Considered an exotic land that ascribes neither to the East nor West, the Republic of Turkey is a cultural milieu of all things Mediterranean and Middle Eastern. Although Turkey is geopolitically associated with the Middle East, it has many differences from its neighboring countries. For example, the national language of Turkey is Turkish, which is written in the Roman script; it is a misconception that Turks have an Arabic heritage. Ideologically, Turkey also differs from its Arab and Persian neighbors because of the separation of church and state–despite 99% of Turks being Muslim, there is no official nationally recognized religion. Culturally, Turkey offers an eclectic mix of food, poetry and music–from the juicy kebap skewers to the syrupy Baklava to the Arabized dancing tunes and Rumi-inspired poetry, Turkish culture embodies the foreign and the familiar. For these reasons, students will find a wide variety of subjects and activities–both academic and extracurricular–to engage their interest.
Due to its strategic political placement among the European, Caucasus and Middle Eastern states of Greece, Bulgaria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iraq, Iran and Syria, Turkey is the ideal location for those looking to study international relations, political science, international and civil law, peace and conflict studies, and public policy. Since Turkey itself is in the midst of political establishments with the European Union and the territory of Cyprus, students in the international policy-making arena are sure to be able to apply their skills.
Additionally, Turkey is known as a hub for art and architecture, archaeology and history–with such famous institutions like the Istanbul Modern, the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, and the Anatolian Civilizations Museum. Turkey’s vast terrain includes archaeological ruins from Anatolia dating back further than 10,000 B.C and has beautiful architectural sites from the Ottoman period as well. For those interested in pursuing linguistics, living in Turkey is an automatic gateway to gaining fluency in all of the Turkic languages–primarily Turkish–and also Arabic and Persian, as there are many influences in the Turkish language from both of these.
In terms of modernity and development, Turkey is known to be the “America” of the Middle East. It is truly the land of opportunity for those seeking to live in a land without restrictions. Not only has Turkey adopted the Western culture of leisure and recreation, but it has also maintained a drive toward achievement, which can be seen in the vast array of universities, companies, and tourist sites that Turkey boasts. As the most politically liberal state in the Middle East, Turkey still manages to balance its roots in the Islamic tradition without aggressively enforcing it. It is also economically sound, having had its currency restructured to combat inflation, with an average exchange rate of two Turkish Liras per Euro. Students in economics, business, international business, social and civil development, finance and trade will have much to study and observe while in Turkey.