View from Moosilauke Ravine Lodge
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Entrance of the blogger's home in Istanbul. Yellow building with a big evil eye hanging from the entrance.

Here's the cold hard truth. Just like there's no one Dartmouth experience, there isn't a uniform international student experience. Things like native language(s), socioeconomic status, gender, sexual identity, and the political climate in your home country very much influence the way you experience being an international student at Dartmouth. Considering this, I want to dedicate this blog post to how I experience being an international student at Dartmouth when I'm back home (that would be Istanbul, Turkey).

English isn't my native language, and although I do not encounter language barriers at Dartmouth, being back home has changed my paradigm. Suddenly, the primary mode of socialization reverts to your native language. I lose my grip on current issues, slang, and daily discourse every time I go away. My college experience is foreign to most peers and family living and studying in my home country. That inevitably makes me feel foreign in the one place I'm "supposed to" feel at home.

I have gone back and forth between the US and Turkey enough times to figure out my way of navigating these challenges. It is challenging, yet I can also see how proud my loved ones are that I was bold enough to leave everything I have ever claimed to be mine to search for a fulfilling experience like the one I'm having at Dartmouth.

Seeing two different realities makes your world of possibilities grow extensively. My perspective is valued in my community here, and I still feel embraced even though I spend three-fourths of the year in another country. Indeed, I feel like I started to appreciate being home a lot more than before. I actively strive to make the best of my, albeit limited, time here, and that makes for quality memories that I carry with me anywhere I go.

End of a theatre show, theatre actors greeting the audience.
My sister's a theatre enthusiast, so we go to a play together every other week when I'm here.

Obviously, this is my personal experience, so it still does not define how THE international experience unfolds for all. The bottom line is that taking the leap to move across the ocean is a bigger deal than most people give themselves credit for. If you are an international applicant, know that your commitment to apply is an act of courage. Regardless of what college ends up working for you, you will remain a cherished member of your community back home.

Going back and forth between Dartmouth and Istanbul is a unique dance. It requires mastering the steps of adaptation, communication, and self-discovery. While it may be challenging, the beauty lies in the blend of these two worlds, creating a mosaic of experiences that shape not only my college years but also my broader understanding of life.

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