“There are two types of people: peach and coconut. Peach people are soft, very friendly, and talkative outside but very reserved inside. Coconut people have a shell that is hard to crack, but once you crack that shell, they are very warm and nice. I grew up in Turkish culture, in which people are mostly peach type. Lithuanians, on the other hand, are coconut,” says Eylul Guleryuz, studying Informatics at Kaunas University of Technology (KTU).
GIFTed Talent Academy student, the only girl in her class, Eylul says that all over the world women are more and more often choosing computer science as their major. Thus, soon, there will be definitely more women in this field.
“Although it’s quite strange that I am the only girl in my class, it is not a matter of being special – I chose informatics by myself and any other woman can do that. Luckily, many organisations focus on women in technology in Lithuania, and all around the world. Yes, currently, women are not a majority in IT, but this is changing, and I am glad that I am a part of this change,” says Guleryuz.
Eylul found Kaunas University of Technology while looking for affordable education in Europe and was attracted by the university’s competencies in computer science studies and research. Also, she was impressed by the career opportunities available in Lithuania and the fact that Kaunas is a European Capital of Culture in 2022.
“Soon, it was quite easy to imagine me at KTU campus!” says the young computer scientist.
A sophomore KTU student of informatics, Eylul started using a computer when she was three. All through her primary and secondary school, the girl was helping her friends and teachers who had IT-related problems.
“During my high school years, I created a website for a conference that I organised and in my free time, I attended coding workshops. So, it was no surprise that I chose to study computer science for my bachelor’s,” says Guleryuz.
Although BSc Informatics is a demanding study programme – Eylul says that there are some weeks, when she has to complete up to five assignments – the girl has time not only for KTU ambassador and GIFTed activities but also for tutoring first-year students.
“I have been a tutor at GUIDed for 1.5 years – I provide consultations on the modules I took in the previous semesters and finished with excellent grades,” says Eylul.
The talented programmer admits that she has a passion for visual arts, which she is planning to pursue in her master’s. At present, Eylul is exploring her creative side by filming, editing and creating visual effects for her projects in KTU VideoShot club.
“While still in high school, I took high-level visual arts classes. This allowed me to prepare a portfolio of 20 artworks and participate in 3 exhibitions by the end of high school. In my master’s I want to study computer arts and then finally combine all the experience and background I have in IT and visual arts,” says a KTU student from Turkey.
One of the things that she enjoys most at KTU is being a part of the GIFTed Talent Academy into which the best 20 students from various fields are chosen each year. These students are provided with the opportunities to develop their personal and professional competencies through teamwork, additional high-level modules, challenges, and cooperation with professionals.
With her GIFTed team, Eylul participated in Project Management Championship National Finals 2021, and Hospiton.DigitalHealth 2021, where they won third place. According to the student, both competitions offered great chances to improve teamwork and time management skills. However, the most important aspect of GIFTed is its community.
“I had made amazing like-minded friends that I would probably have never been able to meet otherwise. I would recommend all the prospective students to try their chance by applying to the GIFTed in the first semester of the first year,” encourages Guleryuz.
In her first year, from the 20 students selected for GIFTed, only three were international students. This made Eylul get to know Lithuanians better. In her opinion, although at the first glance Lithuanians may appear distant, this impression soon disappears.
“There is a metaphor I like about the two types of people: peach and coconut. Peach people are soft, very friendly, and talkative outside but very reserved inside. Coconut people have a shell that is hard to crack so they seem cold and unfriendly but once you crack that shell, they are very warm, friendly, and nice inside. I grew up in Turkish culture, in which people are mostly peach type. Lithuanians, on the other hand, are coconut. So, until I got used to this, I had some problems but now I know the culture better and appreciate it!” says Eylul.
Another challenge for the vegan student was related to Lithuanian cuisine, as it is mainly meat and dairy-focused. Everything got easier when she learned basic grocery words.
For the student coming from Istanbul, (whose population is six times larger than that of Lithuania!), Kaunas seems cosy and very green.
“Within 10 minutes walk, you can find yourself in a beautiful park. If you feel more adventurous, you can get on a bus and in 20 minutes you will be in nature. When you call your friends, you can say: let’s meet at X place in 30 minutes. Because it takes a maximum of 30 minutes to go anywhere in the city,” smiles Eylul.
She says that living in such a small and beautiful city feels like a paradise to her, and if she misses active big-city life, she can easily travel to the capital, Vilnius.
The trip only takes 1.5 hours by train.
As a KTU ambassador, Eylul has advised more than 100 students, and some of them have already joined the KTU international students’ community.
“I know that I succeeded when I hear positive feedback from the students that I talk with, and, even better, when I meet them online and see them at the
KTU campus in the next semester,” says the active student from Turkey, who says that she has always liked to advise others.
She recommends KTU as a university, which appreciates students’ efforts and hears out their opinions – the staff is very helpful and understanding. Also, Eylul encourages all to use the opportunities that the university provides.
“Look for information, follow the deadlines and ask questions from the responsible people. For example, KTU GUIDed has a career mentorship programme. I have a career mentor who helps me a lot to figure out what path I want to take, motivates me not to give up, and guides me with her experiences,” says Eylul.
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