Volunteer Abroad in Istanbul

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A Guide to Volunteering Abroad in Istanbul

Ever dreamt of an adventure in a city so different to home while adding something meaningful to your travels? Enter Istanbul, the only city in the world to straddle two continents. A cool cosmopolitan city of 13 million people, the European and the Asian mix of cultures define Istanbul in the most intrinsically beautiful way. Often quoted as the most welcoming and friendly city, there are many volunteer projects awaiting your enthusiasm and passion. You’ll be adding significance to the Turkish society as a volunteer in Turkey. Merhaba ve hoşgeldin (hello and welcome).

Life in Istanbul

Istanbul is a city of a breathtaking mixture of contrasts: old men sitting in crumbling tea houses playing chess next to Starbucks where young women sip lattes in short shorts; a mosque serenely placed down the road from an orthodox church; gleaming shiny malls surrounded by colourful ancient bazaars offering authentic Turkish goods. The more you discover during your time in Istanbul, the more wondrous treasures await you.

With accommodation and transfers included in volunteer placements, the hassle of commute is often obsolete. The public transport system might not be the easiest to understand, but the wide range to choose from (metro, tram, bus, train, metro bus, ferry) make it easy to travel about Istanbul (and beyond) and explore. 

Volunteers generally live and work together, meaning, from day one, you’ll meet wonderful multi-cultural friends from all over the world wanting to make the difference to the society. You have each other to navigate the baffling Istanbul maze of streets in Arnavutkoy and to try all the different types of street food the city has to offer.

GoAbroad Insider Tips

As a country practicing several religions, being respectful of the different types and their norms should be observed and studied. On a chattier note, Turkish people are riveted by foreigners’ and their ways of living — expect a lot of probing questions you would otherwise think slightly intrusive back in your home country. They are curious. From whether you’re single, to why you’re single if so, to how much do you earn, so don’t shrink when they throw questions at you. It’s the Turkish way of showering you with interest and affection; they take their hospitality and welcome seriously. 

While English is spoken widely throughout the city, there may be instances where this is not always the case. The language block combined with the cultural differences can create a difficult barrier of communication. Not to fret; all it takes is a small phrase book. Easy to buy, easy to carry around, and easy to use. It'll enable you to communicate your thoughts and feel included in the society. As a bonus, you'll leave Istanbul with a basic grasp of the language

Wander around cobbled streets, stamp along to sweet melodies, nibble on street food until dawn, and bask in the sunsets that have seen history change and change again while volunteering in Istanbul. Meet like-minded individuals striving to make the world a better place for everyone and leave Istanbul knowing you have. Embark on a journey guaranteed to be a volunteer experience you'll remember and learn from for decades to come. 

Be sure to read our comprehensive guide to volunteering in Turkey too.

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A Guide To
Volunteering Abroad in Istanbul


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