It was one fine Saturday evening that I was watching videos of my favorite vlogger who went to Turkey and made amazing videos in Istanbul and the first thing that popped in my mind was when will I go to Turkey to witness all these things?
Just after two days, I was checking my inbox and saw that I had received an email from IoBM‘s International Co-operation department regarding student exchange program for spring semester 2018, luckily when I checked partner universities there were three universities from Turkey for which I could apply. Many of my cousins and friends were traveling the world using the label of a student and I never knew how, but after reading the mail I got the doorway to experience the beauty of Turkey. Most importantly without paying the tuition fees.
After doing a little research on all three mentioned universities of Turkey I found Abdullah Gül University in Kayseri to be the best for an introvert like me as it is a less crowded university in industrial heart of Turkey, which seemed way better than an overcrowded university in the capital so without wasting another minute I applied for it.
Luckily, I got shortlisted and received a mail for an interview. I was super excited and was making plans as if I’ll enter the room and they’ll be asking me when I would like to leave for Turkey. To my surprise, the moment I entered the room for my interview all that madness had faded away just by looking the number of students waiting for their name to be called. Anyhow I waited there quietly, when my name was called and I went in they just asked me two questions; why should we choose you? And why did you choose AGU? Like anybody would have, I had thousands of positive things to say about myself and I had been through AGU WordPress site and so I had thousands of positive things to say about AGU too. This technique had gotten me to be selected for spending the spring semester in AGU. And for the record my CGPA and extracurricular activities also played a major role in my selection.
After spending many days in gathering documents, scanning them and sending it to AGU Exchange Office I finally got my acceptance letter and besides everything, I started making a list of places to go in Turkey.
I cannot explain how I felt when I landed in Kayseri because all I was doing was covering me up with warm clothes and thinking how on earth someone can live in such cold atmosphere and it was not even snowing, that’s what happens when Pakistani leaves his hot country for the first time. Anyhow, I went to my dorm and clutter everything because in two days I had to join the university.
One of the best things about my exchange program was that the university itself didn’t disappoint me at all. From the environment created by students to the behavior of officials in solving my problems was up to the mark. No one could ever expect such great things from a state university; great infrastructure, high technology and well operated systems in every classroom is consider necessary in AGU.
Before coming to AGU whenever I tell people that I’ll live in dorms throughout my program every single person scared me with bad stories about hostels and dorms, but when I came here I was so comfortable with everything that it felt like home, every necessary thing was available for students who are far away from their families, plus you can also enjoy watching football matches on big screen in the basement with your friends and during halftime you can come out and look directly on the top of Erciyes mountain. Tell me what else a student wants?
The classes in AGU were interesting but way more difficult than my university back in Pakistan. The teachers were better than I expected because I thought that, even if they teach in English they would still communicate with students in Turkish outside of class, but when they came to know that I am an exchange student, they made sure not to talk in Turkish at all. The most problematic thing was that I needed to pass each course with more than 80% in order to transfer it to my university and doing that in AGU was not a piece of cake.
As time passed I set my mind that I had only two jobs; to make sure that I get more than 80% in all my four courses and to travel like crazy. So, I ended up getting 4 GPA and experienced the beauty of 18 cities in Turkey, a lot of them twice.
I have been to so many places in Turkey, from Uzungöl River in northeast to Bodrum in southwest, from cool nightlife of Ankara to hot beach days of Antalya, from roaming in underground cities of Kapadokya (45 minutes away from Kayseri) to paragliding in Ölüdeniz, to find out that whether someone lives in Göreme to from where all these people are coming on roads of Istanbul.
I cannot say that I liked one city or a specific region of Turkey the most because every place I’ve been had something unique in it. That’s the thing I liked the most, every city is totally different from other! that’s how I spent the best four months of my life in Turkey finding out the real me.
There were also many interesting on-campus activities in AGU, which included sharing your home country culture with high school students and going for skiing on Erciyes Mountains (30 minutes away from campus) with other students. And, according to my experience every exchange student should try to indulge in on-campus activities along with traveling to other cities.
I like Turkish culture a lot, especially when it comes to food. I don’t know why many tourists consider it overrated but according to my opinion Turkish food and Chai (Tea) are the symbol of Turkey, they have strong kebap culture with variety of kebaps and how they drink tea after every ten minutes, shows true dedication to their culture.
The way I have described my experience seems like I didn’t have any sort of difficulty but trust me there were many. But all of it was worth it. And nothing in this world comes with ease, so it’s better to make memories and show people the positive things about it.
In the end, I would like to thank Nimet Bulut from the Exchange Office, Heiko Schuss Coordinator of Business Department and Charlotte Justine and Yakup Sönmez from the International Office for helping me throughout my semester.
Mohammad Pasta (Institute of Business Management (IoBM) – Pakistan)