SU Istanbul Students Visit the Consul General

IBO_3320On May 5, students and staff from SU Istanbul, along with students from other U.S. study abroad programs in the city, were invited to the home of Charles Hunter, the United States Consul General in Istanbul. Hunter, along with the consulate’s public affairs officer, Jeffrey Anderson, gave the students a presentation about their role in Turkey. They then opened the floor to questions from the students, resulting in a refreshingly open discussion on topics ranging from their own personal experiences in the foreign service, to Turkish-American relations and the complexities of regional politics and security. The students were also encouraged to share their experiences and perspectives on living and studying in Istanbul for the last semester.

Dr. Erika Wilkens-Sozen, the on-site director of SU Istanbul, is working with other U.S. study abroad providers in Istanbul, including AIFS, CIEE, and Aracadia University, to develop a study abroad council that works closely with the State Department in Istanbul.

“In forming this group, our aim has been to share best practices in study abroad in Turkey, including our protocols for minimizing and responding to health, safety and security issues,” said Wilkens-Sozen. “We all share a commitment to the importance and value of Istanbul as a study abroad location.”

The Spring 2016 students will wrap up their semester in Istanbul in early June, having completed a semester full of travel and cultural and educational immersion in one of the world’s most fascinating cities. Applications are now open for the spring and fall 2017 semesters at SU Istanbul.

“Istanbul is a magnificent city, steeped in the history of empires while at the same time is modern, edgy and dynamic,” said Wilkens-Sozen. “As a study abroad location in a complex and troubled region, it offers students an unparalleled opportunity to explore some of the most pressing, and challenging, issues of our time, to help them become more informed and globally engaged.”

Student Spotlight: Devyn Passaretti

UnknownDevyn Passaretti ’16 is an illustration major from Rhode Island. She spent the Spring 2015 semester enrolled in the studio arts program at the SU Florence Center. She earned credit toward her major by taking studio courses at SU Florence facilities, along with history of art electives and Italian language. She also was able to take part in the all-school field trips that the SU Florence Center arranges each semester. If you’re considering a semester in Florence, check out her thoughts:

What was your most difficult experience abroad, and how did you overcome it?
The most difficult thing for me to overcome while studying abroad was being away from my friends and family for so long. Although I made lots of new friends while in Florence it was the first time that I was not in my comfort zone of being at school or at home. It was interesting to experience a new country with new people. While I was traveling I learned what my own priorities are, along with those of the people I traveled with. Throughout my time abroad I found great people to spend my time with and made older bonds with friends stronger.

What experiences were most helpful to your major?
My entire abroad experience was extremely helpful to my major. I got the opportunity to study fine art in one of the most artistically rich cities in the world. As an illustration major I was able to broaden my scope to fine art practices. By looking at the masters in contrast to contemporary Italian artists I learned a lot about conceptualization. Through this process of study I learned about myself as an artist. My skills of observation and experimentation were greatly improved. Overall the city of Florence and the act of traveling gave me endless inspiration, which broadened my perspective and artistic skills.

How were your living arrangements?
While in Florence I lived with a host family with another Syracuse student. I lived with a host mother, her mother, and their two cats. As soon as we arrived they welcomed us into their home and culture. Every night at the dinner table we would have mini Italian lessons to help with our vocabulary. At the dinner table we would brokenly communicate about our days, where we planned to travel, and laughed about cultural differences. I got used to eating about a pound of pasta as the first course alone. It was beautiful to have a real family environment. They were always so loving and helpful.

Would you like to study abroad again? Where would you want to go?
I would love to be able to study abroad again. It was such an inspiring time period in my life. There’s not a day that goes by that I do not reflect on my time in Florence. That being said I would study in Florence again if I had the choice. The ancient city has so much to offer and I feel as if I only scratched the surface. I’ve also always wanted to study in New Zealand because all of the breathtaking vistas.

If you want to explore Florence and see the things you’ve learned about in history books come to life before your eyes, start your application here! Have questions? Let us know!

