Turkish Exchange Student Settles in Hershey

Ryan Zou, Reporter

“Halaç. It’s pronounced Ha-La-Ch.”

Emre Halaç, who grew up in Izmir, Turkey, is a foreign exchange student that currently resides in Hershey. Halaç is apart of the Hershey community for the 2018-2019 school year.

This is Halaç’s second time applying to the foreign exchange student program that allowed him to study abroad here in Hershey. His first application was in 2016, but he was unable to make time to go through with the process. This past year, 2017, Halaç applied once again and was accepted to Hershey.

Thanks to the placement process, Halaç actually could’ve wound up anywhere in the United States.

“It’s really random, I never knew where I would end up or what to expect” said Halaç.

The host families, which are spread out across country, have the privilege to choose which foreign exchange student they would like to house. Halaç was chosen by a family in Hershey.

Although he was feeling homesick for his first two weeks at Hershey, Halaç claims that he is adjusting to his new life and enjoys it more as time progresses. One thing he loved about Hershey specifically is the chocolate. Halaç is most impressed by the locals.

“The people here are polite and helpful, and that’s the biggest difference,” said Halaç.

For instance, Halaç was surprised that a car stopped on the road to allow for him to cross the street. He says this is not a common thing people do in Turkey. Other helpful people that he has encountered are the students in Hershey High School. Halaç says that his peers are very helpful.

One of these peers that he’s met is Allison Kaye, who’s a senior at Hershey High School. Kaye has two classes with Halaç: Visual Basic and Spanish I. The two have worked together on various Spanish projects and also hung out at a football game.

Other students have also been helpful to Halaç. He says that the students here always help him find where his classes are.

In Turkey, Halaç had no trouble getting around his school. He explains that at his previous school, the students don’t move around the school. The students stay in one classroom, and the teachers cycle around the rooms. He prefers the system in Turkey over the one here in Hershey. He says it was a lot less confusing and he did not get lost in the school with it.

According to Halaç, the teaching styles are also different between the two countries. Halaç claims that the teaching style is mostly reciting in Turkey. For instance, a lesson would consist of reading and writing out of a textbook. Halaç says the teaching style is a lot more hands-on here, citing “Kahoot!” as a fun, interactive way to learn.

“He’s catching up on a concepts really quickly,” said Kaye.

Some other differences Halaç has experienced is outside of school. One example is the nature. He says that he really enjoys how green Hershey is. Since Izmir is a city, being in a suburban environment is a huge change.

Another difference between the city size is that, according to Halaç, there is no public transportation here. Halaç doesn’t enjoy this. He says back in Izmir, there is always a way to get around. Whether it’s by bus, train, or subway, getting around was anything but a hassle.

Although he has been battling with a dash of homesickness, Halaç is adapting to Hershey very well. He is excited to see what the next year has in store for him.

Emre Halaç poses for a picture in study hall on November 1st, 2018. Halaç has been working hard to excel in his classes. (The Broadcaster/Ryan Zou)