ABROAD LOCATION: Istanbul, Turkey
TERM/YEAR ABROAD: Spring 2013
MAJOR: International Relations (Minors – Middle Eastern Studies, German)
WHAT WAS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE ABROAD?
My most memorable experience abroad was making friends with the people of Istanbul, and being able to experience Turkish culture through them. I had the opportunity to become close with a Turkish family that owned a breakfast restaurant, and help them out and learn the different breakfast dishes of Turkey. I was also able to be in Turkey during the month of Ramadan, the month of fasting, and had the opportunity to go to many “breaking of the fast” dinners with this family, as well as other Turkish friends. I absolutely loved being able to first hand experience Turkish culture and cuisine, and make amazing friends as well!
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE CLASS ABROAD AND WHY?
One of my favorite classes was offered by the director of the program, Erika Wilkens. This class was “Contemporary Issues in Turkey.” I really enjoyed this class because we learned about Turkey from the Byzantine Empire, through the Ottoman Empire, all the way up to the foundation of the Turkish Republic and today. It was great to learn about current social and political issues in Turkey while living there, and being able to compare it to what I saw or experienced in daily life.
My favorite class abroad was “Issues in Turkish Foreign Policy.” This class was taught by a former Turkish ambassador, who worked in India, the USA, Austria, Belgium, and Italy. I really enjoyed being able to hear his different experiences during pivotal events for Turkey, and how he viewed the Foreign Policy in Turkey.
HOW WAS YOUR LIVING ARRANGEMENT?
While in Istanbul, we lived in brand new academic housing. Three people share the rooms, and the floor has a kitchen in which we could cook. Each room has a bathroom and shower, as well as a sink and fridge. Students are also provided with their own desk, as well as closet. The housing facility contains a café on the main floor, as well as one on the roof, which opens when the weather becomes warm. There is also a roof top pool, and a recreational room in the basement containing a movie theater, pool tables, game consoles, and TVs. A gym is also provided, as well as laundry. This is probable some of the nicest apartments to live in, and they are located a 5 minute walk to the closest market or grocery store, a 10 minute walk down to the water, and a 20 minute walk to school.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE CITY?
The city of Istanbul is so large, that it is hard to pin point one of my absolute favorite parts of the city. Each part has something else to offer, whether it is restaurants, cafes, markets, or places to go out. One of my favorite things to do was go sit by the water with a book, and drink the traditional Turkish tea, known as “çay”. Once you have explored the city, you will realize every part is beautiful and has something amazing to offer.
HOW DID YOU LIKE THE STAFF?
The staff in Istanbul is phenomenal. The SU Istanbul center is run by Erika Wilkens, and her program coordinator Burak Tamaç. Erika and Burak coordinate an amazing two-week seminar, with a great tour group. They really make sure that you get to experience things in Turkey that other tourists would not get to experience. They were also really great at giving one on one academic advice, and helping sign up for the right classes for the semester. For any social needs, Burak is there to help! He knows Istanbul like the back of his hand, and is more than willing to give you advice on where to travel within the city and around the country. Erika and Burak are truly wonderful, and SU Istanbul is lucky to have them!