Studying abroad: a quintessential part of the college experience. It can be characterized by frolicking around Italy and accidentally getting mistaken for an Italian pop star. This initial confusion, of course, leads to a hot and steamy romantic fling with another Italian pop star who tragically turns out evil and tries to sabotage your performance at the Coliseum. But it all turns out beautifully because you end up realizing you’re in love with your nerdy best friend.

But that was 2003, and Italian pop stars are nicer now and have better facial-recognition skills. Plus, I’m not going to Italy. I’m going to Turkey. But if you know any Turkish pop stars I resemble who have a sexy, evil boyfriend I can steal, please contact guide@thehoya.com.

All maniacal, boyfriend-stealing plots aside, studying abroad remains a typical part of Georgetown, although it is not quite like what Lizzie McGuire experienced on that high school field trip anymore (if you can believe that). For six whole months — or a whole year if you’re particularly adventurous — you are transposed into a totally different, or just slightly different (I’m lookin’ at you, England), culture and country in an effort to broaden your intellectual horizons. What results, of course, is a series of incredibly cool Facebook albums that make all of your less-cultured and less-adventurous friends back home shake with jealousy. I can’t wait.

I am going, as I mentioned, to Istanbul, Turkey. I do not speak Turkish, nor can I even really sound it out with all the squiggles and dots and everything. I have never been to Turkey, and I don’t really know all that much about it, to be completely honest. (But I got a few books titled “Istanbul” for Christmas, so I’ll get there.)

So how did I choose Turkey, you ask? Well, let’s get real. These are tough times. Regimes are rising and falling. This one semester abroad may be the only opportunity I have to live anywhere in the world, to experience a country in which I may never have a chance to return. Being Irish, awkward and not that fond of tropical destinations, I feel like I will have more opportunities in my life to go to countries like England, Ireland or Scotland than the historically rich and quasi-Middle Eastern country of Turkey.

So how does one prepare for such a life-changing adventure? Well, there are the logistics: the passport, student visa and shots (you know, for all the scary foreign diseases). My family has loved tactfully avoiding these chores until roughly a week before my intended departure date. We love the rush of not knowing until the absolute last minute whether I’ll be legally allowed to leave the country. We live on the edge. Or just in a constant state of disorganization. Either way, my mother is a professional.

Once the panic and last-minute rush sets in, it’s also time to become mentally prepared. This I have not done yet, nor do I intend to do it until about hour eight of my 10-hour flight. Again, I’m all about that last-minute business. This mental preparation, however, is important. I’ve expressed this grief to my friends: I hated the first two weeks of college. The pumped-up and forcibly spirited events of NSO just felt like summer camp to me. I hated summer camp. (This may have something to do with the fact that the only summer camp I went to was a Girl Scout camp and I have never been a Girl Scout. But that’s neither here nor there.) Due to my fear of awkward icebreakers, I am terrified about the first few weeks of this experience. Mostly because icebreakers are 1000 times harder when there’s that whole language barrier thing. So there are two things I need to remember: Boisterous hand gestures translate in every language, and the louder I shout, the easier it is for people to understand me.

 

Meagan Kelly is a junior in the College and former Photo Editor for The HoyaGRANDMA GOES TO TURKEY appears every other Friday in the guide.

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