Sascha Brake and Aldogard Kasianowski
Can you please introduce yourself briefly? How long have you stayed in Turkey? Where do you live in Istanbul?
Sascha: Hi, I am Sascha. I’m twenty four-years old and I study Economics. I’m from Germany, Luneburg. It’s a small city. I’ve been living in Kadıköy, Istanbul since I arrived here on 29th of August 2016.
Aldogard: Hi, I am Aldogard. I’m twenty-four years and I’m study Economics. I’m from Luneburg as well and I have also arrived on 29th of August. I now live in Kadıköy, as well.
Could you please tell us why you prefered to attend Erasmus in Turkey?
Sascha: First reason was that I had many Turkish friends living in Germany with Turkish roots. The other reason was especially the city, Istanbul, which made me to come here for Erasmus.
Aldogard: My main reason for coming here was that it was easier for me to apply for Istanbul since only Economics students could apply for Istanbul.
“It is definitely the coolest country!”
Sascha: My first reason was that it was the best city to choose, it is definitely the coolest country! The second reason was the Turkish culture, I was looking forward to know more about it.
Aldogard: Yeah, as I mentioned before, Istanbul is quiet a nice city!
How were your thoughts before coming to Turkey?
Sascha: Wow, they were really different! I just knew that Istanbul was different compared to other parts of Turkey.
Aldogard: I was worried about the political situations but in the end, I decided to come here and saw that it’s not as dangerous as it seems to be from Germany.
“You can see Sultanahmet and Blue Mosque, it is really impressing to experience the old city there.”
How was your first week in Turkey?
Aldogard: We really liked it because it’s very different compared to Germany, it is more comfortable. Also the city I live in Germany was small and the shops there were closed at 7 but here there are so many shops around and they are open all the time. I like the city view from the top of the buildings. You can see Sultanahmet and Blue Mosque, it is really impressing to experience the old city there.
Sascha: My first week in Turkey was like a holiday. We arrived earlier to travel around Istanbul but we could only travel through Kadıköy because it is really huge and there are lots of places to see in Istanbul.
How was your first week at the university?
Aldogard: The first week was like a regular first week at universities. In the first day, we had to go to the International Office, then we needed other additional signs which were a little complicated to find. Things went okay in General Office and International Office. They could speak English very well and it was really easy to get all the documents and everything else that we needed. The problem was that not a lot of person can speak English very well. To get some further information we need to find a person who speaks English and hopefully the professors and the lecturers can speak English fluently.
Sascha: In the first week, we had to do some work to live in Turkey.. It was the real first week in Turkey that we could visit some lecturers and see what they were going to tell us during the next month in order to choose all classes which we most liked.
What do you think about education facilities in Marmara University?
Sascha: I think it is hard to compare it with my own university because we have a small university which has around 9.000 people and it’s also a new one so equipments are very new. To compare with Marmara, I would say that the amount of students Marmara has and the equipments used are very well. But in general, there are some things that must be better. For example; the cupboards and the variety of the electricity stuff.
Aldogard: We were at the same university with Sascha, so I can also say that the equipments in Marmara are quite decent and modern.
When comparing two universities’ academicians, are there any differences in terms of their approaches to students?
Sascha: I would say that the universities I have seen in Turkey are like regular schools and teachers are the people who tell you the stuff but there are less discussions about the topics. I think it is the biggest difference when compared to the university in the Germany.
Aldogard: In the Germany the system is a bit different because we also have some activities after lessons. However in Turkey there is one lecturer teaching to students and that’s it. In such a big university, it may be harder to do it than in a small one.
And how do you find the courses you took during the program?
Sascha: I found them with the help of PIS. I think I’ve done very well. I took a class and I was very surprised that we could cover so many theoretical topics in one class. I think that’s different comparing to Germany, because people here take more detailed courses on the other hand, students lose so many stuff there. For instance; you may know economics’ theories if you’re taking public relation in Germany. But here you get all the theories and you get an introduction to all related topics and that’s what I really like.
Aldogard: Before I came to Turkey, there was a website that I could look up and there were all the descriptions given about the courses. However even though I had no idea about that website one can understand the context of the courses by googling them or simply translating them.
