Kısmetse olur

If it’s meant to be, it will be. 

Hubby and I like to think that some things in life are just fate.  No matter what you do, you can’t escape it.  Or no matter what difficulties come your way, the good that is fated for you will arrive.  It goes both ways, doesn’t it? It helps us deal with the fact that, for a very long time our best laid plans never worked out. Because it wasn’t meant to be.  Right? 

Speaking of fate… 

We had our first “date” six years ago today.  

I don’t remember if I’ve ever told yall about how everything had to align for us to meet. How a guy from Turkey and a girl from small town South Carolina wound up in the same place at the same time under such circumstances that they ended up talking to each other. I probably have, but it’s been a long time. I might as well tell it again so you don’t have to go sifting through hundreds of posts to find it. 

I had a short blurb about it on my about me page, but I’ve taken it out because it deserves it’s own space (plus no one needs that much information in an about me. It’s just too much). 

The more I look around the more I see stories like ours, but it doesn’t make it any less special to me.  It just reinforces my belief in fate and soul mates. 

Hubby was born and raised in Turkey.  He went through his education in Turkey, took his undergrad in Turkey, then went to the US to better his education. He came to the US and started with ESL in Mississippi and Texas, later starting his Masters degree in Connecticut. 

Meanwhile, I was born and raised in South Carolina.  While he was starting his ESL I was roaming the halls of my high school during junior year,  sneaking wine coolers, and trying to balance my rebellious self with my southern surroundings. After graduating, I started my undergrad at a local campus of USC (as in, the University of South Carolina, not California).  

 He was in Connecticut, and I was in South Carolina.  Hey, but we were on the same continent! 

When things in Connecticut started going down hill, a friend of his suggested giving Clemson a try.  He thought about it long and hard, and said “what the hell”, and moved there for the winter term in 2010. At the time, I was still at USC trying to figure out what area I wanted to study.  Come to find out, my interests best aligned with food science. Only two schools in the state have that major (and SC residents get a sizeable scholarship at SC universities, so I was limited to my home state)… The best being Clemson. 

I moved to Clemson for the fall term, right after my birthday in August 2010. I had been working for a grocery chain in my hometown, so I transferred my employment to the local branch in Clemson.  The same grocery store that my future husband happened to live behind. 

Due to that graduate stress, hubby got sick in September (bless his heart!).  He took a walk with his roommate to the grocery store for some tea and otc medication. While perusing the aisles, a certain messy haired glasses wearing employee sat on the floor checking dates on some product or another.  She was cute, but he was too shy to say hello. 

After I was done pulling expired product and putting back items left by customers at the registers, I was called to clean up a spill at the front. 

Hubby was having a hell of a time figuring out which medicine to buy.  In Turkey, you have to go to pharmacies to get your hands on any kind of medicine.  In the states (at least in SC and FL) , the actual pharmacy window in a Walmart, Target, or grocery store can be closed while otc products like Aleve, Tylenol, Thera flu etc is still available on the shelves for purchase.  Who could he ask? There was an old lady stocking the shelves in this department just a second ago… 

After cleaning the spill in the front, I pushed the mop and bucket to the back of the store, the double doors easiest to reach by cutting through the pharmacy department. As I passed down the toothpaste display, I heard an “excuse me”  from the neighboring aisle. 

The old lady he saw before was gone.  He had picked up two possible options, Thera flu and alkaseltzer cold. But which one would be better? Looking up, he saw the frizzy top of a girl’s red head, lead by a mop handle.  He called out to her, and when she rounded the corner he ran into the bluest eyes he’d ever seen. 

And the rest is history. 

It’s crazy to think about how close to not meeting we could have been.  If he hadn’t been sick that day. If I hadn’t been going down that aisle after mopping.  If my coworker had still been stocking shelves.  If I had applied for a different job instead of transferring to the local branch of the chain I had been working for (which, BTW, I hated that job). If he hadn’t said yes to going to Clemson.  If I went to the other university that had my major. 

If he would have gotten cold feet and never came back later to get my number. 

I don’t believe in coincidences.  

