Bilge Melis Kılıç: High School Life in the Capital of Türkiye

Bilge Melis Kılıç with her cat.

Artist, violinist and a language lover — multi-talented art student Bilge Melis Kılıç brings a global perspective of high school life from Ankara, Türkiye.

Entering 11th grade in the upcoming week, Kılıç currently attends Özel Altın Eğitim High School (ÖAEHS) and aspires to pursue a career in art education.

Tracing the early origins of her passion in art, Kılıç reflects on her first encounter with art in her childhood.

“Art has been my favorite subject since I was born, my mom said I scribbled and drew all the time since I was a baby — I just keep drawing and drawing,” Kılıç described. “And now I am an art student!”

As an art student at ÖAEHS, Kılıç wakes up at 7:00 A.M. for school and begins the first class of the day at 9:00 A.M. Contrary to American high schools, Turkish students receive instruction as a class: instructors come to lectures on a set class schedule and the class of students follow the same class schedule. However, at ÖAEHS, students receive instructions as a class in the morning,  in traditional subjects such as mathematics, literature and sciences; and in the afternoon, art students like Kılıç move to attend specific art-related classes individually.

A canvas painting done by Bilge Melis Kılıç in her 2-Dimensional Art class.

At school, Kılıç’s favorite class is 2-Dimensional Art. Kılıç enjoys the versatility of 2-Dimensional art and recently began pursuing digital art in addition to the canvas paintings she has done for the class. 

“Digital art opens many opportunities that are not offered by traditional art,” Kılıç commented. “In traditional art, there are many limitations such as running out of paint or paint brushes. These problems do not exist in digital art, which makes [making art] easier.”

A digitally painted self-portrait by Bilge Melis Kılıç.

Moreover, as the school bell rings at 5 P.M, Kılıç walks us through her daily routines after school.

“I always like to get some snacks after school, and I usually get çiğköfte. And I also go meet up with friends after school to hang out,” Kılıç said. “At night I work on finishing my art works — and I do not sleep much because art students are vampires, and sleep does not exist for us.”

Outside of school, Kılıç balances her academic and artistic pursuit with her musical passion. Inspired by Australian violinists Twoset Violin and Tchaikovsky’s iconic Violin Concerto in D Major, Kılıç began playing the violin one year ago and enjoys the learning process despite its difficulties.

“The violin is hard,” Kılıç shared. “[This instrument] makes my fingers burn, but I want to eventually play Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto someday. So I keep practicing.”

Additionally, Kılıç also explores language learning in her free time: Having self-studied English to fluency and Japanese and Swedish to a conversational level, Kılıç currently challenges herself on doing the same for Mandarin Chinese and Icelandic. Achieving such impressive success in language learning, Kılıç reveals her strategies in language acquisition.

“I learned English by watching lots of cartoons in English as a child, I listened to lots of English and now speak [English] fluently,” Kılıç explained. “[For] other languages that I learned later in life, such as Japanese, it was more difficult since I had to do more [deliberate] studying such as studying the Katakana [alphabet] and the Kanji,”. 

Kılıç elaborates to provide advice for those who are on the same path of language learning.

“And my advice to those who also want to learn more languages is to [practice] listening a lot, study hard, and find the studying method that works for you.”

Furthermore, looking beyond her homeland, Kılıç hopes to live abroad in the future with the language skills she has acquired and experience diverse cultures around the world.

“I want to go out of the country in the future,” Kılıç remarked. “Maybe I will go to Sweden. Sweden has good opportunities for careers and I like the cold weather.”

Expanding on the topic of future plans, Kılıç is currently studying for the Temel Yeterlilik Testi (TYT) college entrance exam and plans to continue studying art at Gazi Üniversitesi in Ankara, her art instructor’s alma mater. Kılıç adds that she strives to be someone resemblant of her instructor and aims to pass on her passion for art to the next generation.

Lastly, wishing good luck to her American peers who have already started the school year and hoping to share a piece of her culture with the world, Kılıç leaves a concluding remark.

“To my American friends: focus on your talents outside of academics—that’s what will get you far,” Kılıç suggested. “And one thing you need to know about my culture is that Turkish people are very warm-hearted! And if you have a chance, visit Türkiye!”

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