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2012 Istanbul Program

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FAQs

 
FAQ Sections:
I.      Housing
II.     Practical Information
III.    Money Matters
IV.   Public Transportation
V.    Communication
VI.   Health, Safety, and Emergency
VII.  General Questions about Turkey
VIII. Weather Information
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I. Housing

1. What are the housing, living conditions and the surrounding neighborhood like?

The Erboy Hotel is located at the historical peninsula also known as the "Old City" the ancient part of Istanbul and in a few minutes walking distance to major historical areas such as; Hagia Sophia,Blue Mosque, Gulhane Park, Baslica Cistern, Topkapi Palace, Eminonu Port. It has 85 rooms.

2. What are the rooms like?

A photo of a typical guest room is on the right.  You can also find a photo gallery on the hotel’s

website. The rooms are nonsmoking and have a private bathroom, a hair dryer, satellite TV and air

conditioning.

3. How many people are in a room?

There will be two students in each room and you will each have your own bed.  Housing accommodations are subject to change. No adjustments to price will be made if it is necessary to change accommodations and/or the location of the housing.

4. Where is the bathroom, in the room or in the hall? How often is it cleaned?

There is a private bathroom located in each room and the maid service cleans them every other day.

5. Do I need to bring my own sheets and toilet paper?

No, the hotel will provide sheets and toilet paper in the room.

6. Will I need to wash my own sheets?

No, the hotel washes all linens.

7. If not how often are the sheets changed?

The sheets and towels are changed every other day.

8. Is there laundry service in the hotel? What does it cost to wash a load?

Yes, there is laundry service, some of laundry prices are approximately:

shirts 8.50 YTL, trousers 8.50 , silk shirt 9 , underwear 2

9. Is the hotel air conditioned?

Yes, the Erboy Hotel is air conditioned.

10. Are there elevators in the hotel?

Yes, there are elevators in the hotel.

11. Is there a kitchen we can use and what equipment is available?

There is no kitchen available for student use.

12. Which meals are provided?

Breakfast daily, along with six group dinners and two group lunches are included in your program

fee.

13. What is the typical breakfast?

An all you can eat breakfast buffet is served daily from 7:00 am until 10:30 am.

14. Is there a restaurant at the hotel?

There is a restaurant in the hotel that serves dinner and lunch, and the hotel guides would be

happy to help you find affordable restaurants near the hotel.

15. Is the classroom located in the same building as housing?

Yes, unless otherwise stated. 
16. Is there internet access (WiFi), cable tv, and a phone line?

Yes, the hotel has WiFi, cable tv, and a phone line available.

17. Does the internet access work in rooms or just in common areas, lobby, etc?

The internet is available in both the rooms and in the common areas such as the lobby.

18. Is there a computer lab available or should you bring a laptop? What is it like?

The computer lab is in the same room as the classroom and contains 5 lap tops, WiFi, a projector, and a laser printer which you can use. Access to the classroom 7 days a week from 8am6pm is included in your program fee.

19. How much does surfing the internet on my own laptop at the hotel cost?

The surfing fee at the hotel is already included in your program fee.

20. Will there be a printer available that we can use at the hotel?

Yes, in the computer lab/classroom.

21. Do the rooms and or the hotel have safes available?

Safes are not available in the rooms right now, but hotel is planning to add safes in the rooms by the end of May. If this cannot be arranged before your arrival, you can use the safes which are located at the reception.

22. What is the walking distance from the hotel to public transportation ?

The hotel is centrally located, near numerous sites, stores and restaurants located nearby. The next public transportation station is the Sirkeci Railway Station (300 meter = ¼ mile or 5 min.) Other sites within walking distance of the hotel:

Gulhane Park (300 meter), Hagia Sophia Museum (300 meter), Underground Cistern (300 meter), Blue Mosque (350 meter), Topkapı Palace (400 meter), Spice Bazaar (400 meter), Grand Bazaar (800 meter)

23. What is the check in time at the hotel? 1:00 pm

24. What is the check out time at the hotel? 12:00 pm

 

II. Practical information:

1. What clothes should I pack?

You should pack light and medium clothing so that you can dress in layers. This will allow you the

flexibility to adapt to the weather. A rain coat or jacket and small umbrella are also not a bad idea.

