Turkey's currency crisis hits students studying abroad
Turkish students who are studying abroad are feeling the pain of the sharp depreciation of the Turkish lira against other currencies. Turkish Lira lost over 40 per cent of its value against the U.S. dollar since the beginning of the year, doubling the cost of studying abroad for Turkish students. The recent rapid decline of the Turkish Lira has created considerable anxiety and impact on these both the students and their families.
"It is incredibly difficult to pay for our son's education since the devaluation," says Çiğdem Türk whose son is studying literature in France. "We simply couldn't handle the cost increase. When we couldn't send money, my son offered to take a leave for a semester," Türk said, reporting that his son had to sell his cell phone to buy food.
"We cut most of our spending; we stopped clothes shopping, we don't eat out. We don't even go to the movies anymore. But still, we're having a difficult time paying for our son's educational expenses." Turk said.
Another parent, who wanted to remain anonymous, said that he is worried about being able to pay for his son's educational expenses. His son, who is a high school student in England, was accepted to a prominent British University to study business administration.
"We, as a family, value education. We wanted our son to learn about the world, learn English," he says. But now "I'm distraught," he says, "I am worried that I cannot afford to pay for his college education in England." He says that his son's college costs will be around TL 200,000 ($32,000) per year with the current exchange rate.
A student who called herself ‘Dilek,’ is in New York studying English is worried as well. A Turkish Alawite, ‘Dilek’ said that her family gave all their savings to her. "They said, go away, save yourself," referring to the political turbulence in Turkey.
"My family gave all their life's savings for me to establish a new life in the United States. I wanted to settle here as well. But since the jump in the exchange rate, my family cannot afford to send me any money at all. I had to get a job to support myself. But it is very tough to both work and study. I'm starting to give up the idea of a new life here. I’ve started thinking about returning to Turkey," Dilek said.
Another Turkish student, Pınar, who didn't want us to publish her last name, said that she was babysitting to afford her educational expenses. "It is very difficult, both physically and mentally to work while studying," she said. Pinar said that most Turkish students since the devaluation had to cut on food expenses. "We can't go out to eat or to hang out. We go home to work to school. That's it," she says. She says most students are having a hard time keeping their grades up while working for their tuitions.
Some students have started online fundraising campaigns to face the difficulties of meeting their school expenses due to the slide in their country’s currency. Dila Ekim, a ballet student in Canada, started her own campaign on the Gofundme website. She is trying to raise $ 30,000 and has succeeded in raising $4200 thus far. Dila Ekim said that she is planning to continue her education in Canada this year with the help of this money.
Some other students have made appeals for help on social media websites.
Enes Furkan Aydin, a molecular biology student, tweeted that that he was having a difficult time funding the accommodation costs for the internship program at the Neuroscience Department in Utrecht, the Netherlands, he was accepted to due to the sudden devaluation in the Turkish Lira.
Soon dozens were trying to help, among them Erik Weststrade, the Dutch Ambassador to Turkey.
"I'll ask all of my acquaintances in Utrecht for a place for you to stay," Weststrade tweeted in Turkish to Enes.
Pianist Atlas Tugsel used the social media to help find student to fund her studies as well.
"Hello. I'm a senior at the Department of Music. I am a pianist and cannot afford to pay the tuition fee for the international programme I was accepted. I'm looking for piano students to save some money. Can you pass this message around?" Tugsel tweeted.
Merhabalar. Müzik öğretmenliği son sınıf öğrencisiyim. Piyanistim ve yurtdışında sınavlarına kabul aldığım okulun harç parasını ödeyemiyorum. Piyano dersi verebileceğim öğrenciler arıyorum. Bunu elden ele yayabilir misiniz?— Atlas in my head (@AtlasTugsel) September 11, 2018
Soon thousands retweeted Tugsel's message, many offering to help. Tugsel began teaching the next day with her students praising all the Twitter users that helped.
Öğrencilerim ile piyano derslerine başlayalı tam bir hafta oldu bugün. Teşekkür edemedim kusura bakmayın. Herkese ilgisinden ve pozitif mesajlarından dolayı teşekkür ederim. İyi geceler.— Atlas in my head (@AtlasTugsel) September 20, 2018