Expectation and Reality (Being a student in Istanbul)

We all know those memes and funny videos about expectation and reality which usually happen and experienced by us. Expectation and reality of the first day of school, having a brother/sister, having a sleep-over party, and others.

If you still don’t know for sure what an expectation is, just go to Google and type “expectation is”, then continue reading.

Or you can also see these two pictures below to understand what expectation is.

So basically, the expectation is a word for a thing which we usually call hope or harapan in Indonesian, a thing about something that we think will happen.

We all definitely have ever expected a thing about something, like all the students who will experience studying abroad expect about their dream cities/countries. For this, I would like to write about the expectations the students who will continue their studies in Istanbul might have and the realities.

Disclaimer: All the things you’re about to read are according to what I’ve experienced myself for last 2 years. Different person has different opinions. And please read the points thoroughly before giving your comment.

Being a student in Istanbul: Expectations and Realities

  1. Expectation: You think all of the Turkish people are be able to speak English very well that you don’t have to concern about the communication.
    Reality: Some of them are, yeah, be able to speak English very well. They understand you easily and response with good pronunciation and grammar. Some others are able to understand but have some difficulties to response due to less speaking practice. And most of them don’t understand English at all. So I recommend you to learn some Turkish basic daily words or phrases to help you out when you’re walking alone outside. Such as teşekkür ederim (thank you), … nerede? (where is …), ne kadar? (how much?), İngilizce biliyor musunuz? (do you speak English?, hayır/evet (no/yes), or Türkçe bilmiyorum/Türkçe hiç bilmiyorum (I don’t know Turkish/I don’t know Turkish at all)
  2. Expectation: you think you won’t feel exhausted in your travel from one place to another because they have comfortable public transportation.
    Reality: Sorry to say, but, darling, this thought is wrong. Yeah, it’s true that they have comfortable public transports here (much better comparing to ours in Indonesia). But the problem is the traffic and the long distances between one place to another. Istanbul is 7 times bigger than Jakarta*. So for some circumstances especially when you want to travel from Asian side to European side, you will need more than 3 hours and change the public transports more than twice. Even to go to one place in the same side sometimes needs 2-3 hours depends on the traffic and the distance. I need around 45 minutes to 2 hours–depends on many conditions– to be in my campus because the distance between my dorm to my campus is 44 km, even further than the distance between my house to Palembang (in Indonesia) which is only around 30 km. They do have comfortable public transports but also too many citizens here. You would probably spend 30 minutes, not to wait for the bus to come, but to wait for a full bus which still has a small space for you to stuck yourself in.
  3. Expectation: you think Istanbul is better than your city in every ways
    Reality: you’ll have that thought when you have to walk for 20 minutes from the bus station to your destination (dorm/a friends house). You have to rely on your feet and comfort shoes because they don’t have these Go-Jek, Uber, mamang becak, bentor to take you to a place which is actually not too far for the last place you stand. If you’re and Indonesian or any other country in South-East Asia who has the similarities, this is one of the reasons to miss your country :’
  4. Expectation: you think you wouldn’t have any obstacles to understand the university lessons because you finished the 1 year Turkish preparation class
    Reality: the things that you learn in the course are only the basic things to help you understand Turkish words and the structures. They only teach you the grammars with easy examples. You really have to read the sentences all over again to understand what is exactly the sentence talking about. You also need to browse the lessons-related articles to help you understand better.
  5. Expectation: in university, you think your professors will help you out by explaining the lessons in English and give you a special treat because you’re one of the minority who doesn’t have Turkish as the mother language.
    Reality: you have more than 100 classmates and they are all born as Turkish people who learned Turkish language from the very first word they know as a 9 months old baby. So don’t expect too much that they will allow the professor to explain in English, like “this is Turkey! This is my country! Why did you come here if you don’t know how to speak in Turkish!”. Yeah, life.
  6. Expectation: you think all of the people will always say hi to you when you’re walking on the streets, in the buses, or greet you with warm smiles because you’re their guest
    Reality: so Istanbul is one of the biggest cities in Turkey, has around 20 million citizens–Turkish and foreigners– AND has been visited by million of tourists every year. So you know how much they’re actually sick of tourists. But they should be happy because the country gets a lot of benefits from the tourists.
    Yeah, it’s definitely right. But a mount of people think that foreigners just make Istanbul more crowded. Yeah.

Actually there is a plenty of other expectations and the realities about being a student in Istanbul. There are so many problems that is actually bigger than you’ve ever thought, there are so many things that is actually more complicated than you’ve ever imagine. But this is life. Hayat işte. There will be always a good in a bad and a bad in a good. Kamu tidak akan selalu menemukan kesulitan, juga tidak akan selalu menemukan kemudahan dalam hidup. 

