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Meet the OIA Peer Advisors

Blue Mosque, Turkey

My Time in Constantinople

by: Gabriella Arzate

Major: Biological Sciences

Year: Senior

During my first year of college, I was relatively sheltered and had not experienced much of the world outside of California. I was very shy and school had become my whole life. All I did was study, go to class, and go home. During my first year, I started to develop a desire to do and see more, which lead me to join a couple organizations on campus. Although this was an improvement, it was still not what I was looking for. Then one day, I had a conversation with a Peer Advisor from OIA that reminded me of how much I wanted to study abroad and challenge myself beyond the classroom.

After that encounter, I began to research different programs that offered coursework in my major and intended minor. But, at the same time I was being pushed by a few people in my life to go to countries that one was “supposed” to go to when studying abroad. I was repeatedly told, “You should go to Europe, you wouldn’t like other places” and “Why would you want to go somewhere that wasn’t first world?” These comments, although well intended, brought out a contrary side in me and drove me to look into programs in Asia and the Middle East.

This led me to the program that I ultimately chose: the International Summer School at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, Turkey. I chose this program due to its available coursework in biology and psychology as well as its geographic location and the rich history Istanbul has. Although I had wanted to go on a longer program, my financial aid situation and class standing made summer a more appealing option for me.

While I was in Turkey, I was able to take unique classes and be exposed to a completely different culture and way of living. I can confidently say that study abroad has had a huge positive impact on my life academically and personally. I became more sensitive towards and aware of people in faraway places that are not usually thought of and I was able to appreciate how much more there is in the world outside of the US. I was also able to round out my coursework, network, and apply what I learned abroad here at UCM while still progressing in my degree.

Ever since my time abroad, I have been an avid advocate for studying abroad. I especially encourage those that do not think that studying abroad is possible for them due to their majors to consider study abroad and look into programs that are more off the beaten path. The world is so much larger than we realize, take the opportunity to experience a new part of it.