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Student experiences

Jordan in 2019  |  Turkey in 2019  |  Turkey in 2018

Mara-theatreMara Kelly
Jordan, Summer 2019

This summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Amman, Jordan to participate in a 7-week intensive Arabic language program with the assistance of an Undergraduate Language Grant. I spent five days a week both learning Arabic in a classroom setting, and applying my language skills in the community through activities such as scavenger hunts in downtown Amman, and learning how to cook local Bedouin food. This gave me the opportunity to not only study the language in-depth but also to practice my Arabic skills with native speakers. The study abroad program also organized excursions to the Dead Sea and Petra.  During my time in Jordan, I lived with a Jordanian host family, which was the highlight of my experience. mara-camel-rideMy host family helped me feel at home in Jordan and was incredibly welcoming. I had two sweet and energetic host siblings, Mirna, age 9, and Munir, age 7, who never failed to keep me entertained and put a smile on my face. Because family is so central to Jordanian culture, I not only became close with my immediate host family but also with my host grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. The entire extended family would frequently come over to my host family’s apartment for meals or just to hang out at the end of the day. Through my host family, I was not only able to consistently practice my Arabic but also to become immersed in Jordanian culture.  I am so grateful for how much I learned about Arabic and Jordan through my summer in Amman, and I hope to visit again in the near future.


Hannah Ni'Shuilleabhain
Turkey, Summer 2019

bogazici universityMy summer in Istanbul, Turkey was an experience I could not have predicted. From June 19 to August 6, I was attending classes at Bogazici University under the Turkish Language and Culture program. For four hours a day, Monday to Friday, I participated in Reading, Writing, Speaking and Grammar classes led by Bogazici professors who primarily stuck to Turkish in their lessons.

Although I thought that I had learned sufficient vocabulary and grammar structures from two years at an American university, I was plunged into an experience much more expansive and stimulating, and thus more challenging. During the structured classes, I learned precise grammar and elevated language. During the casual talk hours with the grad student TA’s and campus friends, I was exposed to more colloquial structures and vocabulary. These were expectations that threw me at first, but I adapted quickly. It was also something that I could experience only by being outside of Evanston.

The experiences available outside of class were never-ending, and even though I participated in many events, I know Istanbul can offer even more to each person depending on their interests. rowing bosporousFor me, I got to delve into the Turkish student-athlete life by participating in rowing practices at Alibeykoy Baraj Golu and chatting with the student rowers on campus. Transportation is accessible and expansive, so I and my classmates took buses, subways, and ferries to areas such as Buyukada, Balat, Kadikoy and Bursa.

Coming back from Turkey, I could pack so much: clothing that was significantly cheaper, books in Turkish that felt near impossible to find in person, foods that just wouldn’t have tasted the same when shipped. But I was most excited to bring back an improved mindset around learning Turkish. Having taken this summer course, and thus making connections with Turkish and American students and professors, I’m a more confident speaker and excited to continue building my language skills and grow in my knowledge of Turkish history and culture.


Dominic Balestrieri-Fox
Turkey, Summer 2018

bogazici lawnFrom June 20th to August 5th, I participated in Boğaziçi University’s Turkish Language and Culture Program, an intensive summer language acquisition program for students at the intermediate and advanced levels, for which I received generous financial aid from the American Research Institute in Turkey and Keyman Modern Turkish Studies Program. It was my first time in Turkey, but thanks to the quality of the program and the wonderful people I met while in Istanbul, I had an amazing experience and significantly increased my level of Turkish language proficiency.

At the University, our weekly schedule consisted of reading, writing, speaking, grammar, and TA-led conversation classes in hour-long blocks, five days a week from 9 AM to 3 PM. I was in the advanced reading class and had an extra hour of reading per week. At 1 PM we had an hour-long lunch break, followed by either a conversation session or another planned activity. The students in the program generally had an hour or two of homework, which we often completed in a café or on campus before gathering to hang out and socialize in the evening.

I stayed in Boğaziçi’s Superdorm, a large dormitory complex roughly 10 minutes’ walk from downtown Rumeli Hisarüstü and 20 minutes from South Campus, where classes were held. The dorm had a small on-site market, study rooms, and a laundry room. The surrounding neighborhood, Rumeli Hisarüstü, had a number of excellent breakfast and brunch restaurants, cafés, and dinner options. My friends and I ate most of our meals in the restaurants there. Hanging out on campus outside of school was another favorite pastime. dominic-istanbul.jpegAfter classes had ended, and early in the morning when I was finishing up homework, I would sit in the row of shaded benches overlooking the bluff, some with a view of the Bosphorous and ships below. Our TAs were friendly and always willing to meet outside of class, and they frequently invited us to home-cooked meals, bars, restaurants, cafés, and events in and around campus. The University’s grassy quad became a popular gathering spot. One night we brought a picnic blanket and things to eat and drink; we sat on the grass and watched several Turkish short films.  If one follows the trail from the benches to the more wooded area nearer the entrance to campus, an old stone staircase leads down the hill to a swimming pool, just a few meters from the boardwalk between the neighborhoods of Bebek and Arnavutköy. My friends and I made sure to venture off-campus as well, and we frequently went on group trips to neighborhoods such as Beşiktaş, Levent, Nişantaşı, Beyoğlu, Taksim, Fener, and Balat.

The summer I spent in the TCLP program was one of my best, and it gave me a lasting positive impression of İstanbul. I went from lacking confidence in speaking Turkish to being comfortable in conversation and writing. As a result of my experience, I am eager to return to Turkey and continue my studies of the Turkish language and culture.

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