Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bilkent Week 6

This past week at work I finally started to do some research. I am mainly gathering current literature on the professors subject of transformational leadership and teams. I will start writing literature reviews for the articles when I am finished collecting them. I have also been working on other accreditation stuff for the professor, which is fine. I am really enjoying my semi private turkish lessons with 2 other students from Russia and Bosnia, however, my classes end today. Our Turkish instructor was really great- I wish the classes were longer--mainly because I really enjoy the people.
Besides that, my aunt/best friend came to visit last week and we had an awesome time. I showed her around Ankara and then we spent the weekend in Kuşadası which is a super touristy town in the region of Izmir. From here, we visited Ephesus which is a large ancient city. It was a nice weekend- I will post pictures once I actually upload them. This weekend, my friend and I will go to Istanbul for our friends wedding (a UM alum), which I am looking forward to. I think the wedding will be a good cultural experience since there are many different Turkish wedding traditions.
Thats about it for now! I should probably get back to work :)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Marketing Department in Istanbul

I'm in marketing department of the company. They gave me this package about their client's profile to read (both potential and active clients). I didn't really understand the first client's profile I read because it's all about finance, which is not my major. However, it was very interesting and I learn a lot from reading. After I finished reading, Mehmet (the manager of the marketing department) summarized and explained the package I read. Nonetheless, he also analyzed this client for me, whether it is a good idea to invest with this client. This is very helpful for me to fully understand what they do in marketing department.

During the week, I read many client's profiles. Then I have to summarize about the client's company to people in the marketing department. I also have to suggest if marketing department should make deal with that client.

One of the people in the marketing department took me out of office to see another FIBA Factoring branch (near airport area). This area consists of many industrialized company, who would be potential clients in the future. Then we went to visit the current client's company. We mainly talked about the financial side of the clients company.

The main job of marketing department is to go out of the office and meet with the current and potential clients. While they are in office, they also put in checks or invoices of their clients into their system.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Week 3 in KL!

Time's going by pretty quick. I'm focused on work mostly, and in the city there isn't THAT much to see other than some shopping malls and such. I'm starting to think the sights and sounds here can't match Istanbul! But on the upside there's a theme park nearby, at the top of a mountain. People keep telling me the air is cold and I should bring winter stuff, but really, how cold could it be for South East Asia? I plan to go over there to check it out one of these weeks, but not too sure on the plan yet. I might even take a bus trip down to Singapore to visit for a couple of days over the weekend! It'll be an exciting experience.

Work is getting pretty standard. I got lucky in that I'm assisting in a brand new project, so even the people there don't know too much about it. It put everyone on the same page. We'll be uploading the fixed assets into the accounting system. It's not the most exciting thing, but definitely quite interesting. It's also giving me a lot of experience with this system that is quite widely used in big firms (especially MNC's). There isn't much that goes on during the weekdays, and I haven't had much time to go around much.

Last week we went to Chinatown. It was very nostalgic for me, and I walked along the streets reminiscing of the crowded Thai markets I used to grow up in. It was a different experience though. Because it was in the evening, it wasn't so hot out. The things that were being sold in the market were mostly fake things, but there were also some that are legitimate as well. There aren't that many tourists in KL, not sure why. I do see them from time to time going to /from work, but I don't see that many tourists lounging around in bars and such.

I'll sign off now, but hopefully I'll get my photo's to start working, then I can finally start putting something up!

2 Weeks in Istanbul

Hey, everyone! I'm a little late for the blog, but I think I will catch up! lol

So it's basically been almost 2 weeks now since I arrived in Istanbul. I'm living in Koc University's dorm, which is probably more like a 3 star hotel. They even come like 2 times a week and clean up our room, which is pretty cool. I'm living in the West Campus, which is like 3-5 minutes bus ride from the Main Campus and there's a shuttle service there. Both campuses are located 10 minutes away from the Sariyer district of Istanbul, which is located 40 to 90 minutes bus or subway ride from the center of Istanbul depending on how bad the traffic is. In terms of internship, I'm helping Koc with the accreditation, which is coming like in 1 month or so. I'm almost done with it and looking forward to some more interesting stuff, maybe somehow related to economics or business.

