Photographer:Fotograaf: Archive Elif Erkul
On the upper left arm of Elif Erkul (20), third-year Economics and Business Economics student from Turkey, is an image of a crescent moon with a pair of arrows pointing to two sets of coordinates: those of Maastricht and of Ankara.
“When my mother and I are around one another, we always fight. But when she’s not here, I miss her terribly. We have the same personality – very stubborn. That’s why we clash so often. We’ll argue out of nowhere; always have done. As a kid I used to eat very slowly. She wanted me to eat faster, and it was a daily battle. When I’m away our relationship improves.
At the start of my first year we came from Ankara to Maastricht together to look for a house and organise things like a bank account. Initially I found a room at the Brusselse Poort, but it was dirty and expensive. Now I share a small apartment with a friend at the Markt.
I wanted to study abroad so I applied for two grants. I was rejected for one, and the other didn’t get back to me. I’d just enrolled at a Turkish university when I finally heard that I’d been awarded the second grant. I had to organise a visa at the very last minute, which ended up being delivered much too late. And then we missed the plane to the Netherlands, so I missed the introduction week and the first lectures. Then I showed up to my first lecture five minutes late. ‘Are you in the right place?’ the people asked.
My mother is very creative; we designed my tattoo together. It’s a moon with the coordinates of Maastricht and Ankara. My parents live on the tenth floor in the middle of the city. We’d often stand on the balcony looking at the moon. I cherish those moments. These days we’re still looking at the same moon, but my mother from Ankara and me from Maastricht.
I don’t find it easy to talk about my feelings. With this tattoo I want to show my mother that I love her. It also stands for my time in Maastricht and how I’ve developed here: living by myself for the first time and building up my own social life. I’ve become more outgoing and self-confident.”
In this series, employees and students are interviewed about their tattoo.