Politics and Religion in Modern Turkish Society

Ratings
Overall
8
Academics: 6
Support: 7
Fun: 9
Housing: 7
Safety: 9
Review

This program was totally unorganized but it was fun nonetheless. There were only a few people in the program so it was easier to change the scheduling and day-to-day events. We visited with representatives from five of Turkey's political parties and several religious minority groups. The religious minorities were probably the best because they fed us and wanted to discuss their beliefs with us without it seeming like a lecture or that they only wanted to talk with us in order to convert us. It was a little strange being asked about our beliefs by these people because that is sort of taboo in the United States. The political parties were also interesting in that the ones who didn't get as many votes in the latest election seemed to have the least amount of campaign strategy. The only part of the academic program I wish was different was I wish we had a chance to meet with some Kurdish minorities because a couple of the parties mentioned a Kurdish question but didn't talk any more about it. The housing was split into two groups. At the beginning everyone was supposed to stay in a hotel (The Yeni Saray Hotel) but two days before everyone arrived, the professor found a much cheaper apartment for two people to stay in and I(along with one other person) was able to stay there and it only cost $475 for the whole month. Everyone else stayed at the hotel. The hotel had free wifi and two of our lectures took place there so we all spent a lot of time there. The hotel was very nice and each room had two beds so there was a possibility of doubling up and there was a very nice free breakfast every morning. The desk attendant, Attila, was the nicest and most helpful guy and he spoke English very well. The hotel and apartment were on the Asian side of Istanbul in Uskudar and not many people spoke English but they were still very nice and helpful to us. We had to take a ferry and a train every day to go to class and our afternoon visits. The ferry was nice and they sold drinks and snacks onboard which was nice for the times when I didn't have time for breakfast. The train was very crowded but it got us where we were going easily. The neighborhood around Uskudar was mostly full of local families and a lot of them were more conservative and dressed more conservatively. There wasn't much of a nightlife there so on the weekends we went to Beyoglu and Taksim Square on the European side. We found some interesting clubs just walking around Beyoglu. One was called Xtra Small and was deserted except for the (tiny) doorman and the bartenders when we got there and there was another just down the street that we didn't go into called Xtra Large. We also did a lot of sightseeing, mostly on our own time because our schedules got rearranged so much. We visited 6 or 7 different mosques, the Hagia Sofia, The Islamic Science Museum, The Fortresses of Europe and Asia, The Princes' Islands in the Sea of Marmara. We also had a barbecue at the home of one of our professors' friends which was fun but took up half the day. It was the day before the end of the program and I was leaving the next day early in the morning and we didn't leave until 10 at night. All in all, it was a good trip and I would do it again as long as I was warned about the afternoon visits never following a set schedule.

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would
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