Student Spotlight: Melis Yılancı

Melis Yılancı
AMER 2023
DAAD-TEV Master’s Scholarship Recipient

AMER’s top-ranking student for 2023 and recent Bilkent graduate shares her experiences applying for the DAAD-TEV Master’s Scholarship and finding out she was one of only 45 student recipients of the award in Turkey. She is heading to Freie University in Berlin in the fall.


Q: Tell us about the DAAD-TEV Master’s Scholarship and what the application process was like.

The DAAD-TEV Master’s Scholarship is given by organizations in both Germany and Turkey for basically all subjects. It is awarded only to 45 Turkish students every year. The scholarship covers the master’s education for up to two years and amounts to around €25,000.

The first stage of the application process was through the TEV application portal. It required my transcript, two reference letters, IELTS result, and essays about my past accomplishments and future plans. This process was not as challenging as I thought it would be. After a few weeks, I was called for an interview with a committee consisting of TEV and DAAD members.

Before the interview, I had to apply separately through the DAAD portal. In the interview, they asked me questions about why I want to go to Germany, what I hope to do afterwards, and the relationship I have with Germany and German culture. In addition, I was asked a few questions in German, which I believe helped me get the scholarship, not because I am a great German speaker but because I showed the courage to speak it in such a stressful situation.

Q. What was it like to hear that you were actually a recipient of this prestigious award?

I was with a friend when I got the result of the interview, and I was in pure disbelief and beyond happy, immediately calling my parents and sister. Over the last few years, I would go from periods of self-confidence to self-doubt due to personal issues in my life. I loved studying AMER and somehow, it did not feel like a chore but even a form of escape from all my problems, but sometimes I would think to myself whether I could really go forward in this field and achieve the success I have dreamt of despite being in the Humanities. Once I found out that I would be receiving this huge funding for all of my master’s education, I got my confidence back. Now, I can just remind myself that I was one of 45 people from several fields awarded this scholarship, and it is only the beginning for me to prove myself as a humanities student and scholar.

What do you hope to do with the scholarship funds?

The scholarship’s financial aspect is going to help me immensely in the next two years. The DAAD also covers a two-month German course in August and September that will also encourage me to focus on improving my German more than anything else and help me adapt to life in Germany before the semester begins in October.

I am actually mostly focused on the intangible aspect of the scholarship and the support and mind relief it will provide me with. Being a DAAD scholarship holder in Germany is going to be helpful for my visa process, my adaptation to life in Germany, and any questions I might have regarding the challenging bureaucratic processes in Germany as a non-EU citizen.

Although I do not yet know which university I will be studying at, my future plans are surely based on an academic career. I want to go on to do a PhD either in Germany or the United States. No matter how difficult it could be to embark on a career as an academic, I will not give up trying until the end. As my senior project research at Bilkent focused on right-wing populism in the United States, I want to do further research on left- and right-wing versions of populism in America, perhaps comparing them with Germany or Turkey. I also hope to combine my major field with my other interests in political science and international relations.

Q. How did being a student in AMER at Bilkent prepare you for this process?

To be honest, I applied to the scholarship only because my father told me to just go for it when I realized the application deadline was extended. Initially, I did not want to apply because I thought I would never get it. I was extremely shocked when I was called for an interview, let alone thinking of being awarded the scholarship. I was surprisingly not anxious for the interview until the morning of it. I believe the reason for it is that I have become accustomed to talking about my academic goals.

Studying AMER at Bilkent has shaped me into the person I am today, with my personal growth, communication and presentation skills, and in terms of what I want to do with my life. Essentially, I had to talk about our department in my interview because I have applied to American Studies Master’s programs in Germany and want to continue with a PhD in the future. Thus, my knowledge in AMER and passion for it have prepared me exceptionally as I am pretty sure I would not be this successful or get the scholarship if I was not studying American Culture and Literature.

It would be remiss of me to end without thanking my professors at Bilkent. If it weren’t for the extensive knowledge, great teaching methods, and immense support our AMER professors have shown me, I would not have become the student I am today. The past five years have been the most challenging and gratifying years of my life, proving countless times that I was right in following my interests and deciding to study American Culture and Literature. Being engaged with what you love really creates the environment to succeed, and I cannot wait to get further involved in this field to do more exciting stuff.


Melis will be attending Freie University in Berlin in the fall.

Congratulations, Melis! We are so proud of you for this wonderful achievement!


If you would like to learn more about the DAAD-TEV Master’s Scholarship, you can do so here.





Share this Post