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Peanut

If you guys have been following my instagram, you probably have seen a lot of this little guy

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I was going for beachy, since I’ve been missing the warm weather just a bit…but the shades kinda pushed it over to thug.  Well, that’s what hubby says.  I am limited in my marker using abilities, ok!?

His name is peanut (aka p-nizzle), and he’s been with us since we lived in Clemson, SC.  He goes with me everywhere- from SC, to FL, and now here.  When we went to the beach house, he rode with me in my bag.  He’s kind of like our baby.

One day while shopping in Hobby Lobby (a large arts and crafts store, if you don’t know) about 3 or so years ago for…something… There was a display of those (at the time) new “bug eyed” looking beanie babies.  I instantly fell in love with them!  Initially I had been playing with a tiger one (attending Clemson, you know. Go Tigers!), but hubby (at the time fiancee) picked up the elephant.

Do you want one?

I want the tiger!

But the elephant is cute.

Ok ok, if you say so

It took me about 2 seconds of holding the elephant in the check out line to make me fall in love with him.  Later on he adopted a nazar boncuk earring and a bracelet collar.  Now we are inseparable.

So if you were wondering, that’s where peanut came from 🙂

Update

Sitting in the airport in Munich right now… Waiting on our new connecting flight that leaves in around… Ohhh… 8 hrs. There was a 2hr weather delay in Charlotte that made us miss our previous connection.  New ETA for Turkey is 1:15am

But at least the flight from Charlotte to Munich was otherwise uneventful.

T-minus 12 hours and 5.5k miles

The time that we have been waiting for over the last five years is finally here…we are about to board the plane to Turkey for more than just a vacation.  We are starting the next, exciting chapter in our lives!  I wanted to take a minute to answer some questions that everyone may have- particularly those who haven’t been part of our adventure until recently.

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  Why are you moving to Turkey?

Well, that isn’t a short story, but I will make it one.. my husband is a citizen of Turkey, and came to the US on a scholar visa (graduate education) in 2008.  Now that he is done with school, his visa is no longer valid- which means it is time to go back to Turkey!

  Can’t he get US citizenship?

Yes and no… because he is married to me he can apply for a green card.  But, because he was on a J-1 visa he is required to spend 2 years back in his home country (Turkey) before any changes can be made to his visa status (read: J-1 to green card).  So even if we wanted to live in the US permanently, two years would have to be spent in Turkey.  Yes, a waiver can be given by Turkey for this home-stay requirement… but his situation basically assures they would not grant this waiver.

  How long will you be there?

That’s a good question, and I don’t have the answer to that… but inshallah, forever!  There are a lot of complicated facets to different time periods that must be met (e.g. 2 years because of the visa, 15 years because of other things…).  Of course, if I am absolutely miserable in Turkey (inshallah not, and I believe that I won’t be) we will explore other options.

  Where will you be living?

I can’t really tell you that, because where we will end up will likely be our home long-term.  So, you know, for security… but I can tell you that we will likely spend a good bit of time in Izmir! We hope that hubby will be assigned to a western town, close-ish to Izmir 🙂

  What are you going to do there?

Another answer that I don’t have… I know for at least a year I will simply be trying to adjust to Turkish life…the language, the culture, etc.  After that year I should be eligible for Turkish citizenship due to the length of our marriage, and once I attain citizenship I will have many more options inshallah.  But who knows, maybe we will start our family shortly- and I would prefer to be a stay at home mom.

 Do you even want to live in Turkey?

Short answer: YES!
Long answer:  Anyone who knows me well knows that I don’t do things that I don’t want to do.  If I didn’t want to live in Turkey, I wouldn’t go.  There are many things that I love about Turkey, and as a Muslimah I feel like Turkey is a great country to raise a family (some religion, but not too much).  While going from an American life to a Turkish one will be quite the change, I see many benefits for me personally and for our future family that one can only find in Turkey.

  Will you ever come back to the US?

Of course!  It is my home, after all, and I do have family here.  However, I foresee my trips to the US to be more vacation-like rather than a permanent move in the future.  I don’t plan on relinquishing my US citizenship, so coming back for any length of time shouldn’t be a problem (besides the outlandish cost of a ticket 😡

Well, I think that pretty much sums up the majority of the questions I have been receiving…and now everyone is caught up!  Inshallah I will be able to reveal more about the drama we have been going through since March…but it all really depends on how things unfold.

