DISTANT BUT CONNECTED BY HEART!

Fall 2020 Incoming Exchange Student Orientation

Due to COVID-19 measures, for the first time, mobility programs have been online in Fall 2020 semester. On the 1st and 2nd of October 2020, we had our Orientation Days for the incoming exchange students with lots of help from our well-trained and diligent mentor students. Although a virtual semester is out of the ordinary for everyone, we have a lot to offer and we are glad to host 29 students from 10 countries during Fall 2020. We have moved our services online and have planned a variety of activities and events for our incomings.

We kicked off the orientation by mingling mentor-mentee groups. After that Dr. Yiğit Sayın, our Dean of Students, wholeheartedly welcomed the incoming exchange students. Then there came a quick introduction to Koç University: its history, campus, departments, achievements, and services. Many Offices at KU such as Koc University Guidance and Psychological Services Center, Career Development Center, Koc University Office of Learning and Teaching and Suna Kırac Library are offering their services virtually. Besides the administrative offices, student communities and clubs are continuing their activities online, as well.

Last but not least; you might have thought that it was all about info sessions during the Orientation Days based on the above-mentioned notes, however that was never the case! In addition to informative sessions, we had lively games that created a sweet competition and long-lasting friendship bond among students.

All students can still benefit from our resources at the comfort of their homes, and as OIP Team and the mentor students, we are always here to assist our incomings with anything they may need.

 

Being Open to Change Is a Virtue During Virtual Mobility

As already known, an unexpected situation has taken over the world in early 2020 and since then, it has been challenging for all of us. It may sound unreasonable to look on the bright side of a global health crisis but we should accept we are lucky that such a situation has happened to us in an age with lots of advanced health care technologies and several options to connect virtually.

After an online yet warm welcome to our incoming exchange students with the Orientation Days before the courses begin, we have kept on being in touch with them to provide a cultural exchange experience besides an alternative academic system and approach. Every week, our committed mentor students organize an interactive session for their mentees (aka Incomings). This way, our incoming students get to experience not only an alternative academic system and instructional approach at KU, but also a new campus and cultural experience. Thanks to virtual mobility, incoming students have a chance to learn about Turkish Culture and other cultures, meet their peers from different countries, and take a variety of courses of their interest; with the advantage of being flexible with their time and studying, and keeping safe.

Our first activity for the semester was an online game we designed to share some insights on Turkish Culture and Koc University. As you can imagine, thanks to our lovely and diverse student body, we weren’t limited with talking about Turkish Culture only. One topic led to another and after a while, everyone was sharing interesting things about their own culture, home university or hometown. The session helped participants to find out about their fellow students’ life in a different country and to know each other better.

Another enjoyable event with our incomings was the “Fun Fact Game Session”. As the name of the game suggests, participants got to know each other further, but in a quite funny way. It was really amusing to see how everyone came up with very creative true or false statements about themselves.

“My City/Country is Unique!” cultural hangout session was also quite helpful as it enabled students to break the ice even more. Students gave the other participants some tips and shared some “dos/ don’ts” related to their culture, country, city and university. With this event, we once more realized that casual sessions with a lot sharing and talking are students’ favorite kind of activities. So far, it has been great to see bright young people being so open to sharing what is “unique” and accepting what is “different”.

The semester is still ongoing, and so are the social activities! Many more activities, games and workshops are on the horizon for our incoming exchange students throughout the semester. Maybe we will tell you about them on the next issue:).

 

Lets’s Hear Out Our Incomings!

Hello, I am Naba, a Sociology student from LMU Munich  attending virtual mobility at Koc University in Fall 2020 semester. When I got the news that I am not able to study on campus but virtual, I was sad. Nevertheless, I took the opportunity to study online at Koc and I do not regret it for one second. After being admitted the emails from the Office of International Programs (OIP) and my exchange coordinator kept me updated about everything regarding my exchange.

Every exchange student has a mentor who helps him with every question one could have. This helped me to start relaxed into the semester, because my mentor answered every question I had and took time to connect with me. The orientation days were informative, because everything one should know about the University and the process of course enrollment and so on was presented. The second day was a fun day, we had a quiz about the University, and it was a lot of fun to compete with other incoming exchange students.

After the start into the semester everything was going in the right direction, I took the courses I was interested in and every question I had was answered. The WhatsApp group of incoming students is a perfect place to ask and get the questions answered.

