By (Duke University) - abroad from 09/01/2014 to 12/22/2014 with

Duke University: Istanbul – Duke in Istanbul

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Along with the general abroad learning experiences of gaining independence and new sense of flexibility, I learned an incredible amount about this area of the world. Being at the crossroads between Asia and Europe is an extremely interesting area to be in, and Istanbul proved that. I also learned that it is impossible to imagine what a place is like without actually living there- all I knew about Istanbul was from the American media which proved to be somewhat uninformed on what the actual situation is like here.

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.

Registration is very stressful- Bogazici doesn't make it easy! The mandatory classes for the program were interesting (Ottoman History and Turkish) and most people who got into their desired classes seemed to enjoy them. I really liked mine. The fact that Bogazici is an English-speaking university in Turkey makes native English speakers somewhat at an advantage.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I cannot rave about the staff enough. Alican, Kara, and Fazilet were always around for support. They were incredibly quick to respond to emails and helped me with any problems that arose. I don't think I would have enjoyed this experience nearly as much if it weren't for them. Turkey isn't always the easiest place to be in terms of efficiency and ease of living, especially when you don't know the language. The three program directors were amazing at providing just enough support while also allowing us to independently explore on our own. The weekly outings with Alican and tea-and-talks with Fazilet and Kara, along with the INCREDIBLE two excursions, made this the best semester ever.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Superdorm is a 25 minute walk from classes, which really wan't too bad. It is clean and big, with a cafe, market, and laundry service in the basement of the building. I was happy living here! Regarding roommates, the program tries to have all Duke students live on their own in a suite with 3 students from other exchange programs or actual Bogazici students. I think the program may benefit from allowing each Duke student to live in a suite with one other Duke student because that would increase the likelihood of them branching out. It's nice to have the comfort of one person you know in your suite in what's already such an unfamiliar environment!

* Food:

Turkish food is really good and not crazy expensive if you find the right places. The cafeteria on campus serves meals for 1.50 lira which cannot be beat! It's actually not too bad either and you get a lot of food for such a small price.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I don't think I really felt myself get too integrated, but that's more on me than the program. The program itself, with the excursions, group outings, and program-students-only courses, made me less inspired to branch out and meet new people. However, I think Bogazici does provide a good amount of events to meet new people.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Contrary to popular American belief, Turkey was not a dangerous place for American students. As long as you stay smart and use common sense, it is very easy to live here without feeling unsafe. Many students in the program starting to talk about how, at times, Durham can feel more unsafe than Istanbul.

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)

Not being able to cook made me go out to eat a good amount, but the cafeteria was a cheap option. Unfortunately, it wasn't always open and has strict hours of opening and closing.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Budget, budget, budget


* 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

Even though Bogazici is an English-speaking school, I tried my best to use Turkish as much as I could with workers on campus and also around town. Many people spoke very little English around Istanbul, so it was relatively easy!

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? Advanced Spanish
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Try to talk to Turkish people in the language- they are generally so nice and will let you work through sentences as slowly as you need.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Program directors and all the help they provided
  • Fellow students in the program
  • The city itself and all it has to offer
* What could be improved?
  • One other Duke roommate in the suite
  • More of a packing list to know what exactly to bring (especially for the excursions!)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? More knowledge about Turkey and its history, along with current events about it.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.