Yagmur is currently pursuing her Ph.D. degree in Wood Biology and Technology at Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. She found the programme and enrolled via StudyPortals. We asked Yagmur about her experience of searching and applying to a university abroad.
Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your name? How old are you? Where are you from?
Merhaba! I am Yagmur from Istanbul and I am 25 years old.
Where are/were you studying and what programme? What degree and how long is your programme? Why did you want to study abroad?
I studied at Istanbul University for my double Bachelor of undergraduates programme for Forest Industrial Engineering and Forestry Engineering. In Turkey, each engineering study is conducted for 4 years (8 semesters). As being a student of double Bachelor programme, I managed to finalize 2 of my studies in 5 years.
At the second year of my Bachelor studies, I went on exchange to Ljubljana Slovenia for a semester.
During my studies, I was very active in international organizations (especially at IFSA – International Forestry Students’ Association). The experiences that I gained as being a member of an international platform guided me to peruse my further studies abroad.
That’s why I applied to University of Eastern Finland (Joensuu) for their Master programme in Wood Materials Science and happily I got an acceptance with a scholarship offer.
Currently, I am studying at Georg August University – Göttingen for my Ph.D. in Wood Biology and Technology. I wanted to follow my education in a different country because I was very eager to learn about different cultural backgrounds, experience other study atmosphere and my high respect to Germany’s over 200 years old sustainable forest management.
Deciding for a university
What were your main priorities when choosing your university and your programme (e.g. academics, accommodation, university services & facilities, personal & professional development, city & culture, cost & funding, practicalities, social life)?
My main priority was the repetition of the qualification programme. Later, the availability of the funding and lastly the venue and the culture.
Was this your first study choice? What other universities did you consider? What was the main reason for your final choice?
Both for my master degree and Ph.D. I only applied to one university and got selected for each of them.
Did you know from the start that you wanted to study in that particular country and city? Why did you choose this particular location?
Since I studied forestry, forestry as well as its industry, are 2 main important fields in Finland, it was easy for me to decide on studying there. On the other hand, I cannot say the same thing for my Ph.D. decision. For deciding on my Ph.D. place, I was more focused on the repetition of the university, the qualification programme as well as the country’s own forest and sustainability criteria.
Did you find your study programme on StudyPortals? How did StudyPortals help you in your decision process?
Yes, StudyPortals was very helpful for my quest.
Did you take a language test (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS) when applying for the programme? If yes, which one did you choose, why and how was your experience with it?
I had IELTS score prior to my application to Master degree. I didn’t need to submit any language proficiency documents for Ph.D. application since I did my studies in English. I chose to take IELTS because of the soonest available exam date.
What would be your advice for students from your country that consider studying abroad?
They need to keep in mind that today, especially because of the fast globalization, we are no more a competitor of each other only, but also we need to compete with other international people. Having a multicultural study background is not only helpful for a job requirement, but also for everyday life.
Besides, language proficiency is also very important, would be very beneficial to have such document just in case. Lastly, there are many funding-scholarship-stipend opportunities, they can get such help if they are careful enough in their application (especially for motivation letter).
How did you finance your stay abroad and what financial advice would you give to future students?
I was lucky enough to get a scholarship for my Master study and get a contract for my Ph.D. As I mentioned before, a well written (nice indicated) motivation letter can be a key for scholarship nomination.
Why would you (not) recommend this particular city / university? How would you rate your experience on a scale from zero to ten (0 – It was a total disaster, 10 – I had the time of my life)?
Even though Joensuu is quite far away from the capital area, I believe it is one of the best places to study for forestry or related topics. It is named as “European Forestry Capital”. My experience from there is priceless, although the temperature sometimes reaches -35 °C, it was still a heartwarming city with all the activities and events offered by. I can give 9,5 out of 10 to Joensuu.
Göttingen is such a student-friendly city, there are many students here, unfortunately, I can not join student activities because of my busy schedule, still I know that it offers several opportunities. I can rate it with 8 out of 10.
Is there anything that you would do differently if you could do it over again?
I would prepare my language proficiency document few months in advance than the application process ends. I recommend students to gain one as soon as possible.
What was the biggest surprise in your study abroad adventure?
I observed that sometimes the different nationalities, multiple native languages or various cultural backgrounds are united us in our differences. We mostly express our humor-feelings in the same way. Being abroad shows you, I experienced these differences in a unique way and will always remember them as good memories.