Can you please introduce yourself briefly? How long have you stayed in Turkey? Where do you live in Istanbul?
I am Marius from Cologne and I studied in there. I have been staying in İstanbul for 3 months and I live in Beşiktaş now.
Tell us why you prefered to attend Erasmus in Turkey!
I picked Istanbul because it is a huge and multicultural city with lots of cultural items. We also have lots of Turkish people in Germany so I said ‘why should I not go to Turkey to see the people, culture and history?’
How was your first week in Turkey?
It was three months ago. I came here with another German Erasmus student from Cologne. We were searching for a place to stay. We met other German students. They told us that they were going to go on a vacation to Çeşme/ İzmir. So we decided to go there too. That was my first week.
How was your first week in the university?
In the first week, there was no lesson because it was the welcoming week. There are some differences on lecturing. In some classes, I miss long discussions because in general you just listen and leave. In Cologne, we read the text before the lesson and then we discuss the text in the class.
When comparing two universities’ academicians, are there any differences in terms of their approaches to students?
In Germany, both students and academicians are more critical. I do not know how openly everybody can speak here because there are so many different groups in this country and since you never know who belongs to which group I cannot guess their attitudes.
How do you find the courses you take during the program?
I like courses in which you can discuss and which are really open for students’ input. But I don’t like to listen for 3 hours in a row. You need to have more breaks because you cannot concentrate on the lesson othervise.
“They are very shy to speak.”
What do you think about the Turkish education system in general?
I don’t know a lot about the Turkish education system but Turks have problems with learning and speaking English. They are very shy to speak. That’s what I’ve observed, I have no idea about other educational facts.
Can you communicate effectively with local people? How did you manage to solve the language problem?
I live with Turkish people. They all speak English very well. I speak English with them all the time. I can use some phrases from Turkish. I guess I need to stay one more semester to improve my Turkish.
Did you get used to the transportation system of the city and the place you stay?
I was in Asia three months ago. So, it is not very new to me. Because the traffic was terrible there as well. So in Istanbul, I am used to ferry and Marmaray. But after work, at 5 or 6 pm, it’s very hard to travel from Besiktas to Taksim. However my school road is not that a big problem because with ferries, you have no traffic problem at all.
Can you tell us some cultural and social differences between your hometown and the place you live in?
There are lots of differences because these two countries have different main religions. Also, the weather is different. By the way, people here drink a lot of tea every day. In Germany, we drink coffee more than tea. We also don’t smoke as much as Turkish people do. But we consume much more alcohol than Turks.
What food do you like from the Turkish cuisine?
I like Iskender and pomegranate (nar) souce that you put on the salads. I also like the Turkish breakfast, especially butter with honey as a part of it.
How is the city in terms of living conditions as an Erasmus student?
When it comes to having dinner, life in Istanbul is cheaper. But when you buy food from stores, the price is equal. By the way, when I arrived in Turkey, Euro was equal to 3.25 turkish liras (tl) , but now it is 3.70 tl. Everything is getting cheaper for us.
“I like the kind of social life in which everybody is sitting outside, living on the street.”
What do you think about the social life in Istanbul?
There are a lot of people sitting outside in cafes and I like the kind of social life in which everybody is sitting outside, living on the street. There are also some men playing board games on the streets, called tavla. I played it with Turkish people too.
Everybody is pretending that they have no home and life is just flowing on the street.
Yes, especially in Beşiktaş and Kadıköy. When you go there you can watch the people and there is always crowded. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or it’s cold.
How is the social life at the university campus?
Sometimes I go out of the college campus, where there are so many restaurants nearby. Each of them is different regarding the taste. I interact with people who come with Erasmus to Turkey in there. They also go to canteens more like Turkish people. Actually, I go to cafes twice or three times a week but when I want to make social contacts I prefer canteens.
“You can spend weeks just for sightseeing”
How is the city for sightseeing?
It’s great! I think there are not much cities where you can see different main spots. You can spend weeks just for sightseeing and there are so many historical places to see.
