A north African graduate of the Türkiye Scholarships program provided by the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB) praised the grants, calling them a “great opportunity” for international students who want to study abroad.
“I think the YTB scholarships are a great opportunity for foreign students. I can recommend it not only for Moroccan students but also fellow students from all over the world to study in Türkiye,” Ayoub Salem told Anadolu at the Turkish institution's Istanbul office, near the iconic Taksim Square.
Salem is fluent in Turkish and thanks to Türkiye Scholarships program he came to the country’s largest city in 2010 to study at Istanbul University’s Communication Faculty. He later earned a master’s degree in HR and now is a new media PhD candidate at Istanbul’s Yildiz Technical University.
Noting that these grants are offered to successful students, Salem said: “As part of these scholarships, students are provided accommodation, air tickets, meals, health insurance, and most importantly, internship and job opportunities.”
“I think this is a very good opportunity for students,” said the 34-year-old communications expert who now works for Turkish TRT broadcaster as a producer.
‘Turks felt like my family’
Originally from the northern Moroccan city of Meknes, Salem has been living in Türkiye for over a decade now.
While many Moroccans studying abroad head to France, as their second language is French, he said: “Actually, (originally) the idea of studying in Türkiye never occurred to me. It was a complete coincidence.”
Although he said he was familiar with Ottoman history from his high school years, he said that he applied for the scholarship without really knowing the Turkish language or culture.
Despite all the uncertainties, when Salem arrived in Istanbul, he said he felt like he was at home.
“Turkish people are really good, I felt them like my family. From the very first day, I didn’t feel like a foreigner at all,” he explained.
Noting that Türkiye is a majority-Muslim country, Salem highlighted this as an “important factor” for him to apply for the scholarship. He noted the mosques and hearing the call to prayer in the streets as well as eating halal food made according to Muslim standards.
“These are very important. Some friends who study in Europe don’t experience these. So I’m very lucky,” he said.
YTB greatly contributed to careers
He also mentioned a certificate program on international journalism organized with the cooperation of Anadolu and the YTB in 2015. “This was a great opportunity for me because I benefited from the experiences of the instructors at Anadolu, and this training provided my current career.”
The son of a retired soldier and a housewife, Salem said that he was a busy student while living in Morocco. “When I was in high school, I was attending international conferences abroad.”
Despite having the right to gain Turkish citizenship after living and working in the country for over a decade, Salem has not become a Turkish citizen yet, explaining: “Because I don't live here to get Turkish citizenship, or a passport, I'm here because I love Türkiye.”
“Morocco's economic situation is better at the moment. But here I am, it's like my home now,” he said.
Noting that the YTB has greatly contributed to his career in the media and television industry, he said that the institution opened the door for him to enter the sector.
“This mutual education network also serves as an important bridge between Türkiye and Morocco,” he said. “I hope to see very successful Moroccans in Türkiye in the coming decade.”
Salem, along with his friends, also established a foundation to bring together Moroccan students, or professionals who are living in Türkiye and also act as a bridge for economic, political, and cultural cooperation between the two countries.
They have organized festivals along with the YTB in Istanbul, and their new project focuses on an exchange program for young people from both countries. He also mentioned a cultural event held by Türkiye’s Yunus Emre Insitute in the northern Moroccan city of Tatvan.
Saying that Turkish-Moroccan ties are flourishing thanks to good relations between the two countries, he also said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan invited Moroccan King Mohammed VI to visit Türkiye.
On Tuesday, public scholarship applications opened for international students considering studying at Turkish universities this year.
The Türkiye Scholarships program, also known as Türkiye Burslari, offers a range of programs for undergraduate, graduate, research, and language education opportunities in Türkiye's most prestigious universities for international students and researchers.
Applications for the scholarships, provided by the country's Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB), will be open online until Feb. 20 at the website tbbs.Türkiyeburslari.gov.tr.
Established in 2012, the YTB is responsible for coordinating activities of Turks living abroad and developing relations through economic, social, and cultural activities.
Source: Anadolu Agency