Bring comfortable shoes or sandals and at least one pair of closed toed shoes.

2. What is the weather like?

In the summer in Istanbul, it's generally really hot and dry, about 30 35 C (86 – 95 F), and sometimes there can be brief showers or storms. You may want to bring or buy a hat and sun screen to protect yourself against sunburns, also people with sensitive skin should bring something to cover their shoulders.

3. What kind of adapter do I need to bring for electronic devices e.g. hair dryers?

Europe, including Turkey, uses Europeanstyle round twopin plugs are used in Turkey and a different, higher voltage of 220 volts AC, 50Hz than what is used in the USA (110 V) So, you will need to bring an adapter for the outlet plugs and also a transformer for your electrical devices, like a laptop computer or your Ipod charger. Without a transformer, your laptop could burn out. Upon arrival, your coordinator can help you buy the appropriate Turkish plugs, if needed.

4. How will the meal allowance be distributed?

A meal allowance of 437 TRY (for the entire program) is included in your program fee. You will be given a portion of this meal allowance on a weekly basis from your coordinator in cash. There will be a sign up sheet, which will confirm when you receive the money.

5. When are we dining out?

A welcome dinner, two group lunches, four group dinners, and a farewell dinner are included in your program fee. Drinks and tips are not included. The meals will be arranged in different restaurants and at your hotel’s restaurant to offer you a variety of foods.

6. Can vegetarian and vegan diets be accommodated?

The Turkish cuisine includes an abundant use of vegetables, making it a great destination for vegetarians. No matter what your concerns are, CEPA is happy to accommodate your dietary restrictions during group meals, as long as you have informed your study abroad office before you leave for Europe. On your student application form, there is a place where you can enter this information. Last minute changes to preordered groups meals can not always be guaranteed.

7. What is the proper etiquette when leaving tips in restaurants?

When eating out in less expensive restaurants it is customary to leave only a few coins as a tip, but when you are eating anywhere else, like in a restaurant, you should leave 10% to 15% which is usually given directly to the waiter.

8. Do I have travel and health insurance during the program?

Yes, you have health insurance from the first day of the trip to the last day. This is included in your program fee. If you plan on arriving early or staying later you will be

responsible for your own coverage.

9. What is covered by the insurance?

The insurance plan you will have is the CareMed Silver. This policy covers travel, health and accident insurance as well as a luggage and travel third party liability insurance. During your orientation session at Hotel Ebroy, your coordinator will hand out your insurance cards to you. Your study abroad office has the detailed insurance policy information for you.

10. How do I file a claim for my insurance?

Please inform your coordinator, when you need to go to doctor or the hospital.

You will need to pay upfront and in cash for all of the treatments you receive at the doctor’s office, hospital or pharmacy.

Please make sure, that you keep all receipts for any payments you make which relate to the insurance covered in your policy.

Without receipts, the insurance company will not be able to reimburse you. Please give your coordinator your receipts, your coordinator will then send them to the CEPA Europe headquarters in Germany and they will file the claim on your behalf with the insurance company, CareMed. The reimbursed funds will be returned to your coordinator which will then be given to you.

 

III. Money Matters:

Turkey offers strong value for a weak dollar right now. Major Credit Cards (Visa, Mastercard) are accepted in big cities however you will need to carry some cash with you. US dollars and Euro's are also widely accepted.

1. How much money will I need for day to day expenses in addition to the program and the airfare?

This depends on your budget, plans as well as your eating habits and personal preferences. You can estimate around 25 30 USD per day, but if you plan to travel extensively while in Turkey, you should consider budgeting for more.

