The true perspective of a foreign exchange student: Gulmira Yesilyurt


Courtesy of Gulmira Yesilyurt (‘25)

Yesilyurt poses for her school picture.

Unlike what is often depicted in the movies, moving to a new country comes with an array of ups and downs. Being separated from one’s old life, they are essentially forced to “start over” and acclimate to an entirely new culture.

Gulmira Yesilyurt (‘25), a sophomore at Cherry Hill East, has done this not once – but twice.
Four years ago, Yesilyurt moved from Turkey to South Africa. And on March 17, 2022, she transferred to the Cherry Hill district. When given the choice, her parents had jumped at the opportunity to experience American culture.

“[My dad] had a dream to move here since he was in high school, and when he got the opportunity he just took it,” said Yesilyurt. Although she didn’t want to be separated from her friends at her old school, she decided to transition countries with an open mind.

But any transition, especially one such as that, is difficult.

“It was a new country, a new school, everything was new,” said Yesilyurt. She learned for the second time that acclimating to a new culture was harder than she had anticipated, and admits that she wasn’t always happy along the way.

The truth is, moving anywhere separates a person from the life they once knew. And although Yesilyurt still keeps in contact with her old friends, she admits that she was homesick up until recently.

Fortunately, she has begun to enjoy the district. She acknowledges that East did everything in its power to help her in her transition, and has found a group of friends that helped her whenever she was missing home.

Yesilyurt is glad that her transition to East has been going well, which she credits to her prior moving experience.

“It wasn’t as hard for me as when I had moved from Turkey to South Africa, because it was my second time moving,” Yesilyurt says. She compares her move to America to reading a book for a second time; since she already knew what to expect, the transition was easier for her.

There are a variety of unseen struggles that a foreign exchange student must face. But with prior experience and people there to support them, their transition can be made a bit easier.