Basic information


  • Fall and Winter: Middle Eastern Time (UTC/GMT + 3)
  • Spring and Summer: Eastern European Time (UTC/GMT + 2)


Turks speak Turkish. Some of them speak English or other languages. At Boğaziçi University, all classes and class materials are in English, instructors and students speak English. The University staff, such as secretaries or officers in the Registrar’s Office, may or may not speak English. Usually there is someone around who can help you out. Everyone in the Incoming section of the Office of International Relations speaks English.


The unit of currency is the Turkish Lira. Major credit cards are accepted in most shops and restaurants. ATMs in the nearby neighborhoods of Bebek and Etiler (in Akmerkez) can dispense foreign currency; howver the ATMNs on campus do not. To open a bank account in Turkey, you must have a Foreigner’s Identification Number, which you will receive along with your Residence Permit.

There is a Western Union office in the Post Office of the nearby neighborhood of Bebek. PayPal unfortunately no longer operates in Turkey.


You can use your cell phone from home for up to 120 days. After that, it will need to be registered with the government. Please see our website for an explanation of how to register a phone. It should be noted that during the online application for the Residence Permit, you are required to provide a local number so that they can send you a code number with which you aill verify your identity. The same number will be used by the Ministry when you Residence Permit Card has been sent out for distribution.


You will be arriving at the beginning of September, the last month of September. Weather in Istanbul is very changeable, but generally September  is warm and sunny.  October can be lovely, but sometimes rainy. Snow in November is not uncommon. December through March, the weather is cold, dark, rainy with some snowfall. So pack a warm coat, hat, scarf, and sturdy boots. The pavement and asphalt in Istanbul are  so irregular, wearing any kind of heel is a challenge.


It is possible to drink the tap water in Istanbul. People use it for cooking and bathing, but prefer bottled water for drinking. You can buy bottles of water in all sizes, and every neighborhood has a few companies that will deliver giant containers to your doorstep for a small fee.


It is impossible to go hungry in Istanbul. There are markets on almost every corner and restaurants everywhere. Cultural standards demand that food be fresh and delicious. Be careful with street food, however, as you can never be sure about their attention to hygiene.


Turkey operates on 220 volts, 50Hz, with dual, round-pin plugs. Try to bring some plug adaptors if this differs from the electrical system in your country. Most electronic goods now can be used with multiple voltage systems, but check to see that your laptop can. The electricity can go off at any time and stay off for hours, so once you get here you might like to pick up a flashlight or some candles.


Turks tend to dress nice-casual. They tend not to show much skin, but this depends on the area of the city. At Boğaziçi, and in the neighboring upscale districts of Etiler and Bebek, dress as you would at home. If going to visit a mosque or other holy place, men and women should not show any skin, and women should bring alot a scarf with which to cover their hair. Again, the streets can be treacherous, so if you want to wear heels, it’s best carry them in your bag and put them on when you get to your destinatioın.

Doctors and Hospitals

Turkey has excellent medical facilities. It is a medical services hub in the Near East, Balkans, and Middle East. There is quite a bit of medical tourism from Europeans for complex operations at lower prices. Boğaziçi University has a medical center that is free for students. There are also counseling and psychiatry units. If you would prefer to go to a doctor outside the university, out office can help you arrange an appointment. Most doctors speak English.


If you are taking prescription medications, bring enough for the entire time you will be here. There are Turkish equivalents for almost all drugs. Drugs are classified according to prescription type, by color. Antibiotics are regular prescription, drugs like Xanax are green prescription, and amphetamines for ADHD are red. Green and red prescription medications are difficult to arrange. Opiods for pain are rarely prescribed. For root canals, they give the equivalent of Excedrin Plus.


If you have a fever for more than three days or are unable to attend classes because you feel unwell, please contact us. This is true for depression and anxiety as well. We can help you find the right kind of doctor and make an appointment for you. We want you to be able to attend classes and enjoy your time here with us at Boğaziçi.


The legal age of drinking alcohol is 18. Please keep in mind that the drinking habits of Turks are very different from those in many other countries. Not all Turks drink, but many do. They tend to drink with friends over dinners that last all evening. It is extremely rare to see someone drunk or with slurred speech in public. It is considered to be very ill-mannered. In addition to social norms there is the fact that Istanbul is a huge city, and that you do not know the people around you, and they may not have your best interests at heart.


The Super Dorm: What to bring

When the Superdorm was built in the mid-1990s, it was a technological wonder, offering cable television and Internet to students. Now it is a nice dorm with a silly name. When last year’s students were asked what they wish they had known to bring from home, they said a big bath towel. The dorm has a small store where you can buy every day things, but it does not have proper bath towels. Shops in the neighborhood have bath towels, but when you’ve just arrived from a transatlantic flight, you might not feel like a shopping expedition.

Having Things Shipped from Home

Small packages are okay, but only if the contents do not exceed about 200TL. Especially don’t have anyone send you any kind of electronics such as laptops or phones, as there is a high tax on them. It can take days to get things out of customs. It would be much easier if the person who wanted to send you something just wired you the money so you could buy it here.