Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured bloggers in Istanbul:
I don’t recall feeling any culture shock, I have just felt incredibly welcomed — and continue to feel this way. I’ve always been open-minded and inquisitive so if something doesn’t make sense I ask questions and find there’s a perfectly good reason why things are the way they are.
I loved and hated how different it was from the life I left behind in the states. When I first came to Istanbul, I was determined to build my life here on my own. However, I wish I had invested in 2 months of full-time Turkish lessons. Language is an incredible barrier to finding authentic experiences and developing deep relationships in Istanbul. If I could do it over again, I would have enrolled in a class and made learning Turkish my top priority when I first moved to Istanbul.
In broad strokes, Turkey, as every place in the world, is essentially the same as every other. There are people, they live their lives, they try to find something to make them happy. They have families and kids and they eat. The differences you really notice are in the small things, the way friends walk down the sidewalk with their arms linked not allowing any other people to pass, or the way time works in a much more fluid an inexact way, which is necessary with Istanbul traffic since no one would be on time anyway.
Lets see, I moved from a large house in the woods with moose, bear , owl, beaver, and about 21 other people as my nearest neighbors. I drove 40 miles rt per day to work. I now live in an apartment with 17 million or so neighbors, and I walk 2 minutes to get to work. There aren't any moose in the complex. No I didn't experience culture shock. I don't know why, but it's been a nice change of pace.
My life in Istanbul differs enormously from my life back home. Here I don’t have to work long hours Monday to Friday just to cover the mortgage and pay my bills. I love having free time to go out exploring because it lets me explore new parts of the city easily over time. Then I can come back home and try to make sense of it all.
I have a little notebook that goes everywhere with me. I write new words I've learned in there, places I visit, places I want to visit and people I meet. This is my reference when I forget something. I bought an A-Z notebook and started my own dictionary. I write all the new words I've learned in it every day. With time you will learn so much, you will surprise yourself.
In Istanbul, I have an international group of friends from Spain, Germany, France, Australia, South Africa, Uzbekistan, and Turkey. I am thankful to have met so many different people. Biggest lesson learned: You will only get out of the experience what you put into it. Just jump in.
It’s a lifeboat, and I have become great friends with people I initially didn’t like much simply because they were here. But the thing you have to realize is that almost everyone leaves, and then you miss them.
Everyday something interesting happens just because you are not used to it, little things, like people reversing the whole length of a road at top speed! I would say it took me a month to get used to things.
No matter how much you mentally brace yourself, there's still going to be issues and problems you only discover upon hitting the ground. Sometimes it's better just to acknowledge that, and be more relaxed about moving internationally.
No, I wasn’t prepared. I would have taken at least a few classes in Turkish before coming here. It’s not the same as self-study. The language is the key in a society that is not fluent in foreign languages.