2. What is the currency?

1 New Turkish Lira (YTL) is divided into 100 kurus

3. What is the exchange rate?

1 USD = about 1.4 New Turkish Lira (YTL) for conversion information see:
 

4. Where can I exchange money?

It's definitely best to wait until you get to Turkey to exchange money for Turkish Liras. Exchange rates outside of Turkey are usually not as good as those inside Turkey. The easiest way to exchange money is to get cash from an ATM. Travelex stores also offer a fairly good service and a good rate. You can also exchange cash at the hotel, in currency exchange offices (döviz bürosu), the post office and banks, some of which both may charge a commission and service fee.

Your coordinator can give you suggestions and assistance on arrival day.

5. Can I use traveler’s checks?

Traveler’s checks can only be exchanged in banks with your passport.

6. Can I use my credit card?

Credit cards are accepted in big cities however you may need to carry some cash with you. Many credit card companies charge additional fees or poor exchange rates for international use. Check with your company before you leave home so that you know what to expect ahead of time. Also ask about PIN codes required to draw cash from overseas ATM machines.

>> Hint It's worth giving your credit card company a ring anyway before you leave to let them know that you'll be using your card in Turkey. This helps them not to panic if they spot transactions suddenly appearing in Turkey and prevents them from putting a block on your card.

7. Are ATMs accessible?

They are everywhere and very accessible. There will, however, be a processing fee that will apply so check with your bank before you leave home to find out the details.

 

IV. Public Transportation:

1. What kind of airport pick up and meeting points will be arranged on arrival?

Depending on your group’s flights and arrival times, CEPA will arrange a suitable meeting point at the airport, so that you can easily find your coordinator. If you do not make it to the meeting point on time, you will also get instructions on where to meet up with the rest of the group. This information will be found in your group’s itinerary, which will be finalized and sent to you about 2 weeks before your departure day.

2. Is a public transportation pass included in my program fee?

You will receive a public transportation pass for your entire stay in Istanbul during your orientation from your coordinator. Please make sure, that you keep it with you at all times during your stay in Istanbul. It is nonrefundable if lost or stolen.

3. What kind of transportation is available?

There is an extensive bus system in big cities like Istanbul that is reliable and easy to use. You will not need to purchase tickets for the public transportation since a transportation pass is included in your program for the duration of your stay. Your coordinator will provide you with the passes at your orientation in Istanbul.

Trams are also available to use in Istanbul, but are private and not part of the public

transportation system, so not covered by your ticket. But they are still affordable to use, around 1.40 TRY (approx. 0.85 USD) for a single ride.

There are also a large number of taxi and minibus operators (which are recognizable by black and yellow checkered bands). Note that when going a longer distance in a taxi the fare should be agreed upon before hand.

 

V. Communication:

1. Can I bring and use my cell phone from home?

Possibly, however the rates will be extremely expensive, and the Turkish system may not be compatible with your phone, in which case you would need to purchase an international SIM card or a different phone. If you are unsure, check with your local provider before you leave home.

2. When will I get my overseas cell phone?

You will receive your Turkish cell phone at the orientation session in Istanbul from your coordinator.

3. Do I have to pay for my own minutes?

Yes, minutes and your calling time are NOT included in the program fee. Your coordinator will explain how to add minutes to your phone during the orientation session in Istanbul.

4. What happens when I use my cell phone outside of Turkey?

If you use your cell phone in other countries, very high roaming charges will apply. Please only use your phone in Turkey! The phone will still work in other countries in Europe but the rates will be very expensive.

5. How can I call home without a cell phone (calling cards)?

The cheapest way to make calls without a cell phone is from PTT phone booths which operate from phone cards you can buy from any kiosk. You can top off your minutes at the post office.

6. What are the post office hours?

The normal hours are MonSat: 8:00 am 5:30 pm

7. Where is the Post office?

The main post office is located on Yeni Posthane Cad, near the railway station.

