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Ellen: Ellen in Turkey

In our InterNations Recommended Blog section we let you take the spotlight! Expat life in general is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for great, user-generated reads, and life in Turkey makes no exception. Take your time and browse the great blogs showcased in this article!

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 New York and was living there in 2009 when I realized my singing career was in trouble and that I wasn't going to be able to afford my Upper West Side apartment much longer. As an opera singer and former lawyer my only skills were singing and legal research and writing. With the U.S. economy in decline I didn't see a way to support myself in New York. So I decided this was the perfect time to do something I'd always wanted to do but had never got around to – live abroad. I wanted someplace warm where the cost of living was low and where I could experience a new culture. Antalya, Turkey seemed to fit the bill.

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

Some friends suggested blogging as a way to keep them informed of my life here, and I realized it would be a nice thing for me to have as well. So it started out as sort of an online diary for friends and family, and for me to have a record of my experiences to look back on.

When I realized other people were interested in expat life in Turkey I tried to make the posts more universal and to include more photographs of the region as well as useful information.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

Yes, my favorite posts are the ones that combine my personal experience with what I hope are cultural insights, e.g. Turkish Etiquette and Privacy is Special. But I also like some that are more about photos of amazing places, like my posts on Cappadocia.

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've been traveling all over the world since I was a teenager, so I didn't experience anything like culture shock. Of course there were some different culture norms to adjust to, but nothing extreme in Antalya, which is after all a resort town in Western Turkey.

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 suppose I wasn't fully prepared for the call to prayer waking me up at 5:00 am! If I'd known I was going to be living across the street from a mosque I would have brought some earplugs!

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

Well, I was living here for a year before I realized that I'd been washing my clothes with bleach instead of laundry detergent. By that time all my clothes had white blotches on them.

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Turkey?

  • It's obvious but bears repeating: Try to learn a bit of the language. Yes, it's difficult, but any efforts will be appreciated and will help you in your transition.
  • Also obvious, but seems to be forgotten by expats everywhere: Don't expect things to be like they are at home. Accept the fact that you will face new challenges.
  • This one is for women: 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.

How is the expat community in Turkey? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

The expat community in Antalya is quite extensive, and I've written about several of our events. There's no problem at all having a social live as an expat here.

How would you summarize your expat life in Turkey in a single, catchy sentence?

Expat in Antalya – Fun in the Sun!

Sven Baudach

"My business partners, also mainly expats, and me, we always use the wonderful InterNations Events as an informal get-togethers."

Maggy Roswick

"With all the great information and contacts provided by InterNations, it was no big deal to get settled in Istanbul."

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