What do you think about Turkish education in general?
Sascha: I can only talk about universities. I think Turkish education can be compared to Western Europe universities. About English education, which I first think about when I meet people in the university, it is rarely spoken by people.
Aldogard: I can say that the proficiency level of English is not really good in Germany. They cannot speak English. Especially in restaurants, they know only few words. I think Turkey is also similar to Germany.
“My advice to everyone who is planning to travel Istanbul is to achieve at least some basic knowledge of the language.”
Can you communicate effectively with local people and how do you manage to solve the problems occurring?
Sascha: It is much harder to live in Turkey without any turkish language skills. My advice to everyone who is planning to travel Istanbul is to achieve at least some basic knowledge of the language. But even without any language skills you are not totally lost. In restaurants for example you can show the meal you want from the menu. Or you can always use a translator.
Aldogard: In restaurants, I use the same technique as showing what I want to eat from the menu. With few words and translators, it seems to be easier to communicate.
Did you get used to the transportation system of the city and the place you stay?
Sascha: We have downloaded the application called Mobil IETT on our phones, so it is so easy! if you are in Istanbul, use this application and you’re not going to get lost in the city. That’s the best thing you can do!
Aldogard: We use lots of ferries, they are really easy. For the buses, the application is there and you can just look at it anytime. There are so many buses, dolmus and other transportations available.
Can you tell us about the cultural and social differences between your hometown and the place you live in Istanbul in details?
Sascha: There’s much more social life in Istanbul when compared to my hometown. And you can find people everywhere in cafes, in bars and in restaurants. It seems as if no one is staying inside their apartments but on the streets, especially when the weather is hot. Even for small things, for example for meeting with friends in order to talk to them, it’s also easy to run into a friend in cafes or a bar.
Aldogard: I think Istanbul is so much bigger! So, there are a lot more cafes, shops etc. Also, there are more people outside. They are also so comfortable and sincere. In Germany you may see people in restaurants but in Turkey, they often are in cafes drinking some çay (tea). In Germany, all the stores are closed early but in Istanbul life doesn’t stop. Everything is open even at 11 pm. That’s a major difference.
-So, you enjoy being in Istanbul or Kadıköy?
Aldogard: Yes, absolutely.
“Every meal I ate in Turkey was amazing!”
What do you love from the Turkish cuisine? Adana kebab, Urfa Kebab?
Sascha: You should ask what food I don’t like, because I like all of them. Every meal I ate in Turkey was amazing! I couldn’t find any kind of food that I don’t like.
Aldogard: I can simply agree since there are many delicious things in Turkey. “Pide” is so nice. Also, the restaurants have nice food to eat so, we can easily buy it. Generally, the food is really nice in Turkey.
“Istanbul is probably the best decision you can make.”
How is the city in terms of living conditions as an Erasmus student?
Sascha: The main thing here is that you can have everything you want. You can have a night life on the European side of Istanbul, you can go out for bars, pubs and etc. So, if you are an Erasmus student with a high focus on the social life, Istanbul is probably the best decision you can make.
Aldogard: As for the social life, it is a very nice city. In my hometown three days in a week pubs and buses are off but here a lot of pubs are open every day and also you can go to the Europe side, basically to Taksim everyday you like. That is really nice! If you want to buy something, there is so many shopping centers so you can go and shop easily. It is a very great city for Erasmus students. It is the best of all I have seen so far!
How is the social life on the university campus?
Sascha: I think it depends on the campus we refer to because there are a lot of campuses of Marmara University. I think students can have an amazing campus life. You can find everything that you want. I even heard that the university has a motorcycle club and that is amazing! You can definitely find everything you need somewhere on the campus.
Aldogard: There are so many people and so many cafes here. You can just sit down and rest and like my friend said, there are a lot of clubs, organizations. This is really great!
How is the city for sightseeing?
Sascha: The good thing in Istanbul is that you can see the comparison of the traditional things with the modern. You have Sultan Ahmet Mosque, Hagiasophia, Grand Bazaar and also Bosporus bridge and newly designed buildings everywhere, which shows the relation between the modern and the traditional culture here.
