I saw there were a couple of questions in my last blog related to my short story starting in Albania, continuing in Turkey and UK, and ending up in USA. I admit, only when I look back it seems a handful. Otherwise, I have the impression it is the most normal life occurrence. I think this is partially influenced by my many international friends who had similar life stories, away from home, to the point that you might well assume this is the norm for everyone.
In Istanbul, Turkey, I completed my undergraduate studies. The university is called Boğaziçi, the Turkish word for Bosphorus (strait), and it was formerly known as Robert College. It was the first American university outside the borders of the USA, founded in Turkey in 1863 (it passed to the Turkish government in 1971). Although a Turkish university, the language subjects are taught in is English. However, it is not the only Turkish university where this is the case. It is common in many other Turkish higher education institutions. I am mentioning this to show that my transition from a Turkish university to an English speaking environment, be it laboratory or outside it, was very smooth. (In an unrelated note: Istanbul is the most beautiful and vivid city in the world!)
After I completed my degree, I started working in the Molecular Systematics laboratory in the Natural History Museum in London, UK. If you persist with the question “why London?” all I can say for the moment is the fashionable reply: it is complicated. Fascination with London did play a part, combined with an international group that was doing interesting research in the laboratory I joined (There were about 12 people, only two British). But why I went to London doesn’t stop there.
USA was not in my plans, but as soon as I realized how limited the opportunities for graduate studies were for non-EU citizens in UK, I decided to come to the US. Did I find it hard adapting to the US? On the contrary, I felt comfortable. I never felt I had to adapt much. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that everyone, Native Americans aside, originally comes from a certain corner of the planet – if not themselves, then their parents or grandparents. I believe it is a strong similarity, and life experience. The only challenge, which still sometimes catches me off-guard, is when I am asked for ID in a bar. I struggle with that for a few moments, but when in Rome I do what Romans do.
At the same time I believe I jumped from one campus to another as much as from one country to another. I studied molecular biology in Turkey, UK and US. In a way, I was doing research in biological sciences, which is what I studied and was trained in, in different countries but with many similarities; the language (English), textbooks and articles in similar format, laboratories, in an environment with people interested in science.
It was easy…
Was it hard for you to find work in your field after moving here? Btw, how did you like UK or Turkey? You seem to be a well travel man so I’m looking forward to hearing more of your story!
Did you find hard adapting when you moved to USA? Please share your experience.