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Turkey

Overview of Turkey

■ Housing

Students have many options. First, you can find a room at the dormitory of your university. It is usually a cheaper choice, and you get to be on the campus or right next to it and to stay with other students from your school. You can also find a room in the state-owned hotels. Check your university website for specific details and procedures. Another option might be to rent an apartment. In many big cities, there are rented accommodation which may be shared with other students. Prices are quite high and vary according to location, size and the facilities. Average cost may be varied from USD 200 to USD500. You can also rent an apartment on your own, but keep in mind that the price will be much higher in that case. You can search on various websites such as Istanbul craigslist, www.apartments.com.tr or Istanbulsweethome.com

■ Transportation system

Regular passenger trains are available in Turkey. Between Istanbul and Ankara, a high speed railroad line is being constructed. Major cities all have an underground railway system. Public transportation is rather efficient and affordable. The bus network is usually more efficient than the rail. Private bus companies provide connections between cities in Turkey. You can also try the ferries which link major cities and sail across the sea. Sometimes, they’re a way faster option than the roads or the rails.

■ Shopping

If you want to go to a market, go take a look at the Grand Bazar and its traditional craft shops. Istanbul’s traditional markets might be the best places to pick up local foodstuffs such as herbs, nuts, spices, dried fruits, jams, and olive oils. You will also find big malls with famous shops and brands, as well as e restaurants, cinemas, and other forms of entertainment.
In street markets or in the Grand Bazar, try to negotiate the price. Usually, they’re never shown which gives you an open window for bargaining.
Apart from usual souvenirs, you can bring back some of the country’s specialties. For clothing, you will find good leather and carpets. If you want to bring back some food, try the honey or the pastry. You can also bring back soap or perfume oil.

■ Cuisine

Cuisine in Turkey is somewhat fusion of Central Asian, Caucasian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Balkan cuisines and varies across the country. One of the most exported and famous dish is the kebab, grilled meat with salad, onion and sometimes potatoes. It’s the perfect meal to fill your stomach for the rest of the day, and also one of the cheapest option! Another specialty of the country is dessert: you will find tones of small pastries, usually with nuts and honey, such as baklavas or Turkish delights (lokums).
You will find kebab stands and street vendors in local markets and in the streets, as well as fast-food where you can have a consistent meal for a small price. If you want to go to the restaurant and taste the typical Turkish cuisine, try to avoid places crowded with tourists because usually, the quality is not that good. Try to spot where the locals eat, that way you’ll be sure to have a nice-cooked meal.

■ Culture

Turkey’s culture is very diverse and rich due to its history and its geographical position between East and West. Until the beginning of the 20th, it was the Ottoman Empire but in 1923, the empire imploded and the country became a laic republic under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
You can feel these heterogeneous influences today in the arts, the cuisine… Turkish music and literature for instance were influenced by European and Islamic tradition. In the field of architecture too, you can observe traditional architecture from the Ottoman period (in the public baths for instance or in the Great Mosque of Istanbul) and modern architecture from the end of the 20th century. In the field of sport too, note that one of the most popular sport is basketball (imported from the west) and another is oil wrestling, a sport that dates back from ottoman times.
There are many ethnic groups in Turkey, and they live more or less in peace with each other, but incidents happens from time to time, targeting some of these groups (like the Kurd minority for instance).

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