Offering students the chance to delve into a rich and deep history which has created a unique, multicultural blend, Turkey is an exciting destination for students to sink their teeth into, as Georgina Deacon finds out

An attractive hubbub of different cultural influences, and a realm of where east meets west in the most striking way, Turkey has a lot to offer. The transcontinental country - of which 97 per cent of the land area is in Asia, the remaining three per cent in Europe - has a rich history of ancient empires and devastating wars until it   officially became the Republic of Turkey in 1923.

"Turkey is a physical and cultural bridge between Europe and Asia," says Ebru Koç at Sabanci University http://iro.sabanciuniv.edu. To see this blend at its finest, Ebru recommends visiting the Hagia Sophia in the capital Istanbul, which was once a Greek Orthodox church, then an imperial mosque, and now a museum. "Hagia Sophia is a perfect synthesis where one can observe both Ottoman and Byzantium effects under one great dome. It is a great architectural beauty and an important monument for both the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires," says Ebru.


The country is home to many quality higher education institutions, most of which have English-medium courses. International students are attracted by the cheap study costs as well as plentiful post-study work opportunities.

When overseas students are not studying, Melissa Abache at Koç University www.ku.edu.tr suggests soaking up the warm Turkish sun and relaxed atmosphere. "In the summer, terraces with Bosphorus views are the most sought-after places," she explains. "These are the places to spend lazy weekend afternoons enjoying Turkish grilled food, vegetable dishes and yummy sweets with live music," she adds.




"Turkish delight is Turkey's most famous export and one of the oldest sweet dishes in the world dating back 230 years" 




Get to know Turkey

For an otherworldly scene, Emeric Abrignani at Abdullah Gül University www.agu.edu.tr encourages students to visit the semi-arid Cappadocia. "It is a unique landscape combining unusual rock formations and fairy chimneys, valleys and underground cities, as well as beautiful carved and painted cave churches and monasteries from the fourth to 13th centuries."


"The Princes' Islands are well known to people living in Istanbul, but not very well to tourists," says Melissa at Koç University. "This chain of nine islands off the coast of Istanbul provides a unique, peaceful place to spend a weekend." Students can hop on a ferry and visit the old wooden buildings and cafés.

"Few tourists make it as far east as the Trabzon region, but those who do will be rewarded with unique and unforgettable views and with the opportunity to experience a very different and non-touristy Turkey," says Emin Fidan at Istanbul Aydin University www.aydin.edu.tr. "Trabzon itself is a very pleasant city, so you can use it as your base to explore the surrounding area."



Grab a kebap

Turkish cuisine is known the world over as the traditional kebap (or kebab). Ebru from Sabanci University recommends students try the Turkish kebap and Turkish döner.


Melissa at Koc University says that students should try "the king of all breakfasts". She explains, "Eggs, cheeses, bread, tomato, cucumber, rocket, olives, parsley, honey and marmalades will keep you full and with energy until the afternoon - yet you will feel healthy and virtuous."

Thinking local, Emeric notes that Kayseri, where the university is located, is "an ideal destination for food lovers". He recommends pastirma, "seasoned and air-dried cured beef cut into wafer-thin slices, which can be found in many of Kayseri's most famous dishes!"


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