Majors: Political science, global studies
Hometown: Lincoln, NE
For Ahmed, the buildup to being awarded a Critical Language Scholarship from the Dept. of State to study abroad in Turkey was a long one. Months of waiting followed his app submission last October, unsure of whether he'd ultimately be chosen.
He started Duolingo, just in case.
"I was sitting around wondering, 'Did I get it? Did I not get it?' and didn't know what to do in between. I just went on Duolingo and hoped for the best — I have a pretty good streak going now."
Ahmed's patience paid off. Finally, in April, he learned he'd be off to Ankara this summer to study Turkish language and culture. Growing up, Ahmed already had a little exposure.
"I was born in Sudan, but when I was little my family thought it best to leave. Some of my family went to Turkey, so growing up, the country always felt familiar," he explains. "I'd get on a phone call with cousins who lived in Turkey or see my mom watching Turkish TV shows, so I already had some understanding of the language."
To prep for this immersive program — which he'll participate in alongside 28 other scholars from around the country — Ahmed has sought out Turkish-language books, researched the culture and, yes, got some good TV recs from his mom.
"We'll have about five hours of class each day. After class, there are different cultural activities and excursions to help us engage with the community and get a better grasp of the language. I'm also staying with a host family, which I'm really excited for."
Along with meeting his host family, Ahmed is especially looking forward to one aspect of Turkish culture.
"I'm not going to lie, I've heard the food is crazy," Ahmed laughs. "I'm on TikTok every day seeing videos of Turkish dishes and thinking, 'Wow, I can't wait to experience that.'"
Along with broadening his palate, Ahmed is eager to have his worldview expanded, too.
"Growing up in Lincoln and living here my whole life, I'm excited to go appreciate other cultures and lives, see the world for what it is and gain a new perspective."