Your coordinator can tell you the best way to get there.

http://www.ptt.gov.tr/en/

 

VI. Health, Safety and Emergency

1. Is there access to medical facilities?

Istanbul has a large health care sector with high standards and private health care. There will be a Doctor available in case of any medical problem, just ask your coordinator for help. Pharmacies can be found all over the city and are called Eczanesi.

2. Are there any particular health risks?

Apart from the typical traveler woes, such as heatstroke, sunburns, dehydration, etc., there are no major known health risks of which to be concerned. Gastric and Diarrheic diseases are common for those who are not accustomed to local food or who do not take precautions. It is recommended to bring antidiarrhea medication with you. Wash your hands carefully before each meal.

3. Are there English speaking hospitals in Istanbul?

Yes. Below are the addresses:

American Hospital, Guzelbahce Sk. No. 20, Nisantasi:

phone                (212) 2...       , fax (212) 232 1432

International Hospital Istanbul, Istanbul Cad. No. 82, Yesilkoy:

phone                (212) 6...       , fax (212) 663 2862

4. What are the emergency numbers in Turkey (like 911 in the USA)?

There are three different numbers to take note of:

* Fire station: 110 * Police: 155 * Ambulance: 112

5. What kind of support will be provided in case of an emergency?

Your coordinator is available for you in case of an emergency. The coordinator’s cell phone number will be stated on your group’s itinerary.

6. What will happen if I accidentally get lost in the city?

Please make sure, that you have your Turkish cell phone and your coordinator’s cell phone number with you at all times during your stay in Istanbul. If you get lost, you can always call your coordinator and ask for assistance.

7. What is the emergency contact information for my family (e.g. email, fax, and telephone numbers)?

A detailed itinerary will be provided for you by CEPA at least two weeks before the program starts. There will be a list of emergency numbers stated in the itinerary: hotel information, CEPA contact information, coordinator’s cell phone number. Thus, it would be good to leave a complete itinerary which your parents. The itinerary will be a PDF file, which you will receive via email and thus is easily to share with your family.

 

8. Are there any particular security concerns beyond the normal for US student travelers?

No, but even though Turkey is one of the safest countries in the world for travelers, the only crimefree place is heaven. Istanbul is like any other large metropolitan city so you must be aware of your surroundings and use your common sense. On the streets, be cautious of pick pockets and robbery. Staying in pairs or small groups can help to detour this. Don’t leave your belongings unattended at any time.

9. What is the attitude towards Americans?

Most travelers comment on the friendliness and hospitality of the Turkish people. It really is exceptional. Turkey is not only friendly, it's as safe as Europe and North America, although no place is completely safe.

10. What about bargaining and shopping in Turkey?

This is big part of Turkish culture. Before you purchase anything, try to get the prices down as low as possible. In most cases, just leave the shop or vendor and pretend to walk away, you will be probably invited back to his shop by the vendor asking what would be your best offer. Then, feel free to declare your own price for your purchase. Usually, bargaining margin starts from 10 % and may go up to 40%. Do not push more than possible, this will cause you to under estimate the

value of the good. Bargaining could only be done in touristy areas, in local towns or new city and modern shopping malls no bargaining is possible.

11. How should I react to street vendors and beggars?

In touristy areas you may see some locals selling goods or shoe shining children, do not think they are homeless. They most probably have big families and they do this to help out their family budget. If you are annoyed by street vendors trying to sell something to you, stay polite and friendly and if you don't look interested in their products and look the other way, they will probably do the same to you. Even if you start an innocent dialog, that might encourage them. If you like contact with local people especially kids, go ahead, they love it. If it seems to be an

economic relation and some goods are trying to be sold (saying he would like to show you interesting things, or his shop or invite for a drink) just be careful they might have other motives.

12. Can I take photographs everywhere and of anyone?

In some of the museums or palaces you are not allowed to take pictures or use a flash. Before you enter, just check to see if there is a sign with a camera crossed out, which means keep you camera in your hand bags, or check them. Photographing the Turkish women, esp. in the rural areas may offend them. If you point your camera towards them and they say no, or mean it with gestures, then it will be clear. Some Turkish people including love to be photographed by foreigners, and will probably give you their address hoping to receive a copy from you.

