My second week of adventure in Istanbul has started! Since my last update, I have made a lot of progression in getting to know the university. Registration and orientation are done, the stressful course selection (I'd better name it 'Attempts to make the lecturers feel sorry for you so they let you attend their class') is almost over and the final free weekend is coming up. It's all looking good!
Some of the things I have experienced here:
- If you believe The Netherlands is bureaucratic, try to get things done here instead. Due to a very recent law change, I was not able to get a student visa since they don't have these anymore. Instead I have to get a residence permit which requires me to have sufficient health insurance coverage. Proof of this coverage can be provided by your insurance company but has to be confirmed by a social security office. Thank you Facebook for existing, otherwise I never would have known this. Luckily, we went there with a group of which one girl spoke Turkish. We were send throughout the entire office; getting signatures there, handing over forms here. Eventually it worked out! But.. there is still more to be done in order to get the permit. The university does not help a lot in this. They also don't seem to know how to tackle all the unclear rules.
- It is highly unappreciated if you speak loud on the public transportation, especially the bus. It happened to me twice already that an old guy came up to us and shouted: 'This is a bus! This is not your home!' Whether this is a cultural issue or simply two men having a bad day, I don't know. But it's better to just avoid these situations.
- I am starting to love Turkish food. The local restaurants often have a very diverse range of dishes, which sometimes take a bit of getting used to. But it's sure worth trying!
- Istanbul can easily be the most hilly city I have ever been to. To get to the main street in my neighbourhood I have to make my muscles work hard! Last Tuesday I was trying to get back home from Taksim at around 01:00. We took the last bus and were dropped off at the lowest entrance of Bogazici, which is a gate close to the Bosporus. Walking up that hill might take you up to 20 min and since it was raining and late, we decided to take a taxi. These hills here are so steep, that the taxi was hitting the gas to its fullest and driving in first gear to get up. The wheels were spinning and the motor made some very weird noises, but gradually it conquered the hill!
Monday the classes start. Until now I am able to attend 4 courses, but I need 7. So I'll be working on a good convincing speech to make sure the lecturers will let me attend.