NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Eight students from Tennessee State University had the opportunity of a lifetime recently when they traveled nearly 6,000 miles and immersed themselves in a foreign culture to gain a unique perspective of the world around them.
For three weeks in May, students from the Colleges of Engineering and Health Sciences participated in a program that balanced academics, as well as social and cultural activities during a study abroad program in Turkey.
“We want this to be a part of a student’s TSU educational experience,” said Dr. Ali Sekmen, professor of Computer Science, who traveled with the students. “This was a very different type of academic program for our students with a lot of flexibility.”
While the classes took place on university campuses throughout the country, Sekmen said student assignments and programming practices were done in the hotels and coffee shops while they interacted with their Turkish counterparts.
“It truly was a global experience,” he added.
The students visited Istanbul, Ankara, Antalya and Izmir, and were hosted by Bilkent University (the top university in Turkey, ranking 98 in the world), Antalya International University, and Izmir University of Economics. Sekmen pointed out that the students were required to satisfy the requirements of a MayMester course, specifically Java Programming.
“Its important to remember that even though this was a cultural immersion, there is also the academic requirement,” added Sekmen. “We conducted 37.5 hours of teaching while the students took a midterm and final just as if they were back in the states.”
While students earned credits in programming, they also received the cultural experience that study abroad offers, said Sekmen. The group visited Ephesus, the House of the Virgin Mary, Topkapi Palace, Thermoses and other cultural sites.
“In each city, our students had Turkish student ‘buddies’ with whom they developed a close friendship,” he said. “The group visited university administrators, the vice governor of Antalya, and some Turkish families.
That was an important aspect of the trip for Maggie Fitts, a junior Health Science major. Studying abroad, she said, was an adventure and learning experience all in one that allowed her to gain new perspectives on academic subjects and real-world issues.
“This opportunity allowed me to study issues more in-depth from a cultural perspective,” Fitts said. “Outside the classroom, my personal education was enhanced through the daily interaction in Turkey’s culture with our host families. I can honestly say this was an experience that helped me grow personally and mentally.”
The TSU study abroad program, in conjunction with the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies, or TnCIS, offers a range of initiatives to broaden the University’s global impact and enhance educational opportunities for its students. Combined, more than 30 programs are offered to destinations across the globe.
In the past year, more than 100 students from TSU have traveled across the world, studying in, among other countries, Costa Rica, China, Colombia, India, Germany, Italy and France.
According to Mark Brinkley, director of Study Abroad & Exchange Programs, students gain real-life experience on the global stage through the study abroad program.
“This is very consistent with the University’s position on enhancing global educational opportunities for our students,” said Brinkley. “This is a transformational experience for most students. It gives them an opportunity to expand their critical-thinking skills, and to look at the world a little differently through the lens of someone else from another country.”
For more information on education abroad, contact the Office of Diversity and International Affairs at 615.963.7660.
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About Tennessee State University
With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.