International Balkan University (IBU) is making a name for itself in Türkiye through the success of Nefise Shaban, the best student of Generation 2019. Born and raised in North Macedonia, Nefise Shaban completed her undergraduate education in the psychology department at International Balkan University. Since 2020, she has been providing psychological support in Turkish, Macedonian, Albanian, and English at her psychology clinic in Türkiye. Proficient in the use of social media in Türkiye, Nefise Shaban has 87 thousand followers on Instagram. Most recently, she participated as a speaker at TEDx.
What is the first memory that comes to mind when IBU is mentioned?
When I heard your question, the first picture that came to mind was the graduation ceremony. On that day, most of us had mixed feelings. On one hand, there is this feeling of accomplishment from the hard work of four years and sadness that we have to leave; on the other hand, there is a lot of uncertainty about what will follow adulthood.
Why did you choose psychology, and would you choose it again?
In my generation, psychology was not as popular as it is nowadays. There were so many stigmas around mental health, and the public awareness of them was very low. People who would seek mental health support were seen as ill or weird. My main motivation was to break the stigma around mental health, and this could be best achieved by being an expert in this field. I would definitely choose psychology again. Courses were very exciting and fun, and studying was never boring for me.
What does society expect from psychologists?
Society can sometimes have unrealistic expectations from psychologists. For example, psychologists can be expected to give advice with a magic wand, believing that this will heal the person. But believe me, this is of no use. The therapy and healing process are nothing like this. The psychologist’s job is not to tell you what to do. Every job is to ask you the right questions and allow you to decide for yourself what is best. We can exemplify this as follows: the psychologist does not fish for you; she teaches you how to fish so that you can do it on your own, even when the psychologist is not present.
What are the benefits of a psychology degree?
Graduates with a psychology degree can pursue careers in a wide range of industries, including clinical psychology, counseling, education, healthcare, business, research, social work, and more. It has diverse career options. You learn how to analyze and solve complex problems, which can be valuable in various professions and life situations. And the most important of all, it teaches critical thinking and a non-judgmental perspective, enabling you to work effectively with diverse populations and understand different perspectives.
How has studying at an international university helped you adapt to building a career in a foreign country?
Student congresses and Erasmus+ activities organized during my education at Balkan University had prepared me for opening up to foreign cultures long ago. I think it is very important to participate in such events and get out of your comfort zone. Having university courses in English also gives you self-confidence because you feel like you can survive anywhere in the world. Apart from this, I had the opportunity to take lessons from very important professors in the field of psychology during my time, and I would like to thank them very much here. Thanks to them, I improved myself a lot, and with this self-confidence, I adapted to my career in a foreign country very easily.
Is psychology a good career idea for everyone?
I think anyone can find something that they will like in psychology because it is a very wide area. For example, if you are interested in business, you can pursue a career in organizational psychology. If you are specifically interested in sports, you can become a sports psychologist. If you are interested in working in laboratories and doing experiments, you can become an experimental psychologist. As long as the person is motivated to improve themselves, I believe they will glow.
How do I choose the most suitable major?
When choosing the most suitable major, several factors need to be considered. Your interests, your strengths and weaknesses, and your values If you weren’t going to make money doing this, would you still be happy doing it? If the answer is yes, then it is suitable for you. When you do your job with internal motivation, the rest will come anyway.
What is the biggest struggle in the life of a psychologist?
You can hear very compelling stories in the session room. Believe me, these can be much more surprising events than what you see in the movies. Since we are humans, of course we are being affected too. For example, on the days when I have sessions, I feel very tired, even if I am not physically working on a job. I make sure to take time for myself to rest. Apart from this, one of the most difficult aspects of being a psychologist is the expectations people in our personal lives have of us. Since we are psychologists, we are expected to act like Pollyanna all the time, but this is something that is against psychology. Our work life stays at work.
What advice would you give to the psychology students and to the recent graduates in psychology?
I recommend to them that they participate in student activities as much as possible. Doing extra research while studying for classes and exams is always a plus. Psychology is not just clinical psychology; if you are not interested in this field, there are many different fields that may interest you. Reading books and doing research as much as possible is a must to get a good job in this department. For those who are considering becoming therapists, I recommend that they receive training from reliable sources on cognitive behavioral therapy, gestalt therapy, or other approaches that interest them and go through their own therapy processes. In order to get to a good place, I recommend that they do our profession in accordance with ethical rules.