Critical Language Scholarship Program | Kathryn Robison
U.S. Flag   State Department Seal   A Program of the U.S. Department of State

Kathryn Robison

Kathryn (Kat) Robi­son is an alum­na of the 2015 CLS Turk­ish pro­gram in Ankara, Turkey. She is from Raleigh, North Car­oli­na, and is cur­rent­ly a Ph.D. stu­dent and grad­u­ate teach­ing assis­tant in the Depart­ment of Polit­i­cal Sci­ence at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Alaba­ma. (Her col­lege bas­ket­ball team loy­al­ty is split between UNC and her alma mater, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ari­zona.) When she’s not insane­ly busy with her course­work, she enjoys hik­ing, writ­ing poet­ry, yoga, trav­el­ing, and work­ing on a space news pod­cast called Talk­ing Space.”

Why Turk­ish?

I stud­ied Turk­ish as an under­grad­u­ate at The Uni­ver­si­ty of Ari­zona, and even though my grad­u­ate insti­tu­tions did not offer it, I want­ed to con­tin­ue to study Turk­ish both to increase my flu­en­cy and to apply my lan­guage skills to my grad­u­ate stud­ies in polit­i­cal sci­ence. I’m inter­est­ed in how small­er nations use space pro­grams to gain legit­i­ma­cy on an inter­na­tion­al lev­el, and how cit­i­zens influ­ence their nation’s space pol­i­cy; once I com­plete my Ph.D., I hope to obtain a tenure-track posi­tion in my field at a uni­ver­si­ty or col­lege and con­tin­ue to study this ques­tion in the Turk­ish context.

In a word…

Since I love space in gen­er­al, my favorite Turk­ish word has to be takım yıldızcon­stel­la­tion” – or maybe Aşk ve Gurur (“Pride and Prej­u­dice”), the first nov­el I pur­chased in Turkish.

Like a walk in the park

Ankara has real­ly fan­tas­tic pub­lic parks, and many of them are lit up at night and are filled with fam­i­lies walk­ing togeth­er; the fam­i­ly unit is so impor­tant in Turkey, and almost all of life revolves around the fam­i­ly. I absolute­ly think tak­ing a stroll with your host fam­i­ly in the park clos­est to you is a won­der­ful way to spend time with your host fam­i­ly and get­ting to know the rhythms of Turk­ish life.

Warm (and humid) memories

I loved spend­ing time explor­ing my host city with my lan­guage part­ner, Hülya. She was very proud of Ankara and very hap­py to intro­duce me to her cul­ture. We had so much fun explor­ing togeth­er! Once, we took shel­ter from a storm in a neigh­bor­hood called Ham­mamönü and worked on my Turk­ish over smooth­ies; she was try­ing to help me cor­rect­ly pro­nounce hâlâ (“still”) in Turk­ish, which is very sim­i­lar to the word hala (“aunt”). I was strug­gling so much and she found it real­ly hilar­i­ous, so in revenge, I taught her an Eng­lish word that is real­ly hard for Turk­ish speak­ers to pro­nounce. I still have the video that I took of her try­ing to cor­rect­ly say humid,” and I watch it any­time I’m miss­ing her. We still chat fre­quent­ly over What­sApp; it’s a fan­tas­tic way to prac­tice my Turk­ish, since Hülya doesn’t speak English.

The CLS experience

Since Turk­ish is not offered at my home insti­tu­tion, with­out CLS I would not have been able to achieve the lev­el of com­fort I now have with the lan­guage. I also real­ly enjoyed get­ting to know the Turk­ish cul­ture through liv­ing with a host fam­i­ly, which is a unique and reward­ing experience.

Words of wisdom

It’s real­ly impor­tant to be flex­i­ble! CLS is a very chal­leng­ing pro­gram which can be exhaust­ing, but learn­ing to be flex­i­ble can be very help­ful when you are exhaust­ed and deal­ing with any num­ber of issues that can come up when you’re in a for­eign country.


Alumni Profiles

Kathryn Robison
Kathryn Robison
Turkish 2015
Ankara, Turkey

See More Profiles


Posted Date

May 03, 2016