Interview with Evrim Üstünlüoğlu

Evrim is the Head of the School of Foreign Languages and everyone knows that the foreign languages in Izmir University of Economic very essential. We had a lovely conversation with Evrim, who is one of the nicest people in the school, about her life.

Where were you born? How was your childhood?

Actually, I was not born in Izmir. I was born in Kırklareli and my father worked for the government, which meant that we had to travel all the time during my childhood. I went to the first grade in one town, and I started the second in the grade another town. When the “party” changed we started picking up everything. It was nice, it was difficult, and it was tough, but I really enjoyed travelling. It was wonderful, really. I liked it.

Which university did you graduate from and which department?

I went to 9 Eylül University, and I studied in the English Language Teaching department. I wanted to be a teacher. I really believed that I was born to be a teacher. Later, I did my MA at Bilkent University for one year and my last stop was at Marmara University of Educational Sciences, I did my PhD degree there.

Do you have any interesting experiences from your university life? Would you share one with us?

Yes! It was a methodology lesson and in that lesson my teacher asked me to take the role of a very strict teacher, so I planned my lesson and I was a teacher. I entered the classroom with a stick and started shouting at everybody in the classroom: “HEY! YOU! LOOK AT ME! I AM TELLING YOU! STAND UP! I AM YOUR TEACHER!” And I just tried to teach the lesson like a very strict and harsh teacher. Having spent 15 minutes in that strict teacher mood, I asked the students (my classmates) how they felt about that kind of teacher. They just said that it was so interesting being in that role and that they were not going to be a teacher like that. It was nice.

You have been in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and a lot of other cities. Which one do you like the most?

I love Izmir. I spent a lot of time in different cities. I have been to Balıkesir, Muğla, Gaziantep, but I fell in love with Izmir because I believe that and I whole-heartedly say this, Izmir is the best city for a woman. I feel free here because whenever I want, I can go out, I can wear whatever I would like to put on, so I feel free, simply, I feel free in Izmir.

We did a little bit of research. We know that you have two children and one of them has graduated from IUE. Was it easy for her to find a job?

It was not. Yes, she graduated from the Industrial Engineering department two years ago. She was a successful student and I knew that she would find a job very easily. I thought that if a student was very successful, and if a student finishes a good department, it would be so easy to find a job, but it did not happen like that. She finished the university two years ago and for one year, she looked for a job. It was not because she did not like any of the jobs. I mean, she couldn’t find anything and she tried some part-time jobs. She tried to gain some experience and she felt so sad and so unhappy. She questioned herself “Why did I study four years at a university? Look at what I am doing; I am sitting at home and doing nothing.” After one year she found a job in Istanbul and she looks quite happy right now. She did not study any computer sciences or software sciences, but now what she is doing is completely in the computer sciences. It has nothing to do with industrial engineering, but she has to earn some money and stand on her own feet.

If you were not the Head of the School of Foreign Languages, which job would you like to do?

Actually, it is not my profession. I am a teacher. Being a director doesn’t mean this is my profession. I started here as a teacher because I love teaching, and so I think I would be a teacher again. I can’t think of any other job that I would be interested in doing. I love what I’m doing, I love being with the students and I love going into the classroom, because it is a wonderful feeling to be with young souls, and they keep you dynamic and up-to-date with everything.

Is it hard to work with young students?

Sometimes it is -I am sure you have heard all these cliché sentences from everyone you have interviewed- because it is so difficult to understand this generation. You were born into technology and we are not ‘technology’ people. We are a different generation and it is not very easy to build a bridge between you and us. Your expectations and ours, and your needs and our needs are not always the same, but we try to understand each other.