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What’s Going on Abroad??

Follow Maria as she explores Korea: http://mariainkorea2014.tumblr.com/

She is one of very few women in electrical engineering in Seoul and is taking each day as a new adventure!

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FOFAC Info Session

Wednesday, November 20th

The Focus On Fall Abroad Community is open to GW students who plan to study abroad during the fall semester on any GW pre-approved program and return to campus the following spring semester. For more info and to find out about applications, attend this info session

Time: 1:00pm – 1:30pm

Location: Marvin Center, Room 506

Register: http://studyabroad.gwu.edu/focus-fall-abroad-community

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Name: Aamir Husain
Year: Junior
Major: Biomedical Engineering

Study Abroad Location: Boğaziçi Üniversitesi in Istanbul, Turkey

” It’s been one month since I arrived here in Istanbul, and I’m already getting sad I’ll be heading home in just under three months. I feel like everything is a vacation, even going to classes since since my campus overlooks the scenic Bosphorus. Turkish culture is slowly taking over, and I’m accepting it with open arms. The atmosphere of Istanbul, although such a chaotic city, is totally relaxed and easygoing — think of it as a friendly New York, but better. I admit I’ve spent hours just drinking chai with friends in cafes, mastering the incredibly popular game of tavla (backgammon).

” As an engineer, I knew that my classes would be rough, but so far they are enjoyable and the teachers here are incredibly helpful. The language barrier was definitely frustration the first few weeks here, and it still causes problems every once in a while. But the Turkish lessons offered here have helped me pick up basic conversational terms so quickly that even my Turkish roommates were impressed.

Living with Turkish people has indeed fully immersed me in the country’s rich culture, a culture that is so similar to that of my parents’ when they were growing up. Most of the other exchange students I’ve met are from Germany or Holland, and then Americans are the second largest group. Overall there’s a wide range of diversity, and I decided to join the track team over here to get to know more more Turkish people as well.

” Obtaining a residence permit here is an ordeal, and it will probably keep me from leaving the country. But it’s no problem. With my four day weekends (yes, even an engineer can have a nice schedule) I plan on traveling all over Turkey, taking in as much culture as possible while maintaining a rigorous course load.

” I would recommend anyone and everyone should come to Turkey, or even just go abroad in general. First of all, you get accepted to the best university in Turkey (only the top 1% of students here get in). Second, the food is incredibly delicious and ridiculously cheap, even the cafeteria food! Plus there are animals all over campus so you can always have a friend if you’re ever feeling stressed. I can easily that spending four months of my life here has been one of the best decisions I’ve made during my time at GW.

Why Korea? Let’s hear from our friend – Tony!!

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Adventure is out there. Yes, it’s a line from a kid’s movie, but that doesn’t make it any less true. However,  in today’s modern world it is much harder to find. I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity of a lifetime this past spring by studying abroad in Seoul, Korea.

When I learned about the SEAS study abroad programs, I never really imagined I would go. It just didn’t seem for me. Then my uncle, a civil engineering professor, and I were talking and he commented about how rare it is for engineering majors to go abroad. That got me wondering about my unique situation. I did more research into SEAS’ programs and that’s when the Korea University program first caught my eye.

4 and a half months in South Korea. I never said “that’s too far,” or “that’s too different.” My first thoughts were along the lines of how hilarious I would look as a 6′ tall heavy white dude in an Asian country. Then I actually thought about what it would be like living abroad in such a foreign place for such a long time. A whole new language, alphabet, culture, history and a 13 hour time difference, not to mention the fastest internet speeds on earth. These things didn’t scare me, they got me curious. They got me wondering what being immersed in a new culture would be like. Dublin offered a new culture, but European culture is what set up the 13 Colonies. I thought the transition would be too similar to the one made from high school to GW; a big step, don’t get me wrong, but one that just seemed too small-time when compared to the prospect of venturing to the other side of the planet.

Let me tell you, the other side of the planet is absolutely unbelievable. I cannot describe how amazing my time at Korea University was. Every day I saw something new and exciting, whether it was a cat cafe in the shopping district, a Korean War veteran who wanted to talk about the US,  a palace older than the USA, or even the hilarity that was matching Korean couples, every day was an adventure in and of itself.

Korea University students also helped the international students feel integrated into both campus and Korean culture as much as possible. We would eat dinner, get drinks, we even went camping in the Korean countryside. Most importantly, we became friends. Korean, American, another nationality, we were all students with similar interests,  academic struggles, and senses of humor. Korean engineers also thought Calc 3 was dark magic and that political science majors really cheapen the value of the word “science.” I could never be a local in Korea, but cultural adaptation was neither forced nor facilitated, it was enjoyable and entertaining.

My experience at KU was unforgettable and exciting and being in such a foreign environment teaches you about yourself just as much as your professors teach you about engineering,  except you actually understand what you’re learning and there are no proofs or greek letters.

If you’re on the fence about going abroad to Korea,  think of it this way: “When’s the next time I’m going to be able to live in Asia for 4 and a half months?” Probably never again. I’d go back tomorrow,  even for a day, just to have 24 more hours in an amazing city. Adventure is right in front of you, take advantage of it.

-Tony Lyons
MAE Class of 2015
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