It was a teacher in my first year of high school in Ohio who originally got me interested in the subject of history. I have found history the best lens through which to look at other cultures; an interest, which took me to Istanbul, where I lived and worked for four years. I travelled widely in the region––in Iran, Lebanon and Kurdistan––and enjoyed the energy of Turkish culture. It was during this time that I first heard about SOAS. In all truth, I never expected to get into SOAS, but I was encouraged to apply and, now that I am here, I can say that it has lived up to its high reputation: the academics teaching my history course have been fantastic, and I have been able to pursue my specialism in the history of the Middle East. One of the biggest privileges I have found studying in the UK is the freedom to research the topics I choose; a situation, which is not always a guaranteed right in other countries. After graduation, I hope to remain in the UK, ideally working in the field of NGO policy making.