University of South Carolina

Hannah Miller

What I Did This Summer: Conduct political research in Istanbul, Turkey

"What I Did This Summer" follows a number of University of South Carolina students this summer as they work, travel, and explore the world. Many of them are blogging about their adventures. This is the fifth story in the series.

Check out Hannah Miller's blog at


A three-week trip to Japan after her freshman year in high school put Hannah Miller on the path to what she hopes will be a lifetime of travel.

“It was my first trip overseas, and I loved meeting people from a different culture,” said Miller, who has traveled to Europe several times since then. “That trip was the impetus for my dream career of international travel and diplomacy.”

Hannah Miller
Hannah Miller

Now a rising sophomore at Carolina with a minor in Japanese and a double major -- international studies and economics -- Miller continues her world travels this summer in Turkey.

I’ll be in Istanbul for seven weeks interviewing businesspeople, politicians, and top-level university students about their feelings on accession into the European Union,” she said. “The EU is an economic and political union of 27 member states, located primarily in Europe and committed to regional integration.

Turkey's flag
Turkey's flag

“Turkey is a crucial country because its integration into the EU forces Europeans to grapple with issues like what it means to be European, and if Islam and democracy are truly compatible,” said Miller, who is from Atlanta and received a McNair Scholarship to attend Carolina.

Another part of Miller’s summer adventure is taking classes in Turkish and sociology at Bosphorus University in the northern part of Istanbul. She is staying in a university residence hall with two other students -- one from Azerbaijan and one from the University of Michigan.

“I want to do diplomatic work in the future, and I think Turkish is a language similar to Japanese, which I already know, and the job market would be good,” she said. “The culture is really exciting and there are lots of cool things to do.

"While I’m in Istanbul, I’ll also be interning with a family friend who is the editor-in-chief of a political journal, Turkish Policy Quarterly, which is published in English,” she said. “The internship will give me access to prominent political thinkers I can interview.”

Amy Mills
Amy Mills

One of Miller’s professors, Dr. Amy Mills, is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography who earlier in her career lived in Istanbul for two years. She encouraged Miller to look into summer programs in Turkey, and prepared her academically and emotionally for being in a Muslim country.

“Turkey’s integration into the EU is an important process that has lately begun to falter,” said Mills, who also is a faculty member in the Islamic Studies Program in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Hannah’s research will examine the opinions and perspectives on this situation among those in Turkey who are currently (or will be in the future) involved in policymaking, administration, and economic development,” said Mills, the author of Streets of Memory: Landscape, Tolerance, and National Identity in Istanbul, published in 2010.

Miller is financially able to make the trip to Turkey through a combination of a Magellan Research Grant, Honors College Passport Travel Grant, and Walker Institute of International and Area Studies International Experience Award.

By Web Communications

Posted: 06/18/10 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 12/09/10 @ 3:44 PM | Permalink