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This guide was created to help you navigate the different aspects of travelling abroad as a UCEAP student. All important aspects of attending university in your host country are addressed here, including academic information, extension of UCEAP participation, cultural awareness, orientation, transportation, finances and much more.
Remember to also visit the Participants
section of the UCEAP website for important information and deadlines.
Click a heading below to see section content.
International Programs Office Students’ Center Building
Rumeli Feneri Yolu, Sariyar 34450
Dr. Bilgen Bilgin, UCEAP Liaison Officer
Ms. Ayse Inan, Director
Ms. Burcu Albayrak, Exchange Programs Coordinator
Phone Number Codes
U.S. international code ............011 (dial this to call from the U.S.)
Turkey country code ............... 90
Ankara city code ................... 312
Istanbul city code .................. 212
Approximate time difference:
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You have access to all fields of instruction. Koç offers excellent opportunities to study the archaeology of Anatolia, the Ancient Near East, and the Mediterranean, and art from the Early Christian and Byzantine period to the 20th century through courses offered in the Department of Archaeology and History of Art. Practical work complements lectures, and students have the opportunity to participate in excavations. Another highlight is the range of courses relating to current political and security issues in the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Central Asian Republics, particularly appropriate for students in international relations and political science.
Koç’s liberal arts model—requiring its own students to complete a comprehensive core liberal arts program alongside their major discipline— results in a wide variety of additional courses available. Other strong departments at Koç include business/economics, comparative literature, media studies, and engineering. A course in Turkish culture and literature is available for students with an intermediate knowledge of Turkish.
Koç has excellent library facilities, featuring wireless connectivity for laptop users. All students receive My.KU accounts that allow for easy file access and integration into campus life. There is also wireless Internet access from student dorms. You will have full access to student clubs and athletic facilities.
UCEAP participants recommend approaching professors individually at the beginning of the semester and introducing yourself as a foreign student. Professors who use some Turkish in class or allow student discussion in Turkish will usually make an effort to minimize this if they know that there are native English speakers in class. The International/Exchange Office may often have good advice on how to interact with faculty and classmates in and out of the classroom. Do not hesitate to go to them if you are having difficulties with this or any other academic issues.
While studying in Turkey during the academic year, you are required to take a full-time course of study and enroll in a minimum of five courses for a total of 22.5 UC quarter units each term. Units are converted by multiplying the Turkish semester units by 1.5.
Although you have a great deal of flexibility in planning your courses, keep in mind that Turkish students generally follow a more rigid degree structure. In many majors, Turkish students may not be allowed to take any electives until their junior year. Even then, students are often required to choose most electives from within their own major and may only be allowed to choose one elective per semester from a closely related field. While these regulations do not apply to you, they will impact course availability; courses that are required for the Turkish student majors are far more likely to be offered each year. Elective offerings are much more variable; only a small percentage of the total elective options listed in the catalog may be offered in any given semester and some may be offered infrequently, if at all. Take this into account when planning your course options and identify multiple backup courses in the event that your first choices are not offered.
To determine which courses are required (and most likely to be offered each year) and which are elective (offered more variably), consult your host university’s current online catalogs.
Language of Instruction
The language of instruction in each university is English, with very few exceptions. Music classes (which are Western, classical music, not ethnic or folk music) may be taught only in Turkish. The other typical exception is foreign language classes, which are often taught in Turkish. (Often they cannot be taught in English, since Turkish students, the majority in the class, would then have to learn a new language in a foreign language. If you plan to study a foreign language at your host university and are concerned about the language of instruction, communicate directly with the faculty Liaison Officers and/or international office staff for details about the language classes you hope to attend. Keep in mind, however, that faculty members change, new classes are added, other classes are dropped, and there is no way to maintain an updated list class-by-class.
It is highly recommended that you introduce yourself to the instructor as an exchange student at the beginning of the class to ensure he or she is aware that non-Turkish students are in the class.
Other than the above exceptions, if a class is being taught in Turkish, you may ask the faculty Liaison Officers and/or international office to request instruction in English on your behalf. All universities publicize that their instruction is in English, so do not hesitate to request this accommodation if necessary. See the Academic Culture
section for more discussion on this topic.
Language Study Requirements
All immersion students must attend a mandatory host university orientation, which includes basic Turkish. Generally, the orientations for fall semester and academic year students include more Turkish instruction than that for spring semester students.
All immersion students (except those who demonstrate fluency in Turkish) must take a Turkish language course in their first term (fall for fall semester and academic year students; spring for spring semester students). This course earns 4.5 UC quarter units and, depending on the university, may be called Beginning Turkish, Turkish as a Second Language, or similar. The Liaison Officer and/or international office staff will direct you to the correct course. The Turkish course may be taken as a letter grade or as P/NP.
