From India, Greece, Italy and Turkey to Kent

Education Abroad Manager in the Office of Global Education, Ediz Kaykayoglu moved to Kent from Istanbul, Turkey nine years ago. "It's safer here," Kaykayoglu said. "I think it's a perfect place for students to learn." Photo by HANNAH POTES.

Ediz Kaykayoglu

Academic program coordinator in the Office of Global Education

From Istanbul, Turkey

Ediz Kaykayoglu said he still holds tight to his Turkish roots, but he defines home as a place where he is happy and successful. He has lived in the United States for nine years, after leaving his hometown of Istanbul, Turkey.

“I left home for education purposes; I came over for my graduate degree,” he said. “When I came as an exchange student, I came for that cultural experience.”

Kaykayoglu completed his master’s degree at Kent State and is now working on his doctoral degree while serving as the study abroad manager for the Office of Global Education.

Istanbul, he said, is different from Kent in almost every aspect — the biggest difference being population. Istanbul is home to about 13.5 million people, and Kent has a population of about 30,000. The dominant religion in Turkey is Islam, but the country has Asian, Middle Eastern and European influences.

Kaykayoglu said he is a world citizen. He first came to the U.S. in high school for a study abroad program in Wisconsin.

“Where I come from, it snows maybe two times a year,” he said. “Wisconsin, as you know, is in the north, so a lot of snow. In Kent there is also a lot of cold weather. It’s very different.”

Despite drastic weather differences, Kaykayoglu said he didn’t experience much culture shock. Kent State is a “welcoming environment for all internationals,” he said, and that’s why he thinks the university has a growing international community.

Adriana Di Biase

Italian and Spanish instructor

From Foggia, Italy

Adriana Di Biase traveled to Kent State two years ago for a better education.

“When I decided to apply for a Ph.D program in translation studies, I tried to get in the best ones, and Kent State University was on the top of the list,” she said. “I would have never hoped for anything better than Kent State.”

Di Biase is from the small town of Foggia in southeast Italy near the Adriatic Sea. When she came to Kent in August 2010, she said it wasn’t hard to leave her country, but it was hard to leave her family.

“I really miss them. They have always supported and encouraged me to experiment and find my own way,” she said. “The same happened when I decided to apply for Ph.D. in the USA, and to Kent in particular.”

When she thinks of home, Di Biase said she doesn’t think of the town, but her “large and loud” family of five. She said the Office of International Affairs has helped her adjust because its staff works with international students every day.

“I am accustomed to the American lifestyle, and I don’t feel homesickness anymore,” Di Biase said. “But it was hard for me to get used to living in a place all by myself. Music, friends and work helped me a lot.”

Uma Krishnan

English lecturer

From Delhi, India

Uma Krishnan has been living in the United States for almost 25 years. Her home city of Delhi, India, is more than 7,000 miles away, but she still makes the trip so she can visit her family.

Krishnan said she decided to come to Kent State for “opportunity and higher education.” She had the chance to work while completing her doctorate degree.

“I left home because my husband, my fiancé at the time, was here, so I came here,” she said. “I had traveled abroad before, so I knew that I wanted to travel abroad to get an education. It was a good opportunity for education and my goals.”

Delhi is a “very open kind of society,” she said, with a blend of cultures and religions. With a population of almost 17 million people, the city is crowded and lively. It also has a rich historical background, Krishnan said.

“Delhi is a very interesting place, like New York [City],” she said. “You can never get bored in New York; Delhi is very similar to that. Delhi is vibrant.”

Krishnan said she misses her family and the culture of Delhi, but she doesn’t let that stop her from enjoying Kent.

“It’s the environment and the attitude of the people is what makes a big difference,” she said. “That is what makes Kent State University a unique place; people are so open and ready to help each other.”

Spyridon Margetis

Physics professor

From Mesolongi, Greece

Spyridon Margetis has lived in the United States for about 10 years — working as a physicist at Lawrence Berkley Laboratory in California and Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York before coming to Kent.

Moving to the U.S. was not the first time Margetis left his home in Mesolongi — a town of about 15,000 people in western Greece. He studied in Athens, Greece, and later moved to Switzerland to work in the CERN laboratory. After that, he studied in Germany then moved to California to further his career.

“Academic freedom always appealed to me, so I left a national lab to become a professor, build my own research group and pursue my research interests,” Margetis said. “Teaching was a side activity at the time. I will not lie, my emphasis was on research and science.”

Margetis misses his family, his friends and Greece’s “beautiful, mild weather,” but he said Kent State makes him feel welcome.

“American-born profs in the physics department are a minority, most of us are foreigners,” he said. “Northeast Ohio also is a rather welcoming place for non-U.S.-born people, I think.”

Contact Maura Zurick at mzurick@kent.edu.

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