Are you ready for round 2? Because I am! Gone is my overuse of the word "bureaucracy" - here are the more important (and fun!) things to know about studying at Bogazici!
I've been unable to join any clubs as of yet, but I'm in the middle of trying to get into the Photography and Fine Arts Club! Wish me luck and I will report back on the process.
Bogazici offers a lot of services meant for its exchange students, including a buddy program and a BUNCH of events. I signed up for the buddy program - and really I don't see why not - but haven't met up with my buddy at all. It seems that most of the "buddies" are students who are in their preparatory English year, which takes place on a different campus. That being said, I don't see the harm in signing up on the chance that you hit it off.
The events hosted by Bogazici include pub crawls in different neighborhoods, a boat party, tours, etc. I think going to them is really dependent on how interested you are in the whole partying/erasmus scene. I admittedly only went to one pub crawl - it was fun and I did meet some other American and foreign students, but I haven't really felt to urge to go to other events.
Meeting Turkish students can be kind of a struggle. I think the best way to do so is to take classes without people you already know (hard and definitely not advice that I took) but all the Turkish students I've met have been supremely kind. English ability amongst students definitely varies from department to department. In my limited experience, kids in the PoliSci Department have amazing English.
Cafeteria food is super cheap (literally 1.50TL) and I really like it. It's gotten generally mixed reviews from others. You need to have your BU ID in order to take advantage and the process for loading money onto the ID is a convoluted process involving the Garanti Bank ATM, but just get a Turkish student to show you which buttons to press. I'd write them, but it's mostly muscle memory at this point - something something University payment something something random string of numbers to take the place of a Turkish number. Your best bet is to pounce on some unsuspecting student and force them to help you and then maybe into friendship?!
Like I said before, cafeteria food is pretty decent and the same on both campuses. There's a menu that can be found online, but generally it consists of soup + main course (usually meat & sauce) + carb (rice/bulgar/noodles) + choice of an extra side (salad? dessert? ayran? you can only pick one :-( ) There are also other (more expensive) cafes, little kiosks with snacks and coffee in almost every building, and lots of restaurants around the campuses. I have explored an embarrassingly small amount. My only recommendations as of right now are Borek Firin, which has the MOST AMAZING 1TL pogaca I have ever had and a chicken durum place a little ways off the main road. I promise to eat more and report back.
I've mentioned before that I opted not to live in the Superdorm so while I can't really speak as to what it's like to live there I have heard a few more anecdotes. Overall it seems that it's pretty strict, especially in regards to the guest policy - no overnight guests and all guests have to check in at the front desk. I believe there is also a no alcohol policy but I'm not 100% on that. If you want to be more integrated to campus life, participating in clubs, esn events, etc. would definitely be much easier from the Superdorm but otherwise everyone I've talked to is very happy to be staying in the IES apartments.
The best feature of Bogazici, especially on its South Campus, is the cats. There are also dogs, but I'm a well established Cat Lady so I have to uphold appearances. They are everywhere. In the trees. On the tables. In the buildings. They will steal your lunch. It'll be kind of gross. If you're like me and generally just need some cat love on the daily, this is the place for you.
The area directly around Bogazici from the metro is clearly oriented students - you can find great, cheap food everywhere and there are kirtasiyes (stores where you can get notebooks, pens, print things, and get the reading materials you need for class) scattered around. I admit that I don't usually stick around this area after class but I know a few people who live in this area and seem to have a great time. The neighborhood below Bogazici is this really ritzy area called Bebek which is beautiful and therefore very expensive. Definitely worth looking around, however, and there's a ferry you can take from Bebek to a cute neighborhood on the Asian side called Kamlica where you can get amazing yogurt. Beware: it's very *very* much an uphill walk back to campus.
So there you have it! A little glimpse into what your campus life might be like. I fall in love with the city more and more every day. It feels like I have to take every opportunity to drink it all in and store it away in my mind so that I can be sustained until I am able to return. It's the little things I know I'll miss - the ezan echoing across the hills, the smell of pogaca when I'm transferring to the Bogazici line, the baklava dude who gives us a discount because we're students...
The baklava dude is my transition to what my next post will be about - my one true passion, my one true love: Food.
Where to go? What to eat? Is it all just greasy bread and meat?? Expect a rough guide to restaurants and one of my favorite cuisines (in 3 anticipated parts!).