Living in Turkey
As a student living in Turkey – especially if you are based in one of the larger cities – you certainly won’t find yourself short of places to explore and things to do.
Music lovers will find plenty of variety, from folk to techno, classical to pop, and hip hop to jazz – plus everything in between. The cities are full of lively venues, and Turkey hosts a number of international music festivals each year. Meanwhile film fans may already be aware of the country’s growing domestic film industry, and will find themselves in good company; cinema-going is a popular activity in Turkey, and the latest Hollywood blockbusters are widely screened.
In terms of daily life, you may find yourself becoming adept at spotting a good quality doner kebab, haggling over prices at the souk, preparing (or at least appreciating) a real Turkish coffee, and perhaps even taking on the locals at tavla, or backgammon, which is popularly played in cafes and parks.
Universities in Istanbul
Istanbul is one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions, with a history going back thousands of years. The cultural heritage of the city is a big appeal for tourists, and also the clubs, pubs and Turkish taverns.
Out of the five top universities in Istanbul, the highest ranked is Bogaziçi Üniversitesi, placed at 461-470, in the QS World University Rankings 2013/14. Founded in 1863, it was the first American university to be established outside the US. Its many research centers include the Center for Psychological Research and Services, the European Studies Research Center, the Peace Education Research Center and the Polymer Research Center. Situated close by are the Bosphorus and the historical castle of Rumelihisar, forming the eastern boundary of the university’s South Campus.
The other four universities in Istanbul which appear in the QS rankings are: Koç University, Sabanci University, Istanbul Technical University and Istanbul University. Two of these, Koç University and Sabanci University, are private. But both public and private universities in Turkey conform to the Bologna Agreement, which standardizes degree programs across Europe.
Universities in Ankara
Ankara is Turkey’s capital and second largest city. A busy commercial and political center, it has a large student population, as well as a significant community of international diplomats. Its most popular visitor attractions include Ankara Castle, the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, and Anıtkabir (pictured) – the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Republic of Turkey. Ankara is also a popular destination for bird-watching.
World-ranking universities in Ankara include Bilkent University, Middle East Technical University and Hacettepe University. This last is Turkey’s first private non-profit institution, founded in 1984. Its name is an acronym of “bilim kenti”, Turkish for "city of learning and science” – appropriate, as it’s the highest ranked university in Turkey, and attracts top students and academics from around the world, offering a selection of courses taught in English.
Turkey’s second highest-ranking university is also in Ankara: Middle East Technical University (METU). It has about 26,500 students, many of whom are exchange students attending for either a semester or a year. METU only accepts students from the top 1.5% of its 1.8 million yearly applicants, because demand is so high. As at Bilkent University, international students can take courses taught in English, but Turkish language study is required.
Other universities in Ankara include the Turkish Military Academy, Baskent University and Gazi University.
Other top universities in Turkey
Another student city is Balcali, home to Cukurova University, Turkey’s ninth entrant in the QS World University Rankings. Apart from its world ranking, the university’s location makes it highly attractive. On the east coast of the Seyhan Dam Reservoir Lake, its facilities include dining halls amongst the pine trees. Programs taught in English include computer engineering, mechanical engineering, automotive engineering management, economics and econometrics – but a preparatory course in Turkish is also required.
Other top universities in Turkey include Anadolu University in Eskişehir, one of Turkey’s more affordable big cities. Courses are taught in Turkish, English, French and German. Another is Süleyman Demirel University, Isparta, which is one of Turkey’s largest universities in terms of student numbers, and is also part of the Erasmus Program for exchange students.
Finally, Akdeniz University in Antalya is actively encouraging international student participation, through programs such as the Mevlana Exchange Program, the Bologna Process and the International Association for the Exchange of the Students for Technical Experience.
In most of these locations, many local people can speak English, making it relatively easy for international students to settle in, even without fluency in Turkish. All in all, studying and living in Turkey promises to provide an experience unlike any other – as you’ll discover if you choose this truly ‘Eurasian’ destination for your university years.