Thus far, I've been to the center Istanbul only once, but it definitely was an amazing experience. My roommate Peter, another UM kid, who came 2 weeks before showed me around there. We went to Taksim, which is the very heart of Istanbul, from where you can basically get bus or sub anywhere. There are hundreds of little cafes, restaurants and shops, which are all located along the traditional small and cozy Istanbul streets. From Taksim we went to the Old City of Istanbul, where Ayasofya, Sultan Ahmet Mosque, Grand Bazaar, etc are located. As we wandered around, I was amazed at how many ancient ruins just lying around this city has. Last weekend we (me, Peter, Zhewei, UM kid too) went to Fethiye, which is like Antalya or Bodrum, but I think is even better, although I've never been to either of the two. We took 2 days off and stayed there 4 days, and every day we did sth really cool. For example, on the first day we went to Tlos, ancient ruins initially inhabited by Lycians, but which also has been used by Hittites, Greeks, Byzantines and Ottomans. I liked it a lot! Then we went to Sakli Kent, which from Turkish means Secret City. On the 2nd day we went to Kayakoy, an old village inhabited by Ottoman Greeks, who left it during population exchanges between the Ottoman Empire and Greece in the beginning of the 2oth century. So this city is basically hundreds of empty stone houses, which looks pretty scary if you go there at night. From there we hiked 8 km to Oludeniz (Dead Sea) through the pine forest and mountains and got lost there 3 times, but it was all fun. LOL On the 3rd day we went on the 12 Island tour, which was one of the coolest things we've done in Fethiye. Boat did 5 stops, 4 islands and 1 cave. We jumped out of the boat and swam to the caves, amazing experience. On the last day we went to Kabak and from there did 30 minutes hike down from the mountains to a remote beach. It was probably perfect end of our trip to Fethiye.

This weekend, we're going to Edirne, Ottoman Empire's old capital and one of the most beautiful cities in Turkey. It's located in Thrace right on the border with Bulgaria, so it must be a slightly different culture than inland Anatolia. There's going to be a festival and 700 years old Oil Wrestling competition. So it must be cool!

I will make another post after Edirne, so look forward for that!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Week 5 at Bilkent

This past week has been pretty routine. I have been attending Turkish classes for 3 hours in the mornings after which I have lunch and do some work. I am enjoying most of the work I do, but what I find more interesting are the differences between the university system here and universities back at home (mainly UM.) I like to observe the seemingly subtle differences that actually have a great impact on how things function. Besides that, this week I started to work on research with the professor and her research partner, they are both really nice. The professor I work for was actually a visiting scholar to the UM Psychology Dept (my concentration) while she was working on her PhD. It was neat to hear about her experience at Michigan.
Outside of work, I have made some friends, so sometimes I meet with them or I relax or study. I am really enjoying the food (both the home cooked Turkish meals I have most nights and the restaurants).
The family I stay with took me to a nearby city called Beypazarı this past weekend. Its an old city that has many old style Ottoman houses--they also grow alot of carrots there I guess. On Wednesday, my aunt (also my closest friend) will arrive in Ankara and on Friday we will visit Kuşadası/Efes together. I will post pictures of the university, Beypazarı, and my trip this coming weekend soon.

2nd Weekend in Istanbul

This weekend is really interest. I went to tour around the historical site alone, without knowing how to speak Turkish. It was fun and adventurous. However, I asked someone people in my office how to get there. I have to take a mini and then a ferry to the old town part of Turkey.

First, I visited Spice Bazaar. I ended up spending a lot of time there, trying to buy souvenirs. Then I walked up to see Hagia Sophia. On the way, I stopped at many places. One of the places was for lunch. They had fresh squeezed orange juice. I also had Donar, which is a typical dish in Turkey. Then I went to see historical sites such as Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Sultan Ahmet Mosque, and ect. They were all beautiful and interesting.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Interesting Istanbul

Life in Istanbul couldn't be better. Working at Girisim Factoring is going extremely well. My work day is long. Every day I get up and leave  the dorm by 7 am. My roommate, Joy, and I walk 15-20 mins to a bus stop where a company service bus picks us up. We then finish the route and drive to Europe (haha, it's weird knowing you live on one continent and work on the other!), which takes about 45-1 hr. We get dropped off across the street from where Joy works - conveniently located next to one of the big malls in Istanbul :). It's also where I get on the metro to finish off my trip to work. I usually arrive between 8:30 and 8:45.

