Meet Yasemin: A Turkish Journalist Based in Athens

Yasemin’s fondest memories have been of the times she spent in Izmir (Smyrna). While she was living in Cesme, those remarkable songs she listened on Greek radio had taken her away to another universe.

Read on to get inspired by the story of her life.

A Turkish journalist working in Greece… This is not something we hear every day. How did it all begin?

I had a six month of Erasmus experience in the University of Panteion in 2015. When I graduated from both the Media and Communication and the Advertising programs of Istanbul Bilgi University, I went back to Athens and took the first step to my career under the roof of the foreign news department of the Athens News Agency. Since 2018, I have been continuing my journey as one of the journalists of Euronews Athens. 

How did you learn Greek and when did you start your learning journey?

Ever since I was a kid, I took interest in learning Greek language. I was ready to learn it whatever it costs so that I began taking Modern Greek courses from Sismanoglio Megaro between 2011 and 2014. When I moved here, to Athens, I improved my knowledge by doing daily practice.  My journey of learning Greek has been continuing ever since then. It is a never ending process, especially in terms of a language like Modern Greek.

Why “Athens”?

Besides the factors like Erasmus program and work, I have always wanted to live in Athens. For instance, I am in love with Thessaloniki and in fact, I feel like home there but I guess I wouldn’t get used to live anywhere else apart from Athens.

You must have heard that İzmir and Thessaloniki are called as sister cities since they are alike. What do you think about such comparison?

In my point of view, Izmir (Smyrna) is not the exact copy of Greece but has something in common for sure. The way of living and thinking are mostly similar but there are difference as well. Greek people do not hesitate to spare time and money both for themselves and for their interests. Meeting with their friends, going out for a coffee or dinner with them -at least one or two days of the week- is an ordinary habit of Greece. Turkish people also do the same thing but they are mostly detained by the high cost of living and the tempo of modern life. In Greece, life flows slowly and quietly, whereas in Turkey the situation is completely different. As far as I observe, people have no time to take care of themselves but in Greece, people are luckier in that sense. Nevertheless, I miss being in Turkey most of the time. Even though Greece provides similar cultural patterns, that feeling of speaking in my native language and the taste of sharing the same sense of humor have their own charms.

Have you ever regret moving to another country?

I have never regretted my decision to move here although it has been 5 years since I have come to Athens. It is like a second hometown for me after all unique experiences I gained thanks to the people I met and all those trips I made. I had bunch of wonderful and terrible days but it is a part of our lives and I am glad about that.

When I tell people that my family migrated from Thessaloniki, most of the Greeks say that their parents come from the specific regions of Turkey such as Izmir, Ayvalik and Cappadocia. We have a lot in common and honestly, despite all those tough times we had been trough, the exchange of populations created a unique connection between us. In addition to that, I had the change of knowing considerable amount of people who truly love Turkey and have a huge passion for Turkish language, who put a huge smile on my face.

How about families in Greece and Turkey?

Turkish and Greek families are mainly alike but what I have seen is that the father figures of Turkish families are more dominant and the matter of inter respect is more on top comparing to Greek family structure. Moreover, Turkish families tend to follow the traditions related to marriage, Greek culture could be defined as result-oriented in that manner so that such traditions are less likely to be done. 

On the other hand, family relations are stronger in Greeks. Plus, Greek and Turkish mothers are definitely in the same track. All unities of the families would gather for dinner at the weekends. Various of foods and appetizers stand by ouzo and wine on the tables. Those types of dinners host hours of conversations related to family issues, politics and daily life.

Have you ever faced any discrimination due to your identity?

I have never faced with positive or negative discrimination but it is possible to see some people who have a negative Turk image on their minds.

Do you see any difference between being a woman in Greece, in Turkey and in the rest of the world?

I feel comfortable as a woman in Greece. As long as I am in Athens, I had a lot of nights that I go out with my female friends and went back home late but I have never get disturbed. I can say that gender equality situation in Greece is better. At least, here, women are more independent since the fear of being judged by the others is less common.

Both Greece and Turkey have their own inspiring artists. Could you count some names that inspires you personally?

I was used to be a huge fan of Antonis Remos when I was 17 and I still like listening his songs. Apart from him, Yannis Kotsiras, Eleftheria Arvanitaki, Giannis Parios, Antonis Vardis, Pix Lax, Eleonora Zouganeli are the ones that I like in terms of Greek music. Also, I really like listening Turkish singers such as Sezen Aksu, Sertab Erener, Tarkan and Birsen Tezer.

  • Favorite Greek Dish: Pastitsio
  • The place that she feels belong in Greece: The island of Kimolos. 
  • Best memory in Greece: That summer night when I watched the sunset with the sound coming out of waves in the island of Kimolos.
  • Worst memory in Greece: I guess the times that I have to deal with bureaucratic stuff.
  • Favorite Greek movie: Theo Angelopoulos- Eternity and a Day
  • Favorite Greek song: Hard to choose one but “Antonis Remos – Monos Mou” is my favorite. 
  • Favorite Turkish Dish: Mantı. 
  • The place that she feels belong in Turkey: Izmir. 
  • Best memory in Turkey: Our weekend trips to Urla, Seferihisar, Cesmealti with my family, when I was a child. 
  • Favorite Turkish song: Actually, there is a lot but I could say “Tarkan – Kış Güneşi” is the best one.
  • Favorite Turkish movie: Dedemin İnsanları by Cagan Irmak.