Kyle de Villiers at Koc University, Turkey

Kyle de Villiers

BCom International Business

Semester Exchange in the Second Semester, 2023 at Koc University 



It is very overwhelming to have to choose a single university from a range of so many top performing universities in the world. I believe that Koc University was a hidden gem. Koc University started later than most European universities. After finishing my exams in June and only starting at Koc at the end of September gave me the opportunity to do four internships at financial companies. Internships are very underrated by students. In this time, I realised what industry I want to work in and what type of job I would enjoy. Before this I was clueless.  

On the more practical side of things. Turkey only requires an e-visa. It was very easy to apply for one and I received mine within 24 hours. When you arrive in Turkey, they help you to apply for a student visa and explain the steps to follow. Koc University’s exchange team is very helpful and quick to reply.  

I only booked a one-way trip to Turkey, because I did not know the exact date of my final exams (they ended 23 January 2024). I was stopped at O.R. Tambo and had to book a return flight right then and there, otherwise Turkey might not let you go through customs if they do not have proof that you can return to your country. In short, book both your flights before departing.  


Experience at the Host University:

My experience was amazing. I loved every minute of it. The orientation for the international students starts a week before classes start and there, I made many international friends that I spent time with every week.  International students stay in West Campus (which is a 10 min trip from the actual university). All of the international students live there, and the University has shuttles that drive to campus and back continually. I was placed in a room with two Turkish students who became my two Turkish brothers. I lived in a hostel for 8 years of my life before going to Turkey, so I think it was much easier for me to adapt to living in the same room with two other people. I know other students (especially the girls) struggled with this. The rooms are very well designed and has enough space. The buildings and facilities are also in great condition. Tip: Pack for both winter and summer (two bags are enough).  I disliked the fact I could not jog in the streets (due to a lack of space), but West Campus has a 25m swimming pool, so I wore my South African speedo and swam laps every day. Also, the public transport in Turkey is amazing, so you can easily go to the river to jog or walk or sit on a bench.

The campus itself is designed to look like Stanford University. The University is owned by the richest family in Turkey, meaning everything is in great condition, and for example there are charging stations for Tesla’s, a Football field, Ice Rink, Gym, Basketball Courts, and a Tennis Court.  I enrolled for very interesting courses namely, Corporate Finance, FinTech, Python, Turkish, Chess (yes chess, an International Master taught us) and Global Business Strategy. The lecturers are amazing, well-qualified and fun, and they challenged me to think and learn. However, the exams were much easier than Stellenbosch.  


The Koc campus

From all the partner universities I believe Turkey is the cheapest. With the money I was provided by SUI, I managed to pay for my flights to Turkey and back, I went to Erzurum (by plane) and skied for a week, I traveled every other weekend (since public transport is cheap), and I went to Ephesus. Accommodation for four months at Koc was only R25 000 and the living expenses were super cheap. For example, it only cost me R20 for a full meal at the University, which was always very good food. Comparing this to my friends who went to Europe, I can definitely say that South African Rand goes the furthest in Turkey (It cost R0.6 for one Turkish lira when I was in Turkey).

Turkey in my opinion is by far the best option for any exchange student. From riding ferries on the Bosphorus, going to every Museum, eating street food, experiencing a new culture, skiing on the mountain of Palandoken, visiting underground churches in Cappadocia and exploring the streets of Ephesus; Turkey has it all. West Campus can make one feel isolated, so I often took a bus to central Istanbul and just explored. Luckily, the public transport is really amazing, maybe even better than most European countries. I have been to many European countries, and I can say that Turkey has the most to do and see. The further East you go in Turkey, the more local and the better the food becomes. I would recommend everyone to go East. I fell in love with the Turks and their culture the more I spent time with them and the more I understood them.  


Erzurum castle where Kyle went skiing


Return to Stellenbosch:

I deferred my exchange, meaning I do not return to SU. ONE IMPORTANT TIP IF YOU DEFER: If you are planning to do an Honours degree at a different university (UCT for example), you must ensure that you get your marks from your exchange university as soon as possible. It is a lot of admin to get your final academic transcript then, but if you are able to get your marks from your exchange university you can request to receive your final transcript earlier. Graduating in March is also something to bear in mind when deferring.