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 Turkey:
Try and learn the lingo. Turkish is not an easy language for Europeans to assimilate as it is thought to belong to the Altaic language family and is distantly related to Mongolian, Korean and other inscrutable Asiatic tongues. Despite Atatürk’s valiant 1928 adoption of the Latin alphabet and the fact that the language is phonetic and mostly regular, the word order, agglutinations and the absence of familiar sounds all conspire to make learning Turkish a very daunting prospect.
If you only come to Turkey during the holiday season and think you would like to live here, come out of season and stay in the place you wish to live in. Life is a lot different out of season.
Life is actually easier for me now. Not much is expected of me since I don’t speak the language well. Other than teaching English, it very difficult to get a job that will sponsor a work permit. I get contract work from the States that I do online, but it is not full-time work. I love it because it allows me the free time to explore, write my blog, and do whatever crosses my mind on a particular day.
Here is another one from a friend in Turkey who was just beginning to learn Turkish. She was on the bus and wanted to tell the driver that they were at her stop. She said the words indicating that she needed to exit the bus. Everyone just looked at her funny. It turns out the words for get off the bus (inecek) and cow (inek) are very close. She was actually saying, “I have a cow”.
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.
I definitely have some entertaining experiences with my language skills (or lack of). There are some common words that if pronounced incorrectly are swear words. I understand now when people look at me in shock that I’ve used the wrong word!
We probably brought too much stuff with us. We already had a fully furnished house here and we are still unpacking the 120 boxes of “irreplaceable” belongings we had shipped over.
Remember that foreign women are often perceived as “easy” and than men (even those half your age!) are often looking for something besides friendship. This is not to scare anyone – I don't think Turkish men are dangerous, and I've never felt unsafe here. It's just something to be aware of.
The biggest changes relate to our family life. In Canada, Cam worked away from home 200 days each year. We owned our own home. We had two vehicles. Our children, although educated at home, typically socialized with friends an hour or more away from home. Now we spend most of our time together. We have one vehicle. Here we are surrounded by more people, but feel more isolated. We are stared at on the street. Power outages are a daily occurrence in our community. Grocery shopping isn’t one stop shopping anymore and there is no mail delivery.
My time is my own and I do the things I want to do following old interests and cultivating new ones. J and I live near a small farming village, our house is tucked up at the bottom of a mountain in one of the most biodiverse parts of the country – the variety of flora and fauna is staggering! Our neighbours are 'salt-of-the-earth', they were warm and welcoming and if anything was a culture shock it was the difference from the UK where we hardly met or knew our neighbours.
When we visited Turkey a few years ago for the first time, we fell in love with the country and especially appreciated the city of Bursa. So in 2013, we moved ourselves here to meet new people and experience a different culture. We’ve not been disappointed.
When I started living in Antalya, I was amazed by all the things there are to do here and with the surrounding scenery and historical places which at that time were not so well known to British people.