STUDYING IN TURKEY
A Short Guide for Students
A Short Guide for Students
Area: 814,578 square kilometres (3 % in Europe called Thrace; 97 % in Asia called Anatolia). The length of the land borders of the country is 2,875 kilometres; its coastline is 8,333 kilometres long, while its landmass is approximately 550 kilometres wide and about 1,500 kilometres long. It has a number of high mountains; the highest one is Mount Ararat (5,137 meters) which is quite famous for many people looking for Noah’s Ark. The country is characterized by seven geographical regions each of which has a different landscape. This may result in significant differences in climatic conditions from one region to another. The population growth rate is about 1.5 % and 65 % of the population live in urban areas.
According to the 2000 census, 67,844,000 people live in Turkey. However, it is estimated that it has increased to 72 million by the end of year 2005. There are 81 provinces in Turkey. Among them, three most rapidly growing cities are Istanbul (10 million), Ankara (4 million) and Izmir (3.5 million). Turkey is a country with a young population. The 0-14 age group is 30 %, the 15-64 age group 64.4 % and the 65+ age group 5.6 % of the overall population. Turkey is a member of many international organisations, like NATO, World Trade Organisation, Organisation of Islamic Conference, Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organisation, and the Economic Cooperation Organisation and it is also a candidate for full EU membership.
Turkey is a parliamentary democratic state with a single chamber. The Grand National Assembly is comprised of 550 members elected directly for a five year term.
The Members of the Assembly elect the President of the Republic for a seven year term. Turkey is a secular state and is the only country among Islamic countries to practice it.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, The Founder of Modern Turkey
In Turkey, located in the temperature zone, it is possible to enjoy the four seasons and different climates simultaneously. People can both go to the sea and see the snowy mountains at the same time. Turkey is also affected by the Mediterranean climate in which summer are hot and arid. However, thanks to its location among the Eastern Mediterranean basins and its surface roughness, it varies from the dry subtropical areas with much more abundant precipitation.
The coastal areas of Turkey bordering the Sea of Marmara (including Istanbul), which connects the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea, have a transitional climate between a temperate Mediterranean climate and a temperate Oceanic climate with warm to hot, moderately dry summers and cool to cold, wet winters. Snow does occur on the coastal areas of the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea almost every winter, but it usually lies no more than a few days. Snow on the other hand is rare in the coastal areas of the Aegean Sea and very rare in the coastal areas of the Mediterranean Sea.
Conditions can be much harsher in the more arid interior. Mountains close to the coast prevent maritime influences from extending inland, giving the central Anatolian plateau of the interior of Turkey a continental climate with sharply contrasting seasons.
Turkey has a richness of traditional and its own popular/rock music in Turkish. Music has always been an important tool to express feelings, happiness, sadness, reflections etc. of Turkish people. However most of the songs are about love! One of the most internationally popular Turkish singers Tarkan sings also in English and gave concerts throughout Europe during the summer 2006. Sezen Aksu is also quite popular among young and middle-age generations with her sentimental songs. One another popular singer Sertab Erener has brought the first-ever Eurovision Song Contest winner award to Turkey in 2003 and the song “Everyway That I Can” became a summer smash across Europe.
Besides popular music, Classical Turkish Music and Turkish Folk Music are widely listened among young people of Turkey. Traditional sounds are quite different in each geographical region that people can easily notice which song is from which region. Ibrahim Tatlises is one of the most important and popular singer of eastern Turkish Folk Music.
Almost all branches of sports and arts are practiced in Turkey. The country has characteristics of four climates which allow practicing various sports. Universities have all sorts of sports and recreation facilities available for students. International students may do sports on their own or they may join any one of the student groups. The most favourite branch of sport is football and it is commonly enjoyed.
One of the most famous competitions in the world is going on between two Turkish clubs: Fenerbahce and Galatasaray. Hakan fiükür is one of the most famous Turkish football players in the world. A number of international Turkish players are now in many European football clubs, such as Fatih Tekke, Emre Belözoğlu, Nihat Kahveci, Yıldıray Baştürk. However, basketball is also quite popular and a number of Turkish international basketball players are in NBA League: Hidayet Türkoğlu, Mehmet Okur and Hüseyin Beşok. Students may enrol in the arts courses that may be offered as part of the academic programs of the universities and they may have the opportunity to learn details of traditional arts and culture; like music, architecture, decorative Turkish arts like ebru etc.
