Istanbul Bilgi University, known to most as simply “Bilgi”, is a private, liberal-arts university founded in 1994. Bilgi is frequently ranked as one of the “Top Ten Universities in Turkey”, with its law school being considered top three.
Where to live:
Dorms are rather expensive and the majority of students prefer to live in off-campus apartments. However, housing near campus is notoriously scarce and dorms serve as one of the few options to live close by.
The majority of the dorms are separated by sex, with the men’s dorms located in a nice area of Tophane close to many public transportation options and about a five minute walk to Taksim Square. Women, on the other hand, live close to the Santral campus but the area is generally considered to be less accessible, with poor transportation options. However there’s been a recent addition of new dorm options near campus, including a co-ed dorm. While they are still considered pricey, with a single room costing around 2000 TL, the offerings are significantly nicer — some dorms even have attached saunas and fitness centers. You can check out all the dorm options here.
For those preferring to share flats, the area around Santral campus, located in Eyüp, is the first choice for most renters. While the area is not considered a great student neighborhood, it is close to Mecidiyeköy and Taksim and therefore the housing market is competitive. Most students inevitably find “nicer” options in other areas but then must commute for classes.
The main campus, Santral, is located in Eyüp. Though not the swankiest area of Istanbul, the campus itself is very well kept, with lots of grassy quads and the requisite on-campus Starbucks.
Silahtarağa campus is home to Bilgi’s cultural arts center, SantralIstanbul. The center was founded in 2007 on the location of the Ottoman Empire’s first power station. While classes aren’t held here, it is home to a modern art museum, an energy museum, an amphitheater, concert halls and a public library. A list of current programs as well as historical background of the campus can be found here.
Bilgi also has two other campuses, Kuştepe and Dolapdere, though international students are unlikely to attend classes on either. Kuştepe is Bilgi’s English prep school and Dolapdere is for law students. Further information can be found here.
Eyüp, where the main campus is located, is a conservative and working class area with few bars or lively cafes. Many students choose to spend their time in other nearby sections of the city. One local site of interest is the Miniatürk open-air museum, a kitschy collection of Turkey’s historical buildings and sites all in miniature. It’s worth a trip on a nice day for a few funny photos, though most won’t go more than once.
The law campus, Dolapdere, is close to Taksim and while its immediate surroundings have a slightly undeserved reputation for being “dangerous”, it is fair to say that most students don’t find much to do there, especially with all the attractions of Taksim so close by. This however looks set to change with a 50 million euro modern art museum set to open in the area in 2016.
On campus, most students can be found on the ever-so popular benches outside of Starbucks or hanging out on the lawns during sunny days. As most students don’t live near campus, it gets quiet after classes end.
Inside of the campus, there are two slightly expensive restaurants, as well as one cafeteria. The school cafeteria isn’t considered great fare, especially for the price, so most students head off campus for food. The neighborhood offers many other small lunch stands and options. One particularly well known suggestion is Harbi Köfte, an extremely popular takeout meatball place known for its cheap, filling dishes.
Because Eyüp is a less affluent area, the local markets tend to be cheap by Istanbul standards, so snacks and fresh produce are both easily available and affordable.
Bilgi provides free shuttles to Kabataş and Mecidiyeköy as well as between school campuses. While they run frequently and efficiently during the day, service slows at night and stops at the latest by 20:00, depending on the line.
Public buses to Taksim, Mecidiyeköy and Eminönü are also frequently avaialble. It normally costs less than 20 lira to take a taxi from Santral to either Mecidiyeköy or Taksim.
Services on campuses:
On the Dolapdere campus, there is a cheap gym with a pool. The gym is small but functional. There are libraries on all three campuses, all offering extremely extensive research networks.
This website has a list of the student clubs at Bilgi. At the start of each semester there is an introduction day for clubs, which is often the best time to get information or sign up.
There is a medical office on Santral campus available for students at no cost. The nearest (but also the busiest) print shop is directly outside of Santral campus. There is also a print shop inside the campus but it’s more expensive and offers fewer options.
The official language of instruction is English but many of the classes end up being taught in Turkish. If you do not speak Turkish, it is recommended that you choose courses that are noted as “recommended for international students”. The level of English proficiency among students varies widely.
How to apply/what options are there?
Bilgi is very accepting of international students. Because they want to attract more English speakers to increase the amount of English spoken at the school, there is a 50% discount for international students.
Click here for the Bilgi University website.
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