13. What is the time difference between Turkey and California?

Turkey's time zone is Eastern European Time (+2 GMT ) So that is a 10 hour time difference. When it is lunchtime in Istanbul, it is still the wee hours of the morning back home, so take this into consideration if you want to call home.

14. Do they use the same weights and measures in Turkey as in the US?

No, Turkey, like the rest of Europe and many other parts of the world, uses the metric system so measurements will be made in cm, meters, speed measured in kilometers per hour, temperature will be measured in celsius, etc.

15. What are the roads like and the driving conditions?

Some consider the road conditions and standards of driving in Turkey to be poor compared to the USA. Accidents can be common. Use your common sense when crossing the road or riding a bike.

16. Do they drive on the right hand side of the road in Turkey like in the US?

Yes, they drive on the right.

 

VII. General Questions about Turkey

1. How easy is it to communicate in English if I can’t speak the local language?

Many people in larger cities speak a foreign language although it might not be perfect, you can still communicate. But be prepared that not everyone will speak English, so it is good to know some of key phrases. Even if you only know the words for Hello, thank you and Goodbye, it will always be welcomed and appreciated by the locals. At the beginning of your program, you will receive a 10 hour crash course in Turkish to help you get started and learn the basics. Your coordinator will also be there for you during the program.

2. What are some of the local customs and cultural norms?

Including:

• When sitting, it is customary to sit with cross legged on the floor

• It is considered very rude to point your finger at someone

• Showing overt affection to the opposite sex is considered inappropriate in public

• It is also considered inappropriate to blow your nose in public

• It is illegal to show disrespect to the name or image of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the

founder of the modern Turkish Republic, or to insult the Turkish Government.

3. What should I (female) be aware of when dealing with masculine Turkish culture?

The status of women in Turkey is different from what it is in the US. Not "better," not "worse," but just different. In some ways, women may seem subservient to men; but Turkey had a female supreme court justice long before the USA did, and Turkey has had a female head of government, something the USA, for all its success in women's liberation, has not yet had. In Turkey, as in most societies—even the ones thought to be most liberal in their attitudes toward women—you'll find a range of attitudes toward women. If you, a foreign female visitor, observe Turkish cultural norms (ie, behave as a Turkish woman would behave), you will be treated with politeness and respect.  Whether you do this or not, you will probably be in far less physical danger in Turkey than you'd be in many more "liberal" countries.  You should be aware not to be overly friendly to Turkish men or to be left alone with a man, due

to the image of Western women in the movies, and magazines some Europeans have this perception of women. Some women report an even more courteous nature in Turkish men than Western men, but some women report being hassled so always be aware and in control of the situation and you will be fine.

4. How do women dress in Turkey?

Most Turks are Muslims, but Turkish society is modern and predominantly secular, so European dress styles prevail. For your stay in Turkey, dress the same as you would to visit France, Germany, Italy or the UK.  Many observant Turkish Muslim women (perhaps 30% of the female population) dress in tesettür, a headscarf and light coverall topcoat, when going out in public. This satisfies the Islamic

admonition to modest dress without infringing Turkish law which prohibits religious dress in public places. You may see women in burka (fullbody covering, with veil), but they will most likely be visitors from other countries with a stricter interpretation of Islamic dress traditions. Actually, the veil is outlawed in Turkey (but the law is little enforced), and even the wearing of headscarves in secular contexts (universities, government offices, etc.) is controversial.

