Student crosses ocean to better his tomorrow


Yigit Usta, 20, moved to the United States from his home Turkey, Istanbul.

Usta moved from Istanbul three years ago when his uncle provided an opportunity to study in the United States. With the help of his family, Usta went to the University of Arizona for a semester until he realized tuition was less expensive at Pima Community College.

Usta lived with his uncle’s girlfriend, Eileen, when he first moved to the States.

“She’s an angel,” he said. “She’s the one that helped me get into Pima and has been helping me with everything she can ever since.”

During his rst two years at Pima, Usta stuck with English classes. He is currently completing general studies courses. Although, Usta wants to participate in clubs at West Campus, along with the basketball team, his busy schedule restricts him from extracurricular activities.

“Pima has opened great opportunities for me like the ESL courses,” Usta said. “The classes are really small and you really get to have one-on-one time with the teachers.”

In his free time, Usta works out, reads and plays basketball.

Usta knew coming to the United States wouldn’t be easy, but he enjoys challenges. He had trouble speaking English the rst few months, but the students and faculty at Pima made him feel comfortable.

“My friends are the closest thing I have to family in the U.S,” Usta said.

Out of the many challenges, public transportation proved to be the biggest roadblock of all.

“It gets tiring waking up every morning and having to take the bus every day for anything I want to do,” Usta said. “Especially when it’s 100 degrees.”

Because Istanbul’s hottest temperatures peak at 95 degrees, Arizona’s environment alone has been a big change for Usta.

The religious makeup of the United States is another big difference.

Turkey’s Department of State shows that 99 percent of Turkey’s people today are Muslim, and although Usta says his mother is very religious and his father is not, he doesn’t choose a side.

“Religion in the U.S. is so different,” Usta said. “Amer- ica celebrates holidays like Thanksgiving, and the turkey is the best part.”

Usta found an apartment a year later after he moved in with Eileen, and decided that it was time to do things on his own.

“I want to prove to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to,” Usta said.

It has been hard for Usta to nd a job in the U.S. coming from what feels like a completely different world.

“I couldn’t find a job out of the school system,” Usta said. “I had to pay my rent, and get money to survive.”

In fall of 2016, Usta went into the café at West Campus and asked if they were hiring. A week later he got a call for an interview, and was soon after hired.

Usta is now in his third semester of employment at Pima. Usta wants to immerse himself in the culture and hopes to one day become a U.S. citizen and eventually start his own company in Turkey.

“A degree will open so many opportunities,” Usta said. “Becoming a U.S. citizen will, too.”

He video calls his family every day and ies back to Turkey any chance he gets.

Not only does Usta miss his family, but he also feels the lack of Turkish food.

“The hardest part about being so far away from home is seeing everyone change,” Usta said. “I hope it’s worth it to be apart from them.”

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