Interviewee: Hayley Culver
Interviewer: Aykan Esen
1) What is your average weekday and weekend like?
– How many hours do you go to school?
I’m in class for about 10-11 hours every week.
– How many hours of homework do you have during weekdays & weekends?
This really depends, but I’d say I spend about 2 hours on weekdays and 3-4 hours on weekends on homework. During exams or when I have more to do than usual, I spend more time than that on studying/homework.
– How many hours do you have for yourself during weekday & weekend?
Again, it depends. I give myself an hour or so on an average weekday, and a lot more on a weekend.
2) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years, I will have graduated and I see myself having a job or internship. I will also be considering going to graduate school, but I want to get job experience before I do that, so finding a job is my first priority after graduation.
3) What is your favorite thing about living in the United States?
I like quite a few things about living here, in particular the freedom of speech, the ability to vote, and the fact that our government is very stable. We also have a decent economy (it’s not that great right now, but it’s better than a lot of other countries.) Also, this is where I was born and grew up, so I love the area that I’m from in particular, and I feel an attachment to there more than anywhere else. This is somewhere where I’ve met many interesting people and made very close friendships that will last my entire live.
I also like that this country is incredibly diverse – we have nationals whose ancestry stretches to pretty much everywhere on the planet. I love being in a place where all of these people (black, Asian, etc) can be very different and very similar at the same time.
4) What do you dislike most about living in the United States?
There are a lot of people who tend to be uninterested in international affairs, who don’t read the news, and who don’t speak another language. All of these are very important to me so I sometimes get annoyed with how many people there are who are either really biased or really apathetic and don’t care about getting the big picture.
5) What are American students most passionate about?
In general terms, I could say that we are all passionate about making a change in the world for the better through studying whatever we are studying, and it would be very true. But in practical terms, we are all very concerned with paying off the tuition bills we will accumulate and getting a job after graduation. This is something that will vary from campus to campus – on my campus, students are most passionate about making positive changes, social activism, the environment, and the position of women in our world today (because we are all women here). At other schools, like a religious college, students are concerned with spreading their faith through their studies.
6) What do American students know about Turkey and how do they view Turkish people?
Unfortunately, not much. We don’t know anything about Turkey because unless we know people who have been there or read the news a LOT, we don’t have a way of finding out more. Turkish history doesn’t occupy much space in our school history classes, and when it’s mentioned it’s usually in relation to the Armenian genocide or Ataturk. In order to find out about Turkey nowadays, you have to WANT to spend the time to get more information, which many students don’t see a reason to do.
In terms of how we actually see Turkey, because we don’t know that much we associate it a lot with the Middle East – a very Islamic country with lots of women in head scarves, not terribly modern, and probably dangerous because of its geographical location. Someone interested in politics would probably know that Turkey has been trying to enter the EU for a while, with no success. Some might also know that Turkey has a lot of historical treasure to offer, and that Istanbul/Izmir/Antalya is a good place for a vacation. Also unfortunate is that many people don’t know that much about Turkish food because most of the time they associate Mediterranean food with Greece (and I know that this annoys a lot of Turkish people J It’s because in the US there are a LOT more Greek restaurants than Turkish restaurants).
7) If someone were to visit the United States, where would you recommend they visit first?
This is a tough one. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t want anyone’s first impression of the USA to be a city like New York or Los Angeles. Yes, they are very important, but life in those cities is nothing like how it is for many Americans. My advice would be to go to a city, not to big, not too small – and see what life is like THERE. Then you’ll get a clearer idea of how life is for most people. Also, it’s a good idea to visit different areas of the US – The East Coast and West Coast, North and South.
8) Any one interesting fact about the American way of life?
There really isn’t one big “American culture”. Yes, we are all part of one country, but our country is HUGE. Culture differs according to where you are. This is most apparent in places like the democratic Northeast vs. the conservative South or the very Mexican-influenced Southwest. The Northwest, where I’m from, is very different from, say, Texas because people are very liberal and we care a lot about social justice, the environment etc., and Texas is…well, it’s Texas. J
9) Do you believe that the United States of America is the center of the world? Most Americans (and citizens of other countries) believe that your nation is economically, politically and culturally the most influential country. Do you agree? Are there people around you who would argue otherwise?
Politically and culturally, I’d say that we have a very strong hand in pretty much every other country in the world. Because we are so influential politically, if a republican or democrat is elected president, it matters to everyone, and our actions toward international issues will change accordingly. (This is VERY apparent with the Clinton administration/Obama administration vs. the Bush administration…)
As for our culture, that too is pretty much everywhere. When I was in Turkey, most of what my Turkish friends had assumed about Americans came from the way that American high schools were portrayed in movies that had made their way around the world. American music makes up a LOT of the music played on international radios (yet, here in the US, if a song isn’t in the English language it doesn’t get played on any major radio stations, which I find ridiculous.) In this way, we have a LOT of power, although in my opinion not all of it is good.
Economically, it get’s trickier. Yes, the US economy is very large, and in general very successful, BUT I don’t think that it would be this way without countries like China, to whom we outsource so much of our production because of cheap labor. If China were to have a major recession right now, I think we would go under too. So I would agree that we are an economic powerhouse, but we are also very, very dependent on other countries for that power.
I don’t know anyone who would disagree that we are so powerful in all these ways. Where most people disagree is in deciding whether this power is good or bad. Personally, I think that globalization is a double-edged sword. It helps out our economy, but it also drives out native cultures, customs, languages, clothing, and replaces it with that of more powerful nations. I think that this is a tragedy. Others would say that it’s just the way the world works and we should be happy that OUR country is the one on top.
10) What are your thoughts and feelings about the United States’ involvement in almost every international conflict? Be it Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel or any other foreign country, the United States has had a say (and in most cases has acted) in every “crisis” or in every about-to-become-crises. Do you personally support the current foreign policy of the United States?
I personally find it ridiculous that the United States has to have a say in every single crisis that happens in this world, even those that do not affect it or will affect it very little. If we want to intervene on the basis of human rights or humanitarian aid, then with the receiving country’s permission, I think it’s fine for us to do so, because we do have a lot of resources to offer. But in relation disputes between other countries that have nothing to do with us, I don’t think that it’s up to us to decide whether or not to intervene, especially not militarily. If we are invited by another country to help them in a conflict and we agree with their stance on the issues, I think it’s permissible at that time. So, if North Korea is doing a bunch of awful things to South Korea, and we don’t like anything North Korea is doing, then if South Korea wants our help, we can go ahead and invade North Korea (or something like that). BUT in the case of Afghanistan/Iraq…that was not justified. A Republican will tell you that it’s in the best interest of everyone that we intervened because they were thought to be producing weapons of mass destruction. They might also say that because we are basically the most economically/militarily/politically powerful country in the world right now, we have a responsibility to defend the interests of everyone who can’t fend for their own and can go after the antagonists when they want to.