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Turkan Karatas

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: Global Studies and Political Science majors & Chemistry minor
Program: Honors Burch Field Research Seminar in Vienna and the Balkans
Location: Balkans and Vienna
Term: Summer 2019


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I truly believe in the power of traveling and being exposed to different cultures. It gives you perspective on so many things and everything you learn comes full circle. I came to UNC as an international student and learned so much from being in a new place, and I decided to always live by the goal of adding diversity in my life. As for choosing this particular program, I was always interested in the dynamics of international organizations and diplomacy. Going into a complicated region like the Balkans where so much international intervention took place was an incredible case study to understand the field.


What did you learn about yourself?
I learned to establish a pretty good balance of traveling & living with a big group of people vs. being independent and making my own decisions.


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
Our program was split between the Balkans and Vienna. We first stayed at Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has old Ottoman towns with historical marketplaces, mosques and old bridges. After traveling to a bunch of places, we ended in Vienna - the capital of Austria, with Western European style buildings, palaces, and cathedrals. Observing the cultural shifts and diversities, experiencing all the different food and people in the places we went to was my favorite part of the program. But also, establishing such a close connection with my professor and TA as well as my peers at study abroad was really special and unique to the structure of our program as we spent every day together going into meetings, dinners, classes and traveling together all the time.


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
Go with an open mind! You can make so much out of your experience if you try to understand the culture around you. And learn the history of the region. Traveling to so many places, I learned that the best way to make sense of all the cities you go is by contextualizing the history and background of the region.


Would you do it again?
Yes, absolutely!!


How were your classes abroad different than if you would have taken them at UNC?
For our program, seeing the geography and the historical sights of the region added so much to my understanding of our class. We had the opportunity to go into a lot of international organizations and attend briefings with their staff instead of just learning about them.