Neđla Ćemanović - Becoming a learner

I always knew I would study English language and literature, but I never knew that this choice would lead me to where I am today: living abroad and working as an English teacher in Istanbul, Turkey. When I look back on my career so far, I know that my first step towards this international life was choosing to study at IUS. When I started to look at my choices for a university degree,I had already heard of IUS from a few friends who were studying there, but I was not aware of how many doors it would open for me. Upon winning a 100% scholarship at the entrance exam, I felt the strong push to make the first milestone in building my education, and, later, career. Once I started my studies, I couldn’t help but notice the multicultural and international social setting at IUS.  I am thankful to have had the chance to experience such a crucial part of my young adulthood at a place where I was encouraged to speak my mind, express my opinion, and have constructive debates. Throughout my undergraduate studies, I had a chance to meet students and professors from all around the world, which broadened my horizons and gave me new perspectives in life. My time at IUS pushed me out of my comfort zone, and always made me think and question the world around me. The effect of full English language immersion was of immense importance to me as my major was English language and literature, and it gave me the confidence to create literary works in my second language. In my third year, I became a member of the Sarajevo Writers' Workshop with which I have published literary work (poems and short stories) both in Bosnia and Herzegovina and abroad. 

When I graduated from IUS as the best student of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the department granted me an MA scholarship. However, I decided to take a gap year in studying, and, instead, took a job at IUS’s English Language School - the very same place where I had taken my proficiency exam as a first-year student.  I still very vividly remember the day when I learned that I had got the job at ELS as an English instructor. Working at ELS was an essential formative experience for me and I am forever thankful to all the staff there who embraced me as part of their team. After working for one year at ELS, I decided to pursue my MA degree simultaneously. I am especially thankful to my mentor, Dr Julie Bates, and all the professors from the ELIT department for supporting me on my MA journey. 

In 2016, my husband and I decided to try our chances abroad, and we chose Istanbul. Being exposed to various cultures at IUS gave me a unique experience that was of crucial importance in our adaptation to living in a city as vast and diverse as Istanbul. In September 2016, I got a job as an English instructor at Bahçeşehir University’s School of Foreign Languages, and I have been a member of this amazing team ever since. Since the very first year in Istanbul, I took advantage of the educational opportunities that crossed my path. I completed important courses and trainings in the field of English language teaching and methodology, such as Cambridge's ICELT (In-Service Certificate of English Language Teaching), Train the Trainer, and the DELTA (Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). ICELT and DELTA have been critical in my career so far and they have given me the confidence to do the work that I do with love and determination. 

In 2019, I became a level coordinator at my school,and I have worked on a coursebook editing project since November. I still remember the first academic writing course I took as a freshman at IUS and all the drafts I used to submit to my professors in order to refine my skills. Still, the responsibility of editing content for the coursebook and the process of checking my students' writing drafts today haven't changed my attitude towards the field of second language teaching – I will always consider myself a learner. Even though I am far from home, I always carry a part of it with me. My goal is to share my experiences with the world, and Istanbul, being at its crossroads, has been a great place for that.