Year participants may continue Turkish instruction in the spring semester, along with four additional courses. Those who do not take a Turkish language course during the spring term must still enroll in five courses totaling 22.5 quarter units.
Previous students have registered for graduate courses in certain areas (with permission from the instructor and the department, and with a UCEAP General Petition indicating that you have the required background) and have found this provides an enjoyable challenge.
You will be assigned to an academic advisor at the time of acceptance. Students make their final course selections with the help of their designated academic advisor after arrival. You will register for courses during the first week of classes. Some courses may have pre-requisites which require approval by your academic advisor.
The fall semester ends in mid-January at all Turkish universities. If you wish to return to UC in late December for winter quarter or spring semester, be flexible with your course choices, discuss early exam options with instructors at the beginning of the semester, and be willing to change your course selections if a particular instructor is unable or unwilling to make such arrangements. Since the arrangements must be negotiated with individual instructors and departments after arrival in Turkey, they cannot be guaranteed in advance.
The ultimate decision for early exams is the professor’s. If a professor does not allow early exams, neither the Liaison Officer/International Office staff nor UCEAP can influence that decision. Keep in mind also that even if you personally leave early, the official program end date is still mid-January, and your finals may or may not be graded until all other students have completed their work in January.
Internships and Field Study
You may volunteer for work at local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and schools.
In the summer after the academic year, there may also be opportunities to participate in archaeological excavations at historic sites. The projects may be run by university departments; or department teachers may be prominent members of another institution’s project; or a project may request student workers from a specific university; or an excavation may not fit into any of these categories but is open to students. Due to the vast number of opportunities, all students who want a place have been able to find one. You must submit your application in the fall to work the following summer due to Ministry of Culture and Tourism application deadlines. The UCEAP Liaison Officers can assist with the application process. Bring a résumé and letter(s) of reference with you to Turkey if you are interested in applying for these opportunities. Spring semester students wanting to participate may contact the UCEAP Liaison Officers in early fall to submit an application for the following summer.
Extending UCEAP Participation
UCEAP students have commented that the first couple of weeks in Turkey can be both exhilarating and difficult. The orientation period is busy and full of activities, excursions, Turkish language lessons, meetings, and opportunities to become acquainted with Turkish host students as well as international students from around the world who have come to study in Turkey. However, it is also a time when most Turkish students are still on vacation and many university services (dormitory phones, computer labs, libraries, many of the restaurants, etc.) may still be closed or curtailed for the summer.
Course registration, which takes place at the end of orientation, can also seem confusing and chaotic. And of course, you are going through many adjustments to culture, language, food, and an entirely new environment. UCEAP students suggest that it is important to keep this time in perspective and recognize that things will settle into a routine once the regular semester starts.
Drugs are prohibited and punishment is strictly enforced. Driving while drinking is a punishable offense. Alcohol is not permitted on campus. Religious proselytizing is also forbidden by law.
Improve Your Language Skills
Official Start Date & Mandatory Orientation
With the exception of the Bilkent spring semester program, the programs begin with a mandatory two-week host university orientation and intensive Turkish language training. The orientation period is brimming with events thoughtfully planned by the International Centers.
Turkish language study occupies approximately three hours per day in the morning during the orientation program. The rest of the program consists of workshops, social activities, campus and city tours, and excursions to archaeological sites and other places of interest, such as local wineries. The International Centers also organize weekend trips during the academic term to destinations such as Istanbul and the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts for interested students. These excursions are optional and involve additional fees.
If you are fluent in Turkish, you may request an exemption from the language classes, but you are still required to attend all orientation meetings and group activities and excursions. The Turkish language courses you take during the orientation transition into the Turkish language classes you take during the semester. Arriving late for orientation is not allowed.
Accommodation is provided in dormitories on campus. Since the orientation occurs prior to the beginning of the semester, few Turkish students will be on site and some services, such as Internet access, will not yet be available.
For spring semester students at Bilkent, the program begins with a mandatory three-day host university orientation. You will not receive the same intensive Turkish language training as the fall and year participants.
Travel to Your Host Country
Koç: You should arrive in Istanbul and go to the Koç University campus on your assigned dormitory move-in date. Details on local transportation options to the campus are found in the Arrival/Orientation instructions in the UCEAP Predeparture Checklist.
Koç Program: Obtain a student visa in the U.S. prior to departure. Do not enter Turkey without a student visa. Once abroad, it may be impossible to obtain the necessary student visa.