The Higher Education Law (Law no. 2547) which went into effect in 1981, covers all higher education institutions and regulates their organisation and functions. All universities and higher education institutions are connected to Higher Education Council (YÖK). Universities comprising several units are established by the state and by law as public corporations having autonomy in teaching and research. Furthermore, institutions of higher education, under the supervision and control of the state, can also be established by private foundations in accordance with procedures and principles set forth in the law. With the establishment of 15 new state universities in 2005, there are now 68 state and 28 private (foundation) higher education institutions (HEl) as well as 4 military academies and one police academy in Turkey.
They are all recognised by the Higher Education Authority (YÖK) in Turkey therefore they are all eligible to participate in the programme. However, 83 Turkish HEIs have been awarded an University Charter until 2006 by the European Commission and some more institutions will hopefully apply for the coming year. There is a tuition fee for higher education. The fee is quite small in state universities when compared with other countries; however it may vary between 5,000 – 10,000 Euros in private universities. Successful students who lack financial means to continue their education are provided with full support by private individuals and organizations, as well as by the state. Great majority of students receive loans from the Higher Education Credit and Dormitories Institution (Yurt-Kur). Today, higher education institutions in Turkey fall into three categories: universities, military and police colleges and academies, and vocational school s affiliated with ministries.
The university is the principal higher education institution. It possesses academic autonomy and a public legal personality. It is made up of faculties, graduate school s, schools of higher education, conservatories, two-year vocational training schools and centres for applied work and research. Anyone wishing to enrol in any undergraduate program of the universities must take a centrally administered university entrance exam in Turkey which is held once a year. Students are accepted in accordance with the results of the examination. The examination is organized by The Student Selection and Placement Centre (ÖSYM). In accordance with the Higher Education Law, the Centre was attached to Higher Education Council (YÖK). International students who wish to pursue a full time degree program in Turkish universities are required to take a separate exam, called YÖS, which is also administered by ÖSYM. The centralised system of access to higher education has been ratified from time to time. There has been a steady increase in the number of candidates for admission to Higher Education. In recent years approximately 1.750 million students have applied to take university entrance exam. Apparently the demand for Higher education exceeds the number of places available at the universities. Although education is commonly in Turkish, there are exceptions. The medium of instruction can be partially or totally in a foreign language in some universities (generally
In the academic year 2005/06, there were approximately 2,181,200 undergraduate students registered at Turkish higher educational institutions including Open University students; 1,382,164 students excluding Open University. There were 144,664 registered post graduate and PhD students studying during the same period. There were 82,000 academic staff working at these institutions. Academic calendar generally starts in mid-September and ends in mid June, with a 2-4 weeks winter term break in January / February. Some universities also run summer schools during the months of July and August.
Turkish universities are in line with the Bologna Process in many aspects: for example, Turkish universities have been using three cycle system since early 1970s. A typical bachelor degree can be achieved in 4 years. Graduate programs consist of masters and doctoral programs and are coordinated by institutes for graduate studies. Master’s programs are specified as “with thesis” and “without thesis”. Access to doctoral programs requires a master’s degree. However, in certain disciplines, like medical science, veterinary medicine, dentistry, a degree can be achieved in either 5 or 6 years minimum. In Turkey, the escalation of higher education in terms of both quality and quantity has been adopted as the major goal. Some Turkish universities are very strong in international links. They have been carrying out various international projects and student exchanges for years. With the establishment of Turkish National Agency, Turkish Universities have also started participating in EU programme since 2003. Many Turkish Universities have significantly proceeded in ECTS work. Since 1 April 2004, Turkey has fully participated in the Community programmes of Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci and Youth. During the last two years, there has been a great interest and activities at Turkish Universities in terms of both student and teaching staff mobility. That implies that the mobility will increase dramatically for the coming years in Turkey as well. The mobility figures can be seen in the table below:
|Outgoing Teaching Staff||339||700||2000|
|Incoming Teaching Staff||220||450||700|
Turkey offers a healthy and welcoming environment for students. Many universities offer services and advisers to help international students adjust living in Turkey. The universities may offer an orientation program prior to the beginning of academic programme. One of the French students, Celiné Levy, studied in Turkey during the academic year 2005/06 has written her experience in Turkey as: “… this great traveller gave his name to the well-known exchange program which allows students from Europe to discover different countries, cultures, civilisations and people all around Europe. I have taken this opportunity! And I am now in Turkey, spending one of my 5 years
education school here.
