Amaya Marion - Stanford at Koç University, Istanbul
Major: International Relations
Minor: East Asian Studies
College year while abroad: Sophomore
About the photo: A photo overlooking the city of Ankara from our cohort to trip to Ankara, Turkey.
Why did you choose to study abroad in Istanbul?
I chose to study in Istanbul because I wanted to be somewhere it might be more difficult to visit alone. I wanted to immerse myself in a culture I did not know much about going in.
What were your expectations before you went and how did those change once you arrived in Istanbul?
Coming into Istanbul I expected society to be much more conservative. Being around particularly youth while in Turkey showed me how college students were not very conservative in comparison to my thoughts coming in.
What were some of the academic benefits from studying abroad in Istanbul?
Getting to study on a college campus exposed me to so many new perspectives. I was able to hear the opinions of people who grew up in Turkey both in and out of the classroom. The classes in Istanbul also enabled me to study Turkish society in a much deeper level than on campus.
What did you learn about yourself while you were studying abroad?
I really enjoy exploring and seeing new things alone. The program brought out a level of independence I did not know existed within me. I suddenly saw myself navigating public transportation alone as I discovered new parts of Istanbul.
What was the most challenging experience you encountered and what did you learn from it?
The most experiencing challenge was being placed in a society with long existing oppressive dynamics between ethnic groups while simultaneously attempting to learn about these dynamics. This challenge resulted in me forming relationships with people from various backgrounds. In doing this I learned more about Turkish society from the perspective of marginalized groups.
What was the biggest cultural adjustment you had to make?
The language barrier was genuinely challenging at first. When I first arrived, I viewed not speaking Turkish as a detriment to meeting new people. I picked up basic phrases that made everyday communication easier. The friends came over time through putting myself out there and patience.
What was your favorite part of your everyday life in Istanbul?
I loved that there was never a dull day in Istanbul. There was always and event going on somewhere in the city. I could hop on public transportation any day and find something fun to do.
What was the most memorable experience you had while you were in Istanbul?
During the first couple of weeks when the cohort was just getting to know each other we took a boat tour of the Bosporus together. I was watching the city light up at night while dancing on a boat with a group of strangers that would later become my good friends.
What 5 words would you use to describe your experience?
Rollercoaster, breathtaking, hospitable, formative, unpredictable.
What was your favorite food you had in Istanbul?
What was the most valuable item you took with you on the program?
My gold hoops that I wear everyday. My great grandma gifted them to my mom who then gifted them to me.
What was your favorite music/band that you discovered in Istanbul?
Tarkan (a classic), Ezhel, Madrigal.