Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ece Erbay, CES Turkish Intern

The Center for European Studies is proud to host student interns visiting from Turkey. This past semester we housed J-1 Student Intern, Ece Erbay, who worked under Dr. Emrah Sahin, Director of the UF Turkish Studies program. Below, Ece writes to us of her duties as a UFCES Turkish Intern, her experiences at the University of Florida, and how these experiences have affected her course of study as a student of International Relations at the University of Economics and Technology in Turkey. Thanks so much for spending the semester with us, Ece!

I cannot forget those moments on August 23rd, the day I arrived in Gainesville. I looked out of the airplane window at the beauty of the town’s all-green landscape—so different than the all-yellow Ankara, the city I come from. My internship at the University of Florida’s Center for European Studies (UFCES) officially began at the American Embassy of Ankara, but my physical encounter with Gainesville some time later, coupled with the jetlag of my overseas flight, made my arrival surreal. I was scared, excited, and enthusiastic all at once.

I am a junior majoring in the International Relations program at the University of Economics and Technology in Turkey. This program should have already “internationalized” my perspective but, no offense to the program, the internship at UFCES gave me a concrete opportunity to work in an international setting. During my four-month internship at UFCES, the first-day excitement and enthusiasm remained while the initial scare transformed into an insatiable drive to explore the land and contribute to the Turkish Studies program at CES.

The University of Florida is an amazing university where students never stop communicating with each other. Social events are held on campus throughout the week, which CES plays no small part in. Throughout my internship I had the pleasure (and privilege, really) of working with the CES team, a team that is incomparable to any other when it comes to loving the job, staying loyal to it, and smiling all the time despite the job's stresses. Their offices are designed to welcome and treat you nicely: see the CES lobby for proof. As a CES Intern, I held conversation classes with American students taking Turkish as a second language, helped prepare reading materials for Dr. Sahin’s Islam and Turkey class, organized Mediterranean Movie Nights, and attended English classes through the International Friendship Program at the local Baptist Church. I even found time to travel across the state of Florida.

My internship at UFCES was a great experience. It not only fulfilled the internship requirement at my home university but it also increased my sense of accomplishment and open-mindedness, the latter of which I will definitely use in my encounters with foreign cultures and people and in my future endeavors in the field of international relations.