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1 Study Program: Bachelor Sociology Exchange semester: fall 2015 Academic year: Host University: Koç university Country:Turkey Practical information. Last September, I traveled for the first time towards Turkey to start my semester at a university located in the metropole Istanbul. All the travel books that I was reading before I left, couldn t explain half of it. Istanbul is a beautiful city and area of the city feels like a totally different world. When I arrived at night on the airport, I met up with two other exchange students to share a cab to the campus, this was really easy because the international office of Koç provided a flight schedule of all the flights of exchange students and we were all enrolled in a facebook group so we could already get to know each other. When I arrived the campus I was really surprised, because as crowded as the city is, so quiet and peaceful is the surrounding of Koç. It is located a bit up on a hill in the middle of a green forest. There are two campuses: main campus and west campus. However I signed up as my preference for a two person room on main campus, did I ended up in a three person room on west campus. I wasn t that happy about it because it is a bit away from the main campus where all the lectures are given but soon I was very happy about my staying because I around west there opened more and more restaurants, bars and coffee places. So for me it was the perfect combination of school at main campus and the relaxing area from west campus. You could easily travel between the main and west campus by a shuttle provided by Koç which was driving every 30 minutes. The campus was facilitated with everything that you can imagine. Coffee places, indoor- and outdoor swimming pool, ice skating rink, canteens and laundry rooms with dryers and washing machines etc. For me It was really different from the student life at Tilburg university because there I go directly home after lecture, while at Koç I experienced the true campus life, where you could hang out on the main campus all day long while drinking Turkish tea and eating from the many restaurants. The only disadvantage of this beautiful located school is that you have to travel one hour to reach the city Centre. Besides Koç is Istanbul an amazing city where you would never get bored. I traveled to Capadokia to see the sunrise in a hot air balloon, got a Turkish coffee reading, experienced the Turkish fasil nights with a lot of food, music and Turkish raki (a really strong Turkish liquor) and walked hundreds of kilometers to explore all the beauty of Istanbul and still, I haven t seen half of it. We were with a group of 250 exchange students and because of the way that Koç provided mentors with mentor groups so we could bond during the orientation week we became one big family in the end. Before my departure it took a while before I received the information but in the end I got a pre- arrival guide from Koç which explained everything that I needed to know to get safe to Campus. Including all the information about insurance, visa, bus schedules and tips and tricks to travel safe and secure in Istanbul. The contact with my host university before I left went very smooth by and facebook and I didn t experienced any difficulties. For entering Turkey you need a visa as a Dutch citizen. Since it is really expensive to get a student visa and you are not allowed to enter the country multiple times with that visa we were advised to enter with a normal tourist visa (which allows you to enter the country multiple times within 90 days). Once we were in Istanbul, Koç arranged a meeting for us to apply for a residence permit, which took a long long time to receive but in this way we didn t had visa problems and were we able to travel also outside of Turkey and get back without any problems. The costs of a tourist visa was around 20 euro s and you can easily apply for it online and receive it immediately in your inbox. The applying for the residence permit is around 90 lira if I am right which is around 30 euro. Once I arrived at the campus, I had to check in at the reception where a student took care of me and showed me my room. I arrived two days before the orientation week started so I had some time to settle down and explore the campus. Because of the facebook group it was easy to meet up with others so that you didn t had to be all alone the first days. Two days after I arrived, the orientation week started. We all got a mentor and some fellow mentees. All the groups were mixed so that you were able to make instant international friends. I was in a group with people from Hong Kong, Italy, US and Germany. The first two days was to get to know the campus, and