It’s really hard to find a Turkish people who speaks English but when you really need help, no matter how hard it is for both of you to communicate, they really have the will to help you. They try to use the body language, ask their friends about the English word or use Google Translate only to help you. And after starting the course, study and practice a lot, you will have the ability to speak one other foreign language after English.

The distances are so far from one place to another and it is really that exhausting sometimes. But you will just be okay because you could see many things outside of the window. The buildings, the people, and many other things which are so different from your country. You can take a book with you, install an interesting game on your phone, or download some musics you like to help you enjoy the travel until you get used to it and feel better about everything.

Your feet might pain because you walk a lot. But don’t worry, you’ll be okay. You don’t walk for kilometres every day, you can call a taxi if you feel really tired. And in the day when you’re having your holiday in Indonesia or coming back after finishing your study, you will be stronger than any other of your friends :).

It is really hard for you to understand the lessons. You feel really sick of studying and just want to go back home. You think choosing to study here is a big mistake, a wrong decision that you’ve ever made. But–again–you’ll just be okay. You have your friends who will help you translating the words and explain it until you really get the point. Your Turkish friends will be glad to help you get the notes and help you to answer your questions. You’ll just be fine if you spend enough time to study and work hard. When the results are not as good as you’ve expected, just brace yourself and do better next time.

The professors won’t explain the lesson in English because the majority of the student in the class is Turkish students. We can do nothing about that. But sometimes if you tell them about your obstacles on understanding the lesson in Turkish and ask for their help, they will help you by allowing you to answer the exam in English or give you some task or homework to help you gain more grade.

Those who think that foreigners have nothing to do in Istanbul except making more traffics are probably just sick and tired of their problems. That’s why they blame the foreigners they meet and see all over the places. But there are still many people who cares and smiles to  you. Even an old woman who would kiss your cheek, say how cute and beautiful you are and pray for your best in life. Some parents would let their children play and take selfies with you. There are a bunch of people who doesn’t even want to be close to you just because you’re different, but there are more who want to say salaam, shake your hand or even hug you and talk with you about yourself and your country.
Just forgive them if they say something wrong about your country (some of the people want to show how they really know about a country but mistaken it with other), not all the people know geography well, anyway.

Over all, I just want to tell you that you may have an expectation about something, but don’t put it too high or you’ll be really hurt when you fall down. Don’t be too pesimistic as well. Just think about the simple things and you’ll get surprised.

You will find so many obstacles, you will have so many reasons to miss home. You will feel tired and about to give up. But the breeze, the sea, the seagulls, the parks, the minarets, the people you know from diverse countries, the smiles, the foods, the places will help you to keep feeling okay no matter how big the problem is as long you thank God for everything, keep praying, ask for His help and keep doing the best you can.

Dont give up because of all the bad things because you have more good things to thank for.

*Jakarta: 661,5 km2 and Istanbul: 5.363 km2 (according to Google search result)

This post is inspired by one other similar post from other website. I think different person has different thoughts and opinion so I decide to make mine.

Hope this will help you and make you keep being positive!

Dont forget to leave your comment down below. Especially because this is my very first post in English. Thank you and see you in Istanbul!


4 thoughts on “Expectation and Reality (Being a student in Istanbul)

  1. Well, I think this is a very good writing from you as your first post. Since you wrote it in English, your audience definitely wider and global. So, maybe it would be better if you put your point of view for not being “an Indonesian” anymore, but being “a universal student” who studies and lives in Istanbul. But still, maybe, your hometown readers are your big fans anyway. Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the thought, Bang Herry! This post was first written in Bahasa Indonesia but then I think about to make it as my first English post and voila!. Jadi sebenernya memang buat praktek bahasa, sih, haha. Karena pembaca abdi masih belum luas. But anyway, thank you si much


  2. Your article has inspired me:”).. the reality will not always happen as we expected but the effort to see it beautifully,
    make it much better:))

    Hmm.. can I ask you something? Are there some of your friends (who got YTB scholarship) and take Uluslararası ilişkiler department? :”) I want to learn Uluslararası ilişkiler so bad:))


    1. Hey, there!
      Yeah, expectations are good but dont let it hurt you when you dont get what you wanted/expected.
      Sure, I have some frıends who study who study the department but none of them have a blog and I’m really sorry that I cant give you their contacts 😦 but I’ll let you know if I found some any blog of theirs.

      Anyway, thank you for visiting!


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