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Volume 6, Number 13
20 December 1999

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Meet New Bilkenters
Vera Weidemann is a graduate student at Bilkent who has come from Germany for her Master's degree in Political Science. She graduated from Georg-August University in Göttingen, where she received her undergraduate degree in Social Sciences, an interdisciplinary field of study that consists of economics, law, political science, and intercultural didactics, the latter being a new branch of the social sciences that brings research into teaching and learning together.

Vera is one of the liveliest and most cheerful people you could hope to meet. Her eyes radiate life and energy. She is originally from a small village of 1800 inhabitants called Hedemünden. When it comes to describing her hometown, she indicates that she does not like stereotypes and says, "In Turkey, when I say I'm German, people ask me about Oktoberfest and beer. Yes, we like them, but our lives do not revolve around them. In fact, our lives are not much different from the lives of Turks."

She came to Turkey because she was interested in Middle Eastern politics and Turkey was closer to Europe in language and culture. Since her background is in Social Sciences, she can't help comparing the social system in Turkey with that of Germany. "In Germany," she says, "the social system functions somewhat differently and the gap between the rich and poor is not as big as it is in Turkey." Vera thinks that Bilkent is quite similar in structure to universities in Germany but she also believes that the environment at Bilkent University is very different from the rest of Turkey. "Bilkent reflects westernization in Turkey with all the shops, cafes, and people trying to be European, so at first sight I was so surprised, as I was expecting something totally different. But after a while you start to realize the differences, such as the inequality between men and women, the social inequalities and hierarchy in society." She says that Turkey has become more European after Atatürk but religion continues to tie it to the Middle East.

Vera is planning to work in the German parliament as an exchange program coordinator and political speechwriter. She has already completed two internships in the office of the head of the German parliament as steps to achieving her goals. Another option for her is to work in an international organization and "be paid for travelling!"

Hande Yedidal (IR/IV)

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