Spring 2021 Incoming Exchange Students: Mobilities During the Pandemic

Each semester, incoming exchange students to Koç University start their exchange semester off a week earlier than the full-degree-seeking KU students, with Orientation Days. 

In the 2020/21 academic year, KU hosted incoming exchange students virtually due to the COVID-19 preventive measures but it didn’t stop us from enjoying the Orientation Days. While Orientation usually takes five days in a physical mobility semester, Orientations Days of Spring 2021 had two-hour-long sessions for four days. 

The first day started with an introduction session between mentors and their mentee groups. Each mentor had five mentees and they met with their mentee groups online to break the ice, mingle, and get closer. After Mentors and mentees made friends with each other, they were welcomed to Koc University by our Dean of Students and Institutional Erasmus+ Coordinator, Dr. Yiğit Sayın. 

Upon a quick break to freshen up, incoming exchange students were introduced to Koc University; because, although students could not visit KU physically in Spring 2021, we wanted them to get familiar with the institution that will be a home to them for a semester.  We had a presentation on some facts and figures about our institution. And, at the end of the day, mentor students took over the microphone to inform the students about the social and cultural activities they planned for the semester.

The second day kicked off with a short presentation on the services that our incoming exchange students can benefit from. We gave them some tips for their integration to KU during a virtual semester, as well. The second session of the second day was our very well-loved Trivia Game on Istanbul, Turkey and Turkish culture. This is an online game with a sweet competition, and this makes the game even more fun. After the game, the day was wrapped up with a quite useful session by the Career Development Center.  

On the third day, students were introduced to the Suna Kıraç Library’s online services and resources that will help them a lot with their assignments and exams throughout the semester. The rest of the day was also packed with introductions by other departments such as KURES and KOLT that will be there for the students whenever they need a little assistance with the academic or with personal issues. 

The fourth day was the course enrollment day, so before the students enrolled in their courses, the Registrar’s Office shared some tips so that the students can easily navigate through the system and enroll in the courses smoothly. A representative from the Registrar’s Office and our mentor students were there to assist incoming exchange students with KUSIS and the enrolment issues.

Incoming Exchange Students’ Experiences 

Musa, Aalto University, Finland

Hello!!  My name is Musa, I’m a 24-year old International Business student from Aalto University, Finland. After looking at all the exchange universities, the campus of Koç University blew me away and I immediately knew that is where I want to go on exchange for spring semester 2021.

Unfortunately, the pandemic went on longer then we all expected, turning my exchange into a virtual one. Nevertheless, it has been an amazing opportunity so far!

Right from the beginning, the exchange coordinator kept me updated in each step. Once orientation week started, we were all put on WhatsApp groups and had assigned tutors. The tutors went above and beyond to ensure the exchange student has a pleasant experience. Several activities were held via zoom, for the students to get to know each other.  The courses themselves have also been excellent. There is a wide variety of courses to choose from, and from my personal experience the professors have been top notch.

All-in-all, even if the exchange was not physically on the spot, I have enjoyed it a lot and learned about the Turkish culture. Hopefully things will return to normal soon and I will be able to visit Turkey 🙂

 

Imane, Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, Morocco

Merhaba, I am Imane, an economics student from Mohammed VI Polytechnic University. Spring 2021 is my second semester as a virtual exchange student at Koç University, and luckily, I am enjoying it very well.  Following my acceptance, I received emails from the Office of International Programs (OIP) and my exchange coordinator keeping me informed about my exchange.

The orientation days were insightful because they included everything a student could know about the university, including the course admission process. The second day was enjoyable; we had a quiz about the university, and competing with other new exchange students was a lot of fun. All was going well after the semester began; I had a few issues enrolling in several classes, but they were easily resolved thanks to the Office of International Programs and my mentor. Incoming students’ WhatsApp group is a great place to get your question’s answers. 

Per exchange student is assigned a mentor who assists him with any questions that might arise. The mentors host a variety of activities, such as games to get to know one another or training to expand our expertise in particular fields. The mentors want us to feel accepted and a part of Koç at all times. They do an excellent job of planning activities and keeping us informed about upcoming events.