Different reasons made me decided to spend one year abroad: one of them is that I wanted to change! Air, environment, lessons… so why would not change the country? Let’s do it! Also I had heard really good reports about other students’ experiences, as it opened their mind, they learnt a lot about themselves and others, country, culture… So let’s try it too. When I left France to come to Turkey, I really did not know what I would discover here. I had no idea about the country, the population, the university and so on. Well, I can say that all my wishes were fulfilled! Everything was so new, different… just amazing! It is a real chance to live with Turkish people, and not just be there as a tourist. Indeed Turkish culture is so rich. I am speaking about food, history, geographical and political issues, religion, disparities in life styles (it is very interesting to compare some families who are living with old Ottoman culture and new students generation who are more modern but also very different than in Europe). I love travelling in Turkey. Everywhere, I learn. By this way, I visited the beautiful Istanbul, cooked manti with some women in a village, learnt common Turkey and French history in Canakkale, and discovered the existence and meaning of the Turning Men (Whirling Dervishes) in Konya (Mevlana)… and many other trips are still waiting for me. Of course, one of the main important aspects of an exchange is to meet with new people. This point cannot just be described. Everyone will create his own experience, live it. But I can say that for me, Turkish people are responsible for a big part of the well going of my adventure. Right now, this adventure is going really well and I will keep souvenirs forever, for sure!”
Many universities have the facilities for their students to have access to high speed internet and they have up-to-date computer labs as well as computers available in each department. When students register for the semester, they need to register for a computer account as well. They will get a password and an e-mail account. Students can register for their courses online at many universities.
Each university has their own library which holds certain amount of books and periodicals. However, many universities are subscribed to some databanks which provides access to tens of thousands of periodicals. The universities have also inter library-loan system which facilitates lending or borrowing books from other libraries throughout Turkey. Students may wish to search online library catalogues of the university and if they wish they can reserve a book via internet. In big cities, students may wish to visit other universities and their libraries where they can study.
The official language in Turkey is Turkish language (Türkçe) and is not an Indo-European language. It belongs to the Altay branch of the Ural-Altay linguistic family. The Turkic languages constitute a language family of some thirty languages, being the 7th most widely spoken language among thousands of languages spoken in the world today, spoken across a vast area from Eastern Europe to Siberia and Western China with an estimated 200 million speakers, including native and tens of millions of secondlanguage speakers. More than 90 percent of all contemporary speakers of Altaic languages speak a Turkish language. The peoples of this region led a nomadic life. Turks, too, for centuries being nomads, took their language along wherever they moved. The Turkish language now stretches from the Mongolian lands and China to the present day Turkey. The far eastern border of the language now is where once the Turkish people have originated from.
The Turkish language at present is being widely spoken in the following countries and regions: Turkey, Northern Cyprus, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Turkistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Western China as well as by several million emigrants in the European Union. It is also spoken in some Balkan countries like Republic of Macedonia, some parts in Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Nagorno Karabagh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo etc.
There was a serious change in the language in 1928; Latin based alphabet was adopted instead of Arabic script. Now the Turkish alphabet has 29 letters, 8 of which are vowels and 21 are consonants. The Turkish language is written phonetically which means every letter is pronounced while reading. A number of Turkish universities are being selected by the Turkish National Agency to organise Intensive Language Course. The students can at least learn Turkish to help their everyday communication while they study in Turkey. Interest in learning Turkish is growing rapidly among the incoming students. It is the fact that the application to these courses are on the rise year by year. For example, during the summer 2006, 165 students have enrolled in these courses, whereas the previous year the total figure was 107. However, many universities are teaching in foreign language, mainly English, partially or completely. Therefore, international students may not find difficult to get by at the universities. Turkish language would be useful to talk to local people and when you go shopping, although students may not have any difficulty to communicate in many shops in big cities like Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir and in the touristic places.
Campus universities generally have variety of accommodation facilities. State owned dormitories are also a possibility. Many universities have certain capacity reserved for international students. Prices of these accommodations are relatively cheaper than many European countries.
Students who wish to live offcampus may also hire a flat with a friend or on their own. The rents vary according to the city and the district. International offices at the universities will help their incoming students to find
reasonable and suitable accommodation.
Public transportation is convenient in all cities and relatively cheap. Buses or minibuses (dolmufl) and underground (in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Bursa) provide regular services. The inter-city transportation is also easy and students get a discount from many bus companies. International students may use the term breaks or other official holidays to explore the country, to visit internationally popular touristic and cultural sites. Travelling by couch is quite cheap and comfortable since there are many competitive bus companies running in almost all cities. Recent competitions between airlines companies also resulted in price reduction in local flights. Hence, it is even worth choosing the airlines when travelling in local destinations.
