Where did you study before coming to Bucerius Law School?
I studied law at Marmara University in Istanbul which is 4 hours away from my lovely hometown called Edirne.
How is studying different here?
I think I can give a fairly comprehensive answer to this question because as far as I can see there are many fundamental differences. First of all, if you are studying law at a state university in Turkey, you usually study in classes of at least 100-200 people or even more sometimes. Therefore, due to the crowded class, the teacher just gives the lectures and leaves and there is no active discussion environment with the students like here.
The education system in Turkey is based on the memorization of information given by the teachers to the students. Things such as reading before class or writing a paper as an assignment are almost completely foreign to me. The fact that exam papers are anonymous and therefore read objectively by the lecturer is something I have never encountered before. At my university, your name and surname were always clearly written on the papers and this was sometimes the subject of discussions when the grades were announced.
In addition, in Turkey, there is usually a hard wall between the lecturers and the students, and it is much easier to communicate with the lecturers and reach them in Germany.
What do you find to be the biggest challenge when living in Germany?
Unlike many people, I did not have any problems with the famous German bureaucracy and I can say that I was lucky in this regard. In fact, I can't say that I have experienced very big challenges. I am used to very fast online banking services in Turkey, and it normally takes seconds to transfer money and realize the transaction, here these transactions take a few days.
So as I said, there is not a big issue, I just pay attention to paying my rent two or three days before the last minute. Also, since everyone goes out and socializes on Sundays in Turkey, it still seems strange to me that the streets are empty, everywhere is closed, and extremely quiet here.
How does your experience in Turkish law benefit you academically?
The Turkish Commercial Code and the Code of Obligations were prepared on the basis of German and Swiss law. Therefore, apart from some differences, many provisions are similar. Therefore it was not that challenging to understand the legal concepts and legislation since I am really familiar with them.
Only German law peculiarities can be challenging to understand sometimes. Having similar laws both academically and professionally allows me to understand the concepts explained in the courses much more easily and to apply them more easily in business life.
How do the experiences you made abroad influence you?
I think having worked or studied in another country before gives you a comparative perspective that can be useful in your professional career. Before joining the MLB program, I did Erasmus, so I gained a comparative perspective there for a short time. However, in this program, I had to compare not only different legal systems and practices but also business and legal perspectives.
I feel like when you go abroad after studying or working in your own country, another layer is built on the base that what you have learned and experienced there.
Do you plan to work in a field that connects Turkish and German law and business?
I am planning to work in the international arbitration field since I am also doing my specialization on International Commercial Arbitration in MLB Program. As I mentioned in my previous answer, Turkish and German law is very similar, especially in areas such as the law of obligations, commercial law, and bankruptcy law.
Business-wise, Germany is its number one partner of Turkey in fields such as foreign trade, financial and technical cooperation, and the defense industry. In 2020, Germany was its biggest trade partner of Turkey.
The frequent commercial relations between Turkey and Germany naturally lead to a number of disputes. Considering that many commercial disputes involving Turkish and German parties are resolved through international arbitration, I will be already working in a field that connects Turkish and German law and business.
Where do you see challenges arising in the future regarding that relationship?
First of all, I hope any challenges do not arise in the future. Turkish and German law and business relationship is well established and strong. However, there might challenge regarding the modernization of the Turkey-EU Customs Union with regard to forthcoming trade deals.
Especially when there are enormous challenges for the business sector such as recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and disruption of the supply chains, I think modernization is really important for Turkey’s integration into global value chains.
What can we do to address these challenges?
I think further talks and cooperation between countries can be helpful at this point.
How do you like living in Hamburg?
Hamburg is absolutely an exquisite city and the quality of life seem very high. I have lived in Istanbul, Budapest and Rome before. I think the biggest difference from other cities I have lived in is that Hamburg is less chaotic and organized.
Although Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany, you don't feel the rush in big cities. I love the fact that there are parks in many parts of the city and that the lakeside has a wonderful view. And also seeing squirrels on campus makes me very happy for some reason. But of course, I can't answer this question without complaining about the weather. I am still learning how to dress properly in winter. A little more sun would be nice.
Gizem, thanks for the interview