Josephine - Bogazici University

B. Arts / Journalism
Semester 1, 2015

Academic experience

Choosing from the wide selection of courses Bogazici had to offer proved to be a difficult task. The political science department is one of the largest departments at the university and has many students from all over the world. The learning experience in Turkey was new and different. The classrooms were filled with students from a plethora of backgrounds all presenting different ideas, values and stories to colour the discussion. What struck me as the most interesting part of learning experience abroad was how we were encouraged to question the structures of our modern society that I have always taken for granted. Conversations about capitalism, consumerism, hegemony and globalisation were present across all my courses and have encouraged me to think in different ways.

Personal experience

The personal experience is indescribable. When I think of the person who I was when I embarked on this adventure and who I am now, it is impossible to comprehend all I have learnt and discovered about myself. The experience is undeniably character building. The experience made me understand who I was better, what I want out of life and the sort of people I wish to surround myself with. 
Having friends from various cultures was a wonderful part of the experience. It was a small moment in time where despite the various places my new friends had come from: our trajectories aligned and we got to share the experience of exploring a new city and a new self together. The friends that I made abroad will be my friends forever. It is impossible to share such a significant experience together and not remain - in one way or another - in each other's lives. 
English is fairly sparse in Turkey. Although challenging, it is great and means you can really immerse yourself. Due to course offerings, I was unable to take a language course, however, because of the lack of English I have picked up many words and by the end of my stay was able to have a (very) short conversation in Turkish. Turkish people are very forgiving of poor Turkish skills, pointing and smiling was a huge part of my communication and this was always well received and much laughter was often shared.

Accommodation

I lived in an area called Besiktas and very much enjoyed my time there. Besiktas is a typically Turkish area that is yet to be gentrified (unlike many other places in Istanbul). In Besiktas, you will not find a cocktail bar or an organic grocer. However, you will see the streets come alive every time Besiktas football club has a game, buskers in the street at 5am and life happening constantly no matter what the time. The area was excellent as you are easily able to get to Bogazici University by bus in about 30/45 mins and the city centre is easily reached by bus or even foot. I recommend the area wholeheartedly to any future exchange students as it is a real Turkish experience.

Budget

The cost of living in Turkey was incredibly reasonable. Eating a meal out can cost as little as AUD$3. The great thing about Istanbul is you don't need money to have a good time. The streets are where the fun happens. The student discount on transport makes it very affordable and I was paying slightly less than I do in Australia for rent (for a much nicer place).

Professional development and employability

The exchange experience has made me more confident and have greater trust in myself. These attributes will undoubtedly help me gain employment and achieve academically. The experience also teaches you to be adaptable and accepting. When things didn't go right or I had a problem, I was the one who had to fix it. This was a wonderful learning curve. I learnt to rely on myself and take it in my stride if at first, I didn't succeed.

Highlight

It is impossible to choose just a single highlight. I think my favourite aspect of the experience though was the friends I made, but also Istanbul was an excellent backdrop for all my experiences. It is an incredible city.

Top tips

  • Absolutely, if you have the opportunity take part in a UQ Abroad Exchange. I was very concerned about money before I left, but with help of the OS-Help Loan and a UQ Travel grant I was living comfortably overseas.
  • The cost-of-living in Turkey is very reasonable and having time away from all the things you have at home really makes you realise how little you need to have a good time. 
  • Make friends with locals in the city you choose. This is sometimes difficult as you are mostly with other exchange students, but the new insight into the city I got from having Turkish friends was very valuable.
Josephine - Bogazici University