So many stories, so many dreams, and so many experiences – they all culminated in a reality that I never imagined would come true so soon. It was like a dream come true when I received the news from the International Affairs Office of my university, Daffodil International University (DIU), about the Erasmus+ mobility scholarship, offering students a chance to study abroad with full funding. Little did I know that this opportunity would become my ticket to explore a new country, embrace diverse cultures, and embark on an exciting journey of personal growth. I am Sadia NowshinSharin, a student of the Dept. of English at DIU in Bangladesh, and here is my story.
The journey started in Turkiye, a land rich in history, culture, and breathtaking landscapes. As I landed at Istanbul airport, I was awestruck not only because of its beauty but also by the fact that the language barrier might pose a challenge. English was not a widely spoken language there. So, communicating was tough, but the Turkish people’s warmth and hospitality were remarkable. They were compassionate and ever-willing to help a stranger anytime they needed.
The university I was going to study at was located in Mersin, Turkiye, which was almost a thousand kilometers away from Istanbul. And so, my journey from Istanbul to Mersin was filled with amusing encounters as I used a translation app to bridge the language barrier. Nonetheless, it was a unique experience that substantially enhanced my ability to deal with communication issues.
Finally reaching Mersin, a coastal city beside the Mediterranean Sea, I was welcomed by a milder climate. However, my university was situated quite a bit far from the main city of Mersin. It was in Yenice, a rural sector of Mersin, which allowed me to experience both the city’s charm and the peaceful countryside.
From my very first day at CAG University, the Director of International Affairs greeted me warmly and assisted me in getting settled. I was introduced to my department coordinator, teachers, and fellow students, who embraced me with open arms. The classroom experience was unforgettable, with teachers and classmates being incredibly understanding and helpful. Engaging in discussions allowed me to gain valuable insights into Turkish culture and its academic system, creating a richer and more profound learning experience.
My dorm life was another exciting and eye-opening experience for me there. Sharing a room with three other students, one from Ethiopia and two from different cities in Turkey, provided a cultural melting pot. Despite the communication challenges, the bonds I formed with the dormitory students, especially my friend from Ethiopia, Munira, and my other roommate, Melisa, were wonderful. Luckily, they were proficient in English, so through them, I could learn more about their cultural and societal perspectives and more.
Beyond my university and dorm life, my experiences as an international student took me to different cities and homes of my Turkish friends as well. My friends from the host university invited me to experience traditional Turkish iftar during Ramadan. It was a heartwarming experience, as I felt like I was part of their families, enjoying the true essence of Turkish hospitality.
Another unforgettable trip was to Tarsus. Rana Sueda, my friend from Tarsus, played the perfect host when I visited her city. Exploring the ancient city with her as my guide made me feel right at home. The genuine hospitality of Turkish people amazed me throughout my journey.
Additionally, visiting Melissa’s family in Hatay allowed me to witness the bond of a traditional Turkish family. Even though Melissa’s family and I had a language barrier as Melissa was the only English speaker within the family, it never felt awkward to sit with them. It was like being with my own family, and I was deeply moved by their traditional Muslim values much like we cherish in Bangladesh.
Attending an international student gathering in Adana was a highlight of my journey. This experience of meeting people from diverse backgrounds enriched my understanding of different cultures and fostered friendships that I will cherish forever.
Throughout my Erasmus journey, I not only received an excellent education but also had the opportunity to explore the beauty of Turkey and its people. It was truly a blessing for me as an international student to learn, travel, and experience cultural exchange. I am immensely grateful to Daffodil International University for providing me with this life-changing opportunity, and to Erasmus+ for their unwavering support to students like me who aspire to study in foreign lands.
As I bid farewell to Turkey, I carry with me cherished memories and lifelong friendships. This journey has taught me that stepping out of our comfort zones can lead to the most remarkable and transformative experiences.
Sadia Nowshin Sharin
Student, Department of English
Daffodil International University, Bangladesh