Mobility Programmes' Opportunities

Ben Alexander from Scottland went to Turkey to study at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, one of the greatest cultural points of the country. 

Mobility Programmes' Opportunities

Many students of HSE have the opportunity to expand their horizons through the Mobility Programmes provided by the University. Ben shares his experience, thoughts and pieces of advice as a Mobility Programme participant.

Could you, please, say some words about yourself and your background? Why did you choose Business and Politics in Modern Asia at HSE?

My name is Ben Alexander, I am a 2nd year Master's Student studying Business and Politics in Modern Asia at HSE. I chose this course at HSE because I wanted to expand my BA from a business background into a mixture with Asian studies to better understand the Asian market. I chose this course also because I wanted to work within Asia and believe this degree helps me achieve this goal. My future interest is still working in Asia but now more focus on the Middle East area. Preferably in some Management or Marketing position for a company, perhaps one based in UK that works with Turkish companies or vice versa.

Interesting choice of mobility destination - Turkey? Is there something special about your choice?

I chose Turkey because of a variety of reasons, I wanted to go somewhere that both interested me personally but would also help develop my knowledge of the country based on my studies. I managed to apply and successfully attend my mobility programme at Boğaziçi University, which is one of the best in the whole of the country. Turkey has a rich history, culture, cuisine and unique geographical landscape which all really have interested me for some time. Turkey like Russia is a country that borders across two main regions Europe and Asia, and so creates an often-conflicting culture question within the society which interests me as well. The programme in Turkey also had a very active student society and classes would be offline so was great option to return to a normal like learning environment, while some mobility options were only online.

Regarding the courses you did in Turkey, can you comment more on them?

I did a mixture of different subjects while I was there, I would say the course is really flexible for a range of different students as they had lots of courses available. I would recommend though that student applying should really study the course list and prepare for backups, as there is a small window of time to apply for classes and therefore students may not get what they want due to restriction of spaces, so plan ahead. My favorite class was Tourism, Society and Culture which was a small class where we discussed theory with practical examples and did creative tasks and lots of helpful participation.

Do you think the knowledge gained will be of a benefit to you in your future career?

I did several classes, some were more practical than others, for my professional career there were two that really helped me develop more, they were the Turkish Language and Operations Management. The first one helps in the practical sense of improving my language skills, and the second subject helped because of its usefulness in the labor market, as the class is not theory heavy and more practical using real examples of how business operations actually work. I believe both of these classes helped me and will be useful for future professional career. I also did a class in quantitative methodology, so it was good to get a new perspective and continue class on this subject as it helped a lot with starting to write my thesis. This will also help for my professional career in the labor market, as gave me practice for using primary data gathering methods such as surveying and interviewing.

Now let us talk about the experience itself. Can you highlight pros and cons of your experience in Turkey as an international student?

The experience was mostly positive, as an international student I was warmly welcomed by Turkish students and people I met. There were a lot of other international students as well, so it was great to also meet a lot of people from many different places around the world. I enjoyed doing trips to the areas, such as Cappadocia - a must visit if in Turkey, and smaller University events like beer pong nights at a bar. The negative points about my experience were mainly due to wider economic and political issues going on in the country which I won’t go on in detail, but you could get a sense that certain students and people were heavily impacted by this. But I would advise any student coming to Turkey to read about current situations as they happen.

Can you talk more about the cross-cultural experience you had with other students at the university?

I had many unique culture experiences with Turkish students at the University. One student who is Muslim took me to an event where they ate, socialized and prayed on the University territory, while this is usually done in a mosque. While I am not Muslim myself, I was able to still take part in some of the activities and meet many different students and learn more about their culture. Another cultural experience I had which was on one of the University trips to Cappadocia, they planned a “Turkish Night” in which they took us to a unique bar where there were many tables in a circle facing towards the center of the room where traditional Turkish dancers would perform. Occasionally you could get up and join on the dance floor, so that was a fun night to be part of. The university provides many opportunities for international students, and encourages them to join clubs and events where other students take on the role of organizing special and fun events for international students.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about studying in Turkey?

My advice to anyone who is thinking about studying in Turkey is firstly consider if this is a place you know much about and would like. Istanbul where I studied is a very big and busy city, perhaps students can look at other areas for less congested areas. I do believe however if students want to gain some experience, then Boğaziçi University I do recommend, and the professors and students are all very nice and helpful. Additionally, there is a lot of cats and dogs on campus, so if you love animals then this is the right place. You will not be disappointed with the amazing food and culture Turkey has to offer.

Intreview by

Nicholas Antunes de Andrade