esra aycan beyazit - header


Esra Aycan Beyazıt

university researcher at IDLab, imec research group at Antwerp University, Belgium

Esra Aycan Beyazıt
“Türkiye is renowned for its hospitality, sometimes even characterized by an overwhelming abundance of it.”

Coastal charms, historic marvels, and warm hospitality

istanbul - basilica cistern
Istanbul - Basilica Cistern (picture by Esra)

Esra Aycan Beyazıt relocated to Belgium from Türkiye to spend more time on her research. Her husband and five-year-old son readily agreed to pack their bags, even though they knew the road would be challenging. Still, it would also be filled with personal growth, independence, and self-confidence.

Cultivating personal growth and global citizenship

Esra’s journey began with her decision to move to Belgium. Landing in Antwerp from Türkiye, Esra and her family were amazed to see the city’s great and diverse cultural scenes. Their ability to adapt and be flexible aided their personal ambitions and professional growth. Looking back on this journey, she said, “I have so many good memories, and I can see myself becoming a better person every day. It shows how much we can learn and discover about ourselves through this experience.” Working in IDLab, an imec research group at Antwerp University, helped Esra establish a clearer view of what was happening around the globe as well. Gaining perspective through diverse cultural exchanges at work and collaborating with various professionals has made Esra a more concerned and mature global citizen. She recalled that after attending a climate change workshop organized by imec IDLab, she shared the outcome with everybody in her family circle to help raise awareness and modify their lifestyle.

Exploring turkish cuisine

Turkish cuisine is famous worldwide for its rich flavors and diverse influences. Esra, passionate about Turkish cuisine, shares an enticing variety of dishes and regional delicacies. A traditional Turkish breakfast offers a wide selection of cheeses, olives, honey, eggs, marmalade, pastirma (salted beef), and Turkish black tea. Esra loves Lahmacun, a thinly seasoned dough with minced meat, spinach-stuffed Borek pastries, and the beloved Sarma Wraps her mother made. Typically, Sarma Wraps are made by wrapping various flavorful fillings in grape or cabbage leaves, creating a roll-like shape. The filling includes a combination of seasoned ground meat, such as beef or lamb, mixed with fragrant rice, herbs, and spices. Whereas the Meze, a colorful assortment of small bites, adds to the culinary wonders. Interestingly, breakfast dishes such as sarma or borek can also be found in the meze, showing the fascinating nuances of Turkish culinary traditions.


Sample fresh seafood at the Kemeraltı Bazaar in Izmir and then take a stroll along the beautiful Kordon promenade.

turkish lahmacun - delicious turkish food
Turkish Lahmacun - Delicious Turkish food
izmir - clock tower
Izmir - Clock tower

Geography, history, and hospitality

Esra comes from the beautiful city of Izmir and deeply loves the entire coastline of the Aegean Sea, especially the charming town of Yenifoca. During summers, Esra and her loved ones create cherished memories there, enjoying the company of family and friends. Foca and Canakke are two more mention worthy stunning towns that combine natural beauty and historical value. For example, Çanakkale Martyrs’ Memorial, Çanakkale Archaeological Museum, Kilitbahir Fortress, Troy Ancient City, and Naval Museums are some of the must visit places for any Türkiye travel itinerary.

Türkiye is unique due to its varied geography and rich history. The country had an exceptional leader, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who is the founder of the Republic of Türkiye. Atatürk’s leadership and reforms transformed the country into a modern, secular, and democratic nation. He is highly regarded as a national hero and widely respected as the father of modern Türkiye. His mausoleum, Anıtkabir, in Ankara, is an important landmark and symbol of his legacy.

troy - replica of wooden trojan horse
Troy - Replica of wooden Trojan horse
pamukkale - carbonate travertines
Pamukkale - Carbonate travertines
kas - traditional turkish houses
Kas - Traditional Turkish houses
ephesus - library of celus
Ephesus - Library of Celus

In Türkiye, Ephesus is one of the bestpreserved Roman archaeological sites for a traveler of beaten paths. One can marvel at the grand Library of Celsus, the Theatre, and the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Or one can consider Cappadocia, a town known for its unique landscapes and fairy-tale-like rock formations. This picturesque valley also offers the breathtaking sight of hot air balloons filling the sky at sunrise.

Esra appreciates the warm and friendly nature of the Turkish people. Their hospitality knows no bounds, as locals frequently extend sincere invitations to their homes, providing a glimpse into their way of life. She happily shared a delightful custom: “In Türkiye, taking off your shoes before entering someone’s house is customary.” This tradition is deeply respected and still followed to this date.