Transitioning to a New Culture

by Hakan Karaaytu on October 16, 2019
Transitioning to a New Culture

Hakan Karaaytu was a student in the master's of arts in interdisciplinary studies.

My name is Hakan Karaaytu. I have a Master's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Niagara University in the United States. I graduated in May of 2018. This is a story that I should have written a long time ago. It starts in Ankara, Turkey and ends in Niagara Falls, NY on my way to becoming an American citizen.

When I arrived in New York at the JFK Airport on June 26, 2016, I felt like I was arriving on another planet. Different smells, different road signs, different car license plates and most importantly a different language.

I won a scholarship from Niagara University for the 2016-2017 academic year. I was excited to study at a good university and get to know different cultures and people. I remember everything like it was yesterday. My plan was to improve my English language skill while pursuing my master’s degree in media. But like everyone else, I've been going through things I've never imagined. I took a variety of classes including classes on media and women's rights. I also wrote a thesis about how the Turkish government has changed Turkish media systems in 18 years with the title "The Independent Journalists Reporting on Political Issues in Turkey, using Traditional and New Media". My thesis could have caused trouble for me in Turkey, but that didn’t stop me.

I took part in many social and club activities on campus. I worked at the dining hall on campus to cover my personal expenses. I was also involved in club activities at the Democratic Students Club. I had the chance to observe a very important case at the New York Supreme Court. This case was discussed in Turkish and American media for days. If I hadn't lived in America, I wouldn't be able to pursue this case.

I applied for and received my green card in a short period of time. In fact, everything was happening so quickly my life felt like a dream-nightmare mix. One foot is touching the nightmare in Turkey, and one was on the other foot touching the American dream. It was hard to start from another country again. While I was excited to be here it was a long and challenging period for me to learn the language, culture and habits of a country. I feel lucky to experience all this while living at Niagara University.

What am I doing now? In 2018, I graduated from Niagara University with a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies. I am working towards a PhD in Media Studies and Journalism. I also work full-time and as a free-lance journalist for Internet journalism that broadcasts in three languages. I want to specialize in theory for the field I see in practice. I always want to devote my life to freedom, democracy and human rights.

“The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow.”-Rupert Murdoch. This inspiring quote by Murdoch simply explains a new world reality for different areas including politics, education, media, science, and business.

I believe that I will capture and contribute to this change by blending the information that I learned at Niagara University with what I will learn while pursuing my education in a doctorate program.

For more information on the M.A. interdisciplinary studies program, please contact Dr. Mustafa Gokcek at gokcek@niagara.edu or 716.286.8195.