Hi! Please tell us more about yourself and why you decided to study with MLA College.
Hello, my name is Alara Merzeci Kaleoğlu and I am a current student at MLA College studying MSc Sustainable Maritime Operations programme. In 2020, I have graduated from Durham University with a law degree, and I am currently completing my law equivalency and accreditation courses at Istanbul University, Turkey, whilst also doing my internship at Ülgener Law firm which focuses on Maritime Law.
Even before starting my law degree at Durham University, I was certain that I wanted to focus on maritime law for my career path. Unfortunately graduating at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic had its difficulties to pursue further studies in the UK due to the travel restrictions. I am happy that I found out about MLA College’s online programme opportunities at the time, which made it possible for me to start my master’s degree on the field where my interests lie.
Please tell us more about your programme of study and why you chose it?
As a lawyer to be, of course along with all the invaluable legal knowledge, I believe it is important to comprehend the background operations of your chosen practice area, the functioning of the principal organizations and understanding the current challenges faced by that sector. The MSc Sustainable Maritime Operations programme not only covers all these components and much more, but also brings together many successful businessman and women, people who have years of experience in the maritime sector, providing a global maritime network. As a recent graduate, I did not have enough experience or was not involved in the maritime sector before starting my master’s degree however, with the help and support of my academic tutors, I have now a high-level understanding of the functioning of the maritime sector.
What inspired you to pursue a UK degree from your home country?
Britain is undeniably one of the most favoured places to learn about maritime due its history of being one of the maritime powers since centuries. For that reason, I was aware that not many other places would be able to provide me with this level of accumulated knowledge. As much as MLA College provides a high-level education for all who are interested in learning about the depths of maritime, also, being in collaboration with University of Plymouth, which offers one of the top five maritime university programs in the UK, is a combination that inspired me to pursue my further studies in the form of a distance learning UK degree.
How are you finding your online learning experience? What are some of the challenges you faced in the beginning and how did the College help you overcome them?
I find online learning experience to be very practical and adaptable to your day-to-day life. As I am now moving on to my final module when I look back to my last one and a half years there is not much of a challenge I can even remember of. The functioning of the online modules is very much systematic and effective, you can watch your recorded modules anytime from anywhere after uploading the Learning Package to your computer. But in the case of a challenge, a simple question, or any little inconvenience MLA College has the most supportive and kind team to help you solve the problem as soon as possible by guiding you throughout the way.
Is it challenging balancing other responsibilities with your studies?
During my studies at the MLA college, I have met students who at the same time leaders of large numbers of crew members or who are seaman travelling for months and many other people balancing their responsibilities and workload. As I have mentioned above, I am currently completing my law equivalency courses, doing my internship at a law firm and at the same time have finished most of my master’s degree and moving on to my last module. Along with this programme, I always have had other responsibilities which I had to manage in parallel with each other. Perhaps the best part of obtaining a degree online is being able to achieve much more within the same period. This programme allows you to self-organize, there are no strict schedules of weekly classes, the modules are all pre-recorded and uploaded to the system so you can set your own pace without being overloaded with work.
How are you finding the learning materials? Is it easy to understand and learn?
The learning materials are very well organized and are easy to follow, recordings all have transcript versions attached below the module videos which helps to keep up and so you do not have to pause every few seconds to take notes. Also, the language used by the tutors is very friendly for foreigners also, nothing is rushed, and everything is explained for everyone to understand. The content of the modules is also carefully planned since every module include not only the core content but also informs about the challenges faced for that matter, supported by legal matters or research previously conducted when interrelated.
What is the support like from your lecturers and other MLA staff?
Up until now I have completed five modules and each one of my tutors have been incredibly helpful and supportive. Also, it is possible for students to upload a draft version of their coursework before the deadline for detailed feedback on what to improve to get a higher mark. This is a great opportunity for students who would like to enhance their writing methods, most particularly academic writing. I have once missed my deadline for a coursework, and I can remember the email my tutor sent me as a reminder and was offering any help possible if anything was wrong. It was a very polite way of giving the chance for the other person to explain themselves. Overall, I can say that supporting and being friendly is a priority for all members of the MLA College which makes the process much more enjoyable.
How are you hoping your career will progress once you have graduated?
As mentioned above I hope to become a lawyer soon and my hope is to pursue my career particularly within the maritime world. I believe what I will be taking home with me once I successfully finish this programme is invaluable and having this knowledge will allow me to be better at what I do.
Would you recommend other potential students to study with MLA College, if so, why?
I would like to mention a memory of mine, during my internship I was once at a courthouse and there was a witness hearing, the witness was a ship manager. After the hearing, at some point I realised we were in a heated conversation about the emission rate restrictions imposed by different countries. Essentially, I realised at that moment how this programme had benefitted me to learn about the background functioning and daily challenges of the maritime world. Overall, the purpose of me mentioning this memory is that this programme may seem to be formed especially targeting the people directly involved with the shipping sector however I would suggest this program for everyone from all sectors such as myself who are interested in maritime law.
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