All is well planned, even with the coronavirus condition and the online studies. The lectures are recorded, and if you have any questions about the course, the professors are available for a personal meeting via Zoom during their office hours.

I was genuinely concerned at the start of the semester about my online studies, and I questioned whether I would be able to experience the atmosphere of the exchange semester; but, thanks to the whole welcoming staff and students at Koç, I am now much more comfortable, loving my exchange, and concentrating on my studies. Thank you all for your support, and I hope to visit Koç Campus soon. 

 

Fabian, Technical University of Munich, Germany

Hi, I’m Fabian from the Technical University of Munich and currently doing an undergraduate exchange at Koç University, mainly in Finance courses. I can only imagine how awesome Istanbul must be under normal conditions, because even currently, the kind and hospitable people, the stunning scenery and the large variety of foods are a wonderful experience. And even though classes are held virtually at Koç right now, the small classes and engaged professors really make this an insightful experience.

Since we hopefully only witness improving conditions regarding the pandemic from now on, I would highly recommend anyone to come here – once the campus is open again, it surely will be an even more exciting experience.

 

Virtual Exchange Participants: What Do Our Students Think?

Due to the COVID-19 measures, our outgoing students participated in exchange programs virtually in the 2020-21 Academic Year.

Participating in a virtual exchange might seem as not quite what students expect in terms of the experience, however, with its easier logistics and great flexibility, our outbound students have been satisfied with the experience so far. During Spring 21 semester 10 Koç University students participated in a virtual exchange at our partner universities. 

We hope sharing these experiences will bring additional insight to virtual exchange programs and serve as an encouraging factor in terms of participation. 

Students benefit from partner university online lectures, vast academic resources, student-centered online activities and group activities within the comfort of their homes, and we are always here to assist our outgoing students with anything they might need before, during and after their exchange programs.

Here are some of our outgoing virtual exchange students’ experiences, impressions and thoughts of virtual exchange programs and their host institutions:

Fazil, Economics and Business Administration, Bocconi University, Italy 

Despite not being able to travel to Milan, this semester has been a great experience so far. I’ve had the chance to meet and make friends with amazing people from various countries. The university tries its best to make the experience as interactive as possible with different extracurricular activities as well as lots of group projects to introduce students to each other. I’m really looking forward to travelling there in the future and sharing my experiences with you.

 

 

 

Shadi, Computer Engineering, Northwestern University, USA

Doing my exchange quarter online was quite an interesting experience. I was studying at Northwestern, which has an 8 hour time difference from where I currently live. I had to change my sleep schedule to match, which made for quite a unique experience. That being said, the professors and classes were amazing. Northwestern took great care to accommodate every single student no matter the circumstances, so all exams were very flexible with a 24-hour window and attendance was optional. Despite these accommodations, I still preferred to attend all classes live even if they were late in the night because being able to interact with the professors and other students made for a much better experience. 

In the end, I am very happy that I decided to go on virtual exchange in these tough times. I met many great people and really enjoyed the classes I took. In my case, if I did not go on virtual exchange, I would have no other option. So if someone would ask me now for advice, I would definitely recommend going on virtual exchange if you are graduating soon and have limited options.

 

Leyla, Business Administration, Ludwig Maximilian University, Germany

Actually, I was not expecting to socialize with local or exchange students because I thought it was difficult to meet people online. However, signing up for the Buddy Program helped me a lot. My buddy studies my major, Business Administration, at LMU and she also has exchange experience before, so she knows many things about courses, university and Munich. Thanks to her, I believe I am taking nice courses. Welcome Day from last week was the most memorable day so far. I was surprised that there are about 100 exchange students this semester! The International Office and other organizations introduced university, contacts and many events. At the end of the session, we had breakout rooms to meet other exchange students. I felt connected to them because we were all in a similar situation. Now, I have so many groups on WhatsApp, Discord and Facebook! I truly felt I was a student at LMU Munich on this day. 

Although my semester has just started, I certainly recommend virtual exchange programs to everyone because International Office, Erasmus coordinators and buddies put effort to make our experience the best. I am planning to participate in many events. I already did an intercultural workshop in which I got a certificate. Tomorrow, there will be a virtual city tour and game night for exchange students. I am very excited to meet new people!

