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International Travel For Students - Part 2

This is the second part in our series covering the summer travels of our youth community for service, internships and personal growth.

Garnering Global Connections

Daniel Soyak regards America as his home, but his 10-hour flight to Turkey not only landed him in his city of birth, but facilitated an internship opportunity that he could not obtain in the states.

The incoming college sophomore, who concentrates in international business and is fluent in English, Turkish and German, put his skills to the test at Unifree, Turkey’s leading duty free company.

Soyak spent the beginning of his 3.5-week internship at Unifree’s headquarters, soaking in facts about its finances and the function of various departments. He then traveled to three different airports, where he put his trilingual ability to work and even claimed the title of supervisor for a day.

“They wanted to see me under pressure and how I would do. That was a lot of fun,” Soyak said. “There were people coming up to me, asking what they should do with this, when they should bring new items in, and I basically had to answer all their questions. It was pretty difficult.”

Soyak explained that Unifree is part of a “tricky business” with little room for error once patrons encounter customs officials, but this would not scare him off from interning with the company again next summer.

“[My manager] offered me two months with him next summer,” he said. “There’s a good chance that I will accept that offer.”

Still, Soyak enjoyed the downtime that transpired when his internship came to an end and his mother, father and brother arrived. They spent 2.5 weeks visiting relatives and historical sites such as Hagia Sophia – a museum housed in one of Istanbul’s former mosques – as well as relaxing at their summer home in Datça. Soyak indulged in his favorite foods like skender kebab – layers of pita bread, sliced lamb and tomato sauce, with a drizzle of melted butter on top and yogurt on the side – and enjoyed conversations that occurred at random.

“People in Turkey are a lot different than people in the United States … they can be friendlier, I know that for sure,” he said, noting that strangers who greet each other in the street will end up chatting in a café for hours. “I see myself as a more outgoing person than the normal people here in the United States because of that culture.”

Soyak may return to Turkey on a more permanent basis one day, if a compelling job opportunity presents itself, but for now he will make his way back to The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., another city that he “loves.”

A Jaunt in England,

A Rediscovery of


Lehigh University student Katie Keane did not wish to spend summer vacation donning business casual attire visible from behind a desk, nor did she plan to break the world record on hours of channel surfing from the couch.

Keane avoided both work and boredom by joining her family for trips to Ireland and England. She is no stranger to the Emerald Isle, but this year’s trip meant more than the other three taken in the past.

“I think it gets better as I get older, I learn to appreciate it more,” she said. “When I was younger, it was just [about] following what my parents were doing, but this time I got to explore on my own.”

Keane labeled Dublin as “one of the cooler places,” but used her experiences there to obtain a better understanding of the lifestyle she desires.

 "It's considered a pretty big city for them, (but) I'm from New York, so it's totally different. It has a much slower pace. There are no skyscrapers, (but instead) smaller buildings and cobblestone walkways," she said. It reaffirmed how much I like New York. I think being from New York, I wouldn't be able to stand that pace (for long)."

Still, Keane appreciated the beauty of Trinity College and the cleanliness of the city, the vast beauty of County Kerry’s landscape – which she encountered upon traveling across the island – and the overall demeanor of Irish citizens.

“I think they’re all very friendly. It’s a nice atmosphere,” she said, going on to compare the Irish with New Yorkers. “[They are] not as rushed and angry.”

Keane recognized more commonalities with her home city upon arriving in London (“the pace was faster and there was more diversity”), but quickly became cognizant of the older historic presence surrounding her, found in places like Buckingham Palace, which dates back t o the 18th century.

“You hear so much about it,” she said, “it’s nice to actually see it in real life.”

“Real life” often refers to what is tangible in the here and now, and for Keane, this will soon mean returning to Lehigh for her sophomore year. She will likely declare a major in English or psychology, but cannot say for sure.

Keane is sure that she will study abroad at one point or another, but where? This she also cannot yet determine.

“I love Europe and I think it’s really cool how you can travel everywhere [within it], but there are just so many cool options,” she said. “Like South Africa, Australia, all those places.”

Having options is a wonderful aspect of collegiate life … and international travel.