Adventure of a Life Time with Elena and Ioana in Istanbul, Turkey

Adventure of a Life Time with Elena and Ioana in Istanbul, Turkey

11th of March is the day our adventure officially started. To be honest, it began weeks before with booking flights, checking documents, renewing them, asking for survival tips from our Turkish mentors and getting training upon arrival. Well, long story short, we eventually arrived on Turkish land, safe and sound.

    The impression one holds on a country is always related to the people one has the chance to meet. From this perspective, we were so positively impressed by our two helpful mentors, Alican and Berkay. Right from our first day, we have been introduced to the well-known Turkish hospitality thanks to them. They welcomed us with highly positive attitude even though our flight had a 2 hours delay. Being for the first time in Istanbul, we were anxious about our abilities to handle the “unknown” in this chaotic city. Our concerns have been confirmed after stepping foot out of the underground. The metrobus was the crowded transportation we ever seen and here again our mentors proved to be essential for our survival.

      After a common 45 minutes trip on the metrobus we got down at Beylikdüzü Sondurak, a station we will remember long time after the EVS programme finishes. The apartment’s location was a bit further from the station, but we didn’t mind exploring Istanbul by nights.

      Finally there! We couldn’t be more excited about the first greetings from Odin, the family’s adorable cat. Our host, Nedim was very nice to show us around the house and to help us set in. He is a 22 years old preparing for a future chef carrier and luckily he had us testing his food. Also, it will be a useful experience for us to live along with him because we have the chance to improve our cooking skills. 

      Arel University is our second home in Istanbul. We spend here most of our time along with our project coordinator and the students who come to visit us everyday. Our tasks vary from office work (create a database of potential partners for future projects, disseminate our work on social media and prepare promotional materials for the ESN office) to school English tutoring, tandem classes and audiobook recording for blind people. Also, the university has really good facilities such as fully equipped gym, swimming pool, aerobic area, special places for chess games and modern cafeterias, therefore we have many options to enjoy our free time here.

    Every week, from Monday to Thursday, our mentors along with other students from Arel University are hosting the Tandem club. As the name suggests, it is an activity which aims to improve English speaking skills through discussions and debate. The moderators of the club are preparing for every meeting captivating topics to engage people into dialogue. To call it the way it is, Tandem club is a big family. It is such a fantastic way to new meet people, exchange ideas and create meaningful connections. We got off to a flying start by joining the tandem class.


On Friday we had a completely different experience. We went to the other campus of Istanbul Arel University to record audiobooks for blind people. The studio is small, but it has everything necessary for radio transmission and recording. Özgür was our guide and support for the first recording trial. He made us feel so comfortable there thanks to his charismatic attitude. Once everything was explained we were left alone with the equipment and the books. The first try wasn’t as good as expected, neither were the next few ones. But with practice and a lot of patience, we managed to begin our audiobook.


ESN community prepared 2 weeks of activities for international students integration, but as we arrived later we took part in the last event, the international dinner. It was a lovely encounter at Irem and Sude’s place, both members of the ESN community. As we did not have access to the kitchen that day, we greeted our hosts with wine and chocolates brought from Moldova and luckily they had Turkish goodies for everyone.


On Sunday we took a trip to one of the main centers of Istanbul, Beşiktaş. A trip there takes around one hour and a half and 2 buses to change. But the time easily passed by while watching the multitude of buildings aligning in front of us and chatting with our mentor, Alican. Once there, we headed into the crowded alleys of Çarşı for sightseeing and food. Elena couldn’t miss the chance to visit the home stadium of Beşiktaş JK, Vodafone Park, as she is a big fan of their football team.

    We ended our short trip with the gorgeous sunset view from Ortaköy’s seaside area. The shore close to the seaside has a tiny bazaar where locals and tourists alike can buy different goods from clothes to its most famous attraction, kumpir, a baked potato filled with various vegetables, following customer’s preferences. Coffee, tea, and ice-cream were the key ingredients to wrap up this amazing first week in Istanbul and gain enough energy for the week that it’s to come.

Istanbul Arel Üniversitesi - Gençlik Çalışmaları Merkezi

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Istanbul Arel University provides support to young and adult people’s education process since 2010. We aim to update standards in line with the developing world and constantly follow the changes in the world.Within the Erasmus+ Programme o

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