Oh!  That’s the call for boarding!  I guess I will see you guys tomorrow afternoon, in Turkey 🙂

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Turkey 120: HOMEWORK

I was planning on making this post yesterday, but I got so busy I wasn’t able to…sorry I’m late!

In my last turkish lesson, I covered some suggestions and requirements for tourists visiting Turkey- based on my own experiences four years ago.  I included some homework at the end of the lesson, requesting questions about visiting Turkey from those who have not been there before.  I’m glad I did!  Here are a list of very interesting questions I have received, with answers.  I tried to divide them up into sensible categories…

Enjoy!

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Money

Q: Is it hard to convert? Is items that are popular (evil eye beads, etc.) super expensive? How much would you take for a day trip? Is there places to convert money? What about tipping?
A: There are lots of places to exchange money in big cities,  but you do pay a fee so it is better to do it as little as possible. Depending on what you are doing you could get by with as little as 100tl if you are buying souvenirs and eating from food carts,  or as much as 500tl if you are going to go to sites with fees, use taxis, and eat at nicer restaurants.  For tipping,  you are only required to at nice restaurants.  Whatever you do,  keep your currency in smaller bills

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Food and Drink

Q: Favorite food and must try foods?
A: Someone asked me this before and it is an impossible question!  I love Turkish food,  and limiting my list is so hard.  But if I had to,  I think I would say midye (mussels stuffed with spiced rice) is my favorite.  You should definitely find those.  Döner and ayran (shaved meat sandwich and a salty yogurt drink) is something you must try! Sarma (grape leaves and rice) and Turkish sweets are also important to try!

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Social and Cultural Interaction

Q: How do people greet one another?
A: you can either use “merhaba”  or “merhabalar” which is the Turkish translation of “hello”,  or “selam” which has a religious connotation

Q: How are gender roles perceived? How to not offend while a tourist?
A: Tourists get a lot of slack so you probably won’t offend anyone accidentally.  Gender roles aren’t that different than the US honestly. . If anything,  women deal more with the public than men do.

Q: How to be a tourist without looking like a tourist in Turkey?
A: What gives away tourists are the cameras,  hats,  etc.  But native turks can also be tourists in some cities.  Keeping your shoulders and knees covered can help you blend in- but of course there are turks who sport strappy tank tops and mini skirts as well.

Q: What personal activities is viewed as private and what is okay in public? Are there things considered super rude that we do constantly in America? (Like hugging in public?)
A: Turks are actually more affectionate to same sex friends than Americans.  Men and women will hug and kiss the cheeks of their same sex friends. Opposite sex interactions are more limited though, even for couples.  For example,  PDA is a big no no.  Lip kissing in public,  even between married people,  is frowned upon. Hugs and hand holding is OK though.

Q: What is personal space limits? Do you smile at people or is this a way to get unwanted attention?
A: smiling at opposite sex strangers is a big no no.  Giving any attention outside of the absolute necessary should be avoided.  It’s not like you can’t purchase anything from an opposite sex vendor,  but don’t go chatting up someone.  Personal space is similar.  Women to women have less personal space necessities than women to men.

Q: Are the stereotypes true? (I know rude kind of question?)
A: If by stereotypes you mean the meek women and demanding men Muslim stereotypes then no,  not at all.  What really shocked me was how Turkish women are usually the ones who interact with vendors and officials. In Turkey,  a woman is culturally allowed to rebuke and scold more so than men.  For example,  when the builders were dragging their feet when my in-laws were adding to their house,  my mom in-law was the one expected to fuss at them.

Q: When is it appropriated and mandated to wear head covering? Is it okay to loosely drape over hair?
A: The only time you need to wear a headscarf is in an active mosque,  like the blue mosque.  As long as your scarf covers your chest it can be loose for tourists… Naturally, actual religious requirements can be more strict.

Q: What are some basic Turkish phrases we must learn in order to be polite in turkey? What things to say in restaurants when ordering or ordering when buying gifts and responses when dealing with money?

