The English Department is excited to kick off a special three-part blog series with one of our majors, Tugba Ilik, who is currently spending the semester doing a study abroad program in Turkey. Tugba will be writing three blog entries detailing her experiences before, during, and after this exciting experience. Her first blog entry, which discusses her reasons for doing the program, the process of getting accepted, and her expectations about the experience, is posted below (Tugba also runs her own personal blog which you can visit at: http://tugbailik.wordpress.com/). We hope you enjoy reading about her experiences and we look forward to bringing you part II of her blog in the near future.
How exciting this is to be able to share my own experiences with the rest of my peers in my journey of studying abroad! After the rigorous application process and endless waiting, I think it is safe to say that I am officially accepted to study abroad at Bosphorus University in Turkey! I cannot wait to embark on this exciting journey and explore the culture and language of my country of birth! First, I will explain the application process and what made me decide to study abroad in Turkey specifically. Then I will talk about the financial aspect of my expenditure abroad. Lastly, I will share with you guys my goals in going there and what I ultimately expect from studying abroad in Turkey for one whole semester.
The application process was indeed a rigorous procedure, as I had mentioned before, however, with the help of my study abroad advisor, Becky Evans, and my academic advisor, Professor Torrell, much of my stress was alleviated. I spoke to Becky in early August (before the Fall semester began) and started my application. Since Old Westbury does not have Turkey as one of its programs, I searched through other SUNY schools, and found that Binghamton University offered a study abroad program to Bosphorus University (in Turkish it is called Bogazici). I was thrilled to see this since Bosphorus University holds a great reputation and is ranked one of the top three schools in Turkey. Before I even knew it, my application process had already begun.
I had to apply through Binghamton University and get accepted to their study abroad program first before I could get accepted to Bosphorus University. I had to write two essays for the application: a statement of purpose in 300 words or less of why I would like to attend Bosphorus University and the other one (which was kind of similar), was a statement of my proposed program of study and how it will be related to my current academic program. In this essay I wrote about how I will pursue my major in English literature while also adding some Turkish literature courses. Along with my application, I had to send two letters of recommendations, a passport sized photo and an official transcript. Then I had to get a judicial review (a procedure required for non-Binghamton students) and then finally contact the study abroad advisor from Binghamton. Once I was accepted to the program, Binghamton “nominated” me to attend Bosphorus University, meaning that I was accepted to the program, but Bosphorus had the final say. During that time, my application was sent to Bosphorus University and so my dreadful waiting of my acceptance began by the end of October. I found out I was accepted to Bosphorus University on December 4th.
The million dollar question: why Turkey? Why not Spain, China, or Moscow? Well, let me just put it this way: if I have the opportunity to go back to my country of birth and study at one of the top universities, why not take it? It would only be foolish of me to turn down an incredible opportunity like this. I know that studying abroad in Turkey specifically will most definitely help me in the long run — I anticipate to have a better understanding of my culture and my country and develop better communication and interpersonal skills — all of which are valuable in the professional field.
One thing that I highly emphasize and recommend for other students who are also thinking about studying abroad is to apply for scholarships! There are numerous scholarships offered for students specifically studying abroad. I was not aware of this opportunity until I came across Binghamton University’s study abroad webpage. There was a list of about nine different scholarships offered for students pursuing an international experience. The first one on the list was the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, which provides awards for students who are currently receiving Federal Pell Grant. Although I fit the eligibility requirement, I was quite intimidated since I had never applied for a scholarship before. The scholarship directly aimed for students who were in much need of financial assistance in order to study abroad – and I was one of them. I knew that if I did not receive the scholarship I would have a much more difficult time affording my expenses abroad.
In the midst of my application process for Bosphorus University, I was also applying for the Gilman Scholarship. There were two components to the application: the first part was the statement of purpose and the second was to write a project proposal — how you would promote the Gilman Scholarship by inspiring other students to study abroad. I had the most difficulty with the statement of propose. I guess the reason being is that I had never written something so personal before in my life. Who would have thought that writing about yourself would be so difficult?!? I spent hours at home, in the library, and at the Writing Center working on the statement of purpose. Thanks to the help from one of my previous professors, Professor Mundy, I not only received the full scholarship, but I learned more about myself.
This past semester, I have been dwelling on an issue that I hope will resolve after my study abroad experience. As I have much love and passion for my major in English, I am still indecisive about my career path. Although I have been told that I worry too much about the future, I find that this is a critical issue worth worrying about. Thankfully, studying abroad will be the perfect opportunity for me to explore other fields. I anticipate taking a broad range of courses including, of course, English and Turkish literature and a couple other courses that may pique my interest. I am hoping that once I finished my study abroad program, I will have a better insight and understanding of my career choice. Along with my other expectations of gaining valuable information and knowledge about my own country, it is a priority for me to also explore the different courses that Bosphorus University offers — to ultimately better understand myself and follow a suitable career path.
With that being said, I will continuously keep you guys posted about my adventures and studies in Turkey! Take care and best regards,