After I took the course of Sociology Of Southeast Asia, I realized that there were many adventures waiting for me in India. During the course with Şebnem Akçapar, I learned about the social and economic structure of India which furthered my interest in India. I must say that this course changed my life. For my winter break, I decided to participate in a social volunteer project in India for teaching English to children. This decision was based on my interest in interacting with the locals and children to understand their culture in a better way. I strongly believe that staying in a fancy hotel as a regular tourist would not have provided me the opportunity to explore India effectively. As a social volunteer, I stayed in different cities of India out of which Jaisalmer was my favorite. This city is near the border of India with Pakistan. India has a unique culture and under the umbrella of this culture, all different cultures can flourish and coexist. Unlike many parts of the world, different cultures, identities, and religions can live in peace and harmony in India. As a BRICS member, India is trying its best to educate the young population. Through my project, I was able to volunteer at 2 different schools and realized that the Indian government puts great emphasis on education. I also learned that English and Math are core courses in all schools which aligns with the country’s goal of improving its literacy rate. All in all, it was a great experience which I will cherish for the rest of my life.
“For the Fall 2018 semester, I was on exchange at Nanyang Business School in Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. It proved to be one of the best places to experience different cultures in Asia as there are three main population groups namely Indian, Malay and Chinese. What I like about Singapore is each population group has Singaporean identity along with their own cultures. During my time there, I got the chance to celebrate Diwali and Chinese Mid-Autumn festival and learned about the Indian and Chinese cultures. A short time after I arrived there, a popular Hollywood movie about Singapore, Crazy Rich Asians, came to the theaters which was a perfect coincidence. Between my classes and after my finals, I traveled around Southeast Asia to gain unforgettable memories, taste new cuisines, learn about different religions and see how people live in that region. It broadened my vision and helped me appreciate their way of living. For example, in Cambodia, I was amazed by the people living in the floating villages. Similarly, in Thailand, I met and talked with Buddhist monks and learned about their life. Given that this was my first time in a tropical environment, it was really amusing to chill on the beach while my family in Türkiye was experiencing the snowfall season.”
“In June 2018, I had the chance to visit China to discover the most populated and spectacular cities of this excellent country thanks to Chinese Consulate General’s grant. I have been to Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou. Overall, we were twenty students coming from different universities from Istanbul with diverse backgrounds. Shanghai, which is named “Tropical New York” by many Western expats and travelers, is a striking city full of skyscrapers. This ancient port city has been developing and changing rapidly with the growth of the Chinese economy. There are many people coming from abroad to study and work there. From the moment we got to the bus in the airport, I was fascinated by the idea of living in a megapolis like Shanghai. We visited bazaars, temples and economic centers in Shanghai and met many people from all around the world. In Hangzhou and Suzhou, especially in Suzhou, I experienced a much more different China. Despite the fact that they are developing cities, they have a much more different landscape and population. I want to thank KUASIA – our very own Asia Center – for granting me this great chance and I strongly recommend all of my friends and students at Koç University to take any opportunity to visit China or other Asian countries. I am sure that they will have a much more different experience than they have in the Western countries and they will see that the Western reality or our own reality is not the only one.”
“In 2017, I went to Pusan National University as a summer exchange student. I took a course on multiculturalism there and it helped me broaden my mind about Asia in general and in particular on South Korea. I had a great experience while I was there and it was a great chance for me to meet this unique culture thanks to Global Exchange Program. I strongly suggest all students to experience Korean wave! Korean wave (Hallyu in Korean) has been spreading all around the world with their k-pops, k-dramas and k-beauty. South Korean trends became a phenomenon and keep growing in each corner of the world.”
“Do you know that Singapure is in the 3’rd place amongst the World on per capita income? There are lots of causes of that success came with just 52 years: Its strategic location, being a natural harbor, centered in between the investments. and also having one of the best education system by the achivements of the leader Lee Kuan Yew. I experienced team Works, leadership and an opportunity to work with a real company during my exchange semester. And also I improved my language skills, and I’m better in speaking the English language at the end. I made lots of unforgettable friends from every single parts of the World. Then, I saw the beauties of Asia in the different countries.”
“I was in Beijing during the summer of 2016 for a law school in Chinese University of Political Science and Law. I attended to the law seminars which exlains the basic dynamics of Chinese legal system, and also lectures on Chinese language, tea and tai chi. After the program, I travelled upon the northern part of China and have been to Cuandixia, Pingyap, Taiyuan, Xian and Datong. I experienced a China which was that one cannot stand against the state in any case, and the traditions are more likely to win its battles with the law and rule of law. I saw that in China, it’s more easier to give up fundemental rights and freedoms rather than the economic goals and needs of the Chinese Communist Party. It was a very first time that I realized the legal systems of the World were not about just European understanding of law.”
“In July 2015, I have had a chance to experience a far more distinct culture and life style in the city of Mumbai, India, with KU GlobalAid that I could have never imagined before. It was the first time that I have been to an Asian country and my excitement was undeniably immense. Dharavi, which is the second largest slum in Asia, was waiting for us. Yes, that’s right, Dharavi which is in the movie, Slumdog Millionaire! Our purpose there was to ameliorate the water resources that the Dharavi community has and training the second-grade children in the Royal City School about hygiene. With the fieldworks, and interviews we conducted with the Dharavi community, we found ourselves outside our comfort zones! Streets 50-cm wide, electrical cables laying on the basis and at the ceiling of these streets, garbage heaps waiting to be dissolved for years and much more! I witnessed that almost a million people leave in just 2 km2 and their conditions was really different. When we had come to the other side of the city, there was completely a different picture: Buildings like in Manhattan, and people living in luxury. As if they were not aware of the other side of the city. In that particular time, I felt the severity of income inequalities and the cast system. I realized that there is a different World which was really different from the boastful European understanding of international law, human rights and core values of humanity. The World was not just about the Europe, and there may be reasonable causes for not fulfilling the human rights which were not built by India as a third world country.”