Being an Erasmus student is super fun, but it has also its difficulties sometimes. As an Erasmus student in Istanbul I would like to help the future Erasmus students coming to Istanbul. I have made a list with some points that can be useful for you.
First of all, your best friend is Google maps. As you might know or not know, not many people in Turkey speak English. It will be hard to ask for directions or to understand the directions given. Just look up the address of the place you want to go to and do the walking, well I guess you all understand how Google maps work.
Get a student visa, you can’t study here with a tourist visa, which apparently a lot of Erasmus students think they can. You will get in a lot of trouble, like booking a flight back to your country to get the student visa anyways. So get that straight before you come here, or else you will waste a lot of money on a plane ticket.
Like every Erasmus Istanbul related Facebook groups so you won’t miss on the awesome Erasmus events. You will also get thousands of boat party invites. They are not all of the same quality, for example; I went to a party which got cancelled because the police arrested the manager in front of us. A lot of people recommend the boat parties that ISL (Istanbul Student Life) organises.
Places Eski Beyrut, Araf and Beat are bars/clubs in Taksim where a lot Erasmus students hang out. You are probably going to end up there too, but try also to explore other places. For example I like Hayal kahvesi a lot, you’ll find more locals over there and every day there are different bands playing live music for you. Alcohol is also pretty expensive in Turkey, so pre drink at you place or go to shot bars. It’s cheaper if you go with a big group and order for example 50 shots and divide that. My favourite shot bars: Montreal and Tektekçi.
Food, who doesn’t love Turkish food? There is a hell load of restaurants and cafes in Istanbul, even if you order something you have no clue about what it is, you will get something tasty. Some popular after going out dishes are: midye dolma, ıslak hamburger and kokoreç. Midye dolma is stuffed mussels, they squeeze a lot of lemon juice on them and they taste delicious. You can find them in a lot of corners at taksim. Islak hamburger means wet hamburger, they have a soft structure and it’s my personal favourite meal after drinking. Than you have kokoreç, I ate it ones and it’s just not my cup of tea, especially regarding they are made of LAMB INTESTINES, I wouldn’t recommend you to eat it but hey if you are open for new things, just try it. Of course you should also try Kumpir, baked/stuffed potatoes, Ortaköy is famous for its Kumpir so maybe you can eat one at your visit to Ortaköy, also try delicious waffles topped with a lot of sweets after your Kumpir.
Transportation is not that expensive in Turkey, but it gets even cheaper when you get a student transportation card. You can apply for it after you receive your student certificate from your school. Than you make an e-appointment at the closest IETT office (make your appointment here www.iett.gov.tr/). After getting a appointment you go to IETT with your student certificate, one photograph of yourself and 10 TL.
Don’t limit yourself with Istanbul, you’re an Erasmus student for God’s sake, you should travel a lot and have fun! Turkey has a lot of cool cities and again transportation isn’t expensive. You could also reach Greece easily from Turkey.
These are my tips for now, there might be a part 2 later. You might miss your family and friends back home and feel a little bit lonely at the beginning, but remember this is a great experience and always try to have fun!