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Car or Public Transport?:

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Image by Şinasi Müldür from Pixabay

This is something causing many Turkish people to roll their eyes. The reason is obvious. It is the price. Cars are not cheap in Turkey. As someone, who lived in Germany, also referred to as the homeland of automotive, I can say that the high prices for cars are not something concerning low-income families in Turkey, instead, it is a fact impacting many people desiring to buy a car. I do not have a car and personally do not favor buying it shortly. The main reason behind my opinion is not the high price, not meaning that this would be easy for me😉, instead, there are additional factors like the insurance, inspections, and repairs, which are related to high costs and time. What do I mean with time? It is not easy to find a trustful workshop in general, especially for someone not having much experience about this type of issues as well as foreigners not knowing the “foreign” work culture found in these branches. People are aiming for finding someone naive they can trick by presenting unnecessary issues related to your car to increase the price for the repairment. You, who is too young and inexperienced to refuse their proposal and too inexperienced in the Turkish language to talk with someone not knowing anything in English, will face a situation nearly impossible to succeed. So, I think you got the idea behind my thinking. This does not mean that buying a car is unreachable in Turkey. A few foreign students I know own a car. They belong to high-income families and live more than an hour away from school. Using a car for such a long distance seems logical.

Other Turkish people live with their families in parts of Ankara far away from their university and use the car of their parents to attend the courses. These people are also the ones not attending the courses due to time spend when coming to school and vice versa.

A car is very useful in Turkey due to the distance between the cities resulting from the size of the country. It is not new that the car is a medium to increase the mobility of the user, but through the ages, a new medium has gained popularity, referred to as public transport😉. Let me tell you that the means of transport is tuned according to someone’s needs in Turkey. What do I mean by that? It means that you have exactly the transport option offered for reaching your destination. If you want to travel between cities there are long-distance busses, which reach nearly all parts of Turkey, including small villages of no more than 100 people having no other type of public transport than the minibus provided by the government to enable their access to fundamental infrastructures found in the closest bigger town. I can say that the long-distance bus system between the cities is much more advanced and accessible in Turkey than in Germany. I have used the bus several times for distances of more than 12 hours in Turkey and can underline the ease to make use of this practical system. There are many websites and applications to buy the most tuned ticket for someone. Popular roads like from Istanbul to Ankara or Izmir and vice versa have busses every hour. An average tour from Istanbul to Ankara takes around about 7 hours and costs on average 70 tl (9 euro according to the currency exchange rate at the beginning of 2021). A flight ticket for the same route just takes an hour and costs about 150 tl depending on the season. By train, it would take 4 hours and cost you 85 tl.

In general, I prefer to use the bus because it is uncomplicated and flexible in time. I have also used the train several times, which is quicker than the bus and is more comfortable due to the size of the train itself and the seats which are most of the time leaner in busses. I know many people using the plane to reach their destination, but this seems to be less favorable for me, because of the higher price and the strict times. I am the type of person who appreciates the flexibility and tries to distance himself from decisions that determine or fixes my actions. When I take the bus I can buy a ticket close to the time of the departure and do not have to buy a ticket many weeks before like usual when taking a flight. There can always be issues facing you including your strictly planned timescale. The return policy for transport issues is most of the time complicated. To prevent the time and stress I prefer using the bus as many people do.

Life in a dormitory:

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Image by chemmy chen from Pixabay

Given simplicity and inexperience, foreign students, as well as native students, chose dormitories to begin their freshman years. This is why I, the writer of this blog text, chose to find the most appropriate dormitory in Ankara. This is not an easy task, especially for foreigners who are not used to the culture of dormitories or the country itself. Many students try to find the closest dormitory to their universities. This is not false, but difficult regarding the fact of many universities being located in the very central parts of the city, which are dominated by business districts, governmental offices, and shopping malls. The issue of space is seen in all big cities around the globe caused by a high increase in population accompanied by a remarkable migration toward these highly active, dynamic regions from the peripheral parts of the same country or foreign countries. Ankara has a population of nearly 5.5 million people and is the second-largest city in Turkey according to its population after Istanbul with 15 million people(2020). Foreign people prefer studying in known universities, which are nearly always located in the largest cities in Turkey.

