Some Youngstown State University students are spending four months and nine days studying abroad in Istanbul at Yeditepe University. They arrived in Istanbul on Jan. 28 and will return home on June 6.
Annette El-Hayek, assistant director for YSU study abroad and exchange programs, said she encourages students to take advantage of the study abroad program.
“YSU’s philosophy is that every student with a 2.5 grade-point average can study abroad. Studying abroad is about being off to a new world and having a new set of experiences,” she said.
El-Hayek said studying abroad provides students with a better chance of getting accepted into graduate schools.
“Turkey is a unique, inexpensive study abroad destination that has similar course work to American colleges, but it is located in an exotic setting that students who study abroad get to experience with the locals,” she said.
YSU student Adam Ryczaj said he believes the experience of studying abroad in Istanbul will improve his resume.
“Being successful after I graduate is the number one reason why I came on this trip. I think it is important because when I graduate, so will millions of other people. I need to distinguish myself from the crowd,” he said.
Ryczaj first became interested in studying abroad when El-Hayek spoke about doing so during one of his classes. Ryczaj said he hadn’t considered going on a study abroad trip before El-Hayek’s presentation.
“This is an awesome life experience,” he said.
Ryczaj said Istanbul differs from YSU in many ways.
“This school has a unique feature of allowing stray dogs to live on campus. As you walk from one class to the next, you will see maybe a half dozen dogs on the way, just laying around and people playing with them,” he said.
Ryczaj said he is enjoying the experience.
“I have only been here for about a month and a half, and I have loved every single day. Even though I love and miss my family, I am not ready to go back home just yet,” he said.
Ryczaj said he’d highly recommend studying abroad to others.
“It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The things I seen, I could have only seen through pictures. It doesn’t compare to the real thing after you have experienced it,” he said.
Levant Miller, an international student at YSU from the Bahamas, is also studying abroad in Istanbul this semester.
“Through the partnership of YSU and Yeditepe University in Istanbul, Turkey, the dream of doing a study abroad was more of a reality than wishful thinking,” he said.
Miller said many college students have an unhealthy mindset about going to college to get a job.
“The notion on going to college to get a job is the beginning of a very narrow-minded view on life. I believe that the wealth of heart and mind must accumulate at this time in our lives,” he said.
Miller said he is intrigued by the culture difference in Istanbul. He said he has found Europeans to be more hospitable.
“There is a true sense of innocence here in Turkey. As a sign of true friendship, men usually link hands in public and share kisses as salutations; the same applies for women,” he said.
To those interested in studying abroad, Miller offered the following words of advice: “Simply dive in and do it, because you will love the person you become.”