Munich will definitely be my next destination outside Turkey. I can’t wait to visit the university and the city and to meet my buddy! I hope I can make it happen before my health insurance expires 😉

Zeynep, Business Administration, HEC Paris, France

The lectures at my host institution are very interactive, the project-based progression of the lectures has developed and strengthened my creative thinking and problem-solving skills. With the advantage of being a student in HEC Paris, which is very rich in culture and has a student population from various countries, I made friends from various countries, I had the opportunity to meet with professors who are very successful in their field and I am very glad to benefit from their vast knowledge. Of course, being unable to be there, not being able to know the city or the country and not being able to travel, is a bit against the spirit of Erasmus so my motivation has dropped, but no matter what, I wanted to take advantage of what the university I accepted would offer me and I chose to continue my Erasmus online.

In this difficult process, we are going through, it is magnificent to have the opportunity to receive education from another university. I think I have exceeded my limits while studying from home, this is an experience everyone should have. I advise everyone to take advantage of the benefits of the online exchange.

 

Guiding and Advising Students with Student Questions: New FAQ Documents for the Erasmus+ and Global Exchange Programs!

As the Office of International Programs, we run several different programs for our students with specific destinations or exchange program types based on their preferences and academic expectations. Since there are several different programs such as Erasmus+, Erasmus+ Worldwide, Global Exchange, Erasmus+ Internship, Summer Exchange, and so forth, our students often find themselves in need of direction or advisory on the rules and requirements, destinations, and possible outcomes of these exchange programs.

With the recent developments on the exchange program language requirements, such as accepting our students’ expired language scores and Koc University English Proficiency Exam, there is a steady increase in the number of applications, which is something we are very glad to see even though the negative effect of the pandemic still hurts the exchange activities. These changes in the application process and the increased number of students have brought up the necessity of creating updated FAQ documents for the Erasmus+ and Global Exchange programs for our students, which would help them understand each and every phase of the exchange programs.

 

 

We are hoping to put together more FAQ documents in the future for our other exchange programs to help our students decide on which exchange program would suit them better. Our outgoing student advisors are always ready to answer further questions or advise students on these programs by organizing multiple online information and Q&A sessions for each application round and by advising students using one-on-one video calls during their office hours.

 

 

 

 A New Frequently Asked Questions Document for Study Mobility of Incoming Exchange Students is Published!

As Office of International Programs, we know that both prospective and accepted incoming exchange students might have various questions regarding their exchange semester at Koç University. As there are three different types of study mobility programs conducted at KU; Erasmus+, Global Exchange and Erasmus+ Worldwide, it was our aim to guide and help all incoming exchange students to find the answers to the most commonly asked questions with a new document!

With this new document, incoming exchange students can view some of the most frequently asked questions and their answers, in three categories: “before your exchange”, “during your exchange”, and “after your exchange”. Starting with general questions, “before your exchange” part focuses on the questions and answers regarding the nomination and application process, as well as the rules and requirements for the accepted students. In “during your exchange” part, students can find questions and answers with respect to academic life and courses at KU, facilities and services that they can benefit from, online portals, useful documents and contacts, mentorship, and travelling / living in İstanbul. Finally, in “after your exchange part”, useful information regarding the rules and regulations for completing the exchange semester are provided to our incoming students. The Frequently Asked Questions by Incoming Exchange Students to Koc University: for Studies document can be viewed here.

Student Stories

The Global Recruitment Team has created a student blog page on their website, where their current students can share their intellectual, social, and personal experiences at Koç University. Let the students tell you what it’s like to study here!

Find out more here.

 

 

Meet the Global Recruitment Team Online!

Students can now book 15-minutes online 1 on 1 meetings with the Global Recruitment Team through the Calendly platform. You can simply click the link in bio/Schedule a Meeting on their social media channels to visit the Calendly profile and book a meeting according to the availability. Due to the pandemic, the Global Recruitment Team is not able to attend face-to-face events and fairs but they are happy to adopt a fast and simple engagement method for the prospective students.