InterNations Featured Blog
Jules: Far from the Sticks
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Turkey, etc.
I grew up in a rural town in New Hampshire. I am your typical prompt New Englander. After college my boyfriend (now husband) and I spent some time travelling around the U.S. and ended up in sunny San Diego. After we had our fill of the sun and surf we relocated to his native city of Ankara in the spring of 2009.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging in 2009, even before we left for Turkey. It was a way to keep my large network of friends and family updated. I also wanted to keep a record of places I had visited, food I had eaten and challenges I overcame. Did I mention the food?
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I have several favorite blog entries. They stem from misunderstandings or catastrophes that worked out.
- While preparing for my wedding I became interested in body image difference between the U.S. and Turkey.
- It was quite an adventure to join an all-male football league with my husband.
- Learning about the extent of the communal culture was quite interesting.
- This blog entry is on Turkish homonyms and waxing. It is always good to clarify terms before you get more than you asked for.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Turkey differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Moving to Turkey was challenging, but exciting. When I got to Turkey, everything was so vibrant. When you have limited language ability even a routine trip to the farmers’ market seems exotic. I did not have any trouble getting comfortable in my new locale and I attribute this to the Turkish people. Everyone I met, from family to strangers on the street were warm and welcoming. In a very short time Turkey transitioned from a new place to my new home.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Turkey? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I was as prepared as I could be. I had researched the country; I had used my college network to contact alumnae who lived abroad here. Even before I moved, I had already made several friends in Turkey. Looking back, I have only one small change I would make - I would have bought a smartphone before I moved.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Well, you know the jokes about mother-in-laws? Mine actually poisoned me. My mother-in-law is a wonderful woman, and I could not love her more, but she did send me to the hospital. I am allergic to nuts, and she was very careful about not using them in food. If a recipe called for hazelnuts or walnuts she would go to the trouble of making me a separate dish, taking care that there was no contamination. Unfortunately, the oil she used to cook all savory food was a mix of hazelnut and sunflower. She had forgotten the oils were mixed. This continued for about six months until I learned Turkish and saw the oil tin label.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Turkey?
Success as an expat requires an open mind and a sense of humor.
- When you run encounter issues because of language barriers, bureaucracy or any other challenge—Find the humor in the situation. I guarantee there will be something to laugh about.
- Try any food that is offered to you. Don’t care what it looks like or what it is made from-- take a bite! (Do check for allergens first though!)
- Start conversations! View every outing as an opportunity to meet new people. I have had some of the best conversations and language lessons at the Pazar. Just start talking, no matter what your language level.
How is the expat community in Turkey? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I have been incredibly lucky to find good friends in the expat community. Because Ankara is the capital of Turkey, there is a diverse group of expats with different experiences. I would suggest that you don’t limit your interactions to expats only. Get out and meet the locals, and bring some expats with you!
How would you summarize your expat life in Turkey in a single, catchy sentence?
Life is like food here! Try anything new and always an adventure with every bite!