Aldogard: Yes, Istanbul is such an old city! There are a lot of historical places, buildings and museums. Especially the European side has many places that are really nice to see.
How is the night life in Istanbul?
Sascha: If you want to go to pubs, Kadıköy is the best place for that! There is a huge road and endless pubs in each side of the road. You can listen to different kinds of music such as pop, rock, heavy-metal in pubs. Kadıköy is amazing, especially for its pubs. I think it is even better than Taksim regarding the pubs. But if you like clubs, the european side offers everything that you may want.
Aldogard: Kadıköy is the perfect place for pubs. Even if you do not want to drink beer, you can go there just for fun. Also, there’re a lot of places showing football games so you can simple go there and watch them.
Which cities and places have you visited in Turkey so far?
Aldogard: We had a road trip to Bursa and Yalova few days ago. Before that, we went to Cappadocia and Ephesus. It was a historical place, it was so nice!
“Just leave the house and do not care about where you are!”
What is your favorite thing about Turkey? What are the things you like the most in Turkey?
Sascha: My favorite thing is the social life in Turkey. Just leave the house and do not care about where you are! There are always places to go and people are everywhere, so you can have fun in every part of this city.
Aldogard: Especially in Kadıköy there are a lot of cafes, pubs and many food courts. They are not so expensive and very delicious.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of İstanbul?
Sascha: Here, everything is really cheap; so, you can get anything you want. However, as a disadvantage I could say that it is very noisy for me.
Aldogard: Yes, it is such a big city! So, a lot of things happen here. Buses are so full. But the city is amazing. Silence would be nice but it is a big city and noise is inevitable. Distance is also a big problem. For example, every day we have to take the bus and it takes one hour to come to the university. Going back to home also takes one hour, so it is a little bit tiring. We also stuck in traffic many times but Istanbul is a big city so it is normal.
What are the difficulties you encountered and the happy moment you experienced during the program? Can you tell us about memorable moments you had?
Sascha: I can remember some difficulties I had and every people I met as they were really friendly. If people know especially that you are from other country, they really want to talk to you and want to get in contact with you. That is an amazing thing. I think one of the best things in Turkey is that people are very friendly.
” I was just surprised how friendly people could be. “
What do you think of Turkey in general? Did you undergo cultural shock in Turkey?
Sascha: No, I was just surprised how friendly people could be. Nobody knows who I am but they are all so welcoming towards me. For example, when go to a barber, to have your hair cut, everyone is totally friendly. That is more like an intercultural contact between people.
Aldogard: I didn’t experience the cultural shock. I mean Turkey is different, but different in a positive way compared to Germany. I wouldn’t say it was cultural shock. I don’t know much about Turkey however I know that it is such a nice country. People are so friendly.
What are three things that come to your mind when you consider your Erasmus experience in Turkey?
Aldogard: It is such a creative question.
Sascha: Yes. Iit would be food, social life and the amazing city.
Aldogard: I would probably say that the city is so amazing, really amazing and social life is so relaxing.
How did Erasmus in Turkey change your life? How do you think that your Erasmus experience will affect your life in the future?
Sascha: I think it definitely let me drop all my stereotypes towards different countries and cultures. Don’t have stereotypes, they mostly don’t fit on people.
Did the Erasmus program meet your expectations? If so, why do you think so?
Sascha: Yes, it definitely did. More than I expected. I was expecting especially political issues right now. Things are much better than I could expect.
Aldogard: Everything is much better than expected.
Do you have any recommendations for those who are planning to attend Erasmus in Turkey?
Sascha: Yes, they should learn the language. I would be happier if I could learn more Turkish. Learn the language. That is my advice to the students. At least some basic words.
Aldogard: I would also say learn the language. Because firstly life would be much easier since you communicate a lot with people. People are different, so talk to them and learn their life story.
Have you ever heard that life will not be the same after Erasmus?
Sascha: Every Erasmus student told me that. I now think that they are quite right!
Tell us why Erasmus in Turkey!
Sascha: I Love Erasmus In Turkey Because of the amazing social life.
Aldogard: I Love Turkey Because I feel connected to the country and the people.