Dennis: The Best of Bursa
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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.
My wife and I were bit by the travel bug a number of years ago while living in Eastern Europe. After moving back to the Midwestern U.S., we spent a handful of years chasing and living the American dream. It wasn’t long, though, before we again began to feel the itch to relocate overseas. 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 and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
Bursa is not a major Turkish tourist attraction and there isn’t a lot of good information about the city on the Web. But when we moved here it didn’t take us long to realize that this city has a rich history, a traditional culture, and beautiful natural surroundings. So after living here for year or so, my wife and I decided it was time to begin chronicling some of our experiences, sharing some of our insights, and introducing the world to some of the places we go and people we meet in Bursa. That’s when the idea of The Best of Bursa was born.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
- The most practical blog entry I’ve written so far is the Top Ten Things to Do in Bursa on Holiday.
- My favorite article is the personal piece I wrote on The Gemlik Olive Farmer.
- My favorite photo collection so far is Snapshots from Bursa’s Snowy Streets .
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?
Culture shock is normal and we expected it. Yes, it did come after a few months of living here when the “newness” wore off and the daily grind of life resumed. This in part was due to the fact that there aren’t many English speakers on the streets of Bursa and to function here we’ve had to learn Turkish on the fly, which we’ve done and are continuing to do. Also, we’ve had to get used to the relative disorder that seems to pervade the Turkish way of doing things. Even simple things like crossing the street or standing in line at the post office requires a different level of flexibility and patience here.
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 don’t think anyone is ever fully prepared for any major change in life. The key to managing change is to be flexible, adaptable, and to hold loosely to expectations. That’s the best way to prepare for a move to Turkey or anywhere else in the world. If we could have changed anything about our preparations, we would have seriously studied some Turkish before moving here.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
One day my wife was at the bazaar buying carrots from a local farmer. She repeatedly told the farmer “Ben kilo havuç, lütfen.” Confused, the farmer just stared at her. After repeating this phrase a few times (slower and louder to aid in understanding), she finally realized her error: “Ben kilo havuç, lütfen” translates “I am a kilo of carrots, please.” What she meant to say was “Bir kilo havuç, lütfen,” which means “One kilo of carrots, please.”
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Turkey?
- Be flexible! Hold loosely to expectations and be willing to adapt to the Turkish way of doing things.
- Learn a little Turkish before you come.
- Be ready to experience hospitality like you’ve never experienced it before. And be willing to offer hospitality like you’ve never offered it before.
How is the expat community in Turkey? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Bursa is not a major expat destination, but Bursa is a big city and there are a number of expats here. You probably won’t find them sipping tea at your corner tea shop or bump into them walking down the street. But there are a few expat organizations in town that help expats connect to each other and to the local community. And because Turkey sits at the intersection of East and West, the expat community here is a potpourri of people, nationalities, and cultures.
How would you summarize your expat life in Turkey in a single, catchy sentence?
Well, I didn’t expect that to happen!