Marika Markakos (Technische Hochschule Köln) to Marmara University(Turkey)

Can you please introduce yourself briefly? How long have you stayed in Turkey? Where do you live in Istanbul?

My name is Marika Markakos. I am from Germany. I study Translation. I came to Istanbul three months ago. I live in Ziverbey which is so close to the Göztepe Campus of Marmara University, the college that I study in.

Tell us why you preferred to attend Erasmus in Turkey?

As I told you, I studied Turkish in Germany. I just wanted to learn a new language and I start with Turkish. At first it was just for fun then I liked Turkish and I thought about how I could improve my Turkish then I came here.

Why did you choose to come to study in our country?

I thought it was the best university fitting to my major. There is no other special reason. I just want to learn Turkish. Not many universities had partnership with my German university. So, I chose Marmara.

What about your thoughts before coming to Turkey?

I just knew the basic things such as what you hear on news. I heard about seaside holiday destinations from my friends. We have many Turks in Germany and I was just curious to see how people live and how the daily life is like in Turkey instead of how Turks live in Germany.

How was your first week in Turkey?

I stayed in a hostel and looked for other accommodation choices from there. I enjoyed the weather. It was so nice. I visited touristic places like Sultanahmet. It was so different from Germany.

How was your first week in the university?

It was chaotic. In Germany, all the things are organized. Here, I didn’t have all my courses at first. It was a bit difficult to get them all together.

What do you think about education facilities in Marmara University?

I am studying translation and interpretation and we have interpretation classes to translate with microphones. We have the same in Germany as well but I liked it here more.

When comparing two universities’ academicians, are there any differences in terms of their approaches to students?

I liked here more because of the Germanic cold culture. They keep distance to students there. For example, in the beginning of classes here, we talked about what we did on the holiday.

How do you find the courses you took during the program?

Very Good’ They are perfect for me!  In Germany, I am studying English-German Translation. So here, I can do English translation too. Most of the lecturers speak English with me. I have Turkish friends from the international office. So, I can learn both Turkish and English at the same time. I like my courses.

What do you think about Turkish education in general?

I only know the university education. But from other students, I heard that the level is lower than Germany but for me and for my department it is not lower at all, It is indeed very good.

Can you communicate effectively with local people? How did you manage to solve the language problem?

I know a bit Turkish, as basic Turkish. I can manage ordering food and asking for my way. But for difficult things like going to bank, I ask my Turkish friends to come with me. So, I don’t really have a full language practice.

Did you get used to the transportation system of the city and the place you stay in in terms of accommodation?

Yes, I got used to it. There is no problem for me about traffic. Also, my accommodation facilities are very good.

Can you tell us some cultural and social differences between your hometown and the place you live in here?

f the lecturers come late like 5 minutes here, they come inside and start to lecture and this seems normal in here but in Germany it is not. It is okay for me because I would be late for classes always so it is fine for me 🙂

What dishes do you like from the Turkish cuisine?

Çiğ köfte. Also, salep

“If you do not know Turkish, it is a bit hard.”

How is the city in terms of living conditions as an Erasmus student?

If you do not know Turkish, it is a bit hard. I mean, If you just know ‘Merhaba’ it is hard. If you know English but the person you talk doesn’t know it or you both don’t know any common language then it is really difficult but in general.

What do you think about the social life in Istanbul?

It’s not like in Germany. The people are social and I can see there is an active social life but I can’t get used to it.

“There are many cafes here so you can make friends easily.”

How is the social life on the campus?

I think it is very good. In my department I am the only Erasmus student, there is no one else but  I think everything is very good. There are many cafes here so you can make friends easily.

“But a half year is not enough for you to see everything in here.”

How is the city for sightseeing?

Perfect! You can see many things! Both in the European side and Asian side there are many things to see but a half year is not enough for you to see everything in here.

How is the night life in Istanbul? 

Very good! I live in Kadıköy, and Kadıköy is perfect if you wanna go for live music or smoke Nargile or just for tea. I like Nargile with apples. Taksim, of course, is also so good.

Which cities and places have you visited in Turkey so far?

I have only been to Antalya. But I want to see other cities when I am free.

“I like the whole atmosphere here”

What is your favorite thing about Turkey ? What are the things that you like the most in Turkey?

I like the whole atmosphere here, I like just walking on the streets. Everybody is sitting outside and drinking tea so I am really enjoying here.

“If you don’t want to open yourself then you have disadvantages.”

What are the advantages and disadvantages of İstanbul?

As traffic I don’t have much trouble because I live in Kadıköy and it is near to school. But sometimes even two minutes of traffic annoys me if I have had a bad day.There are no disadvantages for me but if you don’t want to learn any Turkish, and any cultural fact or if you don’t want to open yourself then you have disadvantages. If you open yourself you won’t have any problem.

What are the difficulties you encountered and the happy moments you experienced during the program? Can you tell us a memorable moment you went through?

I like my flat and flatmates here,Before I moved to Ziverbey I used to live in Kadıköy near the seaside and I made good friends there too. Every moment is memorable somehow, especially when I am smoking Nargile 🙂

“Culture lets you to be very open-minded”

What do you think of Turkey in general?

Culture lets you to be very open-minded, people are very warm. heard that people in Istanbul are not close compared to people living in other Turkish cities, but, for me, as a person who lives in Germany, they are still very open-minded and warm. It might not be closer than other Turkish cities but I still like the people. Also the weather is very similar to the temperature in Germany right now.

Did you undergo any culture shock in Turkey?

Not really. Because I’m half Greece. My father is Greek and my mother is German. So, I grew up with different languages and cultures. Every cultural things that I am used to is similar to Turkish culture so, I didn’t undergo any culture shock. The misbehaviors I’ve seen in the traffic like changing lanes or going ahead without waiting for the traffic lambs are same as Greece.

What are the three things that come to your mind when you consider your Erasmus experience in Turkey?

Nargile, Sahlep and Çiğ köfte 🙂

“I’ve changed my opinions about Turkish people in a different way. “

How did Erasmus in Turkey change your life?

I’ve learned German and Turkish three years ago but when I came here I just knew ‘merhaba’. But as I stayed here, I learned everything about Turkish. I’ve changed my opinions about Turkish people in a different way. I’ve learned cultural things better. Because I have Turkish and German friends, I exercise the languages better.

Are there many Turkish students in your German university?

Not as Erasmus students but there are many Turkish students who lives in Germany. When I compare Turkish people living in Germany and Turkish people living in Turkey, I can understand the differences better.

Did the Erasmus Program meet your expectations? Why do you think so?

It met my expectations. When I came along from my university, I supposed that I would come here with another student I know, but she didn’t came. So I’m the first one who comes to Turkey from my university. When I go back, I have lots of stories to tell to my friend. The organization system is so different from Germany.

“I would recommend you to take a Turkish course.”

Do you have any recommendation for those who are planning to attend Erasmus in Turkey?

My recommendation would be to relax and because in the beginning was a bit hard to get used to the system. You just have to be prepared and think that everything is also a cultural thing and they may be very different from German lifestyle and German attitudes. I came here with no knowledge of Turkish. I would recommend you to take a Turkish course.

Have you ever heard that life won’t be the same after Erasmus?

Of course!

Tell us why the others should choose Erasmus in Turkey in two sentences.

I think it’s nearly the same as an Erasmus program held in Europe. The main difference is culture, I guess. I did Erasmus in Cardiff, England, last year. I think it was same as Germany and Turkey too.

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