A: no one demands much of an effort from tourists (unlike France).  But you can always go with hello, goodbye,  please and thank you… Which are merhaba, hoşçakal (hosh chahkal), lütfen (lootfen), and teşekkür ederim (teshehkoor ehdehrim).

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Things to See/Do*

*In Istanbul and Ephesus

Q: Why is Turkey a place you want to go?
A: Why ISN’T Turkey a place you’d want to go?  ;).  For me,  Turkey has so much significant history,  ancient and otherwise, there is so much to see. Also,  it is an a amazing bridge between eastern and western cultures.

Q: What are some must see sites in Istanbul? 
A: There is simply too much to see in Istanbul! I enjoyed the Topkapı palace,  hagia sofia,  and spice bazaar the most.  My hubby loves the Pierre loti cafe,  it has an amazing view of Istanbul.

Q: What to do in Ephesus?
A: the three major things to see are St Johns basilica,  the ruins of Efes,  and the home of Mary,  the mother of Jesus.  Be warned,  they aren’t all close together,  so plan ahead!

Q: What to do about taxi services? Is it safe to walk around?
A: Walking is the main form of transportation if you want to see a city.  Taxis are like NYC,  you flag them down and prepare yourself for being overcharged.


Q: Is there a place you consider the prettiest site in Turkey? Particularly Istanbul or Ephesus related*
A: Everywhere is amazing, but for Istanbul it would be the cafe I mentioned earlier.  For Ephesus, I was really blown away at the library ruins.

Q: I have heard of the famous bazaar there but is it a place to go? 
A: if you are talking about the spice bazaar,  then absolutely! If not for the sites, then for the goodies! Be sure to buy an assortment of Turkish sweets samples, and not just Turkish delight! I love candy sucuk (regular sucuk is sausage), which is a fruit gummy log with nuts inside… Mmmmmmmm !

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Other

Q: Hardest adjustment Americans will have to make?
A: Two words.  Turkish.  Toilets.  Carry toilet paper and 1tl coins… And go ahead and practice your squats.

Q: How late is too late to be out in Turkey? Is 6 o’clock reasonable time?
A: that depends on where you are… But city centers are bustling all night long! We were out in Istanbul at 10pm, drinking tea at the Pierre loti cafe! However I would advise exploring only during day light hours so you don’t get lost.

Q: What is the number one souvenir you think tourist would need to bring back when they go to Turkey?
A:
That depends on the person.  Consumable: Turkish delight.  Decor or jewelry: nazar charms.  Usable: tea cup or cezve (Turkish coffee pot)

Q: Are you allowed to take pics inside mosques or this considered offensive? 
A: It is OK unless there is a sign saying otherwise

  Thanks to those who sent in questions!  If you have any additional questions, please include them in the comments below and I will edit the list as long as I can.  For more tips and tricks to navigating Turkey and Turkish life, check out my turkish lessons series!  Undoubtedly the lessons will be getting more and more detailed as I too learn how to live a Turkish Life!

Down Memory Lane

  While in SC I am trying to reconnect/ visit with as many people as I can.  Saturday I went with my old roommate back to our stomping grounds- Clemson SC!  It was great seeing one of my closest work friends, who now has a baby!  Even though I hadn’t seen them for several months/years, we picked up right where we left off. It is amazing how some things never change.

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It’s About That Time

This comic post is a little late since we got so busy packing the last week… for those of you who don’t follow me on instagram, we left Florida yesterday morning- for the last time.  We are now in South Carolina, staying with my mom, waiting on the final word regarding our delicate situation… yes, it has been a many-months-long process.  Inshallah the news will be good!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Half n’ Half

 This week’s photo challenge is called half and half, and it couldn’t come at a better time.

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When your heart is in two places, you are never completely happy.  I’m half in the US, and half in Turkey.  No matter where I am- that’s the case!  While it is so cool and exciting to have a “double life”, two different lives in two totally different places… it also takes its toll.  Eventually this half and half situation will slide…more towards one side than the other.  Having been mentally preparing myself for years, I haven’t allowed myself to slide more to the American side…because it would only make moving to Turkey harder.  Living that half n’ half life…

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Now for a simply appealing half and half picture for the poor readers who wandered here on accident, and didn’t want to hear me waxing existential:

Half sky, half earth…a pic from my time in Austria