by Kerameddin Özyurt
IstKon is a very special name to me. This is due to it being the abbreviation of the names of Istanbul and Konstanz. The first is the city where I was born and where I have been living for 21 years. And the second one is the first place where I have been living far away from my home. In this blogpost I am going to explain my feelings towards Konstanz and Germany from the view of an exchange student from Istanbul.
My German experience
When I was 16 years old, I travelled to Germany and it was my first experience abroad. I stayed in a little town which is close to Cologne and I remember that I thought it to be really tranquil. There was not much going on compared to my hometown with a population of almost 15 million people. This was when I first became acquainted with German culture. In the following years, when I saw Currywurst, biergardens, Münster or Dom, Turkish süpermarkets, mosques, Döner/Kebab restaurants, different kinds of festivities, wastebaskets in front of the houses and the incredible order and the tranquility all around Germany, I understood that these things do not vary from one region to another.
In the years thereafter my interest in the German culture and German language increased. And I can clearly say that most of the German people are very, very debonair and very helpful to the newcomers.
Konstanz, the city of bicycles
With regard to Konstanz, if I had to use only three words to introduce the town, those would be bicycle, university, and Bodensee most probably. This is not strange when you take into account that almost 15 thousand of the inhabitants of this 85 thousand people town are students. For me at first, it was really surprising to see how common it is to use a bicycle in the city. Everybody without exception, even the one-year-old children have a bicycle and the people of Konstanz are using bicycles in multiple ways. You sure can understand me when you see mothers who are towing their baby carriages with their bicycles or bicycles who are towing some trailers. They even have special traffic lights for cyclists. And my last word, Bodensee: It is really common to remember Konstanz by its unique location directly at lake Bodensee. It comes natural when you consider that people spend most of their time with some activities around or in the lake, like swimming, doing boat tours, or hang out at its coast.
Konstanz versus Istanbul
If you are a student who came to Konstanz newly from a metropolis like Istanbul, this might seem a little bit boring at first. But I can definitely say that this first impression is very deceptive. You should let Konstanz show its beauties. Maybe it’s not possible to enjoy a view like on the Bosphorus but you should take a look at the beautiful view from the terrace of the cafeteria at the Uni. It’s really enjoyable to have a drink or something while enjoying the scenery. Yes, you cannot find Istiklal Avenue in Konstanz, but you can walk in the beautiful streets of the Altstadt, the old town, with a lot of cafes and shops. You will not find beaches like the ones in Antalya, but you will be fascinated when you go for a swim at the Hörnle. And there is no Blue mosque in Konstanz, right.. but you should definitely visit the Münster and climb its belfry to see the impressive view of the town.
I could easily cite more examples and tell you about more and more hidden gems in Konstanz. But I don’t want to give it all away for the IstKoners who will visit Konstanz for the first time. Hope to see you all in May!
Sevgilerimle and liebe Grüße,