Sunday, May 30, 2010
Here's the scoop..
Merhaba again! Okay well, I thought I'd explain why going to Turkey has been a miracle. This whole passion for traveling started when I was 14. I had the opportunity to travel to England and Italy with my soccer team, and I absolutely loved it! I knew I wanted to travel all over. Then this past summer I traveled to England and Spain with my soccer team again. I had, what they call, the "travel bug" - I just couldn't get enough. When my friend went to Norway for two months, I was beyond jealous. Well I was jealous from the start with her because she had traveled EVERYWHERE! Sometimes I don't think she realizes how lucky she is, but if it wasn't for her I probably wouldn't have understood the functioning of AFS. I have been a part of AFS International Club at my school, and hosted a student from Bolivia my Sophomore year. I had always wanted to study abroad through AFS but at the time I couldn't imagine leaving high school and all my activities. Well my friend was going to Italy for a semester through AFS, and I realized I could go abroad without missing an entire year! (My thoughts on that have changed since then, but its okay). I finally realized that my love for traveling would be worth leaving my small town behind, and I immediately asked my parents. No was the first answer I recall. I guess I didn't blame them for saying no because I was really rushing into the whole thing, and ignoring the super expensive price tag. But I wasn't going to give up. I continuously pestered my parents and explained how I could apply for scholarships - but even scholarships wouldn't support me much with the expenses. I started to believe that it was hopeless and that I would never go abroad. I even looked at volunteering opportunities in Africa which were much cheaper - but that was out of the question too. Originally I wanted to go to Austria, South Africa, or New Zealand. Those were available for the semester programs, but the year programs had much more appealing countries to me, such as the Netherlands and Turkey. Above all I wanted to go to Turkey, but it was only offered for the year which wouldn't be possible. Well, just as I was beginning to give up, my AFS counselor at my school gave me the best news of my life. She informed me of a program called NSLI-Y (National Security Language Initiative for Youth) program that offered full scholarships to the countries of Turkey, China, Russia, Korea, Tajikistan, India, and Egypt. They also had the options of going for a summer, semester, or year! It was perfect because I could go to Turkey for the fall semester like I had originally wanted - and it would be paid for! The difference with this program is that it focusing on learning and becoming a skilled speaker of the language. I knew that if I was going to live in Turkey for some time, I'd want to be able to speak the language very well! Okay well all of this seems perfect and amazing - but the catch was this: thousands of people apply for these scholarships, and there were only 600 slots for all the programs. Only 5 slots for the Turkey fall semester..ugh. So basically after I applied, in December, I had to wait to find out if I was a semi-finalist. In January I found out I was a semi-finalist which made me so happy, but I knew there was a strong chance I wouldn't get it. I waited and waited until April when we would find out..but each day of the month continued to drag on and on. I checked other online forums and saw that people were getting accepted to certain programs while others were not. I was so nervous and finally came to the conclusion that I was going to get rejected. Well, one day after school I was sitting in the hallway listening to Turkish music and decided to check my e-mail. I was so nervous when I saw the NSLI-Y notification e-mail that I was shaking, but I opened it..and I got the scholarship!!! I was so happy/shocked/amazed that I started sobbing - but that's just because I'm a super emotional person in general. So basically it was a miracle, and I've been the happiest person ever since. That's how this whole thing started and now I will be "pursuing" my dream. Okay so I feel like this entire post was super corny and way too long. I didn't really plan on having people read it, but if you were curious about how I got to this point, there ya go. Güle güle! - which means, "Be on your way with a smile" :)