Turkey: more than the Sun and beaches. Istanbul is a city of contrasts European mode of life peacefully coexists with a more traditional one. Here one can see narrow old-fashioned streets and modern bridges; conservative people and liberals; top notch malls and little fascinating markets. Needless to say I had certain expectations, when I made a decision to go Turkey for a semester exchange. I have to admit that the sun, sea, and beaches were the things I pictured in my head when thinking about Turkey. This stereotype was busted soon after I came to Istanbul; my friends and I even made the biggest snowman I’ve ever seen! While looking forward to a new adventure, I also felt unsure about the adaptation process. I kept asking myself things like if I would be able to make friends or if studying was going to be hard. It’s been two month now, and I can say my expectations
have already been surpassed! Upon my arrival, I was delighted by hospitality of Turkish people and their readiness to help strangers. Local people would always do their best to help me with direction or anything else. Fortunately, this also applies at the university itself. Koc OIP team made us feel like home. After getting to know all the exchange students during the orientation week and meeting with our Turkish mentor, I truly felt that I belong to this community. Teachers and other personnel are always being kind and understanding. Breathtakingly beautiful Istanbul and other places like Cappadocia are wonderful, but meeting people and making friend is the best part about Turkey (besides food)! I met people all over the world and made friends with them; however, I was very willing to interact with the local community as well: get to know Turkish culture, try every kind of food, and, of course, learn the language. Turkish students turned out to be openminded and very easy to approach to. I got to communicate with them and discovered that despite of the distance between Turkey and Kyrgyzstan, young people still have similar aspirations, values, and problems.I was amazed at the number of facilities available at Koc, including food places, services, and all kinds of sports facilities, of which I enjoy ice-skating. Through all of these activities as well as through multiple social events, held in our university, feeling like home and making friends became much simpler.
My Turkish friends are always eager to help me get to know the culture whether by showing me places; introducing me to the best food like Adana Kebab, lahmacun, or balik ekmek; or helping me practice my Turkish. I, in my turn, try to tell them something about my home country and its people. I am still very excited to spend another two months here at Koc, but I already know that I would not trade this experience for anything in the world! I am going to cherish these memories for the rest of my life, and hope to create life-long connections with people I met here.
Inna Tsoi - Exchange student from Kyrzgystan.