You first need to create your learning agreement.
Note: You should wait to be at the host university so that they can give you all of the information.
Unfortunately, it is very likely that you will have some problems, so be prepared and be flexible. Turkish culture is more relaxed and less punctual. Be aware that some courses that you applied for aren’t vacant, don’t have enough students, or the education language is not in english. For these reasons, it is not possible to complete the entire learning agreement from your home country. My home university’s erasmus office asked specifically for me to do it prior to leaving, but my entire course programme had to be changed when I arrived.
Suggestion: You should research the specific courses offered in the department in which you were accepted so you may get a rough idea that the courses will match that of your degree programme as well as get a rough idea of the transferring credits.
In the past, it was possible to go to Turkey without a visa (e.g. going 3 months, leaving turkey few days and entering again for 3 months.).
Now, everyone is required to get a visa. If you’re planning on staying as a short-stay (3 months), you can get a tourist visa when you arrive at the airport. As a student (the semester is 5+ months), you need a student visa to avoid serious problems and penalties.
The visa costs around 60€. For the procedure to acquire such visa, the specific information, instructions and requirements differ from each country but are available at the website of the turkish consulate of your home country.
To live in Istanbul for extended stay, you must obtain an additional document: the residence permit (IKAMET in Turkish).
This is, debatably, the most important element of your period. Before you arrive in Istanbul, it would be wise to research accommodation.
Evaluate yourself honestly to determine which type of accommodation best suits you:
- Dormitory (50+ people)
- Erasmus/International flats (10-20 people + hundreds are your closest friends on weekend parties)
- Flats sharing (2-5 people)
- Sharing with a Turkish couple (3 people)
This is one of the best website to find a flat : http://istanbul.en.craigslist.com.tr/apa/
Note: Istanbul is a huge city, research areas close to your university or close to transportation access.
Main districts in the Asian Side : Kadıköy, Göztepe, Üskudar
Main districts in the Europe Side : Eminönü, Karaköy, Taksim, Beşiktaş, Tophane, Beyoğlu
Note: Istanbul is huge and there are TWO airports, so make note and be sure to know at which one you arrive to avoid confusion.
ATATÜRK AIRPORT (European side)
SABIHA GÖKÇEN AIRPORT (Asian side).
Note: In Sabiha, the low-cost Turkish company Pegasus offers cheap flights to a lot of destinations (e.g. Israel)
Both of the airports are far from the centers of the city, so it would be wise to check on a map where your final destination is so you can choose the better airport.
The shuttle company HAVATAŞ works in both airports and makes trips to the city center. You can purchase the ticket on the bus for just 8 Turkish liras (8TL = 3.5€ = $4).
On it’s website you can access the timetable and other information:
There are a lot of taxis in Istanbul, especially at the airports.
In comparison to euros and dollars, the prices are cheap.
Beware: The taxi drivers do not take the fastest route.
Also, taxi drivers rarely have a GPS in their vehicle, so I suggest that you write down the address as well as the area, neighbourhood, and the main streets close to your destination.
RESIDENCE PERMIT (IKAMET)
To enter the country, you needed a visa. To live in the country, you need a residence permit. Without the residential permit, you will not be able to return to the country after you leave.
Note: You have to take the appointment online within 30 days after you enter the country.
The following link leads to the website where you can set up an appointment:
Warning : Don’t take the appointment too early because you need documents from your host university (certificate of student). If you do not have this document, you can not go to the police station.
The residence permit costs around 200TL (80€ = $100)
There is just one police station for erasmus and international students to obtain the residence permit:
This place can be easily reached by either tram or metro.
Note: You will have at least 2 appointments (1. to give paper and pay, 2. to pick up the permit).
STUDENT TRANSPORTATION CARD (AKBIL)
Typical tourist methods of transportation are expensive, so you must purchase a metro card.
The Istanbulkart can be used for the ötöbüs, metrobüs, ferry, subway, tram, etc.
For the Personnal Student Travel Card, you will receive a 50% discount on all means of transportation.
To obtain the student card, you need the same document from your host university that you used to apply for the residence permit. You can apply at either the IETT office on the European or Asian side.
To re-charge this card, there are machines virtually everywhere there is a transportation station or shops that say “AKBIL” or Istanbulkart.
Note: You can also buy the BLUE CARD “Mavi cart” package that costs 70TL and you can use it unlimited times during 1 month. Istanbul is a big city and the traveling adds up, so this package is a very good deal if you will make the most of its worth.