Betül was raised in Echinos (Şahin), which takes place in Xanthi (Ξάνθη / İskeçe). After completing her primary education in the Minority Primary School of Echinos as a bilingual child, she was sent to Istanbul by her parents.
Read on to see how it feels to live in both sides of the Aegean.
“The education at the minority school was inadequate, my parents were not satisfied as well. In order for me to get better conditions and opportunities, they sent me to my aunt’s place in Istanbul when I was 12. When I look back over my life, I am pleased to have a life like this. Independently of where they are, children deserves having quality in their education as it is fundamental.”
“Today, the ongoing issue of minority education is still exist. When I first came to my school in Turkey, I found myself in a class that consists of 44 other students in a sudden, whereas in Echinos we were only 13. It was a tough period for me as a kid. In high school, the conditions became better and I felt like I got used to live in Turkey in some way as long as I learnt how to get benefit from the opportunities of Istanbul. I liked the city by discovering it by myself and experienced being an independent individual in an early stage of my life.”
“I was specialized in the field of foreign languages in high school; however it put me in a disadvantageous position in YÖS examination, which is designed predominantly quantitative -for foreign students wishing to study in higher education institutions in Turkey. At that time, I was willing to involve in one of the departments of international relations in a city that I am bounded to, in Istanbul; but when the results did not allow me to do so, I changed my plans and applied for the department of Modern Greek Language and Literature at Istanbul University. In fact, I was not ready to give up my first choice so that I enrolled for a second university to study international relations. After completing the program, I applied for the department of Political Science and International Relations at Istanbul University as a graduate student and got my degree. Hereby, I have never loosen my ties neither to Istanbul nor to my family. I spent all my holidays with my family in Greece, honestly, I was missing Greece every second of my life in Istanbul; ironically, it was a double sided feeling which made me dream of Turkey when I was in Greece as well. At the end I realized that inevitably, I belong to both Greece and Turkey.”
“Being a bilingual has a positive impact on my life for sure, but sometimes I still feel like I have trouble in expressing myself and the reason mainly stem from the primary education that I took. More specifically, neither Turkish nor Greek were taught in a satisfactory manner.”
“Related to my concerns about not feeling complete in terms of education, I have always went for more instead of imposing limits on myself. I guess the thing I like the most is to translate from Greek to Turkish so that I prefer defining my occupation as translator. I took part in a project which is funded by The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) in the past and afterwards, did some academic researches in the matter of Turkish-Greek relationship. Even my dissertation was all about the political cartoons of Turkey and Greece. Although I still pursue my interest in the same academic field, nowadays I welcome the internship and relevant opportunities in media and communication sector.”
“I define myself as a person who lives in the intersection of two sets and it is an awesome experience. I do truly love both sides and try enjoying their glories. In other words, I can say that I have a deep connection with these two countries.”
“I love Turkey and my interest in Turkish Literature has increased recently. Not to mention, Greek Literature is also rich in content and I feel the same passion for it. Diving deeper into the literary texts and getting inspired by the authors are the indispensable part of my daily routine. In a similar way, my music taste is shaped by this duality.”
The place where she feels belong: Xanthi in Greece, Istanbul in Turkey.
Worst times: I wanted to went on a trip to Thessaloniki after a long time for a few days with a group of friends and it coincided with the strike of street cleaners, which causes a musty smell all around the town. Besides, it was an extremely hot period of the year. Seeing a place I like in such condition frustrated me.
Best times: Were experienced in Thessaloniki, too.