Montana State University

International student completes Herculean load before returning home

December 28, 2006 -- by Carol Schmidt


Gokce Adsiz did the near impossible by completing 27 hours in one semester at MSU recently. The international exchange student from Turkey wanted to complete her degree at MSU before returning home. Adsiz earned a 3.6 GPA for the semester, which was completed in her third language. MSU photo by Jay Thane.    High-Res Available

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Gokce Adsiz must use two hands to remember the courses she took during the recently completed semester at Montana State University.

"Let's see," says the senior from Istanbul, ticking off classes on her fingers. "There was the "U.S. Presidency" and "Parties and Elections...."

She tallies three political science classes and an internship, electives that included an architecture class, microbiology and physics classes and their labs and then her face grows thoughtful as one class, a capstone research project, eludes her.

Perhaps it can be expected that Adsiz has a little bit of trouble remembering. The recently graduated international student just completed a whopping 27 course hours in one semester that included seven classes and an internship - twice the course load of an average student. She did so earning all A and B grades to earn a 3.6 grade point average. And, if that isn't enough, she accomplished the feat in her third language. Turkish and German are her first and second languages.

"I am a very stubborn person," says Adsiz with a warm smile and gentle manner that belie her claim.

Adsiz came to MSU more than a year ago on an exchange from Kadir Has University in Istanbul seeking a smaller campus, an American experience and an understanding of U.S. politics. She decided to get her degree from MSU about the same time that she saw that she had funds for one more semester.

"Everything fell together with my schedule so I decided to try," Adsiz said.

Nathalie Caillaud, MSU international student adviser, said she couldn't believe her eyes when Adsiz' lengthy schedule came through in the fall.

"I called her and said, 'Do you know what you are doing?'" Caillaud recalls. "She said, 'Don't worry. I WILL do it.' She is a very determined and amazing person."

Bonnie Ashley, associate MSU Registrar, office said that Adsiz was the only one of more than 12,000 students to complete that many credits during the fall semester. To take more than 21 credits, students must receive special permission from both their adviser and dean's office. It is highly unusual to complete such a load, Ashley said.

Adsiz, who even had a job at MSU Food Services partway through the semester, concedes that the final two weeks of the semester "were horrible." She studied every weekend and didn't get much sleep to complete all of the reading required in her major. " I really didn't go out much..."

She also said she didn't have a boyfriend. "If I did, I'd never been able to do this."

It was the only semester that the outgoing Adsiz didn't have an active social calendar. She said even though she came to MSU not knowing one person, she quickly made friends in the residence halls and was an active participant in several MSU organizations and MSU Outdoor Recreation programs, including trips to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Diego. She took classes in snowboarding and horseback riding. "I'm crazy for horses," she said. She added that last spring semester she completed 21 credits, so another six of internship hours didn't seem so unusual.

Adsiz said she loved her time at MSU. As much as she enjoyed the area and the outdoor sports, she will most miss the friendly people. At first, she said, she was shocked that people would say hello to her, a complete stranger.

"Everyone was talking to me and in a big city I don't think it would be like that," she said. She was also surprised at the relaxed relationship between students and professors at MSU.

"It is much more formal back home, but here professors are more like friends," she said. Adsiz particularly related to Franke Wilmer, a political science professor who was a successful candidate for the state legislature. Adsiz received six credits for an internship with Wilmer, helping her research issues for her campaign.

Wilmer said some of the "heavy intellectual work," research into voting issues, fell to Adsiz.

"She read an enormous amount of material -- articles, reports, commentaries from a variety of perspectives so that I could come to interviews, debates, or just to speak with voters on the door-to-door campaign with some confidence in my knowledge of the issue," Wilmer said. "She normally researched and reported on one issue per week. I honestly do not know how she managed to do all this and complete the work in her other classes."

Adsiz' future plans include earning a master's degree in economics or finance at a university in either Turkey or Germany, where she was born. She said her experience at MSU was great and will enhance her goal of one day working at an embassy or an international organization.

She plans to relax for a few days when she returns home to Turkey before seeking a job.

"I'm still dreaming of the work," she said. "But when you're done, you are very happy."

Nathalie Caillaud (406) 994-7751, nathalie@montana.edu