The mentors organized a few events for us like game night, cooking dinner and so many more activities. The mentors always want us to feel welcomed and as a part of Koc. They do a splendid job organizing events and updating us about interesting events. It is always fun to talk to the mentors and to the incoming students.

I must confess that at the beginning I was having my doubts whether I will really feel this exchange atmosphere, but now I know better. Everyone at coach had done an amazing job to accommodate to the new situation in which we are all in. In general staff at Koc University is friendly, and I never felt out of place.

All in all, it is a great experience even online. I certainly will visit the Koc campus when this pandemic is over. I am so glad that Koc gave me this opportunity and for my exchange coordinator, who has supported me.

Thank You to everyone who had made this as comfortable as possible! – Naba 

 

Hey! I’m Ozan Karatas, 21 years old and a Management & Technology student from Technical University of Munich, Germany. I’m currently doing my Erasmus exchange semester at Koç University and even though it is running virtually, I enjoy it very much.

Since the beginning I felt warmly welcomed by the Office of International Programs and all our mentors. The whole situation is new to everybody, but everything is well organized. All of the professors I got in contact with are doing a great job and the administration via Zoom/Blackboard works seamlessly.

There are more group works, written assignments as well as quizzes than usual, but every lecture gets recorded and If you are facing any difficulties with the course, the professors are available during their office hours for a personal meeting via Zoom. I was really looking forward to attending my exchange semester in person, but hopefully I will get the chance to visit the campus in Istanbul another time. Stay safe! – Best Wishes, Ozan 

 

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining

It has definitely been strange times for exchange programs and the participants, since everything has changed after the emergence of Covid-19 pandemic. Many of our outgoing students had to switch to online exchange at their host institutions from March 2020 onwards. However, this did not stop our students to enjoy their wonderful exchange destinations and we are glad to say, with the Covid-19 measures taken by their local authorities, most of them completed their exchange programs without any major problems. Some of our students returned to Turkey amid the outbreak of the virus and completed their semesters virtually, thanks to all our partner universities who made it a priority to allow our students to take courses remotely.

Because of the quarantine that took place in the past few months, nature has found its essence and presented its beauty once more, allowing our students to enjoy and explore the beautiful green once the quarantine was over.

The students also found an opportunity to bond with their peers through online activities and indoor gatherings, making strong friendships by overcoming the difficulties this period has challenged us with.

We wanted to give you a close-up on one of our outgoing students, Beril’s experiences in Spring 2020 semester. What Beril shared with us show us that there is always a silver lining and exchange students can still have a lot of nice experiences and memories despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Greetings from Utrecht, The Netherlands! I have spent the spring 2020 semester in a beautiful city and country with long canals, tulips, and amazing people. Because of this global pandemic, most of my education here was online which I enjoyed a lot. Although we could not travel to other countries, I can say that I made life-time friendships where we supported each other, shared each other’s cultures and traveled to beautiful, unique cities of the Netherlands, all together.

Our social gatherings consisted of few people because of the Dutch government’s regulations but every Friday we were gathering around and celebrating the weekend by cooking ourselves delicious meals, treating ourselves with “Stroopwafels”, and having great conversations. The self-isolation and partial lockdown brought us closer to each other.

The most favorite thing I loved to do in Utrecht was riding my bike and traveling everywhere with it. Learning about the bicycle traffic was hard but once you get used to it, you feel like a local Dutch. Going everywhere with a bike is a huge part of the Dutch culture. Once, I found myself riding my bike only for a 2-minute destination as the Dutch people do.

Utrecht has lots of forests and parks to offer to you. Whenever I had time, I would take my bike and travel to one of them to be surrounded by trees and plants. The greatest part was that these forests were just within 5 minutes of bike rides and not very far from the city. I would take my notes and study in the fresh air when the cafes and library were closed due to partial lockdown. I have to say that studying in the forest and in the fresh air was “lekker”, or in other words amazing.

The Netherlands has a lot to offer in terms of museums, art galleries, parks, forests, and beaches. Because it is a small country, I was able to travel to different Dutch cities by train in very few hours. In the first picture, you can see me enjoying the Moco Museum in Amsterdam, which exhibits modern, contemporary and street art. In the second picture, you can see me enjoying the nice and long beach called Schevengen Beach in Den Haag which famous for its seaside atmosphere and history.”

 

World is Going Digital, Why Wouldn’t You?