From Mediterranean beaches to crowded, colorful markets, from run-down palaces to modern resorts, Turkey has it all. Students who study in Turkey will be immersed in history and have the opportunity to see ancient ruins incomparable to anywhere else in the world. It will be no tough feat getting a feel for the culture in Turkey, as it is filled with domed mosques, busy streets, and ancient cultural rituals. Students will get a chance to drink traditional tea at a Turkish teahouse, eat authentic Turkish food like “Meze” (a slice of bread with feta cheese and honeydew melon), and bargain down prices for beautiful handicrafts at local markets.
Whether you want to spend your time studying the tumultuous past of this country along the coast or examining its contemporary condition, the following list of study abroad programs will certainly have at least one option that feels right for you. The country's rich history is matched with an equally impressive modern society: Turkey has transformed into the European-Asian gem; to study abroad here is to study abroad in one of the 21st century’s most dynamic cultures.
The location of your study abroad program within Turkey can make or break your experience. Here are the most popular cities for study abroad in Turkey:
Istanbul: Once called Byzantium, Augusta Antonina, Nova Roma, and Constantinople, this city has a history as long and glorious as nearby Rome. From 300 A.D., Istanbul served as the capital of four empires: the Roman, the Byzantium, the Latin Empire, and the Ottoman. Though it is no longer the capital city of Turkey, Istanbul remains the cultural center. It’s location on the Bosporus strait has made it a unique crosswords of European and Asian cultures for centuries.
Today, Istanbul is a modern and hip city, filled with a number of unique restaurants, bars, exhibits and street events. It is a great place to visit a historical museum, an Ottoman mosque, a trendy night club, or the ritzy Kapalı Çarşı - the combination of ancient and modern, conservative and secular is mesmerizing!
Ankara: The country’s capital is located at the heart of the Anatolia Peninsula. The city is at the heart of Turkey’s web of railways and highways so it’s brimming with activity. A café culture has made the capital more student friendly but to really explore the city, walking and discovering intact architecture from the empires before is a must.
Planning your trip
No matter the Turkish city you decide to study in, you cannot go wrong. Although there are more universities per capita in Ankara, Istanbul is home to a myriad of schools.
The next step is yours.
Take a moment to scroll through our listings and read the program descriptions/reviews to get a sense of what, exactly, each program will offer you. Do you want to live in a home-stay or live with fellow students? Do you want to travel often or spend your time getting to know one place? These are questions to begin asking yourself as you think about what kind of study abroad experience you would like to create.
Language: Turkish is the main language spoken in Turkey, so going abroad here would make for a great opportunity to improve and learn more of the language. CIEE Study Abroad Program allows students to attend Koc University in Istanbul where they can study a wide variety of disciplines, and the CEPA Europe Summer Program allows students to study the history, culture, and tradition of Turkey. If you do not speak Turkish, however, you are still in luck because most universities teach classes in English.
If you want to experience true cultural immersion, learning a language is a fabulous place to start!
Housing: Most students who study abroad in Turkey will live in residence halls similar to those at universities in the United States. The student housing in Turkey usually offers suite style dorms and an optional meal plan. The programs USAC and SU Abroad both offers student dormitory living arrangements.
Academic life: Education is taken very seriously in Turkey, so students who go abroad here should be prepared to learn. Students looking to study all different subjects will find something that fits them in Turkey because everything from the arts to the sciences are taught at universities in Turkey.
Turkey’s grading system is similar to North America’s: 93.00-100.00 is an AA (or A+), 85.00-92.99 is a B+/A-, etc. The Turkish Bilgi University in Istanbul offers social sciences and humanities courses while Erciyes University is a popular destination for arts and science students.
Student visas for Turkey
All students other than those who are legally dependent upon a Turkish citizen will need to acquire a student visa in order to study abroad in Turkey. Students should contact the Turkish Consulate in order to apply for their visa.
Check out VISA HQ for more information about student visas in Turkey.
Student life in Turkey
Like many modern countries, students are entitled to a variety of discounts, whether it’s on minibuses (dolmas), hookah bars, or trains. The again, it might be best to walk to and fro given that food and meals are staple of social life. Also, given that Turkey experiences the four seasons, skiing, water sports, and camel wrestling (yes, you heard me correctly) are popular hobbies amongst the youth. Istanbul also has the world’s largest covered bazaar for all the fashion aficionados out there. You will never run out of museums to investigate or beaches to stroll down. Turkey is a country where the church, the state, and the culture constantly interact with one and other. Study abroad in Turkey to learn how the country and its cities came to be what it is today.
Safety and security
Simply because you decided to study abroad doesn't mean your home country isn't paying attention to you as a traveler. In the United States, the State Department offers STEP, or the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
With this program, you can register your dates of travel and location while abroad. In the event of an emergency, the government will be able to locate you more easily to relay any instructions or to organize a possible evacuation. It also allows you to designate an emergency contact who can receive updates about you and the country you're studying in. Lastly, they offer a text message and email service to notify you of any important breaking news while you're abroad.
You should also stay up to date on travel warnings from your home country, like the State Department's current travel warnings on Turkey.
Getting to Turkey, let alone living in Turkey, can eat away at your savings. An inexpensive meal at a restaurant can cost close to $7 and a cappuccino costs around $3. Thankfully, there are quite a few scholarship options to help out the broke students. Below is a list of possible financial options:
- The Turkish Coalition of America offers over 100 scholarships per year for African American, Hispanic American, or Native American students. The TCA will give grants of as much s $2,000 per year per student.
- As a non-profit, the various USAC study abroad scholarship opportunities aim for students to gain international experience -- without breaking the bank.
- More Study Abroad Grants and Scholarships