Campus & community, People, Profiles

Tea and a Turkish delight: How one student found his community at Berkeley

Although first-year student Tibet Yakut grew up in New York, he has always felt connected to his Turkish culture. At Berkeley, he already has a group of about 30 Turkish friends.

By Anne Brice

Two students with short dark hair stand outside with their arms around each other's shoulders and smile for a portrait

Kaan Kont (left), a first-year student from Turkey who's interested in pursuing economics and computer science, is one of several Turkish friends that Tibet Yakut (right) has connected with at UC Berkeley. 

Brittany Hosea-Small for UC Berkeley

This Q&A is part of a series of new student profiles for our 2023 back-to-school coverage. Have someone you think we should write about? Contact

Berkeley News:What year are you, and where are you from and what do you plan to study?

Tibet Yakut:Im a first-year, and Im from New York.

What brought you to Berkeley?

Growing up with my mom, we would always travel to California. So when I was applying to schools, I was like, I want to apply to a lot of schools in California. And when I visited Berkeley, the campus was so nice and had so much nature, I realized Berkeley was the way to go.

Berkeley is a really big school, but you mentioned that youve already found a community here. Can you talk more about that?

Yeah. Coming into the large schools, people always say, Oh, you won't feel like you're lost because there are always little communities and groups to find. For me, that's with the Turkish community. Both my mom and my dad were born in Turkey, and even though I grew up in New York, Ive always felt connected to my Turkish heritage and culture.

Even before school started, I found out through my mom's family friend that her son was coming to Berkeley. I started talking with him, and he's studying philosophy, too. So we stayed connected. Now, we have a group chat of Turkish friends 30 people almost and we met up for dinner the other night. So I feel like I'm with my culture even more than I was in New York.

What is an example of how you practice Turkish culture at Berkeley that makes you feel at home?

Every summer when I go to Turkey and go to even the touristy spots, like Istanbul, for example, I feel at home, kind of, even though I was born in New York and lived there for my life.

It's because everyone is very welcoming in Turkish culture. An example is, you meet someone on the street, and you talk with them, and you have some type of connection. Like with the friend I have, we connect through philosophy. And then yesterday, I was like, Oh, come over and let me make you tea. And this is very common in Turkish culture people just invite you for tea. And then you have a conversation, and you drink Turkish-brewed tea, and you just connect over that. Sometimes you have little nuts or a Turkish delight next to it.

That part I find so welcoming and loving and just good energy. And I love that so much. So when I meet my Turkish friends here, we're all like that together, and it's a really special feeling.

Youre studying philosophy?

Yes, I'm studying philosophy. And I also want to double-major in computer science.

What interests you about philosophy and computer science?

Growing up, I was always like CS, CS, you know, computer science, because I grew up influenced by my mom, who is in the computer science field. And I always saw what she's doing, and I'm like, Oh, that's so cool. I really want to do that. And then I also developed a passion in philosophy because I studied Latin in high school, and my professor introduced me to Plato, and through that I just fell in love.

The first thing I read was Plato's Allegory of the Cave. After that, I was just in love with that, and I signed up to take a philosophy course during the summer of my junior year in high school. And after, I was like, I want to study this. Its so fun."

Read more 2023 back-to-school stories.