Every day at work, I learn more about business and finance. I use some of the databases to file critical information, checks, invoices, etc., for the company. It's sometimes tedious work, but it's interesting to learn about the factoring process.

The company is very small, approximately 25 people. Because of it's small size I get to know everyone better.  The first week was a little rough; no one knew how to approach me and vice versa. Now they're like my family! Also, my Turkish language skills have gotten so much better. I can understand so much; now I just have to work on my speaking. The office has also loved learning English as well as about the U.S.

My co-workers have also been extremely helpful when it comes to sightseeing. They recommend me sites to see, and they are helping me book bus/train tickets to other cities. Next weekend I am planning on going to Canakkale, where the remains of the city of Troy remain as well as ancient battlefields. I am also planning on traveling to Izmir region, Bodrum, Antalya, Ankara, and Cappadocia.

I haven't yet gone outside of Istanbul. There is so much history in this city! Everywhere you turn there's another building or park that has a story to be told. There's also the clash of modernism. In my history classes,  I always heard that phrase "clash of culutres". It took me a visit here to really grasp what that meant. It truly is a clash. Where there's archaic pottery, there's modern buildings. It's been amazing seeing it in person.

Ozyegin University Dorms. My building is the one straight back from the gate

Mosaic remains from the Great Palace

Obelisk remains from the Hippodrome

Archaeology Museum!

Pottery circa 4500-3200 BC 

 Statue inside the Museum

Me with more statues in the Museum

Some of the shops in the historic district

Spice Bazaar

There aren't just spices there!

Grand Bazaar

Mosque on the Bosphorus

Friday, June 18, 2010

Living life in Istanbul

Hey, I'm a little late on the whole blogging thing, but I've been working in Istanbul at Koc University for about 2 weeks now, and it's pretty cool. First off, the campus is beautiful and surrounded by the vast Belgrade forest. Our dorms are great, the town that we are directly near, Sariyer, is a little conservative fishing town mixed with a rich suburb, which is a very interesting combination. I've been doing some research here with a Turkish professor who got her Masters at Michigan state. We are basically doing a study on how different management styles affect the product development process!

Oh, I've been traveling a bit as well. Aside from going into the old city and Taxim (city center) often, last weekend I went to visit some ancient ruins outside the city of Izmir. I stayed at a cool hostel in the town of Selcuk and from there hiked to Ephesus (well preserved Roman town). Also so some other stuff over there, including going wine tasting with some people I met at the hostel at this village in the mountains called Siringe.

This weekend my roomate (Rauan), another UM kid, and I will be traveling along the Lycian Way to Fetihye, Olundiz, Farala and Katakoy for a mix of Turkey's best beaches and Lycian tombs.

Will upload pictures soon!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Factoring Stuff

As of working environment:
Before entering the building, you have to pass security scan. You also need a card to pass the gate. Working environment is different. People at the officer just talked across their tables. The office was never quiet. Everybody tends to talk and walk to other's table. The company also provide snack time in the afternoon for workers.

I learned a great deal about factoring company. I now know the general process of how the factoring company serves their clients. Since I am in credit department, I learn what people in credit department actually do (in detailed). I was assigned to read some documents about factoring company both domestically and internationally for first couples of days. Then
I was assigned to sit and learn with one of the credit stuffs. He explained everything about what he does on a daily basis. He showed me the company system that keeps record of the client and the necessary form.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Week 2 in Kuala Lumpur

Having been here for almost 2 weeks now, I'm finally settled into my new environment. The weekdays are pretty much the same routine, but by no means anything less than exciting. I live just a few miles away from work, so I normally take a cab and get to the building by 8:45am. The location of the office could not be better: its connected to the Mid-Valley Mall and Gardens Mall, 2 of the largest malls on this side of the planet. I make it a point to take the long route to the office and pass by as many shops as possible, not to mention the several shows they have going on here as part of the World Cup promotions.
The company I work for, Steelcase, occupies the 26th and 27th stories of this monstrous building, giving me a great view of the city from my desk. Not that I spend all day enjoying it though, I usually get started by 9am and get done by 6pm. My work mostly involves negotiating discounts on the various sales the company makes, as well as auditing different orders and figuring out why they can/cannot be processed. This involves a lot of corresponding with the clients as well. Don't worry, its not as hard as it sounds.
I've not been here for long enough to be able to explore the city after work; its usually dark by the time I get out, and I don't get back home till a lot later thanks to the time I spend wandering about the mall after work (yesterday, I watched the A-team with some fellow interns. Not a bad movie) Socializing around the city is somewhat hard to do at this point, considering how obsessed everyone is with soccer (I mean football) So I normally spend time talking to random strangers at the local restaurants while watching the World Cup, arguing whether player X really deserved that red card or not. The weekends coming up soon, and I'll probably be exploring the city a lot more then.

