For International Education Week, Ecem from Turkey — who is hosted in Illinois — reflects on her exchange year experience and how she’s been impacted by and grown from cultural exchange this semester.
I became a different person, by knowledge from experience and only 3 months, so far, was enough to see that difference on me. I joined to the swimming team for the first time in my life, made new friends, have wonderful time and experiences with them. We had parades together and this picture is from our biggest parade before a big football game called 18th First National Challenge. I was in the field with my teammates, I was there in front of all that crowd by myself, I was only a person as they are and maybe this is not a big deal for many of them but for me, doing that all alone just because can be an exchange, made me so proud of myself.
And I started to find myself, I started to watch people around. I see the difference between our cultures and yes I am trying to become one of them, as we all do, but I am not trying to lost myself between them. I am exactly trying create myself between these people and this culture with the difference, I am not the same, not the strange; just the different. I came from red, this place was blue and now I have the chance to be the purple. And if couldn’t see the blue, I could not be the purple.
Being an exchange, sharing your culture when you are learning another one, is one of the greatest and best feelings in life with the experience for the rest of the life. This is a big proud will be remembered for the rest of our lives and something that everyone needs to experience.
If you are interested in helping to bridge cultural divides and bring the world together, consider hosting an exchange student like Ecem.