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By (University of Maine at Orono) - abroad from 02/01/2012 to 05/18/2012 with

Bilkent University: Ankara - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was the best adventure of my life thus far.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes were great, Bilkent is internationally ranked (pretty high! link below) as a school. I loved my professors and classes. The work load was not as difficult as I am accustomed to but still quite stimulating. The professors were extremely knowledgable and usually bilingual or trilingual. The campus is beautiful and offers everything on site- bus transportation to the city and East campus, several gyms, several restaurants, soccer fields, bookstores, computer labs etc. "Bilkent University is among the 201th to 225th best universities in the world and 1st in Turkey according to Times Higher Education World University Rankings of the world's top universities for 2012."

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

It was extremely easy for me to fill out all my paperwork, get my residence permit and do all the bureaucratic stuff I needed to take care of once I had landed. Bilkent has a student group affiliated with ESN (http://www.esn.org/) and they are superb. Basically a bunch of really nice students who go out of their way to make sure the exchange students have everything they need from best classes to take to best bars to hit.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I gave 3 stars because I didn't live on campus. I opted to live off campus in Ankara which was fantastic (I would recommend) and commute by bus every day (A lot of kids did this. I lived with three others from my program from the Netherlands). Friends of mine say the campus housing was very clean and they enjoyed it but perhaps more expensive than off campus options.

* Food:

Turkish food is the best. There were several great restaurants on campus but the best food is in the city or (if you travel) on the Mediterranean.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Turks are some of the nicest people in the world. People would quite literally cross the street to talk to me and hear how I liked their country. I travelled a lot and tried to speak as much Turkish as I could. Bilkent is insular but still great people, but Turkey is cheap to travel so I felt very immersed (aside from linguistically-english only on campus in class and so forth).

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Theres a health clinic on campus. I never needed to see a doctor but friends who did were satisfied. There was also a huge hospital near my apartment my roommates and I mistook for a fancy hotel and entered looking for the bar in the first week. Oops.

* Safety:

Very safe. But always be alert and aware, only go out with friends, know emergency numbers, know where the embassy is. etc.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

With travel and shopping for groceries at the market as well as eating at restaurants I lived still very cheaply. Most expensive were trips to Istanbul or Europe but all told I had a fairly modest budget. I spent less on food than I do at Umaine and used that money for travel.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 100 TL -something like 60 USD
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I would recommend living off campus.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

My program was ALL ENGLISH however I took classes for Turkish and tried to speak more while traveling so I did ok.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? In turkish none
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Learn some before you go. Again at Bilkent it is not necessary but I would highly recommend it to enrich your experience.

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Direct Enrollment

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The ability to travel.
  • The ESN students and international students I met.
  • The school was really well organized and a fantastic campus.
* What could be improved?
  • More Turkish language
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I should have learned a bit more Turkish!