Nicole Bermudez - 2015 Program Participant

View of the Bosphorus in Turkey

View of the Bosphorus

Why did you decide to study abroad?

I would like to pursue graduate school in international relations, and experience abroad is a great way to add to my understanding of international affairs and specifically the culture and social atmosphere of another country.

Why did you choose to study abroad in Turkey?

I have always been interested in the Middle East, and my professor at Bates College attended Bogazici University and told me how it was a great university and would be a great study abroad experience.

What was your favorite part about the location of your program?

Bogazici University was located on such a great location and I had a beautiful view of the Bosphorus while walking to class everyday. There were also quick bus and metro rides from the university to other parts of Istanbul.

View of the Coast in Fethiye, Turkey

Fethiye, Turkey

What surprised you most about Istanbul?

I was surprised by how many different areas and neighborhoods there were in Istanbul. One could be very conservative and filled with history and another area could be very modern where everyone spoke multiple languages. The transportation system was also amazing and I had no expectations at all.

What made your program experience unique?

I believe Istanbul made my study abroad experience unique, because it is such an underrated and incredible city, filled with a distinct combination of history, politics, and culture. The city itself is also very heterogenous and every neighborhood had something different to offer.

In what ways did local staff help orient you with your new home?

We had walking tours to different areas of Istanbul by our program director, which were fascinating and made me more feel comfortable when navigating the city independently.

How difficult was it to communicate with locals?

Bogazici University was located in a very modern and wealthy area, so many people spoke English very well and it was not hard to communicate. Outside this neighborhood I never had any problems navigating with my little Turkish skills, which were surprisingly helpful.

What was a typical day like for you as an international student in Istanbul?

On a typical day, I would walk to class and have about two classes each day. I would eat lunch with friends from classes and my study abroad program. After class, I would go to a cafe in different neighborhoods in Istanbul with my friends and have some Turkish baked goods as a treat. Sometimes my friends and I would explore a new historical site as well.

Istanbul skyline at sunset

View of the city from the ferry 

What did you enjoy doing outside of your coursework?

I joined the Bogazici University track and field team and really enjoyed practicing and teaching Turkish students how to throw hammer and discus.

What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?

I lived in an on-campus dorm near the university. I liked how close it was to the school and that it had a cafe and store downstairs.

What is one thing you wish you would have known before studying abroad in Istanbul?

I wish I knew about all the bureaucracy involved with getting your residence permit, registering cell phone, etc.

Hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia - a must do trip from Istanbul

What was the hardest part about studying abroad?

The hardest part about studying abroad was adjusting to the time difference. I was unable to sleep the entire first week because I have never had to adjust to a 10-hour time difference. The time difference also made it harder to communicate with family and friends back at home.

Now that you're home, how has studying abroad impacted your life?

Now that I am home, I have realized how much Istanbul has to offer and how home feels boring in comparison to the liveliness of Istanbul. My abroad experience has also made me realize how I would like to make travel an important part of my life.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently? 

I wish I had gotten to know more of my Turkish classmates and explored even more parts of the city with my free time.

What do you feel the biggest benefit of studying abroad is?

The biggest benefit of studying abroad is being able to experience an entirely different culture and making great friends with people from very different backgrounds and life experiences than yourself.

Would you recommend IES Abroad to other students?

Absolutely, I loved all of the students and professors in the program, and that we were able to travel to Jordan. I also felt very prepared starting classes at the university, since we had the three week orientation program and were already familiar with the city.

If you could study abroad again, where would you go?

I would study in Spain because I would like to improve my Spanish speaking skills and have the opportunity to travel within Europe.