Media-Design Exchange Student at Bilgi University

21.04.2007 um 21:23 Uhr

Bilgi: The courses, the University

von: exchange_at_bilgi   Kategorie: Bilgi

I have been here for two months now and I feel more or less competent to comment on some aspects concerning the academic life in Bilgi.

The first two weeks I felt very insecure, I even considered going back to Austria. The reason: The lack of English-speaking lecturers and students. In the course catalogues it is stated whether the course is "recommended for international students". If so, it is supposedly taught in English. Bilgi claims to be an English-speaking University. Well, it is not. Some of the students and the lecturers speak hardly any English at all. Some speak English brilliantly. Go figure...

So my problem was: There were courses that were "recommended for international students", but many of them did not interest me or were the wrong level (Introduction to Webdesign :-|
The solution: It is Turkey. Anything is possible and rules always come with the extended possibilities of exceptions. The thing to do: Go and talk to the course instructors whether he/she will be willing to teach in English. As this is a big uni and many of the instructors aren't in most of the time, it's not THAT easy. (I ended up with approx. 20 small white papers with notes about different assistants and an entire weeks of "office-hopping" and "Sorry, does-anyone-here-speak-English-can-you-help-me".)
After the consents of the instructors you write down the courses and go to the administration, they have to register you manually if the courses are not marked "recommended for international students". Usually you do the registration online yourself. this is just an exception.

The other problem: Even if the courses are taught in English, people switch back to Turkish all the time. And: Some of the "recommended" courses are not taught in English either.

On the other hand it doesn't matter as much as it would in the FHV as there are NO GROUP PROJECTS. You are just doing your own stuff.

Resume: There is a huge amount of courses and many of them sound interesting. If you get around the language problem you can end up with thriling stuff. The pro: You can choose from many different departments. Art, Literature, Informatics, Media Studies, Visual Communication Design, Photography, Business, Mathematics (*uh*yeah*that's*fun*), Radio and Television, Journalism, ..... Apart from the language prob I felt like a kid with a thousand dollar voucher for a candy store :-)

14.04.2007 um 15:16 Uhr


Some people claimed the exchange semester is too expensive for them. But including the Erasmus money I will even get some money out of it :-)

The flight was around 100€  and many of the things here are cheaper, especially clothes and some food and social life (cafes, eating out). You can get a kebap from 60Cent onwards....

What ouy have to consider is the transport system, there are the Bilgi shuttles of course but still I pay about 20-30 €/month for busses and tram. the city is huge.... so that's actually not much.

The students dormitories are more expensive than renting a flat with someone else (except if you live in a room of 4, 6 or 8 people in the dorms). For more about the costs of the dormitory see that Blog-entry.


Resume: Its absolutely affordable, if you can live in Vorarlberg, you'll probably save money living in Istanbul.


14.04.2007 um 13:53 Uhr


There is of course the lovely possibility to stay at the dormitory but for those who wish more privacy: Here are some of the common ways to look for rooms/flats: is the only internet-based way to place and view classifieds. (PLEASE let me know if you got any other online-sources!)

_There is a number of adverts up in the language schools, the german library and similar places.
The biggest language schools I know about are Tömer and Dilmer, you might want to try sending a request for them to put up on their notice board via e-mail. They have notice boards in the entrance area, they are often bursting with offers for flats/flat-sharing. Don't worry :)

_The german-turkish bookstore is towards the end of the Istiklal, close to the tünel, somewhere next to Starbucks, they put up classifieds and announcements as well.

A possibility is to stay at a friends place or at a cheap hostel for the first week or so and arrange flat-sharing.
You can find the exchange students of Bilgi and other Istanbul Universities on studivz and facebook as well, I strongly recommend to ask them for more information on that topic.

