Beyond Your Average Abroad Experience Past Review

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?
This experience abroad truly changed not only my Duke experience but my life. It was 100% worthwhile and I honestly wish I chose to study abroad in Istanbul for a year instead of just one semester. Everything about this program was amazing and I wish I could tell every other student to choose it.

Review Photos

Duke University: Istanbul – Duke in Istanbul Photo Duke University: Istanbul – Duke in Istanbul Photo Duke University: Istanbul – Duke in Istanbul Photo Duke University: Istanbul – Duke in Istanbul Photo

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.

Istanbul is one of the world's richest and most complex classrooms. We would sit in Ottoman History class then go do our homework at a cafe along the Bosphorus. When I looked up from my reading I would see the exact fortress across the water that my reading was talking about. An amazing city to learn about the clash of civilizations, religions, cultures and much more by seeing, feeling, and exploring.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Alican is AMAZING. I can't even find enough words to describe what an impactful leader he was in Istanbul for us. My abroad experience would not have been near as fulfilling as it was without him. He truly made the whole program what it is and he is the first thing I highlight of the program for prospective students.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The rooms smaller than your average dorm but that is the only negative, and that's not even bad because you're so busy exploring the city you rarely spend time in your room. We also were living in suites - I had two Turkish roommates and one American roommate from a different university so whenever we were home we always hangout in our big living room area!

* Food:

You would think one would get tired of the same cuisine after eating it every day for 4 months straight. Nope, not at all, Turkish food has actually become my absolute favorite food. Istanbul offers so much in regards to cuisine, from fish sandwiches along the Bosphorus, to amazing Turkish coffee, to endless tea, to rich and extravagant breakfasts - it never gets old.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

At first I was terrified, immediately questioned myself on the first day why I didn't pick an easier culture to assimilate into like somewhere more in Western Europe. By day two that feeling was gone. The program leader does an amazing job at making sure you step outside of your comfort zone and he pushes you to try new things but he always makes sure that you are safe and comfortable enough with where you are and what you're doing.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Great - leaders helped when we needed it and everything was organized.

* Safety:

Yes, of course you see what is in the news but if you're smart and use your common sense you can avoid the "dangers" you see and hear of Turkey. It's a safe city but just like any city it's as safe as you make it.

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 including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $50-$100
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If you eat at the university cafeteria your full meal costs $0.60 and buying groceries at the market on the weekends saves you money too - and it is fresh! Also make smart travel decisions, plan ahead and watch plane/bus tickets instead of buying them immediately because they change drastically day to day and you can save money by using websites like


* 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

A lot, and thanks to them I learned more than I expected and fell in love with the language. I am still taking Turkish now back in the U.S.

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? Nothing.
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? DuoLingo (iphone app) just added Turkish!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • 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?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The Duke in Istanbul group and leaders.
  • Istanbul itself is a city of endless adventure - four months isn't long enough!
  • The program pushed us to travel a lot within Turkey rather than hop around Europe and we all gained a greater understanding of our host country rather than simply our host city.
* What could be improved?
  • More transparency about which classes are offered and how registration works.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Better described packing list. I wish I knew a little bit more about how Istanbul is way bigger than most people imagine and that doing research on the city prior to arriving allows one to understand the city and its dynamic parts better.

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.