Hilal is from Turkey and grew up as a bilingual child in Germany, which initiated an early interest in her in the way languages work. She received her BA in English Language Teaching with a minor in Psychological Counseling and Guidance, and her MSc in English Linguistics. She held academic positions at Middle East Technical University as a research assistant and at the University of California Santa Barbara as a Fulbright Scholar. She spent most of her professional life in Turkey teaching English as a Foreign Language in various cities and institutions; but she also taught Turkish as a Foreign Language in Vienna, Austria; and at UCSB, California. She is currently doing her PhD in English with a special interest in the linguistics of humor.