As far as I know Turkish citizens usually find their flats by contacting estate agencies thet are around... it seems to be the "normal" way here  (??? If you have more info on that, I'd be happy to hear some more)

13.04.2007 um 23:05 Uhr

Misc stuff

Cheap hostels in Istanbul


Nice news: You have to learn Basics of Turkish.

my favourite turkish computer game:
i had a turkish virus (activexdebugger32.exe) on my computer already, it's fixed now, but you might want to check at some point whether you had the honour of catching a real turkish virus as well...
This is the description :
This is how to find it and remove it:


what i liked a lot: the probably largest basar is on the asian side in kadıköy on tuesdays... get off the ferry, walk past the pink building to the big crossroad, up the big street until you come to the statue of the bull then either walk on for a bit or turn left down the road with the masses of clothe shops (and the guy yeling "extra kalité kolje" :D pays off to know French, btw.)
Apart from that the smaller weekly basars like the one in Kustepe on Saturdays are great.


two nice turkish style restaurants to begin with:  (next to istiklal, cool atmosphere, fair prices) (on the asian side, close to the ferry station, the REAL eastern turkish cuisine. a little more expensive though, they speak a little English and you can look in their cooking-pans... They got three restaurants in the same place..whyever.)

13.04.2007 um 14:25 Uhr

Media Design

there are different departments for what I would call "Media design" and what is taught at the FHV. So here there are the departments:

VCD: Visual communication design (graphic design)

POV: Photography

TVJ: Television and RTaio (and Journalism ?) (There is a running (!) campus tv-station)

MED: Media Studies (theory based)

ADV: Advertising

MUS: Music (this department will unfortunately be closed sooner or later :-( )


Some thoughts on Media students here, as they were the main reason for me coming here, beacause the different approach to design.

Some are quite lazy and bad but mostly the guys are pretty ambitious, they don't make a fuss out of learning programmes they have a drive which I can only admire and I would call them creative nerds. They are producing, producing, producing stuff. Doesn't matter what programme youa re doing it with, in the end it should look cool. The downside is: Yes, things look "cool" but sometimes I really miss aspects such as usability, technical consequences (You CAN'T do a magazine in photoshop!) and originality. Often you find that styles are outright copied.

But: They really seem to have no boundaries in their heads, programmes and techniques are combined without making a fuss about it, so you find 3D in magazine design and Collges in Videos and so on. There are no such things as "development reports" and "concepts", nothing to write down, just tasks you have to approach creatively. Which is rather "dangerous" when you work like this thoroughout your entire studies but for one or two terms it feels like breething freely. Creativity is the scale they are measuring the work with. The lessons I got are not theory based at all, "theory comes with practice and trying stuff out" they seem to think. The lectures are not exactly "lectures".

The assignments you do have a certain deardline and you ahve to upload the finished works on the project server.

At the end of the term there is the so-called "Jury" where you have to present ALL your work in front of ALL VCD/POV-students and some lecturers.It is like a giant exam in front of all people where you are questioned by the lecturers. I guess that is far more pressing than any marking system as it is a question of prestige and the level the other students set is high. So this is also a way of achieving quality in work and transparency and fairness in the marking of it.

13.04.2007 um 01:11 Uhr

Students beaviour, "Uni-spirit"

It IS a Uni were people often pay well to get their kids in. Go figure. With many you can just tell that they are from a wealthy background. There are a few snobs around, but they are mostly restricted to the law and business-studies I guess ;-) So this wouldn't really show in Europe, but here, it is in huge contrast to the city and many of the inhabitants, especially because both campuses are in "not-so-wealthy" areas. Their behaviour is rather different from the rest of the turkish people I got to know.

There is not the kind of intellectual spirit you would find at a "classic" University (I'm thinking of discussions with people studying in Heidelberg, Freiburg, Tübingen, ....) Guess this is due to the cultural background as people here seem to think differently when it comes to criticism.

The spirit of the Design students is something different altogether. That will be another blog-entry...

