Billy: Antalya Living
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Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Turkey, etc.
I am from Scotland and married a Turkish lady in 1996 after I met her on her birthday in Sheffield the year before when I was there to see The Rolling Stones and where she was a student doing a PHD at the University.
We had been coming to Turkey on holiday to visit her parents, firstly in Istanbul and then Antalya when they moved there and so after I took voluntary redundancy from the chemical factory where I worked, we purchased a property in Antalya in 2003.
In 2004 I went to work as a Hotel Entertainer in Majorca and my wife gave birth to my son there but not long afterwards we discovered she had Lymphoma and so returned to Scotland for treatment.
After she recovered we decided to move permanently to our Apartment in Antalya in 2006, because we thought the lifestyle would be better for our son and also my wife’s health.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I had been performing comedy and poetry as a hobby in Scotland for a number of years and while my wife was recovering from Cancer I attended a website design course and had built a website for a comedy character called Nob Stewart which I had just invented after I purchased a Rod Stewart wig for a fancy dress party which never happened, so I wanted to get some use out of the wig after spending £15 on it.
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 so I converted my Nob Stewart site into the first version of my Antalya Living site to showcase the region as well as tell the story of my life here.
As I didn’t have a job I thought I could somehow monetize the site and earn a living from it, but that proved to be more difficult than I thought as I am not particularly business minded.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I think my favourite blog entry was of The Expats Social Group Easter Party which I helped to organize. I took my son along to it and he was very much into the Harlem Shake videos that were popular at the time. Little did we realize that I would be starring in one that day.
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?
I had spent 8 months living in Majorca so it wasn’t the first time I had lived abroad, but it did take a while to settle in because when I first moved here there were not that many expats in Antalya. It took me 3 months before I met a native English speaker. After 8 years, I still experience culture shock every day although these days I try to be much more accepting of the differences between where I am from and here, as it does no good to complain about how you wish things were different.
I got divorced 4 years ago and in October 2013, I actually moved back to Scotland thinking I was going home, but when I came back for a holiday last June I realized that Antalya was my home. That was a strange feeling and so I decided to move back and I now feel much more settled than I did before and of course, it is much better for me being closer to my son.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Turkey? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
Although I had an apartment waiting for me I wasn’t prepared at all for moving to Turkey. We had no plans other than we knew we needed a change because things were not working out in Scotland too well.
I guess the main thing I should have done is learn the language properly, if not before I moved then certainly after arriving here. I can get by with my pigeon Turkish but I really need to get to grips with it better as it would improve my life here dramatically. However, I always seem to find something else to do like maintaining my websites mainly.
I have in fact realized that running 3 websites is too much for one person and so have recently put all my Antalya blogs into my personal website at billywatson.tv and have stopped posting on the Antalya site for now. This makes more sense as instead of being about the region they had become even more focused on my personal life.
I am considering taking all my personal blogs off the Antalya Living site completely and just updating it with news about Antalya but that is on the back burner right now.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Well, where to start? Funny things happen here nearly every time you leave the house.
For instance, at the weekend just past I was approaching traffic lights on my motorbike and a driver of a big fancy BMW had stuck it’s nose out from his Apartment Site so much that there was no way I could go up the side between the pavement and the cars to get to the front of the queue as I usually can do on the bike. So I had to wait behind the nose of this car. When the traffic started to move I revved up my bike a little bit and moved an inch forward but the man was so desperate to stop me or any other car in the queue from going before him that he nudged his car out more and went straight into the articulated lorry in front of him as it pulled away.
The best bit was when he looked at me and raised his hands if I was the one to blame for him hitting the Lorry. I just raised my hands back as if to say ‘Sorry pal, you’re the twat, not me’ and then he gave me an ‘Allah Allah’ hand movement and pulled away. I thought it was hilarious.
What I don’t find so hilarious is when I am on the bike in the pouring rain and cars go through huge puddles with no regard to the consequences of me getting totally drenched. I have been hit by a tidal wave a few times now and when I confront the driver at the lights they are not even aware what they have just done. Either that or it is a form of entertainment for them, I’m not sure which.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Turkey?
- Learn as much of the language as you can before coming and continue to learn when you get here until you are fluent or at least competent.
- If you can find a job for which you can get a work permit before coming, that will take a lot of pressure off too because unless you are a qualified teacher there are not too many of those going around.
- Put as much money as you can in your bank account and try not to touch it as you need a lump sum in a Turkish Bank in order to get a residence permit every year.
How is the expat community in Turkey? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
As I said, it took me 3 months to find a native English speaker but when I did he introduced me to a few more. Then partly through my website, I helped to establish a local expat social group here and since then it has grown considerably. I ran a weekly quiz at a local bar for mainly expats for the past 6 months but have recently decided to stop that and focus on performing comedy. Speaking of which, if anyone out there would like a comedian for a social event or can put me in touch with someone who can help me gets gigs anywhere in Turkey, I would very much appreciate that.
How would you summarize your expat life in Turkey in a single, catchy sentence?
Unpredictably chaotic fun filled terror driven insanity.
There’s a lot I haven’t told you. I’m saving that for the book. ;-)