I know that my post is supeerrr late! But, it’s okaay 😉 I can say I had an amazing 6-week exchange experience last year that could change my whole life, especially my point of view. I learned to be more grateful, cherish the life, giving and loving, and adaptable to the new society and environment. It was beyond words!
In this post, I am going to copy some words from the EP report I made last year (of course) with some modification. I hope this story will inspire everyone who’s going to have an exchange. I suggest you guys to have at least one exchange experience or living abroad for such a long time. It’s fun and challenging! Masalah duit? Insha Allah selalu ada jalan dan rejeki untuk orang-orang yang mau berusaha keras dan berdoa. Asal yakin bahwa keinginan itu pasti tercapai, insha Allah tercapai 🙂 Just have faith.
“Faith is all about believing. You don’t know how it will happen, but you know it will.”
FIRST WEEK in Turkey (The Arrival)
Having an exchange during college life had been in my bucket list, so I was looking for an opportunity when I could have long period of time to go. Then, the time came…
In December 2014, I finished my final thesis and graduated in March 2015. Therefore, I decided to join the AIESEC GCDP program to fill the gap (between December 2014 – March 2015) with a precious moment. I had been waiting for this winter exchange for such a long time. After passing through all the application tests and interviews with AIESEC Bandung, I was finally accepted as an exchange candidate. Started from that time, I was busy to search a project with children topic because I really love them. In the 8th of November 2014, there was a good news from Ciğzem (OCP of Break Up The Barriers) that I had been accepted for the Break Up The Barriers Project in Kocaeli Turkey from January 15th, 2015 to February 28th, 2015. I was soooo happy and grateful. I departed from Jakarta to Istanbul on January 12th, 2015 by Turkish Airlines. By the way, the service in this airlines was so amazing as they brought the Turkish culture in the flight service. I was given slippers and they served Turkish tea (chai) that I loved too much! The food was so delicious that made want to explore Turkish food asap hehehe.
As soon as I arrived at the Ataturk Airport Istanbul, I tried to reach Cihan (an OC that picked me up) by sending him message because there is no free WiFi access in the airport. I finally met him 15 minutes after. He helped me carrying my heavy bags. We went to Izmit by Metro from Ataturk Airport to Otogar and by Efe Tur Bus from Otogar to Izmit (Halkevi). The cost for Metro was 4 TL and the cost for bus was 20 TL.
Living in Turkey is not as expensive as we imagined. However, the most expensive one was the transportation fee since the fuel price in Turkey is really expensive. The food price was the same as Jakarta’s. Fortunately, I was living with a really nice host family. They gave me breakfast and dinner so I could save much money for meals. For lunch, I usually bought in the city center. The textile especially clothes were really cheap in Turkey. The quality were also undoubtedly good. If you come to Turkey, just bring few pieces of clothes. You had better buy here.
The city in which I was working was Izmit, an administrative center of Kocaeli Province. The AIESEC Kocaeli office is located in the city center, so it was easy to shop and had lunch around. Izmit is only 1,5 hours away from Istanbul by bus number 200. What I love the most from this city was the location which is near the sea and mountain (What a perfect combination!). On the other hand, the people in Izmit are lack of English ability so you have to speak at least basic Turkish. It gave me benefit actually as I was forced to be able to speak basic Turkish at least to bargain the price :p Overall, I really love this country and the people. Turkish people are really nice, friendly, and warm. Turkiye çok seviyorum!
About My Host Family
My host family is a warm and kind-hearted family that I ever met! Both of my host father and my host mother are ENT doctors, so I could understand why they were very busy. I also lived with their only son, Batu, a 5-year old handsome boy and Manana. I spent my time at home to play with Batu when I didn’t have any schedule to go to rehabilitation centers.
LC Hosting Entity and Project
LC Kocaeli is a big family with tens of committees. As I am not an AIESECer, I do not really know the committee structure in AIESEC Kocaeli. What I know is that they are very responsible and friendly. They were also busy people because they had a meeting almost every day in the office.
Talking about Break Up the Barriers (BUB) Project, it was about how we dealt with disabled children. In the BUB Project Winter 2015, we went to six different rehabilitation centers. The OCs mixed the EP group every week and also the rehabilitation centers. I went to 4 of 6 rehabilitation centers. The most visited rehabilitation centers were Yeni Hayat and Bahçecik because I had fix schedules there. I had to go to work for 3 – 4 times a week with different teams. The OCs helped us a lot in translating to Turkish because most of the children and the teachers did not know about English yet. By the way, the location of the rehabilitation centers was somewhat far away from the city centers. We have to prepare extra money only for the transportation.
Spending time by doing the project in the rehabilitation centers was the most memorable and sweetest moment for me. We shared laughter, sang songs, and danced together. I was really lucky to meet someone that made goodbye hard to say. Even in the short time, the children could feel enjoy the moments with us, the BUB team. The last week of the project was the hardest time ever.
We finally got to have trip together after spending some days in the rehabilitation centers teaching the children. It was fun! Having breakfast in Seka Park Otel to fill the tank then off we went by tour bus. We visited some museums, such as Mevlana Evi and Selim Sirri Pasa’s house. Mevlana Evi is a house in which there were many statues told us about the life of Mevlana. Mevlana is famous for his humanity during the Ottoman Empire. The next destinations we visited were observation place to see the city view and Selim Sirri Pasa’s house. Selim Sirri Pasa was the first Izmit governor. The house is still used as a place for governor’s meetings.
Istanbul already had caught my heart since the first time I stepped my feet on the city. I fell in love! I had visited Istanbul 4 times and never got boring. This city offered romantic atmosphere, beautiful mosques with the Turkish style architectures, friendly people, many birds flying in the sky, fish sandwich, museums and the bazaars. Who will not in love with this ambiance? I had a good time. Istanbul must be put in everyone’s destination. Not to forget, try dondurma (Turkish ice cream) while you’re here. Dondurma is extremely delicious that I could not forget. Italian gelato mah lewaaaattt!! Nggak ada apa-apanya. The soft and creamy texture made me want more 😥
Another great day when we went to Bursa. Tried local food, enjoy the rural part of the city, and visited some museums. I remember many songs we sang in the bus. Good memory won’t easily fade away…
To get to this city, we needed to spend 8 hours by bus from Izmit. We started the journey in midnight so we could see the sunrise in the morning. Çanakkale is a province that is known as a historic place during the World War 1 in 1915. We visited many cemeteries and were told about the history here. Since the tour guide explained in Turkish, I slept many times and did not exactly know the war details (apologize me, please hehe).
The trip will not be complete without tasting the local culinary. Thankfully, I’m not a picky eater so I could get used to local food easily. You should try iskender, baklava, dondurma, especially the desserts while you’re in Turkey. I definitely love Turkish food!
In the end, I got many experiences during this exchange. Special thanks to AIESEC Bandung and AIESEC Kocaeli for having me and giving me the opportunity. I had amazing weeks in Turkey! 🙂 Turkey, you are missed!!
“And then I realized, adventures are the best way to learn…”