Diversity at Ball State provides a great learning atmosphere for international students

Talking full advantage of the new Student Recreation and Wellness Center which opened in August, Mert Uygur enjoys spending his free time playing basketball and soccer.
It’s about 5,500 miles from Istanbul, Turkey, to Muncie, Indiana—and the two cities are far apart in more ways than one. Founded in the 8th century and once the capital of the Roman and Ottoman empires, Istanbul today is one of the world’s largest cities, with a metro area straddling the continental divide between Europe and Asia. The Muncie area, with a population of roughly 70,000, was settled by Native Americans in the late 1700s, boomed a century later when natural gas was discovered, and became known for Ball jars and Ball State University.

Different though they may be, the cities share a bond in business education. Istanbul University enjoys a strong academic relationship with the Miller College of Business, and that link has drawn a number of students from Turkey to learn in Muncie.

“The reason I wanted to study here rather than Turkey was the experiences I can get in my university life, which can contribute to me while I look for a job back in Turkey,” says Mert Uygur, a second-year MBA student who arrived at Ball State by way of Istanbul University. “I found what I was looking for in Ball State, which was student-oriented professors and technology-integrated classes.”

Istanbul University professors also introduced Zeynep Karaca to Miller College—now Karaca is a second-year graduate student in accounting. “My aim of getting a master’s degree from Ball State is to expand my academic knowledge beyond the borders of Europe and understand the accounting profession and practices of the U.S.”

What can one do with that knowledge? “My career plans are rather flexible,” Karaca replies, noting that the past few years away from home have provided plenty of chances to experience new cultures while gaining academic and professional experiences. “I believe that my career path will definitely include an opportunity in which I can continue this learning process and be able to practice my profession in at international level.”

Uygur also hopes for a career with an international component. “I'm looking for a possibility to work in the U.S. for several years. Working in finance or marketing is my priority.”

Zeynep Karaca works on a research accounting paper in her favorite spot in Bracken Library.

Curriculum clearly is a significant draw for students who choose to learn in Muncie, but perhaps even more important is the interaction with fellow learners from another country and another culture. “The experiences that students can reach on both an academic and personal basis will be beneficial for the rest of their lives,” says Karaca, adding that studying abroad “fosters not only learning and understanding of the host country but also a sense of community among students from different countries.”

“We all experience cultural differences, but the good part is we learn to work in harmony, which I believe will be the most important contribution for our working lives,” Uygur agrees. “Living here and breathing the same air with people from all over the world is a one-of-a-kind experience.”