the name of an instrument, and why the name of my country is the name of our main Thanksgiving dish here in America — topics that made me feel more alienated from my culture and sort of angry and ashamed of where I came from.
I refused to appreciate my culture for the mere fact that I didn’t want to stand out and I didn’t want to seem different than everybody else. Of course throughout time, my perception changed. Looking back now, I see how ridiculous it sounded and can get a good laugh out of it.
But studying abroad definitely helped me come to the realization that being different or I guess to put it the right way, being bicultural is okay – in fact, it’s awesome! And for others who are also bicultural, who may have gone or is going through this “identity crisis,” I would say to take the initiative now to appreciate where you come from, have confidence in yourself, and ultimately never let anyone belittle or devalue your beliefs.
Overall, as it is quite obvious, I’m thankful that I made the choice and took the chance to study abroad because if i I didn’t, I would not have gained the perspectives, values, and confidence that I have now.
I learned to appreciate my culture.
I learned to adapt to change and welcome it and not be afraid of it.
I learned to be confident in who I am and in what I believe.
And ultimately, I learned that it’s important to develop your own ideas and judgments about everything – whether you’re going to a new place, meeting new friends, or even trying new food, it’s crucial to see for yourself and have your own perception of whatever the situation may be without relying on others’ judgments. And it may seem like common sense, where you’re just like, well obviously you can’t depend on other people’s judgment of things! But rarely do we see ourselves having our own opinion about someone or something – most of the time, it’s correlated to someone else’s opinion. The reason why I find this a pivotal and crucial concept is that it applies to everything that we go through in life and it is – inevitably – a fundamental way of defining who we are.