Week 2 in KL

It's the second week since I've started work, and everything is going smoothly. Unfortunately, since I'm living and working in the city, the traffic gets horrendous during peak hours in the morning and evening (especially the evening.) The building I work at is connected to the biggest mall in KL, I'll try to upload pictures in another post. I live in Bangsar now, the same area as the office and within walking distance (40 mins I walk to the LRT station and take the shuttle bus.) The train service here is bipolar: one is excellent, the other is terrible. The LRT stands for Light Rail Transport, and is similar to the LRT/MRT system in Singapore and the BTS system in Thailand. It's very convenient, but I don't need to take that to work anymore.

The place I moved into at Bangsar's not the nicest place, but it's a place to stay. Over the weekends I join my friend Ping (also from UM, doing Chemical Engineering). I still haven't had the chance to go around to tour KL much, though I am making plans to visit Genting Highlands in about 2 weeks, and to visit the big shopping malls and districts (usually non-airconned districts).

At work, I'm still doing Accounts Payable, which is an accounting job pretty much. Finance in a firm like this generally means accounting. I've been helping out with entries in Hong Kong and Malaysia, since the office in KL is a Global Shared Service center, it handles and reconsolidates all entries and invoices from/to all of Asia. The next couple of days I'll be helping out in the updating of their accounting program using the Fixed Asset Module, which is pretty interesting since this is something new for both the employees here and me. I'll also be doing General Ledgers, consolidating all entries of transactions and preparing the report to be consolidated in the US, which in turn is published for shareholders to see. I'm going through the protocols of how the information of the web comes to be, and what steps are involved. At the start of the internship I asked for one thing: maximum exposure. So they've done a great job giving me a variety of work. And I always ask for more, and they're usually happy to give, until the point that they run out, then they let go online (like right now) and on facebook/msn and stuff. It's a great experience for me, and I'm trying to take advantage of this opportunity to travel and enjoy Malaysia.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Back to Business!

Things are going fabulously! Turkey is an amazing country. The people, culture, and transportation systems make this city unique. I'm definitely enjoying my time here.

My internship at Girisim has also gotten a lot better. I've been entering checks and invoices into the database. It's fairly tedious, but difficult because of the language shift - the database language is Turkish. I'm learning a lot about the bank and business world, and I'm learning it half way between languages.

I haven't done too much sightseeing since the first weekend I got here. I was sick for about a week with a head cold. This next weekend I plan on doing some more sightseeing around Istanbul. Here are some pictures from my travels thus far:
In front of the Hagia Sophia

Mosque on the bosphorus

Park Plaza, my office building

Joy and I ate a local restaurant

Eating döner. Yummmm!

View from the walkway at Beşiktaş

Monday, June 14, 2010

Entry 5: Week 4 at Bilkent

This past week at Bilkent has been alright. The work I am doing right now is not very engaging. I have not yet started research since the professor asked me to input the written comments on the students peer evaluations, which is taking me some time. On the bright side, I am staying busy with that. I also have not been able to help the MBA coordinator with admissions because we are still awaiting approval that I am actually allowed to assist (because of the confidentiality of the paperwork). However, this past week has been great because I did indeed start Turkish classes. There is only 1 other student in the class, a girl aroung my age from Russia so we hung out this weekend which was nice. A phd student who has an office near mine also introduced herself to me and we went to lunch. She introduced me to an American girl who works in higher education in Ankara. I enjoyed meeting her because I could relate to her and she had alot to share about her experiences through her work higher education. I am very happy I was able to make some friends this past week and to begin improving my turkish. Besides that, I had a fun and relaxing weekend despite the fact that the weather wasnt always so pleasant.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

1st time in Turkey

I arrived at Istanbul 5 in the morning and I couldn't find a person,who was going to pick me up. Then half an hour later, I realized that my flight was one hour early. After all the confusion, Anjariita picked me up at the airport and we went to the dorm together. After taking a rest for 1 hour at the dorm, Jason took me to tour around the city. I find it very difficult because I can't remember any road names since the pronunciation is so different. He took me to brunch with his Turkish friends. One thing I learned was that Turkish drinks lots of tea and their tea had a very strong taste. The city itself is really nice and unique.