On a search for the most appropriate dormitory, there are several factors to look for. One of the most important aspects is the price. It does not make sense to search for the nearest and attractive dormitory if someone is not able to pay the price. So, before starting to search think of a price range you and your family can afford. Prices vary from city to city. The prices for a single room without the food moves in a range from 1500tl to 2500tl per month(2019/2020). Services like laundry and cleaning are included in the price. The prices or price-performance ratio are much lower in lesser-known university cities. I have stood in a quite expensive dormitory close to the known business district Sögütözü in Ankara, which is by subway 25 minutes away from my university. Most of the people, who lived in this dormitory, were from high-income families and lesser receivers of education- or sports-based scholarships. In my case, the high value of the European currency provided me this "luxury". It is a new building with a highly modern interior design and close to the shopping centers and high-class restaurants and cafes. We received professional services like ironing. A small fitness room with two treadmills, a power station, and two powder machines. There were two separate learning rooms and a game room with two Playstation-consoles. A night guard was there with a solid security system including many several video cameras within the floors and outside the building. Every resident had their card-key, which opened the outer door of the building via a sensory mechanism. The food was solid, including breakfast and dinner, and cost an additional 450tl each month. As someone could guess, the comfort was on a high scale, which reflected on the price that was 40 to 50% higher than the average for a private dormitory in Ankara.

Still, many foreign students chose to rent a flat due to the reason of privacy and independence of any restrictions. Most dormitories have a very specific time limit for their meals, varying between 1 and 3 hours for the different meals. In my dormitory, breakfast could be done from 6 am to 9 am, and dinner from 6 pm to 7 pm, setting a time scale of only an hour for the latter one. We had to calculate our time to reach the dinner at the proper time. There were some students, who had lessons until 6 pm and arrived from 7:05 pm to 7:10 pm and could not eat for dinner due to the strict rule of closing the dinner at exactly 7 pm. This was annoying. Out of hygienic reasons food could not be preserved for a later time. Many private dormitories set a time at which the people have to arrive at the very latest, which is mostly to midnight 00:00. My dormitory was very easy for that and we could arrive at any time during the night. But, there were some dormitories, which were serious with this and did not allow any entrance after midnight, not including agreed conditions. These are some reasons, why a solid number of the students moved out to an own flat after the first of the second year of freshman ship. More than half of the people of my dormitory did the same. They have learned about the city and its environment and met new friends in their university or dormitory they shared the same mindset with.

Many foreign students, who stay in flats and I talk to, say that they do not regret having chosen to stay in a flat since the very beginning of university. It looked like a challenge to begin living on their own in a foreign country they have never been to but did not turn out to be difficult. Many of them live on their own without another flatmate and can overcome the challenges related to flats like paying monthly bills, cleaning, and cooking. They favor the comfort of not being restricted to any rules and the value of privacy, which is not fully given in a dormitory of any price class. Toilets are shared in many dormitories. Although they are cleaned daily, some people have not learned the golden rule of leaving the toilet as it is found when entered. Dependent on the building, some walls permit the transmission of more sounds than usual, which has been a personal challenge. There are study subjects, which do not require as much learning as medical study. When people in your adjacent rooms watch television most of their time or hear music, it can easily disrupt your attention, which is then difficult to rebuild, especially close before the exam, where any kind of disruption is felt like another stress input. This is most of the time not experienced in a flat.

The Turkish people in my university indifferent to the people in my dormitory have a middle-income background. The private dormitories are too expensive for most of them, leading them to stay in governmental dormitories, which are much cheaper and not as luxurious as the private ones. Some of them have stood in a room of six people without personal desks, which are share and found in separate study rooms. After the first or second year of university, many of them moved to flats together with their friends. I have talked to them to know more about the challenges of living in a flat with three or four other male students. Rules are probably the most important thing to set. After finding the most suitable people to live in a common flat with, some absolute rules or laws have to be set concerning the laundry, cleaning, and bills. The work required is divided into every flat member. Only a strict obey towards these rules ensures a peaceful atmosphere according to various flat members.

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