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A trip to Texas for members of our student organizations

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Student associations Oxygene Plus, Academic Vision and Integraal organized a journey to Texas for college students to unbend before the exams. 60 students took the opportunity to get in touch with the American culture.
The students were welcomed at the cultural center Raindrop and travelled through several cities like Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. Different touristic attractions and educational institutions were visited, such as Fair Park, museum of Nature and Science, Seaworld, JFK museum, Rice University and the North American College. The latter is a university founded by academics with a Turkish background, who started their academic career in the United States. While some students were eager to gain information about future studies in the US, others were keen on seeing an NBA game.
The visit to the George Ranch, a farm located in Houston that portrays the country culture of Texas was appreciated by the participants. Another exciting moment was  the visit to the Johnson Space Center. Taking a closer look at space shuttles and getting to know the daily life of an astronaut was an impressive experience. Numerous pictures were shared on social media for the students who could not participate to the journey. The trip ended with a visit to San Marco Village where the participants could go shopping for souvenirs. This journey was organized by the above mentioned student association to expand the horizons of college students. From the feedback given by the students we believe we have accomplished our goal.
Some remarks by the students:
NASA : “The opportunity to visit this known space center that we could only see in Hollywood movies… The famous lines ‘Houston, the eagle has landed ‘ or  ‘Houston, we have a problem’ are fresh in our minds.Visiting the control center where projects have taken place that are of such a big importance for humankind and for science, discovering the training center for astronauts and studying the Saturn V rocket were an incredible experience!”
NBA : “Going to a basketball game of the San Antonio Spurs, one of the best teams in the NBA and being so close to star players like Ginobili, Tim Duncan, Tomas Jefferson, Tony Parker… The atmosphere, the show and effects… It was amazing! Welcome to America ! Let the Show begin…”
Extensive controls at the airport : “Getting to know the trauma of Americans caused by 9/11 and undergoing severe controls at the airport was staggering. The questions at the gate, almost a police interrogation and the fact that our friends with the name Mohammed were taken into separate rooms for interrogation explained  the extent of the paranoia in the US.”
Texas State Capitol : “We visited the parliament of Texas, where George W. Bush was governor during the previous legislature. The architecture of the building  that resembles the White House tells us the importance of it. Participating in meeting at the parliament was an enriching experiencing…”
“Texas, the lone star state… Texas is the last state to join the United States and the second biggest state. Texas is vital for the US given the oil industry. Texas consists of lots of space and it is a properious state. Petroleum is almost free, the cars are big, the roads are endless and the houses are huge, in short, ‘everything is big in Texas’. Texas size means larger than extra large! There is basically no public transport, since everyone owns car. And without exaggeration, water costs more than petroleum in Texas. All experts agree that Texas would be the first state to declare its independence if the American economy would crash.”
Science & Health: “The research and health centers for cancer in Texas are the world’s best ones. However, health care is very expensive in the state. Without a personal health insurance one can pay up to thousands of dollars for a simple procedure. We had the opportunity to visit an oncology center founded by Turkish scientists. Their presence in the heart of a region that is the world leader in the field of cancer treatment has given us new perspectives. Dr. Oz, who we know from television, is not the only Turkish scientist!”
The cowboys: “People from Texas have an own culture that influences their mentality, i.e. the cowboy culture. They are proud of it. Even the MP’s wear cowboy boots during parliamentary meetings.”
•The Mexican border: “The largest group of migrants from Mexico or Latin-America in the US live in Texas. This has to do with the fact that Texas borders Mexico. The ethnic minorities in Texas often do less valued work, but speak their own language and maintain their own culture without problem. This is probably due to the specific attitude of the U.S. towards freedom and migration. Even official institutions converse with them in Spanish …”
•San Antonio : “We climbed the Tower of America which was the highest tower of the country from 1986 to 1996. We also went to Fort-Alamo, a fortress that was the hub of the Texas Revolution and provided inspiration for dozens of films and books. The famous hero Davy Crockett with his typical hat with the raccoon tail fought here.”
•River Walk : “In the center of San Antonio channels were constructed that are below sea level. There are walking tracks, authentic restaurants and buffets nearby. We went on a boat trip…”
•Seaworld : “This was really fantastic! The shows of seals, dolphins and orcas was amazing to watch. The way these animals are trained is incredible. The stunts are just a detail… we were after all the witnesses of a real spectacle with the seals in the lead. It was quite entertaining.”
•Rice University : “300 American universities are in the top 500 of the world’s best universities, 50 of which are in Texas. We had the chance to visit one of them, that is Rice University. We had the opportunity to gain information phd possibilities. What struck us particularly was the originality of the architecture. The atmosphere is perfect. The college life is very dynamic. The students have a very strong sense of belonging to and respect for the university. Some of our friends were so impressed that they are planning on doing a master of PhD in Rice university.”
•North American College : “We were able to visit this university that was founded not so long ago by Turkish academics. Even the university is very young, its equipment, facilities and academic framework depict a dynamic and innovative university that might be able to take a place in the list of the best Texas’ universities.”
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