Estimated living expenses for international students are minimally 350 to 500 euro per month. Students should allocate about 100-150 euro for books each semester. However, cost of living may depend on the city. Living cost in major big cities like Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir would be relatively higher than other smaller cities.
Students are advised to buy a health insurance package which covers their health expenses that may incur during their study in Turkey. All higher education institutions have medical centres where they treat their students with minor illness. Some universities have medical faculties and hospitals where their students also have been treated free of charge. However,that an incoming student may be treated in these hospitals free of charge has to be checked with the partner institutions.
In each region and in each city, many cultural and regional activities are taking place all year long. Many festivals, religious or official holiday activities, shows, summer concerts, are available for viewers. The students will also have the opportunity to go to the cinemas, theatres, concerts, and they will have plenty of opportunities to entertain themselves in the campus life where many student clubs are organising various entertainments including pop concerts. Students may even participate in traditional Turkish wedding parties.
Turkey is internationally famous for its rich “cuisine”. The type of dishes may differ in each geographical region which adds richness to the Turkish food.
One can only conclude that the evolution of this glorious Cuisine was not an accident. Similar to other grand Cuisines of the world, it is a result of the combination of three key elements: A nurturing environment is irreplaceable. Turkey is known for an abundance and diversity of foodstuff due to its rich flora, fauna and regional differentiation. And the legacy of an Imperial Kitchen is inescapable. Hundreds of cooks specializing in different types of dishes, all eager to please the royal palate, no doubt had their influence in perfecting the Cuisine as we know it today. The Palace Kitchen, supported by a complex social organization, a vibrant urban life, specialization of labour, trade, and total control of the Spice Road, reflected the culmination of wealth and the flourishing of culture in the capital of a mighty Empire. And the influence of the longevity of social organization should not be taken lightly either. The Turkish State of Anatolia is a millennium old and so, naturally, is the Cuisine. Time is of the essence; as Ibn’i Haldun wrote, “the religion of the King, in time, becomes that of the People”, which also holds for the King’s food. Thus, the reign of the Ottoman Dynasty during 600 years, and a seamless cultural transition into the present day of modern Turkey, led to the evolution of a grand Cuisine through differentiation, refinement and perfection of dishes, as well as their sequence and combination of the meals.
It is quite rare that all the three conditions above are met, as they are in the French, the Chinese and the Turkish Cuisine. The Turkish Cuisine has the extra privilege of being at the cross-roads of the Far-East and the Mediterranean, which mirrors a long and complex history of Turkish migration from the steppes of Central Asia (where they mingled with the Chinese) to Europe. All these unique characteristics and history have bestowed upon the Turkish Cuisine a rich and varied number of dishes, which can be prepared and combined with other dishes in meals of almost infinite variety, but always in a non-arbitrary way. This led to a Cuisine that is open to improvisation through development of regional styles, while retaining its deep structure, as all great works of art do. The Cuisine is also an integral aspect of culture. It is a part of the rituals of everyday life events. It reflects spirituality, in forms that are specific to it, through symbolism and practice3. In all universities there are many alternatives of good quality food services with reasonable prices. Cafes or restaurants around campuses or at the city centres are other options for eating out. Students may also prefer doing their own cooking. They may do shopping in the nearby local markets which offer a variety of healthy, fresh food with very reasonable prices.
Students may wish to go shopping in old traditional markets as well as modern shopping malls. However, they can also find many items in the local markets. Supermarkets and many shops are open until at least 10:00 pm. There are even some 24 hours open shops and restaurants in many cities. Hence, people may have no difficulty in finding their needs. Since Turkey is on the bridge between east and west, it has an influence from each culture. Hence, every city has a spice bazaar. In big cities, there is a mobile vegetable and fruit market once in a week where people can buy fresh and cheaper groceries. It is advisable to learn where and when these markets are taking place.
International students from certain countries must obtain a valid student visa from the nearest Turkish Consulate in their country. They should make sure that there is enough time for the Embassy/Consulate staff to issue visas. The passport expiry date should be later than the time that a person intends to stay in Turkey. The full list of Turkish Embassies or Consulates is placed at the end of this booklet. This visa is required for registration at the university and must be obtained before entering Turkey. Visa requirements by Turkey for students from some European countries are provided in the table below. However if a student wishes to stay more than the stated period on the table below, they need to apply for a student visa at the Turkish embassies or Consulates in the respected countries prior to departure.