Serkan Alan / DUVAR

As of March 18, as part of the increased coronavirus precautions, some 2807 people returning to Turkey from nine different European countries have been forcibly settled in student dorms where they will be held in quarantine for 14 days. 

İrem Tulgaroğlu, a student at Ankara’s Middle East Technical University (METÜ) had moved to the German city of Marburg for a semester as an Erasmust student but amid the coronavirus pandemic decided that she wanted to return to Turkey, where she was quarantined in a student dormitory in the Istanbul suburb of Başakşehir. 

“If I can’t even leave to out to the garden during these 14 days, I’m going to have to try to take care of my mind,” Tulgaroğlu said, who explained the whole process beginning with her trip from Germany to Turkey. 

İrem Tulgaroğlu

After two weeks in Marburg, Tulgaroğlu applied to the Turkish consulate for the purpose of returning home, which she ended up doing so in a frenzy: 

“In the middle of the night on March 16 the [consulate authorities] called me and said ‘you have to be at the airport at 7AM and your flight is at 12PM.’ I was in Marburg, which is an hour away from Frankfurt. Since I had to be there at seven in the morning I couldn’t do anything beforehand. I couldn’t move out of the dorm I was in, and I couldn’t even take my money out of the bank,” Tulgaroğlu said, adding that when she boarded the flight, people in quarantine outfits took the temperature of everyone on the plane, and that it was the most difficult flight she had ever taken.   

“When the plane landed there was chaos at the airport, it was as if we had landed into a dystopia. On one hand, however, I was happy that I had returned to Turkey. They took us to the most remote and desolate corner of the airport and made us wait for a long time. Men in white outfits in police vehicles arrived with our luggage and passports. Everyone got their luggage and we boarded buses as if we were headed to refugee camps,” Tulgaroğlu said, adding that everyone from the plane was taken the dormitories in Başakşehir. 

Tulgaroğlu said that she was housed alone in a four-person dorm, and that while there were no problems with hygiene in the dorm, there were staff on every floor, and she would be shouted to go inside if she opened the door. 

Breakfast given to people under quarantine at dorms.

“I went for Erasmus but could only stay for two weeks. One by one everything in Germany closed down and I wasn’t able to go out. Now I’m by myself in a four person room and speaking with a journalist, and this is interesting enough. At the moment I’m not depressed but I am thinking ‘wow, what is going on?’” Tulgaroğlu said.