You will need to acquire a Residence Permit within one month after arrival in Turkey. The International Offices at Bilkent, Bogaziçi, and Koç will assist with the application procedure. To obtain the Residence Permit you must be prepared to submit the following eight materials:
- Passport (the passport will be held by the authorities for approximately one week, so you will not be able to leave the country during this time)
- Photocopy of passport
- Resident Certificate, obtained from the Dormitory Administration
- Four copies of the Declaration of Residence Permit, each with an attached photo (the form is obtained from the Registrar)
- Three additional passport-sized photos
- Statement from the Registrar indicating your exchange status
- Three copies of Student Personal Information Form, obtained from the Registrar
- Application fee: the Turkish equivalent of approximately U.S. $48
Take at least 12 passport-sized photos with you for use after arrival in Turkey.
Personal Property Insurance
Understanding Your Finances
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
Banking is relatively easy as long as you make arrangements prior to departure. The best banking option is to open a dollar account with a Turkish bank and have money transferred from the U.S. It will take about a week for the transfer to be finalized. No commission is charged if money is left in the bank for one month.
Semester and year program students will not receive a university computer account until the end of orientation. University computer facilities usually do not open for business until the end of orientation and the beginning of the regular semester, almost two weeks after you arrive. During this time, you can use Internet cafés, but do not count on daily access; the orientation schedule is busy, and the nearest cafés may be a 15- or 20-minute bus ride from campus.
c/o Ms. Burcu Albayrak
International Programs Office
Rumeli Feneri Yolu
You will apply for on-campus housing online, using a username and password sent to you by Koç University’s Registrar’s Office. Payment for all on-campus housing must be made within one week of moving in.
Koç offers a number of dormitory options for undergraduate students, both on the Main Campus and on the West Campus, which are roughly 2.5 miles apart but connected by a shuttle service. Housing costs vary considerably depending on room occupancy, facilities, and campus location; options with a private bathroom are more expensive, but may be worth the expense. All rooms on both campuses offer Internet, cable, and phone access with weekly cleaning services. Along with desks and chairs, each room is equipped with a mini-refrigerator and bedding, though students should bring their own sheets and pillowcases.
On the Main Campus, single, double, and quadruple rooms are available. Each building has a kitchen, laundry room, and lounge with TV and computer. The West Campus offers only double bedrooms, which share a number of communal bathrooms on each floor. In addition, West Campus dormitories do not have kitchens, instead providing students access to the main cafeteria.
Although dormitories offer the convenience of proximity and a place to interact with Turkish students, you should be aware of strict regulations that differentiate Turkish dorms from the typical U.S. dorm. Although there is no curfew for residents, visiting hours are restricted and visitors of either gender are limited to the dorm’s common area. In addition, smoking and drinking (and any empty alcohol containers) are prohibited in the dorm, and you may be subject to discipline if you return to the dormitory intoxicated.
Past participants of Turkey programs generally recommend on-campus housing, although you are free to arrange your own semester or year accommodation off-campus if you choose. Read the considerations below before making any decisions regarding on- or off-campus housing.
- There is no campus organization to assist in locating off-campus housing.
- Most affordable rentals are located relatively far from the campus and involve a commute to and from the campus for daily classes.
- Rental units are usually unfurnished and have no telephone.
- You make your own arrangements for utility services.
- If you rent an apartment off campus, you may find yourself isolated from campus life.
- Neighbors or landlord may not speak English, increasing your isolation.
In addition to dormitory kitchens where students can prepare their own meals, Koç offers a number of on-campus dining options. Aside from the main cafeteria which is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., there are five smaller dining areas offering an array of foods from pastries and coffee, to pizza and sandwiches. There are late-night dining options as well, including one 24-hour dining center serving fast-food and wraps.
Students at universities in Ankara have four types of transportation:
- Free shuttle buses provided by the universities. This includes a shuttle service running between Bilkent. The university provides regular shuttle buses that run every hour to and from downtown Ankara, including weekends, as well as a campus shuttle system that connects the dormitories with the rest of the campus. These buses are free for students and run as late as 3 a.m. on weekends.
- Dolmus or shared minibuses. These buses follow a set route, but stop to pick up passengers all along the route (so schedules are less predictable). Dolmus go to the downtown area and other locations around the city. There are also several minibus services between ********METU and various city centers.
- Municipal buses. Several city bus routes connect *******METU with the main parts of Ankara. These buses generally run on the hour and half hour during work hours and less frequently after work hours, including holidays.
- Taxis. Taxis serve both campuses and are relatively inexpensive, especially when shared.
Koç University sports facilities include a fitness center, tennis and basketball courts, soccer fields, a swimming pool, and an indoor ice rink. Students participate in a number of clubs, not only dedicated to sports but also including academic groups focusing on art, languages, investment, Turkish music, and many others.
Students with Disabilities
Traffic & Transportation Safety
Travel Advisories & Smart Traveler Registration
UCEAP Contingency Planning
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