BY YAREN SAĞLIK (TRIN/III)
Name: Jung Heun Yang
Department: International Relations
Country of Origin: South Korea
What do you like best about Turkey?
I’ve lived in Turkey for a really long time, because my parents moved to Turkey to work when I was young. Throughout my childhood, I was able to experience and learn about the Turkish culture. I would spend evenings watching Turkish TV series and playing Okey and tavla with my family and friends. My favorite memories of Turkey are from the Turkish middle school that I attended. At first it was very hard getting adjusted to a new school, but my Turkish friends were so hospitable and nice to me. So, in a short time I was able to go eat lahmacun and çiğ köfte with my friends, play Uno and sing karaoke when the teachers didn’t come to class.
Are there any similarities between Turkey and your home country?
There are a lot of similarities between Turkey and South Korea. I’ve noticed that both countries are communal cultures where family and friend groups are really important and emphasized. Also, giving food or presents to neighbors is a common thing in both countries.
What will you miss most about Bilkent/Turkey?
I think I’ll miss the everyday things at Bilkent. I’ll definitely miss going to the Dormitories Sports Hall and playing basketball or working out by myself or with my friends. I’ll also miss the days when I was too lazy to cook in my dorm, so I ordered cajun or pizza with my roommate and ate it while watching TV shows. I’ll miss a lot of things about Turkey. Because my home is here, I’ll miss my home and the friendships that I made here at Bilkent as well as throughout my childhood.
What’s your favorite place on campus, and why?
My favorite place on campus is the hill below Dorm 76 and Bilka. I’ve been able to have many conversations with my close friends there; I’ve also enjoyed singing, taking photographs and just having fun sitting on the grass. I think the hill offers a beautiful view of Ankara, from the sunset to the shining stars and city lights of the night.
What’s your favorite Turkish food and/or favorite part of Turkish culture?
My favorite Turkish foods are kuzu şiş and sarma. Besides the food, I love how Turkish people are always so willing to greet each other and say “Hi.” I think it’s really nice when people say “Hi” and “How are you?” to strangers and “Kolay gelsin” to people that they see working.
Where do you expect to see yourself 10 years from now?
In ten years, I hope to find myself finished with a master’s or possibly even a PhD program in Europe or the United States.
What’s the hardest challenge you’ve handled in Turkey?
The hardest challenge was going to a Turkish middle school. At the beginning, everything was so difficult because I only knew how to say really simple phrases and sentences. Studying Turkish history, literature and sociology was a real struggle. However, I soon picked up the language, thanks to my young age, and made precious friendships and memories during that time.
What places have you visited in Turkey, and which one is your favorite?
I’ve visited a lot of cities and provinces in Turkey: İstanbul, Nevşehir, Bodrum, İzmir, Hatay, Antalya and many more. My favorite city in Turkey is Antalya. During the summers when my family doesn’t visit Korea, we go to Antalya for vacation.
Do you have any hidden talents?
If I had a talent I would definitely not let it stay hidden. But one talent that I think I have is singing.
What’s an interesting question or comment you hear frequently about Bilkent/Turkey?
When I tell people that I go to Bilkent, they’re surprised and happy for me, because Bilkent is one of the top universities in Ankara. Besides this, people are surprised that there are two Starbucks on campus. Also, because Bilkent is an English-medium university, I get asked a lot about the academic system and what it’s like to study at Bilkent with Turkish and international instructors and students.