With Thanksgiving less than a week away, students and faculty alike are distracted by the prospect of a break from classes, time with family and the staple of the holiday: turkey. The staff of the Center for International Education (CIE), however, has more than just the food on its mind.
CIE recently added a new study abroad program in Istanbul, Turkey. According to the National Geographic website, Istanbul is third in terms of city population in Europe, behind Moscow and Paris. It is also centrally located, allowing travelers to go to Greece via a two-hour ferry ride and destinations like Italy and France by short plane rides.
The new program, run by study abroad provider CAPA International Education, is centered in the heart of Istanbul in a private college called Bilgi University. Kim Cameron, the assistant director of CIE, believes that the location is a big draw for students.
“Istanbul is very unique in the fact that on one side, you’re in Europe, and then you cross the river and you’re in Asia,” she said. “Half the city is Muslim and half is Christian and it’s very different from places like London. You’re also very close to things, so it’s easy to travel.”
Cameron visited the school through a workshop offered by CAPA International Education and spent three days touring the campus, residence halls, classes and the city as a whole. She said there is a large range of classes offered, but the school focuses on political science and sociology. It also boasts a large international student population.
“I sat in on a social media class when I was there, and they said that there were 16 different countries represented in that class alone,” Cameron said. “It’s one of the more prestigious universities and it’s pretty new. There’s even a Starbucks on campus.”
Students are housed in apartment-style buildings with two people per room and bathroom, a communal kitchen on each floor and various amenities, like a study center, computer lab and cafeteria. There is also a free shuttle that takes students to the university, located 15 minutes away, and around Istanbul.
There will be a presentation about the program at the beginning of next semester, and Cameron encourages students to consider Turkey as a viable study abroad option.
“It’s just such a different experience,” she said. “How great would it look on your résumé to have Turkish Beginning Language there? You’re going to stand out. It’s outside of students’ comfort zones and it would be a challenge for them, but everyone can use a challenge in their life. It takes a different person to go there.”
ChangSung Bae, a graduate assistant at CIE originally from South Korea, added that studying abroad should be an option for everyone.
“It broadens your horizons and it helps you embrace a different culture,” he said. “I have this quote I really like that says that ‘on the day you die, the things you remember are the places you went.’”
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