Lauren Norman: Study Abroad in Ankara, Turkey

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR TIME ABROAD

I studied at Ankara University for a year as part of my Law and European Legal Systems course. Although my course was taught in English, I took part in an intensive Turkish language course for one month, so I could learn the basics of the language. During that month I made friends with Erasmus students who were going to lots of different universities in Turkey, we were all in the same position, we didn’t know anyone, and we didn’t speak Turkish. However we explored Ankara together and became very close, two of them actually came to live with me for the rest of the year when I found an apartment. The friends you make during your year abroad will probably be good friends for life. 

HOW HAS YOUR TIME ABROAD BENEFITED YOU?

My year abroad has definitely changed me for the better. Travelling around Turkey alone has made me more confident in several aspects. Previously I was terrified of asking strangers for help, however in Turkey I had to regularly ask strangers for help in a different language! I am also more aware of things happening around me, as I witnessed many of the protests that took place against the Turkish government which was quite scary but also liberating.  I now regularly keep up-to-date with news around the world and I feel more culturally aware than I was before my year abroad.

I can now speak Turkish at an intermediary level as a result of my intensive language course and a further course which I took alongside my studies. I am continuing to teach myself now that I am back in the UK. I intend to become fluent as I would like to move permanently to Turkey once I have graduated and I would like to work in Istanbul.

I was frequently told before I started university that studying abroad would set you above other potential candidates when applying for jobs due to the life skills that you will develop. I fully understand how true that statement is now that I have studied abroad myself. When you live abroad, that is when you truly become independent because when you are several thousand miles away from home, your parents can’t just drop everything and come to help you, you have to figure it all out yourself. I am so proud of myself for managing to travel to a foreign country not knowing the language beforehand, finding a place to live on my own, and surviving for a whole year!

Studying abroad also enabled me to enrol on courses that I would not have been able to do at home.  At Ankara University I took courses which gave me a broader insight into wider issues which will help me when I am applying for jobs such as global politics, economics, international business, and human resources management. For these courses I had to conduct research projects with other students and we had to give presentations which helped me with my team working and communication skills.

WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY TO STUDENTS THINKING OF STUDYING ABROAD?

My year abroad was by far the best thing that I have ever done. I experienced so many different things, I made many friends, I learned a new language, and most importantly I have developed myself in ways which I could never have done had I not done a year abroad. I recommend the Erasmus+ Programme to anyone and everyone!