Maybe I am not the "bounding" type of person but I can definitely say that there seems less social interaction within a semester & within the entire Uni than in the FHV for example. People are nice and very helpful. But due to the fact that there are no group projects and that there are different people in every subject and people aren't keen on coming to lessons (which I can understand, as it can take hours to go to Uni and back) there is not too much contact.

Sports: I haven't tried them but there are sport facilities, a large pool (half-olympic size), Fitness club and sport teams (some of them pretty professional). As i said: Haven't tried them but I know a lot of Erasmus students who go there regularly and who are enjoying it a lot.

Oh and: People smoke almost everywhere. In the building, in the hallways, in many offices. Even in the Labratory (Photography, Darkroom)! (It sounds more dramatic than it is I guess. But I hate it)

12.04.2007 um 13:25 Uhr

Faculties and Equipment

One word in advance: This Entry will soon be out-dated as there are some departments that will move to a brand new cool exciting campus with better equipment. The departments are vcd, pov, ftv, computer science as far as I know. Which means: All the media and design and computer stuff. Until then:



These are the FACULTIES and their departments



There is a library at each campus, there are newspapers (which are being read by students, in comparison to the FHV...) and there is a nice dvd-collection as well (to take out but you can also watch them in the library, there is a special section with a dozen small TVs).

I'm not going to argue with Axel about this, but I prefer the FHV library. Especially when it comes to photobooks (again hello to Mr Hils), the athmosphere and the selection of works I think it has a better range and overall picture. I have to admit though, that the typography/design- books they have are mostly based on practical stuff and some are very useful. Also a few design mags (found in the back of the Kustepe library by the way!). So for the hand-on design this library is better ewuipped, the FHV one has more sophisticated (and probably less touched) books


Resume: Library section is sufficient, range of art and architectural books is better than the FHV, range of graphic design and Photography is not as good as he FHV but good choices for learning the stuff. And: Yes, it really is sufficient.



This is the list of the EQUIPMENT right now. But don't always rely on it, you're just allowed to take out what is meant to be for your studies (so a vcd student will maybe face problems when he asks for a videocamera) and some stuff has to stay in the studio (photography lightning, medium format cameras....)and some of the stuff is for working students only.

How to get the equipment: I just know about the booking system for photography, as the stuff is always department based. As soon as you are registered for the project server (some kind of LMS/Learning management system) you can see the category "booking" on the left hand menu... All the rest will be self-explicatory I guess.

The computers are not exactly suitable for media designers, there are no printers in the Computerlabs (on the other hand I didn't really need them for any assignment of the last two months!). However, none of the PCs can live up to FHV computers... yet.

How to take equipment out: After booking it there will be a small pop-up telling you where and when to pick the equipment up. There are two days a week (Tue and Fri) to ic things up and return them, you can just book one of the items of the selection per week.

The digital cameras are some Nikon D50 and D70, I liked the FHV EOS 5D better, but on the other hand they have a wider variety here which will help you learn more about photography techniques etc.

11.04.2007 um 20:37 Uhr

Erasmus-club vs international office

von: exchange_at_bilgi   Kategorie: Bilgi

The erasmus club is part of the esn (Erasmus student network) and is run by students. They organise trips, we had an amazing welcome party in a palace, including pretty gifts (turkish miniature paintings!) , dinner and all kinds of Turkish performances. And as the students also organise other stuff, there are almost too many events to attend...

The erasmus club offers a personal buddy, in many cases this seems to work out quite well (I don't have one - don't know why) and some friendships have developped as the buddies even take the incomings to families for Turkish dinner and Family life. ESN organises a lot and the hospitality here is really amazing.

Regarding the erasmus club and the buddy system here I feel a bit ashamed of the lack of motivation in Austrian students to care about the incomings. But: For the international office I would like to import Karin and Sabine to Istanbul, they'd be far nicer here. My advise about the IO in Bilgi: Don't ask them about things, try to find the people who are in charge.

