Grad School in Turkey, Take 2
Last week I finally started my second semester of grad school in Turkey. I’ve been on break for almost two months, so it’s nice to get back to work.
In the process of registering, I found out that I’m a solid C student here. Although I’m relieved that I passed, these aren’t the grades I’m used to and I hope that I can improve to at least a B average. I don’t think blaming my grades on the second language will work for the duration of an entire degree.
Registering was much easier this semester. My university is moving to doing everything online. Last semester, we had to go to the department, pick our classes, and get various people to sign some forms before our classes were confirmed. This time, we just had to log on to our student accounts, take an EU survey about last semester’s classes, pick the ones for this semester, send it to an advisor for approval, and show up.
Of course, I had never logged onto my student account, so I had to go to school to get my password. Every time I go there, I run into other classmates, and wonder what they’re doing there. The actual university campus is outside of town, in an area on the way to Eskisehir with all the other universities. Graduate classes are held at the institute, located inside the city. The professors’ offices are all at the university, so if registration is all online, why is everyone always at school? I kept thinking I was missing something, something that was obvious to every Turk but somehow unclear to a foreigner like me. Is my email confirmation not enough? Am I really registered for classes? It turned out some guys were contesting the university’s requirement for a 3.0 GPA in order to write a thesis, and others were just nervous about the online process and wanted to make sure they got their classes.
My classes this semester are more interesting: Political Theory II (required, and the least-exciting), Politics in the Balkans and Caucasus, and Turkey’s Accession Negotiations with the EU. Last semester I only took required classes, and since I’m not a big fan of discussing either theory or ideology, this term’s focus on less esoteric political science topics is a relief!
In a curious shift from last semester, two of the classes are in English. I didn’t realize this when I signed up for them, but since I picked classes based on interest level, I’m sticking with them. So far one class is entirely in English, probably because I am the only student, and the other is a hodgepodge of both languages. It’s interesting and a good challenge for me to flip back and forth.
My schedule doesn’t quite lend itself to travel as well as last semester either – no more five-day weekends! Obviously that wasn’t going to last, so I’m glad I got all that crazy travelling in while I had the chance. Now that I’m down to normal weekends like everybody else, I plan to take some day trips around Ankara and the middle Anatolia region on days off. Last semester I found all the time stuck on planes and trains while traveling was excellent for reading and studying for class. Now I’ll have to be a bit more disciplined. Wish me luck!