30 June, 2011. Syeda Wajiha Hassan is currently pursuing BBA (Hons) at Hajvery University (HU). She was awarded a scholarship to Study Abroad for 1 semester at Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey. The scholarship included Return AirTicket, Comprehensive Insurance, and 5000 Euros Stipend Money for daily expenses among other things. The following essay is written by her, which presents a glimpse of her Experience of Studying and Living Abroad in Europe.

“My name is Syeda Wajiha Hassan and I was given a scholarship by Hajvery University (HU) to study at Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey for a semester. Sabanci University is wonderfully situated in the Orhanli region of Istanbul and is one of the premier learning institutions of Turkey. Majority of the population in Turkey is Muslim, so there are some similarities between our culture and the Turkish culture, but there are significant differences in terms of food, dress and general socialization activities.

I found the Turkish people to be a modern group of people who are trying to embrace their old ways of living with the inevitable globalization and modernization. This unique blend of the past and present makes Turkey a very beautiful country with warm and welcoming people. I personally found the Turks to be very hospitable and holding firm their Turkish roots and culture. Communication was an issue though, as most Turkish people prefer to speak in their own language and have limited knowledge of English language. On the other hand, this provided me with an opportunity to learn the basic Turkish language as per the requirement of the program and for my personal needs.

Of course, being a in a totally new country and without the home advantage, my routine was challenging in many ways. I usually got up early to get an early start, and made sure that the entire day’s plan was laid out. Activities like laundry and groceries were scheduled for weekends only. One thing I missed the most about Pakistan in the first couple of days was having a car. Things that I took for granted in Pakistan, I had to arrange for them by myself and this was a whole new experience for me. After the first few weeks, my routine was stable and I had a set schedule for studying, exploring the country and doing other daily chores.

Turkey is a large country and in the time allotted to stay in the country, I managed to see a part of the country. In Istanbul, I visited landmarks like the Blue Mosque, Princess Islands, Kadikoy, Grand Bazaar, Taksim Square, Miniaturk and some other places. I also visited other cities like Cappadocia, Pamukkale and Ephesus in the vacations after the mid-terms. I had the most fun in Princess Islands (buyukada), because I was able to revisit my childhood passion of riding bicycles. I rode my bicycle all around the Princess Islands and had a wonderful time doing this along with my friends from the program.

The three main things that I’ve gained personally and professional from this program are valuing time, learning how to budget efficiently and world class education experience. I first learned the value of time when I missed my bus back to the dorm and that was the last scheduled bus going back to the university. It was clear, this is not the time and the place where I can afford to make such mistakes. Needless to say, I learned my lesson. Budgeting was very critical to make this experience possible. Being a foreigner in a different country with significant language barriers, made me a more informed buyer when I went to purchase different items in the market. Finally, the most important, I had a great learning experience at Sabanci and the education and learning opportunities I received are going to play a major role in my future objectives.

I believe it is a great developing strategy to put yourself in uncomfortable positions because that is where you learn the most. Deciding to go to Turkey and having full knowledge that language and other logistical issues might be a problem did not deter me from pursuing this opportunity. Most importantly, I would like to thank Hajvery University for making this possible for me.”

HU is a joint-signatory of EM 2009-2013 Consortium of 20 Universities from Europe and SAARC countries, which allows the partner universities to send and host students between the consortium members. HU is grateful for European Commission for such initiatives and the funding to make this all possible, moreover to all our Partner Universities for co-operating to make this a success.