It was a very tearful goodbye yesterday morning to my fellow AIFS students in Istanbul, Turkey. We all have different plans- some are studying abroad again for fall semester so they are traveling around Turkey, some are going back to the states, and I’m traveling around Europe for a bit before heading home. I figure that I might as well take advantage of that while I’m here.
Overall, I’m pleased that I did a program instead of applying directly to the university. This gave me the chance to be a part of a group while abroad. They really became like my family. Also, since the excursions and city outings were included in the program fee, it was easier to do all the touristy activities. It was also super convenient to have transportation organized, but there is something to be said for figuring out transportation in a foreign country on your own.
I wish I could have lived abroad longer. I was hoping to do a semester or a full year but couldn’t because I wouldn’t be able to finish my double major at my home university. This 7 week program was a great alternative. It was long enough to really LIVE in the place, not just feel like I’m visiting. I was even able to take 2 full classes. If I had been able to take a semester I would have learned more of the language, learned the city even better, but I still feel like I had a genuine Turkish experience while I was there.
No matter the length of your study abroad program, you’ll make it what you want it to be – you can spend 6 months somewhere but if you don’t actively engage yourself, you won’t walk away with much. I can say this was easily the best summer of my life because I took chances, tried new things, and I let myself be vulnerable to my uncertainty and discomfort. I encourage anyone to study abroad for any length of time they can, it will open your eyes to the world in ways staying in your home country can’t. If you want some extra security and comfort, do a program like AIFS. It’s worth the extra money for the guidance and care you’ll receive.
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