After graduating from the University of Leeds, I have been searching for an internship or job opportunity in the United Nations system. Host to many UN agencies and institutions, Geneva provided me with this opportunity.
Currently, I am working as a trainee at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, Governance Unit, Public Finance and Trade Programme where I am mainly responsible for the management of online training provided to the professionals of developing countries; and conducting research on various topics such as youth and equality in Sub-Saharan Africa, knowledge management, emerging powers in Africa.
My motivation to study at Leeds
When I was an undergraduate student, I had the option to do my exchange studies either in Leeds, UK or in The Hague-Netherlands. At that moment, I chose The Hague for various reasons however the University of Leeds has always been in a corner of my mind (i.e. how would my life be if I had chosen Leeds?).
Then when I finished my studies, I was able to get a scholarship provided jointly by the Turkish Government and the European Commission (Jean Monnet Scholarship programme). This programme supports students financially for one year in any university within the EU. Without hesitation, I chose the University of Leeds.
Deciding on my course was rather influenced by the fact that I had to do something related to foreign, defence and security policy (a chapter of the EU acquis) according to the scholarship programme requirements. I thought European Defence and Security Masters programme was the title for me.
I arrived in Leeds at the end of September (a little bit too late because of my scholarship/visa arrangements) 2009. I had a good welcome from the University while settling down in my student accommodation.
Everything related to regulations and arrangements with the University went very smooth. I cannot emphasise here how much understanding and help I received from the POLIS Secretariat and from my Programme Coordinator (namely, Ms. Helen Philpott and Mr. Neil Winn) not only at the beginning but also throughout the year.
Regarding life in Leeds as a student, I appreciated all the options available for University of Leeds students. I was quick to become a member of Photography Society where I met wonderful people whom I am still in contact with. Together with them, we enjoyed discovering photography in England, going out and socialising.
Finally, I should give credit firstly to the Student Advice Centre where I received great help when my bankcard details were stolen. Secondly, I should mention the medical services of the University and of the city itself where I had easygoing procedures and help for my health and wellbeing.
Basically, my course gave me a specialisation where I was able to go deeper into the European Defence and Security. I studied the topics I was always interested in: defence and security analysis, terrorism, developing world, modern Europe.
The learning environment
I was particularly amazed with the Library facilities of the University (both online and offline). There were very few very unusual sources that I would not find within University reach. Also, the system and the databases available facilitated my research. Studying within the libraries or computer clusters until late or throughout the night was a big advantage during dissertation writing.
Last but not least, I should mention the University Union. LUU is of course a place with many opportunities from job search to student clubs, from pubs to parties, from getting involved in youth work to University decision-making.
I simply loved Leeds. It is a city with a dynamic soul and a cheerful face. Many things are within walking distance and available (even on Sundays!). Transport system (bus station, railways and the airport) is easygoing and the city is neighbour to some attractive escapes such as York, Manchester, Harrogate or Whitby, Scarborough, Liverpool (if you dare to wake up early enough!).
People in Leeds are friendly. This was one of my biggest worries prior to my arrival: whether people will be nice and open to me. In the train station, at the hospital, in the university, library, shopping mall, people were always helpful and easygoing. That is now one of the biggest reasons that I would like to come back to England.
After I graduated, I started my current internship at UNITAR. I believe that my MA degree and the fact that I studied in England were two major reasons to be selected for this traineeship. The maturity and the intellect I got during my studies enabled me to see my future in a more clear manner.
Studying at the University of Leeds, with the biggest Student Union in the UK, in a city with lots of joy, dynamism and friendship is definitely a privilege…therefore my advice to students would be, after getting enrolled to the course; get to do as much as you can because time is short!