Student Spotlight: Shoshana Kranish

shoshanakranishShoshana Kranish ’17 is an international relations major from Massachusetts. She spent the Spring 2015 semester in Tel Aviv, Israel as an international student at Tel Aviv University – an SU Abroad World Partner program. The TAU program is one of our most popular world partner programs, so if you’re interested in spending a semester in Israel, you might find Shoshana’s experience helpful:

1. What was your most memorable experience abroad?
The most memorable part of my time abroad were the holidays – in the spring there’s a whole bunch. There’s one holiday, called Yom HaZikaron (Day of Remembrance), that commemorates soldiers who have died in Israel’s wars. I participated in a ceremony with a dozen other students, and it was an incredibly powerful way to connect with the community and give back. This holiday transitions right into Yom HaAtma’ut (Independence Day), making it a huge time for celebration. That transition doesn’t exist in the U.S. and it’s truly incredible to see the country go from somber to joyous in a short period of time.

2. What did you think of the courses you took at TAU?
I loved all the courses I took there. I had some truly remarkable professors who, in addition to teaching, were world-renowned scholars, researchers, and government consultants. I’m an international relations major concentrating in the Middle East and North Africa, so every class I took was really catered to my interests.

3. What was your favorite part of the city?
My favorite part of Tel Aviv are the beaches – there’s close to a dozen. I grew up on the beach in Massachusetts, and I really miss the ocean when I’m in Syracuse. Having a beach only a few miles from my dorm was really something I tried not to take for granted, and I miss it everyday!

4. What advice would you give to students who are preparing to study abroad?
Learn the language – or at least try! It makes life so much easier, it’s a great way to meet locals, and it’ll make them appreciate you so much more. Even more than that, who wouldn’t want to be able to say they can speak a bunch of languages (even if you can only read a menu)? You never know when a second or third language will come in handy in the future.

To read more about Shoshana’s experience in Israel, check out her blog!

If you’re interested in the Tel Aviv University World Partner Program (open only to SU students), start here! Have any questions? Let us know!

Student Spotlight: Shaheem Valentin

shaheemvalentinShaheem Valentin ’16 is a dual accounting and marketing major from the Bronx. He spent Spring 2015 taking part in the SU Santiago program, which begins with a month of intensive Spanish language study in Ecuador. Once students wrap up their time in Ecuador, they embark on a two-week traveling Signature Seminar that takes them to Uruguay and Argentina. Shaheem loved his time in Latin America and recently answered some of our questions about his experience:

  1. What was your most memorable experience abroad?
    The most memorable experience was when a person, who would later become one of my best friends in Chile, invited me to go hiking after one day of meeting each other. I had to met this person at 9 a.m. at his house to meet up with his friends and also for us to drive to the hiking destination (Quebrada de Macul). I had an amazing time hiking with everyone, we laughed, we fell, and just overall had a good time. Later on, they invited me to come back to the house for a bbq and a little get-together. It was the first time that I was hanging out with so many Chileans, and funny enough they all become some of my closest friends during my time there (and still are).
  2. What was the biggest difference between what you thought the experience would be like and what it was actually like?
    At first, I was nervous about my Spanish, not making friends, and I guess every other common worry that people have when traveling to a new country. It seemed once I landed in Ecuador that all my fears dissipated and I threw caution to the wind. My Spanish wasn’t perfect but over time it improved dramatically, I learned how to converse and showcase my personality, which led to me making friends and acquaintances. Also, these countries are much more beautiful that I ever expected, in terms of scenery and the kindness of the people.
  3. What was your favorite part about study abroad?
    My favorite thing about study abroad is the freedom of it. There will not be another time in my life that I would act so carefree, and be so willing to try half of the things that I tried.
  4. How did you like your host families?
    My living arrangements in both Ecuador and Chile were wonderful. The families were amazing and completely generous. I had my own room, and the host families gave me the freedom to explore and do my own thing, while still having them as a “safety-net.”

If you want to travel to four countries, perfect your Spanish, and enroll in the SU Santiago program, start here. Have any questions for us? Let us know!