Foreign Student Experiences in Turkey

  • Making the decision to continue (or go back into) education is a tough one. Nevertheless, learning opens many doors and being a university student brings a set of new experiences that can change one’s life. Especially being a foreign student in a different country and a different culture can impact an individual with the change for the better and the possibility to experience a whole new world.

    This article is written based on observations and after a couple of lunch gatherings with a group of foreign students studying at some of the public universities in Istanbul.

    1- In some schools, even though the official language of the program is English, the professors may give the lecture in Turkish, if there is no foreign student in the class. “Are there any foreigners in this class?” is a sentence which upon hearing, you will find 30 heads turn to you, wishing that you don’t utter a single word. Once, I got so many eyes fixated on me that I knew I should have carried a nazar boncuğu with me

  •  Finding the Turkish equivalence of a foreign name is a fun process to go through. You’ll meet classmates, professors and even the cleaning lady who will try to ‘Turkify’ your long and difficult name. Mine changed from Chand to Can till it finally got closer to the original name: Çan.

  • -The little cultural exchange whenever classmates bring you a treat and ask you the famous, ‘Sizde var mı?’ question. I love when this happens, because it makes me closer to the Turkish people and their culture.

    If you are coming from a small country, prepare to carry a map of the world with you at all times, as you will have to show your homeland, spell it and give some concrete information every time you meet a new person. Geography may not be the strongest class among Turkish students. I have never met a Turkish student who would know where Mauritius is located at

  • I suppose the best part of the experience of being a foreign student in Turkey is the infinite number of people you can meet at campus. Turkish youth is very welcoming and curious about other countries and cultures. You’ll make a lot of friends from all sorts of communities and backgrounds. In my personal experience, I met many beautiful souls who see me as a brother rather than as an outsider. I did meet a few toxic people but exceptions don’t make the rule.


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