10.04.2007 um 22:41 Uhr

Course choice, course catalogue

Course catalogue: If you look at the course catalogue, you find the course-ID to be composed of department and a number. The first of the three-digit number states the year, so if it is VCD 451 Portfolio Design, the Department is "Visual Communication Design", the course is supposed to be for 4th year students. As incoming student you can take courses from all the years as long as your knowledge is sufficient. Courses starting with 5 or 6 are for graduates only (Master).

As the quality of the courses is varying (as it s in any University): Check out the Studivz, I think there is a group about Erasmusstudents in Istanbul and in Bilgi.

09.04.2007 um 22:46 Uhr

POV 221 Digital Image Processing

von: exchange_at_bilgi   Kategorie: My courses

I didn't get around what the course is supposed to do, as the lecturer doesn't actually communicate. He's cute though. Maybe I just don't like it becuase I am absolutely crappy.

OK the assignments:
1) Re-draw an object in photoshop. (2D-Drawing) then take a photo and place the object in it, adjusting the shades on it etc...

2) A collage about the lifestyle of a classmate, taking at least 60 pictures from at least 6 aspects of his/her life, combining them somehow.

3) Free Collage about a dream.

4) Trying to rebuild the wallpaper "uvivland" (This is the original by Khairil Syafiq Osman.)

09.04.2007 um 21:25 Uhr

POV 232 Editorial Photography

von: exchange_at_bilgi   Kategorie: My courses

Looking at images that are being published: Newspaper, magazine, exhibitions.
There are some own projects that are announced, then you get two-four weeks time to complete them, mostly "repörtaj". The first assignment didn't really happen (things got delayed after a journey of the lecturer).
2nd assignment: "A free photo-story of an interview with a child. 10 photographs should be submitted¸ each with a descriptive caption. A short piece of text about the general story should also be submitted."
3rd assignment: "Photo-story of someone who thinks he/she has a problem. 10 photos¸ each with a caption and a short text about the general issue should be submitted."

There will surely be more assignments, but, as they haven't been announced yet and people here prefer to take things as they clue.

Same lecturer as in Photography workshop, so the remark about the language and the lack of criticism applies to this course as well, which is especially bad because this is often about NEWS. It gives time for some own work, but no feedback.

09.04.2007 um 21:25 Uhr

POV 212 Photography Workshop

von: exchange_at_bilgi   Kategorie: My courses

This is a follow-up course, last term the students learned about black and white phototechniques. Still it is no problem to follow. There are some basic technical details that are being taught in the lectures. also some assignments:

1) Self-Portraits, three to ten pieces to be submitted, free technique.

2) "Please make a surrealistic collage out of at least 3 photographs that you have shot. The aim of this assignment is to blend the images by Photoshop layer techniques or by actually cutting and pasting hard copy prints You must bring different photographic elements together in a new photographic composition within a conceptual framework. For samples of previous student works check “collage” at also check works of David Hockney and Dadaist artists"

3) Studio portraits on Medium format camera, to be shot and also processed by yourself.
"For this assignment¸ students are expected to shoot a series of color portraits in the studio environment¸ using a medium format camera and electronic flash lighting. For this assignment¸ 120 Roll color negative film will be used. Each student is expected to:
• Develop his/her own rolls in the C-41 process.
• Make contact prints on color paper.
• Select best image to enlarge and have it approved by instructors.
• Make a 30x40 cm enlargement on color paper."

4) Free project for the rest of the term, including concept/explanation (at least 1 page), at least 10 prints, A3 to be submitted. Topic as well as technique entirely free :-)

The course is taught in English, the instructor (Orhan Cem Cetin) never forgets the presence of non-turkish-speaking students in the class and is very skilled in making it feel like an entirely English course by translating and moderating.
Criticism of work is missing, though. It seems as if any picture is more or less ok. I miss Mr Hils ;-)

09.04.2007 um 21:25 Uhr

VCD 451 Portfolio Design

von: exchange_at_bilgi   Kategorie: My courses

Mostly about packaging, selection and presentation of work. We are evaluated by creativity. No normal "paper-form" stuff, design is supposed to be a lifestyle, as far as the lecturer is concerned (Type: "Cute lady who doesn't have to be strict, only cute" Still VERY nice inputs she gives!) Very ispiring!

