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Posted on July 7th by Nanami Kuramochi

"Turkey" from a Japanese Exchange Student's Perspective

Merhaba. I would like to introduce student life in Boğazici University, which I attended in Turkey.

Boğazici University was formerly known as Robert College, founded in 1863, and was officially established under its current name in 1971. It is a national university located in Istanbul.

As shown in the photo below, you can see the beautiful Bosphorus Sea from the university. The south campus has a large lawn, which is used for classes and where people and dogs rest.

The official language of Turkey is Turkish, but the language of instruction at Boğaziçi University is English, and the Spring 2022 classes were held in a hybrid of online and face-to-face due to Covid. Here are a few things that surprised me;

  1. Many students do not come to class. (perhaps studying on their own?): Only about 13 students came to each of the regular classes, but about 130 students came for the mid-term and final exams.
  2. Test scores are made public to all students. (some 8th-year university students were there when I looked at their student ID numbers)
  3. The school lunch, which includes a salad, soup, main dish, and staple food, is available for 5 lire (about 40 yen): the dish that would cost about 40 lire if we ate outside. The price is student-friendly and can be paid with a student ID card.
  4. Police always wait near the gate of Boğaziçi University: This is due to the ongoing protests against the rector. Before entering the university, we must go through the gate with our student ID cards.
*Things about classes may are not common and may vary depending on teacher and class.

As for exchange and Erasmus students, about half of them came from Germany, followed by France, Italy, and Morocco. Most of the students were from Europe, and there were few students from Asian countries.

Boğaziçi University offers Japanese language classes as a second foreign language, and there is a student organization called "Nitto kai" that supports exchange between Japanese and Turkish students. We sometimes had dinner together and went to a Japanese garden in Istanbul to see cherry blossoms in spring. In May, I collaborated with Nitto kai and other cooking clubs to organize an event to introduce Japanese food. We made Okonomiyaki and Onigiri, which can be easily cooked with ingredients available in Turkey. I made prototypes several times to make them similar to what we can eat in Japan and prepared materials to explain how to cook them. I was very happy to hear that everyone said the food was delicious.

Other memories of the university include potluck parties with my classmates after the final test and participating in iftar (a meal eaten after sunset during Ramadan) at the university. I liked to buy sweets and tea after class and talk with my classmates on the lawn or play volleyball. .Even if we started out playing volleyball with 5 people, there were always strangers who joined us in the middle of the play, and before we knew it, there were about 10 of us :)

My university life, which lasted only one semester, went by very quickly, but I met many different people and spent many exciting days.