Then first day of work...I was placed in factoring company called Fiba Factoring. I also have a manager there as my mentor. Her name is Asli. She is a very nice lady and well rounded. She helped me with everything.

There are many departments in this company such as credit, operation, international, and ect. I am now in credit department for 2 weeks and then they will have me try other department in the company.

People in the office are very nice and helpful. Some can speak english and some don't. They also taught me Turkish. So I know some basic stuff. It is a great experience to be here

View from where I stay:theres a park across the street

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Week 1 in KL

Hi all. I arrived in KL last Saturday, and a friend whom I'm staying with for the time being picked me up from the airport. KL is just like Bangkok, except that Bangkok is in worse shape now. It was a pretty quick ride home, cruising way past the speed limit to Petaling Jaya. Home was 45 minutes away from the airport, but with the light traffic and the speed at which we were going, we got there in less than 30 minutes.

First week of work was alright, except that I got food poisoning. I think it was the food I had on Tuesday, but I ended up having bad stomach aches and nausea 2 days later. I started feeling it at work, but thought it was just because I didn't sleep well. Turns out I didn't sleep well due to the food poisoning. So yesterday I took a day off work, went to the doctor to get some medication, and here I am, sitting at the office now. The person whom I usually get work from is not in the office yet, so I have free time until then. (About 15 minutes) Other than this fiasco, work is pretty typical. I have to keep asking for work. The work I'm doing now is accouting, using a program called SAP. Currently I'm helping out with Accounts Payable (AP) in the Asia Pacific region. At the start of the week I was in AP North America, doing some vendor reconciliation. Work is time consuming and exhausting, since it's all about looking at numbers, keying them into the system, and making sure the numbers match. Today I'll have to take it easy, I wouldn't want a relapse of the headache and nausea.

Work has started

I arrived in Istanbul last Thursday. It is HUGE. I come from a very small city, so this is extremely different from home. There are so many people!

I began work on June 7, so I had the weekend to recover from any jet-lag and to tour the city. I went to the old part of the city, as well as some of the newer shops. It was good to get a feel for the city before working. My favorite spots so far have been in Kadiköy and the old part of the city. On Saturday, I met up with Peter, another CIBE intern, and we toured some of the old monuments together.

Yesterday was my first day of work at Girisim Faktoring. Unfortunately, I don't have much to say about work because I haven't had any assignments yet. There is some difficulty with language that is preventing me from doing certain tasks around the office. I know basic Turkish, but it is very hard to communicate with people. Also, not many people in the office speak English which makes that end of the deal complicated as well. The office has been very kind and welcoming, which I am grateful for. They are determined that I will learn Turkish soon. In the meantime, they are looking for work that I will be able to understand.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Entry 4: Week 3 at Bilkent

Hi all,
This past week at Bilkent has been pretty standard and similar to the first two weeks. I continued to input grades for the research professor and I also helped the MBA coordinator with admissions stuff. Inputting grades is rather monotonous, but I do not mind it. I am enjoying learning about the admissions process, but I am also looking forward to doing some research work that should start next week. When the research professor and the MBA coordinator do not have work for me, I help the dean with different stuff as well. I may or may not be starting Turkish classes this week (it depends if enough people signed up to take them).

Outside of work, I have been studying for the GRE and relaxing. This past weekend, I went to see the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra which was nice. I also got my haircut but I had a friend communicate with the stylist for me. Finally, on Sunday, I went to a Catholic mass at the Vatican Embassy here in Ankara. Since Turkey is mainly a Muslim country, there are a ton of mosques here and very few churches, but I managed to find a few in Ankara. It was a neat experience to attend church here.
Please let me know if you have any questions.