Funda Kocaarslan: 'All students here are hungry for knowledge, techniques and research'
We gain whatever we can. I feel like I learn things here that I would not learn anywhere else, and for that reason I feel so special for being here.
I studied Guidance and Psychological Counseling at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. Then, I wanted to continue with a Master's degree programme in Educational Sciences, but there are not so many options in Europe. At this point, Amsterdam attracted me with its educational, social and cultural opportunities. Because I will be dealing with people in my future profession, cultural context is also important; so I just cannot study it everywhere. Hence, I searched online a lot, and also consulted my professor back in Turkey about this university and the program. The tuition fee of this Master’s is a bit high, as I payed the non-EU rates, but I was privileged with being granted a scholarship. Besides, studying a Master’s requires hard work, it is not like being in an Erasmus exchange programme. Moreover, you are not a tourist here, you are a resident, and next to studying you do have to earn a living.
When I first arrived, the study advisors sent me an email, telling me that I could make an appointment whenever I wanted. This made me feel really welcome and cared for. Further, Annette and Frans, the programme coordinators, organized an evaluation meeting, and really listened to our opinions. It is nice, because they work on making our education better.
In the first year, we had courses on teacher-student interactions, disorders in educational settings, bio-ecological models and statistics. I also took some clinical courses. In these courses, I have really been able to bring my perspective to the table and develop it. My first thesis was on the relationship between the cultural background of adolescents and their living group climate perceptions in secure residential care in the Netherlands. In this area, I can use my knowledge and skills to develop better intervention programmes in residential care for adolescents and children. Future implications of research excite me so much!
After graduating, I would like to stay in Amsterdam, but whether I'm able to do so depends on my own investments. If I would want to work outside of the academic community, I have to learn Dutch. If I would want to stay in the academic environment, I think I would be able to survive without knowing Dutch, but I would have to make other investments like having higher grades. Being more involved in internships would be beneficial to prepare myself for academic job opportunities.’