"When I came to the U.S., I realized that some concepts that I thought to be constant, I realized that they're actually variables. Very basic things like how people communicate and what is considered as disrespectful. Like, even just holding the doors… it's so common here. In Turkey, nobody would do that!
I'm from Izmir, which is a coastal town near the Aegean Sea. It's the third biggest city in Turkey. When I came to Tulane to start as an undergraduate, this was my first time coming into the U.S. I applied and accepted my offer without having seen the country that the school is in! So it was a big culture shock to me. Freshman year was tough. I was trying to adapt. I was much more reserved. Even though I'd speak to people, I wasn't feeling that they were actually understanding what I meant to say. Like the same words had a different meaning in my mind than they were understanding in our conversations. It was just a constant feeling of being not understood by the people around me. But then things slowly evolved. In the tough times, I mostly concentrated on classes. I took more and more classes and I pushed the academic side of things and along the way I built good relationships with my friends, too. So right now I'm living with my roommates from freshman year. And all of those feelings of being not understood have just disappeared."