I recently had the opportunity to visit Turkey as a representative of Oxford English Academy. I attended the ICEF Agent Focus in Istanbul. These events form an integral part of student recruitment for both Higher Education Institutes and Language Travel Schools. Educational Consultancy Agencies from all over Turkey gathered at the Hilton Bosphorus for two days of meetings and networking.

Arriving in the freezing cold was quite an adjustment from the South African summer…the moment I stepped outside my nose went numb! The event kicked off with a seminar in which many interesting facts about the Turkish market were shared, as I did in my previous blog.

I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the market as well as the eagerness to travel and learn abroad. Every agent I met with, and I had nineteen meetings in one day, was very excited about our school and what we offer. The United Kingdom is still the number one destination, and the fact that our school in Oxford offers homestay accommodation within walking distance of our school, was a big selling point.

Of course the trip was not only work because I did get to explore Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir a little. I found everywhere I went people were super friendly and warm. Their English might be broken but they are so eager to converse with you when they realise you aren’t Turkish.

An outing to the nearest pastry shop (oh my, I can get lyrical about the food!) turned into an impromptu English lesson when the shop owner wanted to charge me seventy-five Turkish Lira instead of seven Lira fifty. When he realised his mistake and I realised I didn’t have to fork out my savings for a cheese pastry, we spent the next few minutes practising how to correctly say a few numbers so as not to frighten off the next tourist customer.

I look forward to learning more about Turkish people and their culture, to explore exactly what the needs of students from here are and how we can ensure the ultimate experience for them in our schools. We are very excited to welcome many new students to have the best time of their lives with us!