BY NAUSHERWAN AZIZ (MAN/III)
Name: Mohamed Jamal Bakali Tahiri
Country of Origin: Morocco
What do you like best about Turkey?
What I like most about Turkey is the huge amount of diversity in almost every aspect. For example, no city in Turkey is the same; each place has something different to offer and its own flavor. Not to forget the diversity I’ve encountered among people, as I’ve gotten to know many people with different views, which has really enriched my perspective.
Are there any similarities between Turkey and your home country?
Both Morocco and Turkey are geographically diverse, as you can find every possible landscape in both countries (huge forests, vast deserts, snowy mountains…). Another similarity is that both Moroccans and Turks are very patriotic, I’ve noticed, as we take any matter in regard to our countries to the heart.
What will you miss most about Bilkent/Turkey?
I’ll miss the social relationships and how easy it is to strike up conversations with total strangers who soon become close friends. Another less appealing aspect I’ll actually miss is how Bilkent pushes me out of my comfort zone on a consistent basis.
What’s your favorite place on campus, and why?
As odd as it may seem, my favorite place is the Dormitory 74 (my dorm) common/study area. It’s the place where I’ve gotten to meet many brilliant people, mostly upperclassmen, with whom I’ve had some memorable conversations from which I learned a lot; it’s also the first place that felt like home after I left my hometown.
What’s your favorite Turkish food and/or favorite part of Turkish culture?
My favorite foods are definitely baklava, midye and İskender. No order of preference, as they all make me feel I’m in another dimension when eating them. When it comes to culture, I really like how Turkish people seem overly serious at first but gradually become the warmest people you could find as they get to know you better.
Where do you expect to see yourself 10 years from now?
Hopefully I’ll be holding a PhD in clinical psychology and starting a career as a clinical psychologist, and, more importantly, contributing to people’s lives in a positive way.
What’s the hardest challenge you’ve handled in Turkey?
As much as I find Turkish to be beautiful and fascinating, learning it is quite a challenge for me. So it’s made my communication with the local people quite limited, especially outside Bilkent. However, the good side is that it’s helped me improve my sign language.
What cities have you visited in Turkey?
I’ve only visited three cities so far: Ankara, İstanbul and Çanakkale. My favorite one is probably Çanakkale, as it gave me chill vibes and also its beautiful sea scenery reminded me of my hometown.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I’m always the last one among my friends to finish eating, and also I’m approximately 1.95m tall (not sure if that counts as hidden)
What’s an interesting question or comment you hear frequently at Bilkent/in Turkey?
At Bilkent I always hear how the academics are hard and challenging (I myself am guilty of saying this). When it comes to Turkey, the people from my country always ask me if Turkish people are as beautiful as they’re portrayed in Turkish TV series, which I respond to with a big “yes.”
Describe yourself in three words.
Peaceful, observant, aspirer.
If you could master any skill, which one would you choose, and why?
Bulletproof concentration is a skill I’d really like to acquire, as I believe that our “salvation” lies in fully living our present moment, and, yeah, I think it would also permit me to finish my assignments more quickly, instead of letting my thoughts wander all over the place.