We have three assignments (as far as I know, as the assignments are mostly announced one after another!)

1) Design a creative application: We were handed five made-up job descriptions to choose from. We did a "material trip" to some of th streets of Istanbul where you can find EVERYTHING. Material, Textile, Electronic Stuff, Leather .... everything one can imagine. The task was to design an application with some basic information about oneself. The aim: Attract interest. Design something that visualises that you have the skills that the employer is looking for and that has the "spitrit" od the company.
Some pictures of the outcome:

2) Design a portfolio for a company. We are actually working together with BMW top present their series in some kind of "catalogue". Again: Main aspect: Creativity and conveying the "spirit" of the products.

3) Own portfolio

The course is mainly taught in English, sometimes we get extra translation or "sum-ups". It is actually designed for final year students, many of them work already anyway but still have to present their work. In Istanbul it actually IS possible to get any material you like to promote the stuff, so as mentioned above: Very Inspiring...

09.04.2007 um 00:04 Uhr

VCD 331 Publication Design

von: exchange_at_bilgi   Kategorie: My courses

There is one assignment for the entire term: The X-Box (replace "x" by the subject or a name. Music box or toolbox or jukebox or whatever.) Design a box with a magazine, a book and a catalogue plus a give-away-gimmick.

This is the syllabus:

This is the blog, though its not in use very much....

The work is reviewed in class every week. It is discussed mostly in Turkish, though Esen speaks English well. She agreed to let us take the course on the basis of personal tutorials because she knew the students are not going to say anything if they have to speak English as it is obligatory course and some of the more 3d-Webdesign-students are not too happy with having to do print. So the work you get to see in class is also either some really, really good stuff or

What I love about the class: Esen is brilliant and she actually criticises people. People here don't take criticism very well and as incoming student you usually DO NOT get critical feedback, you DON'T get your work criticised. 

Actually this is my favourite lesson, the lecturer Esen Karol has my full respect.

04.04.2007 um 14:35 Uhr

Getting there: Transport in Istanbul

map  (metro) (full map)

travel site/advise for foreigners/event calender (expat community, overview museums, "yellow pages"... not in detail though. Here you get an overview over the exhibitions that are on) (no event calendar but in-detail travel tips.) (event magazine in istanbul, city guide)

there is a forum "expatsinturkey" which has got some nice hints as well but is more for "real" expats

you should definitely get an akbil, they're quite useful and let you change train/bus/tram/ferryboat etc for free within 45min. As a student you are entitled  to have a students akbil which is only 80 kuruṣ per journey including changing one time for free. The system seems to change every year somehow (official iett public buses, metro, rail system etc.)
go to the turkish version to use the interactive map :-) (klick on any topic, then on the flash animation on the left bottom)
my advise for finding the way if you need to get to a special place and have to take the bus (metros are easier to use): find it on a conventional map first, then zoom in very closely to the iett-map so it shows the names of the bus-stops. go to the english homepage-version, choose the line-stop-schedule and type in the name of the stop. in the results click on "line" and you get details / map / schedule. of course the busses don't go on time. the schedule gives you a rough knowledge about how often they go and when the first/last bus is. Most buses stop their service around midnight.
However, there are dolmuṣ (Small, mostly light brown-yellowish busses) on some lines, most importantly: From the Asian side there are 24/7-dolmuṣ to the European side. (detail of the site above) (ferry, ferry plans. this is the English version. plans are available for download, "analogue" for takeaway at the ferry stations

15.03.2007 um 15:23 Uhr

Ögrenci Yurdu: Students residence

    Beachte bitte:
  • Bitte gebe einen Text an
is ja gut ich find ihn grad ned.

