Gastbeitrag von: Emir Çetinel

How is it to study abroad in Istanbul? – a country torn between East and West, that grows more than any European country but lacks the merits of a liberal and democratic society.

CEMS MIM means something absolutely different for everyone who experiences the various academic, professional and social components of the Community of European Management Schools’ Master in International Management.

For me, CEMS at the very core means being globally connected. After spending only eight months as a part of this alliance in Istanbul, I realized how many new cultural perspectives I had discovered. Having an engineering background, I believe in the true power of numbers. As I was wondering how CEMS added to my personal network, a little Facebook data mining showed that I had added 352 friends since starting my CEMS degree. And these are not just people I have met once at a party but done intensive group work with, discussed challenging topics and created projects. Considering that this excludes all the corporate representatives I have acquainted, one can understand the value-added offering of CEMS.

Through my tenure as a student board representative for my home university Koç in Istanbul, I not only contributed to the enhancement of the academic program by joining forces with very smart and hardworking students but also got the chance to see many new cities such as Sao Paulo, Dublin, Budapest and Barcelona. A direct reference of one of my colleagues also got me an internship in a top German Internet company. Being a Turkish student, I feared the work visa problem when I started my job search as my friends often got rejected at the very beginning because companies do not want to go through the lengthy process of a visa application – another hurdle of being non-European.

Turkey is often torn by its geographic and cultural position between East and West. After having a decade of disciplined growth in the economy, the country started showing danger signs in the most fundamental pillar of a modern nation, namely democracy. Prime Minister Erdogan’s bold move of shutting down the access to Twitter and YouTube for about two weeks got extensive coverage in the world media in the spring 2014. Even though many interpretations had been made on the topic, there’s a two-folded explanation for his move. Firstly, Erdogan wanted to stop people accessing the sound recordings of his corruption actions. His tapped phone calls started leaking to such social media platforms after December 2013 and he desperately took this anti-democratic measure as a solution. Secondly, putting the ban effective right before the crucial local elections, many believe that his action was timed to provoke the liberal opposition of the country and put them on the streets once again. This chaotic environment worked for nobody but Erdogan; by polarizing the conservatives and the liberals, he made his (voting) ranks even stronger.

Turkish society and politics are changing drastically and constantly. Needless to say, the direction of this change will be determined also by us, students with a solid modern and liberal education. In this sense, I find Koç University’s decision to join the CEMS alliance in 2009 very meaningful and hopeful for the future, as I can see it from myself how positively it adds to the students’ international orientation and personal network.