5. What is the appropriate dress code in general?

Most Turks are Muslims, but Turkish society is modern and predominantly secular, so European dress styles prevail. Dress the same as you would to visit France, Germany, Italy or the UK. Stylish casual dress for most places. Dress up more for the cities, less for the seaside resorts. The nearly universal summer tourist dress of shortsandaTshirt is fine except in mosques, but in Turkish cities‐‐as in New York, Sydney or London—most of the local people around you will be

more stylishly dressed. (ie – we would not recommend that you go into town dressed like you just rolled out of bed, with sloppy looking clothes, etc.) Observe the locals and as the old saying goes –

“When in Rome, do as the Romans.” (in this case, Istanbul…)

In Mosques:

To visit mosques, clean and modest dress is appreciated and often required. In short, don't show thighs, shoulders or tops of upper arms. Slacks, or kneelength skirt or dress; blouse or top with sleeves to at least the midupperarm. Have a headscarf to cover your hair. No shorts, sleeveless tops (tank tops) or revealing clothing for men or women, please. Shoes don't matter as you will be removing them before entering the mosque in any case (so slipons make it easier). At the mostvisited mosques (such as Istanbul's Blue Mosque), attendants may provide

coverall robes (free) if your manner of dress is questionable.

6. How should I behave in public?

Remember that you are a guest and you should behave appropriately, act more reserved, conservative and show respect when speaking to Turkish people.

7. Is the water safe to drink?

Yes, although it is safe to drink tap water, it is recommended to buy bottled drink water which can be found almost everywhere in stores and kiosks. You can safely brush your teeth with tap water. Water is generally chlorinated in towns and cities, but since you will be in Turkey for only 4 weeks,it is still advisable for you to drink only bottled water. Bottled water bearing the word içilmez is not potable, do not drink it!

8. Is the food safe to eat?

Yes, of course. In fact, the Turkish cuisine is often regarded as one of the greatest in the world.  The variety of dishes that make up the cuisine, the ways they all come together in feastlike meals, and the combination of so many spices and flavors offer enough material for lifelong study and enjoyment.  Take the same precautions that you would take at home or anywhere else make sure that any meat or fish you eat has been well cooked and that you wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.

Meat portions may seem smaller compared to those in North America. Vegetables predominate in most meals but many vegetable recipes use small amounts of meat as a flavoring.

9. What kind of food can you recommend to eat in Turkey?

Although the list is way to long here and we certainly would not want to spoil the fund and excitement of discovering these things yourself, we can provide a few tips:

> The best and easiest places to sample Turkish cooking is in a hazir yemek ("readyfood") restaurant. > Snacks, side dishes and street foods include gözleme (freshbaked flat bread folded over savory ingredients—a sort of Turkish crêpe—and börek, pastry filled with cheese and vegetables or meat. > A traditional favorite is the Istanbul fish sandwich. > Turkish tea is the national stimulant, even at breakfast, and famous Turkish coffee only a distant second. > Among the favored sweets treats is Turkish Delight (lokum). We will leave the rest up to you….

10. What is the availability of public toilets?

We all use the toilet (tuvalet) several times daily, and for your trip to Turkey it's important to know about them: Toilets are marked with "WC," Tuvalet, or "00" and the words Bay (Mr, male) or Bayan (Ms, female), or with pictograms, or with gendermarker items such as a tobacco pipe for men and a fan for women. In most public restrooms, restaurants, mosques and museums there is a small fee (15 c.) to use the restroom so make sure that you always keep some change with you.

It is sometimes hard to find a Western style (sitting closet) closet especially in rural areas. Western style can be found at gas stations and restaurants along the major tourist roads. In any case, it is advised to keep some Kleenex with you, esp. where toilet paper may not be available in public rest rooms. Squat toilets can also be common in Turkey. If you are not sure what they are or how to use them, you may want to read up on this before you leave.

11. Is smoking allowed in Turkey?

Cigarette smoking is a passion among many Turks, a few of whom ignore the No Smoking signs (Sigara Içilmez) in public buildings such as airports, railroad stations, mosques and theaters. However, most transportation, including airplanes, trains (except for the smoking cars) and intercity buses are smokefree.
 

VIII. Weather

1. For up to the minute information on the weather see:
 

 

 “IF THE EARTH WERE A SINGLE STATE,

ISTANBUL WOULD BE ITS CAPITAL.”

—NAPOLEON BONAPARTE

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