04.03.2007 um 14:42 Uhr

Concerning Erasmus...



    Beachte bitte:
  • Bitte gib einen längeren Text ein


06.02.2007 um 21:23 Uhr

Preparations: Visa

von: exchange_at_bilgi   Kategorie: Istanbul

As a student you need a special visa - after all you intend to stay there for at least five or six months. You can apply for a visa at the Turkish consulate in the country where you have your main residence.

I am quite glad I had my main residence in Austria (even though I am of German origin) because the people at the consulate in Bregenz were extremely helpful.

If you have your main residence in Vorarlberg the address of the turkish consulate in Bregenz is:

Arlbergstraße 117 (The same building as "Das kleine Blatt", next to "Massive Art")
+43 (0) 557442083

You need a passport photograph, a VALID passport (shouldn't expire during your stay, I guess) and the letter of acceptance of the Bilgi University. I needed the document that stated my residence (Meldeschein) as well. If you are a foreigner to Austria, mention this to the staff of the consulate beforehand. The visa costs about 75 Euro (January 2007). If you are Erasmus student the Visa doesn't take too long, still they have to get your data checked with the governmental department in Ankara. For "normal" foreigners that can take about 30 days (not sure about that). I recommend calling the consulate three (or two) months before your travel date to make sure at what time to apply for the visa. With me they said it shouldn't be more than 45 days before my departure, but in the end it turned out that less than 30 would be a problem as well. Just check in time and make an appointment when to apply for your visa. When Ankara permits your stay you have to visit the consulate again and you will be given a visa (I think you can make it for up to eight months, even if your letter of acceptance states that you are studying for five months)

03.02.2007 um 21:55 Uhr

Why Bilgi, why Istanbul? My expectations.

03.02.2007 ____  21:56

When I tell people that i am going to study in Turkey most of them are surprised, many of them are downright deprecating my decision.

_Reaction A: There are enough Turks here ("We got Little Turkey here"), why do you need to go there... (No comment. I am not entirely free of racism but THAT is just mindless and undifferentiated.)
_Reaction B: Educationally subnormal.
_Reaction C: Muslim country. Headscarf (Mostly elderly or uneducated people react that way)
_Reaction D: Dangerous city. (mostly Turkish people tell me that I shouldn't leave the University and dorms on my own)
Overall Reaction: WHY Turkey?

I know quite well that Turkey hasnt't exacly got a reputation for its level of Education. I can't exactly imagine what it will be like (in fact I am quite unsure what to think of it myself) but the description of the subjects as well as the work samples and the contact to students of the Bilgi University gave the impression of a well-wrough study programme.
I could have gone to America or somewhere else, in fact I already had a place at an American University. But I think it is time to leave the safety of one culture.

To be perfectly honest with you: I have been wondering about my decision for quite some time. I don't even expect myself to be too fond of Istanbul or Turkey, I have no particular affection to southern or Asian countries. I am not the "party-girl" so in Istanbul I probably won't fit in (Turkish people told me it is a very western megacity). The religion is not at all to my liking either. I do have my prejudices but I know that thinking about them, thinking about the world with all its difficulties is a necessity. Never choose the easy way. Contradictions and discrepancies are our nature, face them.

My expectations.
What I hope to get from my stay in Istanbul is: Knowledge.
On the one hand expert knowledge concerning Media Design, on the other hand I want to discover a culture that seems incredibly strange (sometimes even hostile) to me. Knowledge of myself, my faith, the way I think. Knowledge of and respect for others. The exchange students from Bilgi who I got to know at my university were incredibly nice. I hope to get in touch with people who share their thoughts and time with me. I hope the confrontation with the culture and the environment will lead to new impressions and inputs...

All I know now is: I am incredibly curious. One week left to go...