Meet Zehra Mehpare: A Young Entrepreneur from Galata

Department of Modern Greek Language and Literature was founded as part of Department of Western Languages and Literatures at Ankara University in 1991 and graduated its first students in 1995. Even today, the number of the departments that has Modern Greek Language and Literature in it is only three in Turkey. When we asked about her specific reason to go for that department, “Considering the fact that we have lots of things in common with Greece both historically and geographically, it is not surprising that Greek language and literature is one of the things that attracts us the most, no?”, she replied.

Zehra Mehpare is a 30 years old young woman who majored in the field of “Modern Greek Language and Literature” in Istanbul University. Currently, she has been running her own touristic coffee house which locates at one of the most iconic spots, Galata. In addition to that, she is renting flats for university students.

Read on to learn more about her experience as a student of Modern Greek Language and Literature.

“There were a lot of reasons for me to go for the Modern Greek Language and Literature as a major; but honestly, the moment I has seen the Turkish soap opera “Yabancı Damat”, which was known as “Borders of Love” in Greece, I made my decision for life. When I considered the other factors afterwards, I thought the program just fits me.”

Yabancı Damat, a famous soap opera in Turkey
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“When I got accepted to the department in 2007, there were only two faculties in Turkey which run the Modern Greek Language and Literature program. One of them was in Istanbul and the other locates in capital, Ankara. I went for Istanbul since it was the city I admired the most.”

“It was hard for me to see all those talented instructors who left the department by the time I began. More significantly, the syllabus was not well prepared at all, after the first year which we got used to learn the spoken language, we jumped into the Greek literature in the 17th century for instance. Basically, we had to face with the most difficult subjects until we reached to the senior year. When I think about the revolution of greek language, I can say that changing the order of the topics that are covered in syllabus might be more effective than it is now. Besides, some of my colleagues left the program just because they think it is too hard to adaptive into that system.”

“Our department had a diverse population in it. As far as I know, I had two Armenian and a Cypriot colleague in my class. In the other classes, there were some students from Thessaloniki, who have Turkic roots and lots of people from Cyprus as well. I am pretty sure that we had more.”

“Nowadays, I am not working in a related field but as far as I assume, our graduates have the same kind of opportunities just as the other language and literature students have. Interpretation, tour guidance, translating, private tutorship and moving forward in academy are some of those opportunities that they are able to go for. Recently, Acun Media has been offering lots of positions for our department as well. I, personally, care about communicating with the Greek customers in our coffee shop at Galata and to build friendship with them. I got tons of valuable friends from Greece over years. And dozens of songs, in addition to that!”

“I have been in Greece only for one, I stayed two weeks but it was enough for me to see the intimacy of the locals. Despite the fact that we do not share the same language and both sides has prejudices for each other, the positive vibe was all around so that I felt like I am in my hometown, Izmir (Smyrna). For me, the most inspiring thing was to see that the locals were getting extremely happy when they heard you speaking their mother tongue. They were highly supportive and warm when they see you talking. Those were mostly what I observed in Athens by the way.”

“In Ioannina, however, it was more or less the same. The locals were behaving kind and warm, but I had also some times that I couldn’t understand the way they spoke. They were able to understand me, strangely. When I mentioned this to my friends from Athens, they told me that the way the Ioanninas speak was different than the dialect I heard in Athens.”

“A funny memory has just come into my mind. I had a conversation with a friend from Crete. We were discussing the usage of a Greek word and my friend told me that they do not use such a word in their dialects. When I asked it to another Cretan friend of mine, I learnt that it is actually used in their dialect. Because of all those things, differences and so on, I aim to learn Greek int he most proper and detailed way that is possible and to live in Athens one day.”

“Considering the fact that we have lots of things in common with Greece both historically and geographically, it is not surprising that Greek language and literature is one of the things that attracts us the most, no?”