Tea break with Melis Erdem, Assistant Vendor Manager

Melis loves travelling and is more than willing to learn a new language if it gives her the opportunity to find out about a specific culture. She grew up with three languages: a mother tongue, a father tongue and the lingua franca. And her very first translation job made her blush…

Portrait of a woman

Apostroph: You grew up in the canton of Zurich in Switzerland. What left the biggest impression on you there? Where feels like home to you? And what have you seen of the big wide world?

I was actually born in Ankara in Turkey, but we moved to Switzerland when I was just a year old. We spent around the first three years living in Zollikerberg and then moved to Egg which is where I still live today. I love living in the country – and living in such a green area is fantastic. And the city of Zurich is still so close! You basically have the best of both worlds. Egg is a great place to escape to if you want to recover from the hustle and bustle of city life.

I love travelling and ideally would like to see the whole world. In 2016, I went to Singapore for two months to study the language. I wanted to discover a whole new culture, brush up my English in the process and start learning Mandarin. So, linguistically speaking, it was a voyage of discovery. In 2018, I went backpacking through Indonesia with a good friend. We travelled across the island of Java, from Jakarta to Bali. It was just amazing and I look back on our adventure with great affection.

I like spending my summer holidays by the sea – in Spain, Italy or visiting my relatives in Turkey.

How did you come across Apostroph and what prompted you to stay?

Well, I started an internship in Vendor Management in January 2021. And have been working as Assistant Vendor Manager on a full-time basis since September 2021.

I felt at home in the team from the very beginning and I enjoy the diverse range of tasks in Vendor Management. Apostroph takes good care of its employees: I was quickly integrated into the team and feel greatly appreciated there.

And I can plan my working day according to the tasks I have which is great. Everyone is really nice and we all lend each other a hand within the team. Apart from that, I love working with Luise and Sabina and feel there’s a lot I can learn from them.

What do you like about languages and translation?

Languages and other cultures have fascinated me since I was a small child. My mother is from German-speaking Switzerland, my father from Turkey so I started off by growing up with two languages. And those two languages were joined by English which my parents used when they didn’t understand each other in German or Turkish. 

When I studied Applied Languages at the ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences, I was particularly fascinated by translation. Because you often can’t just translate a statement literally from one language to another: you have to be creative and take lots of cultural aspects into account. For me, language is the key to a particular culture.

During my studies, I did Arabic for beginners and didn’t just learn about the language, but was given great insight into the culture. Learning a new language is like travelling in your mind.

Has anything at work or in life been challenging or exciting you recently?

I really love planning and organising the blog posts for the freelancer blog on our website. It’s great fun briefing the copywriters on a new post and then actually getting to see it posted. Readers do like the blog and that is something I find very satisfying. At the same time, it also gives me the opportunity to become more familiar with the topic of the post and that helps me learn lots about our business.

What do you most look forward to doing when you wake up in the morning?

I love working with people. That’s why I always look forward to the freelancer applications I process. But I also like preparing quotes for interpreting jobs and I coordinate the assignments for our customers.

And, as I already mentioned, I love organising the blog posts for our website and posting news on myFREELANCE and LinkedIn. That’s my contribution to presenting Apostroph to the outside world.

Do you have any funny stories from your time at Apostroph?

I once got the chance to translate a short text (it was actually a few text messages) from Turkish into German for the police. I was very excited because it was my first translation job. As I read through the text, I soon noticed that the two people were hurling choice insults at each other in the form of text messages and using pretty strong language. Let’s just say that the expressions used in Turkish are pretty rich with a lot of imagination going into the terms used in this area of the language. So my first translation consisted almost entirely of swearwords.

You know what they say about all work and no play. What do you like doing in your private life and in your free time?

Sport. Sport and movement generally are very important for me because that’s how I manage to clear my mind and at the same time do something healthy. I’m very into Pilates at the moment (at home with YouTube videos) and I go to Oriental dance classes. I can lose myself in the music when I dance and give free rein to my creativity.

Otherwise, I like spending time with my friends and family, and like going for walks. And I love city trips!

What book is on your bedside table and what’s your favourite listening on a relaxing Sunday morning?

Currently, I have the Turkish version of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone” by J. K. Rowling on my bedside table. I would really like to try to read more books in Turkish. And lying next to it is “Secrets of Divine Love” by A. Helwa – which I’m reading because I’m interested in spirituality.

On a relaxing Sunday morning, I like listening to lofi music for a gentle start to the day. I tend to have background music on most of the time.

Did you enjoy reading this post? Would you like to read more about the people of Apostroph? 

Send us an email to freelance@apostrophgroup.ch.

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