2 enroll in the courses. That was the main problem that I had with my home university. I came to Istanbul with a plan based on the course guide which was approved by my home and host university. But when it was time to enroll for classes. It turned out that half of the courses I was planning to take where not given anymore or were already full. It was really hectic because everyone was trying to enter classes in the same time while there were limited spots in each course. So there was some competition and the enroll system was not working. These were some stressful hours and you had to switch to other courses quickly. Between all the introduction lectures and enrollments in, there was enough time to have lunches and diners with all the other exchange students and experience the nightlife of Istanbul. The Turkish people are very friendly and warm. So they are more than willing to show you all of their country, culture and it is very likely that they take you to there family for a nice meal and to introduce you. After all this administrative stuff, we had a old Istanbul tour, to get to know all the touristic highlights and the traditional food. Food in general was a leading factor in my exchange because it is very important in the Turkish culture and part of their social life. They also helped us to get a metro- and museum card. The last day they organized a Turkish fasil night which means that you are going to a restaurant and eat Turkish mezze (sort of tapas) and drink Turkish raki. After a while they turn on the volume of the Turkish music and everyone leave the table to dance all night long. This is the perfect way to break the ice and also the man in Turkey are supposed to show there dance moves. (this was new for me to see ). After this week I had the feeling that I knew these people already for a month and we became a very close group of friends. I chose for a room on campus but it is also possible to rent something in the city Centre. I heard different things from people who did that. Of course it is a great way to experience Istanbul but if you are studying on Koç you have to take the travel time to go to university and back into account. Talking about traffic, it is crazy in Istanbul. And if you take a cab or minibus in rush hour, it is possible that it will take you 3 hours to get to a place that normally would take 30 minutes by cab. That s why the metro is the most convenient way to go along Istanbul, and a one way ticket with your student metro card will cost you around 1,20 lira (= 0,40 euro) so that is super cheap. Koç university guarantees on campus housing for exchange students so that is a great advantage. I had to share a room with two Turkish girls and they were very happy to have a exchange student as a room mate. In the beginning it was a bit awkward cause you are never alone in your room (besides the weekends) and sometimes I really wanted to escape from that place. You have to adapt to each other and where one person likes to sleep with the window open, another one prefers to have everything close and the heater maximum on. But also from small things like this I learned a lot. They have shared kitchens in a separate building but most of the Turkish students use the site : to order food. You can order everything you can imagine from here so you saw deliver boys all day long on campus. However, it is great to try the favorite dishes from home of your fellow exchange students so we used the kitchen a lot to have nice shared dinners. Istanbul is not as expensive as the Netherlands and especially the food and drinks is very affordable when you find the right places. They use lira to pay and 1 euro is equal to 3 lira. However still I spent the biggest amount of my money on food but that is because we went out for dinner, breakfast and lunch very often. If you tried the Turkish breakfast once, you will experience a whole new dimension of breakfasts, cause it is a full meal with all different kinds of bread and side dishes, and especially the Turkish honey is to die for! In the end I think that I spent around 600 euro a month including the rent for my room. And that is included all the many daytrips and traveling around. I didn t got a work visa so earning money in Turkey during my exchange was not allowed. But with the Erasmus grant, some saving money or the grant from DUO it is very affordable to enjoy an amazing semester abroad. The only thing that is noticible more expensive than in Holland is alcohol, it is very common to pay between 12 and 20 lira for a beer which is around 4-6 euro. Also a good tip is to show your student ID from Koç before buying tickets for any touristic attraction. We wanted to go to a hamam (Turkish bath house) where the price was for the full package 180 lira, but after showing our student card we were able to enter for 90 lira. And of course it is Turkey so about everything which is not sold in a supermarket or a restaurant with set prices you can bargain to get a good price. This bargaining was not my biggest talent but if you go with a group of friends who are good in it you can get the best deals. My academic semester on Koç started on the 5 th of September and ended on January the 15 th. We had a 10 day holiday for the holy sacrifice fest and another 5 day holiday for bayram. These are the perfect moments to travel outside Istanbul. I had just 3 days of classes a week so if you plan it well you have a lot of free time to enjoy. I can t say that the school system is more easy than it is in Tilburg university. I experienced that the level is a bit lower, so it is not that difficult to get high grades, but there are much

3 more midterms and assignments so it takes especially a lot of time to keep up with the courses. It reminded me a bit of high school with a lot of homework and attendance lists in every class. But with attending class you can already obtain some credits for your grades. The teachers are all very friendly and excited to teach exchange students. If you have any problems they are willing to help you and very lenient with deadlines. Besides the lectures, Koç has hundreds of student clubs which you can join, think about: debates, football, dance, sailing, survivaling, travel clubs, sience clubs etc. The large clubs are also each organizing a party so every week there is a school party where you can meet new exchange but also the local Koç students. This is an overview of the courses that I took during my exchange: Course prerequisites Exams ECTS Comments Human resource None Multiple choice 6 ECTS Midterm, management. ORGB 401 written groupwork, presentation Basic Turkish I. TURK 201. None Oral, written 6 ECTS Very useful during your exchange Sociology of Introduction of written 6 ECTS Midterms, hard communication sociology or course, midterm and information. Consent lecturer and paper SOCI 402. Sociology of Introduction of written 6 ECTS Many crime and sociology or assignments, field deviance. Consent lecturer trip, very SOCI 340 Sociology change development SOCI 220 of and Introduction of sociology or Consent lecturer interesting written 6 ECTS Midterm and paper I went on an exchange mainly to develop my English skills and meet international people, but if I look back on my experience I can say that I also developed as a human being. An exchange is so much more than a long vacation and in the end I really had the feeling that I was part of the Turkish culture. So if you have the opportunity to go on an exchange please do so!! You wont regret it. Of course there are difficult moments and in the first week I experienced some home sickness. You just have to talk about it and everyone has these moments. If I had to choose again I would definitely go back to Istanbul and I hope that the next pictures will convince you also a bit. If you have any questions about my experience or want some practical information about Istanbul, don t hesitate to contact me by mail :

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