Hello, firstly we would like to get to know you. Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
I am Ferah Özer and I am currently working as a research assistant at Bogazici University in Turkey. I graduated from Abant İzzet Baysal University as a Science Teacher, then I earned my Master’s Degree at the same university and I am continuing my PhD on Science Education there, as well. I am also the founder and former president of Erasmus Student Network-IBU section.
When and where did you go on Erasmus? And what was your main purpose to participate in this program?
My first Erasmus experience was in Halmstad, Sweden. It was under the framework of Study Mobility, so I took courses and I worked in a Swedish public school as an intern. I was aware of the Erasmus program, since I was studying in high school, the program was being newly implemented then in Turkey. I decided to be part of this program when I first watched a documentary about Erasmus in Turkey. My main purpose for joining the program was to explore myself and to get inspiration from world.Also, there were the mutual values of European Union which I totally agree with and I wanted to experience these values in a European country. Therefore, I joined the Erasmus program and I learned a lot about different cultures, values, studies, people and professionals.
My second Erasmus experience was in Barcelona, Spain which was under the framework of Internship/Placement Mobility. I worked in a research centre about my field during my master’s education, which contributed to my masters’ dissertation a lot. Also I started to learn a new language which was one of the things that I enjoyed the most. My purpose for this time was to improve my professional and academic skills by being a part of a research group and a research centre, which I’m taking that I might have succeed it.
Are you still in contact with the people you met during your exchange?
Yes, with most of them. I still stay in touch with them.
Which skills did you gain out of your participation in Erasmus program and how did you put these skills into practise in your professional life?
The experiences that I gained during my Erasmus(es), helped me through my entire professional career. It also improved my crisis management and problem solving skills which are essential skills for a professional life.
What is the importance of the Erasmus program in your career? Could you tell us whether there were any differences in your career aims before and after your Erasmus experience?
Erasmus mostly helps you to gain a new perspective about values, cultures and people, and these are the key elements for a healthy society. After graduation, individuals become part of the society and take responsibilities on many issues about decision-making. These values, perspectives and ways to live develop us. I think the most important key factor of Erasmus is this.
Success can have different meanings for each of us. For some of us, its learning a language, for some of us passing with an ‘A’ from a course or for some of us travel to the world. I guess my first biggest success was going abroad alone when I was 15 and surviving there.
What was the turning point in your life that lead you to become successful?
I’d rather not to answer, since it does not match with my situation very well.
When and how did you become ESNer?
ESN and my roads were crossed when I started to work for our university’s Erasmus office, right after the arrival of my first Erasmus in 2011. Our office coordinator asked me to do a small research about it and to establish the section in our university as well, which I did officially in 2012. Since then, I’m an ESNer, I guess. ☺
What did you do throughout your ESN career?
- Establishing the section and being the president for 3 years.
- Joined national & international events.
- Carried out social projects for underrepresented groups, which I enjoyed the most throughout my ESN career.
- Organized a Section President Meeting in 2014 in Bolu.
- Coordinated the national meetings as the Chair.
Considering the responsibilities that ESNers take, which advices can you give to them for their professional lives?
Being part of this huge network requires some responsibilities to be fulfilled. Thus, I would say: Step up! Don’t be afraid of taking responsibilities. Those experiences and the knowledge you will gain while being an ESNer will help you a lot, when you become a professional.
Do you recommend people to join ESN and what can you advise to current ESN members?
Yes, of course. Among other things we human beings need to socialize and the ESN environment provides that very well.☺ Become an ESNer as soon as possible. And for those who are current members, move the torch forward all the time!
Last but not the least, would you recommend students to go on an exchange through Erasmus program? Do you have any advices for these students?
Of course I highly recommend students to be part of the Erasmus program some time in their university life. I also always urge my students to go Erasmus as well. One of the greatest experiences you can get in your life!