Which places in Istanbul did you like the most?
Actually, I don’t remember the names of the places, but as far as I can tell you there is a place that I know, from which you can see the Golden Horn and the sight of Istanbul. That is my favourite place.
How is the night life in Istanbul?
Istanbul is a big city, metropolitan, and you can find so many options such as cafes in daily life. However, in the night life it is not like what I’ve expected from Istanbul. There are not so many options for pubs. It can be better.
Which cities and places have you visited in Turkey so far?
I have been to Izmir, Çeşme, Alaçatı, Pamukkale, Ephesus, Caphadocia, Fethiye and I have also been to Bursa.
“We can see that both “modern” and “traditional” facts are still dynamic together in Istanbul.”
What is your favourite thing about Turkey? What are the things that you like the most in Turkey?
I like the intercultural atmosphere. When you go out, there are many different cultural features in the same street, same country. The people in this country still keep their traditions alive and we can see that both “modern” and “traditional” facts are still dynamic together in Istanbul.
“When an Erasmus student comes to the city, they will see that it will become their home. “
What are the advantages and disadvantages of İstanbul?
Here is much easier to live than I expected. When an Erasmus student comes to the city, they will see that it will become their home. The city will not seem to be that big anymore! When I moved to my place, Beşiktaş, I went to Kadıköy and Taksim. I easily explored the places around my house. On the other hand, the traffic system should be more useful.
What are the difficulties you have encountered?
There are not much difficulties but you sometimes need to keep in mind that you should be careful in some parts of the city, just like in other countries.
“People and the atmosphere are the keys to happiness.”
What are the happy moments you’ve experienced during the program?
I cannot count and list every happy moment I had. People are the facts that make us happy. People and the atmosphere are the keys to happiness.
Did you get culture shock in Turkey?
I lived in Cologne for some time and there were many Turks. I travel a lot so I don’t get cultural shock because I know in advance that countries’’ cultures are different. I am interested to know more about the culture, people, the political situation etc. I think when you travel to another country you need to learn about its culture.
What are the three things that come to your mind when you consider your Erasmus exchange in Turkey?
Food, sitting outside while enjoying tea with friends, weather. Turkey has traditional features in which people can be from many different cultures. Sightseeing, historical areas and people are also important.
How did Erasmus in Turkey change your life?
I’d traveled a lot before coming to Turkey so there was not much of a change but coming Turkey changed my mind and perception towards Turkey and Islam. People here explain me how and why they live in the way they do. It gives me some information so that I can understand others.
“It’s the best city to choose for Erasmus. There’s so much life going on! “
Do you have any recommendation for those who are planning to come to Turkey with Erasmus?
It’s the best city to choose for Erasmus. There’s so much life going on! When you’re not afraid of crowded places and traffic you can have a perfect time in Istanbul! It’s different from other European capital cities. It’s a really big city compared to London, Paris, Spain, Berlin. I really enjoyed the results of my Erasmus choice. I want to know more about the city! The city is also well known for its parties but they’re not all you can get from here.
Have you ever thought that life after Erasmus would not be the same?
Of course, when you live and experience more, your opinions and lifestyle also change more. After living in Turkey for 10 months, I can say that you should chose your Erasmus country carefully because it represents a really important process of your life. You shouldn’t waste your time. Just pick which country you would like to experience!
“Istanbul is a world metropolis which is so fun and which teaches me a lot.”
I Love Turkey & Erasmus In Turkey Because…
Erasmus gives you the chance to explore and get to know such a multicultural and exciting country as Turkey. Istanbul is a world metropolis which is so fun and which teaches me a lot.
The opportunity to study in a culturally rich country is unique to the Erasmus program (Turkey). The opportunity to explore another educational system should also be mentioned. There is still so much to discover and see! A semester is definitely not enough. Turkish hospitality is also worth mentioning. Besides, I love the tea, the food and of course the board game called Tavla.