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Leap Day - Part I


A chaotic beautiful juxtaposition of Turkish life and culture. An old blue Renault 12 symbolises the current state of Turkish life, rundown and beaten but still going strong, contrasting with traditional handmade terracotta pottery symbolising the beauty and powerful cultural heritage of the Turkish people.
A chaotic beautiful juxtaposition of Turkish life and culture. An old Renault 12 symbolizes the current state of Turkish life, rundown and beaten but still going strong, contrasting with traditional handmade terracotta pottery symbolizing the beauty and powerful cultural heritage of the Turkish people.

How did you spend your leap day this year? I hope you got the most out of it, because you know, the next one won’t happen for four years, so you better not have missed enjoying this one. 


Well, I spent most of it in front of my computer being on-site interviewed by the math department of a university in the US. As you all (the three or four people who read my posts regularly) remember in my latest blog I mentioned a lecture I gave in early September, which the attendees all enjoyed very much. Shortly after that lecture, I was invited to apply for a tenure-track assistant professor position. 


The application process was quite stressful. As a non-US PhD holder, I did my very best to prepare an excellent application package to stand out from the other candidates. In every document I provided, I aimed to make connections between me and the job advertisement. With complete silence, I tailored every word as if I were working on a haute couture for a customer whose identity is well-guarded. I kept myself to myself, my goals quiet, my progress not broadcasted. 


I submitted my application on the 17th of December. Then on January 26, I got an email from the Head of the Search Committee who was pleased to inform me that my name had been placed on their shortlist. I was so surprised, as every previous application had ended in rejection, that I had to reread the email to make sure I didn’t misunderstand. 


As an academic, I have been interviewed for postgraduate, for thesis defences, and for both tenure track and tenure jobs. However, all these interviews took place within the Turkish paradigm in which the questions you are asked are framed according to the committee´s preconceived ideas. This time, as an outsider, I didn’t even know how to prepare. Thank God though, I had YouTube where I could look for videos with titles varying from “First Round Interview Strategies That Work” to “You Got Shortlisted, Now What?”


According to all the videos I watched, I came up with a couple of questions that I thought I might be asked: 1) What made you apply to this position? 2) Tell us about your research. 3) What is your teaching philosophy? 4) Tell us about your future research plans. 5) How are you going to get funding?


On February 5, I was ready for the 30-minute Zoom interview which, indeed, started with them asking the reason why I made the application. Every professor had a prepared question that they were going to ask each candidate in the exact same way. This interview was quite difficult to deal with. Not because of the questions, but because of the committee acting completely neutral which made me struggle to read the room and adjust my sails. When it was done, I felt like I would probably fail. The next email I was going to get would be to inform me that my application would not be selected for further consideration. “It was still good to experience something like this,” I thought to myself and started waiting for the bad news. 


But, guess what! On February 13, I got an email, this time, from the Head of the Department, which invited me for a full-day on-site interview. We agreed to meet on Zoom to discuss the dates and logistics for the interview. The date was easy to discuss. The logistics, though, were impossible to discuss since I was unable to travel to the US due to the lack of a valid visa. I could apply for a new one, but the waiting time to get a visitor visa interview from the US consulate in Istanbul was 494 days! 494 days!!! When I checked other nearby countries to see if there was any difference, I realised that the waiting time for the same type of visa was 1 day in Baku, around 15 days in Athens, and around 30 days in Sarajevo. 


To be continued. 


April 2024, Mersin.



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