Zeynep Kolemen is from Turkey, and studied at ELC Santa Barbara for 21 weeks in our Semi-Intensive Plus Course. Zeynep has influenced so many of us at ELC, is known for speaking her mind, and is ready to embrace whatever adventures are awaiting her! We’re glad she will remain close as she applies for local colleges! Wherever you go, Zeynep, we’re cheering you on!
Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey.
Tell me about Istanbul.
Istanbul is a really beautiful city that connects European and Asian continents. We have three bridges to connect the two continents. It’s like the San Francisco Golden Gate bridge. It’s a huge bridge that connects Europe and Asia. Our culture is more like European culture. When I say I’m from Turkey, people think I live in the desert, but when you look at Turkey’s pictures, it’s green, we have mountains… Most of the people are Muslim, but we’re not as strict. We have many people who are Muslim, Jewish, Christian — Istanbul is a mixed religion city. We have many churches, synagogues, temples. There are many kinds of people from all over the world. And we have a sea — the Sea of Maramara. It’s between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.
Wow! Istanbul sounds very interesting. So then what do you for fun?
In Turkey, I love to spend my time with my friends. I love to go to the cinema. I love to go bowling. I’m not a party girl. I have never been to Isla Vista. I don’t like this kind of thing. I love being with my friends. I love having fun with them.
You’ve never been to Isla Vista?
I’ve been but I’ve never attended any parties. I just saw them.
What about in the US? What do you like to do for fun?
I love to go on trips. Las Vegas, San Francisco…
What’s your favorite city?
Los Angeles. I don’t like San Francisco because it’s like a roller coaster to drive a car there. I was like always screaming and there’s a parking problem. But I love LA. I don’t like the traffic, but I used to have traffic in Istanbul so it’s normal for me. It’s not a big city. Because Istanbul’s a big city. We have 13 million people!
What do you miss most?
Of course, food. I always cook food at my house but again the taste is not the same because I know american food — you use genetically-modified food. Everything tastes different. You cannot feel the nature even if I tried to eat natural things. I pay more here, but in Turkey we have many bazaars or farmers’ markets. We directly eat farm-to-table, not like from a supermarket. And also the taste of the water is really different.
What’s next then? What’s after ELC?
After ELC, City College!
What will you study?
I’m planning to study marketing.
What attracts you to marketing?
I graduated from textile engineering so I used to work at a textile company but I worked with machines. But I don’t want to work with machines again. I want to work with people. Maybe in the future I can create my own brand name, my own fashion brand, maybe clothes. I want to be like a CEO or manager so I need marketing. I love organizing things. In Turkey when our teachers gave us homework, we were a group of people five people sometimes and we didn’t know which part we should do. So I always say, you are good at that thing so you should do this, you should this, so we should separate. I’m the kind of person who organizes everything.
Are you ready to spend the next few years in California?
Yeah. But if I go to Los Angeles or San Francisco, there are many Turkish restaurants and markets. I will miss my friends or family in Turkey but with What’s App, Facetime, you can always connect with your family. So I will never be as homesick cause my brother is here so I will always have a part of my family here, so I will never be alone.
And what advice will you give students who want to learn English?
I think if they have a favorite music, for example, if you like Avril Lavigne, I used to listen to her music when I was in high school and I didn’t know any words or lyrics of this song, but I sang the words and then I realized today when I listened, I understood everything. When I write, I just write what I heard and I compared them with the lyrics. It’s good to practice your listening, your writing, and how you pronounce everything.