Reverse Culture Shock? 

I have great news! 

Finally! 

I’ve bought my plane ticket to go home this summer! After two years, I finally will step foot on American soil, and I will tread it for two months (insallah). 

Let’s skip the political drama and go straight to the fear of reverse culture shock. A term for when you’ve been out of your own culture so long, when you return you experience a shock as if it were foreign. 

 I’ve read that culture shock comes in three stages. 

First, the honeymoon stage. Everything is sunshine and rainbows, and butterflies fly out of every crevice you can find. I personally call this the vacation stage. Where all the new things are exciting and you just gobble it up. This is very well documented at the beginning of my “in turkey” posts. 

Second comes the homesickness. The feeling of vacation has worn off because you’ve been away from your country long enough that you must put down your roots here. This is when the every day convenience of knowing- you know- everything, becomes glaringly obvious. You never even realized how something as reactive as checking out in the grocery store line was until you are forced to do it in a country where you barely understand the language and don’t recognize the money. You’re frustrated and angry. This is also pretty well documented on my blog. 

The final stage, much like the stages of grief, is acceptance. You accept your new home for what it is. That some things are good, some things are bad, but you are able to function and generally have a life. It’s gonna take many years to get to the comfort of your own country, but it’s a process. 

I guess that’s where I am? I don’t know. But that brings up the issue of reverse culture shock. 

Now that I’ve basically adjusted to Turkey, will America be the same as I remember it? Or will my Turkish tinted goggles make everything look different? Again not getting too deep into the politics, but will things be harder for me as a hijabi than they were before (side note: it was easier in America when I left than it is now.)?

Since I came to Turkey I’ve become more patriotic. I wave my invisible American flag and recite the national anthem every Friday after school (right after the Turkish one is recited at school).  Every time someone does something ridiculously Turkish I roll my eyes and say “no one would do that in America”.

Maybe I’m a stick in the mud for Turkey, but I am how I am and I prefer my interactions as I prefer them. 

But what if America isn’t the way I remember it? What if I have nowhere to aspire to anymore…

The thought makes my stomach hurt.  

Advertisements

An Uneventful Bayram and Pleasant Surprise! 

Sorry guys, no pictures this time… 

This last Kurban Bayram was very uneventful, unlike the one we had last year (which I documented with one post per Bayram day!).  All we did was get dragged around Bergama to see all the old family members (read: anneanne, teyze, and hala) and there was no big dinner like last time. No picnic. Not as many people sacrificed this year, because the cost of a lamb or cow just keeps going up! 

And of course there were family fights and drama, but I tend to walk away when that happens. 

But one thing I do want to share with you is my new favorite köfte joint in Dikili (a short 20 minute or so drive from Bergama)! 

Sorry again,  no pictures.  I just kind of sucked it down… 

It’s called Bay Gözlük and can be found down one of the side streets.  There is a main round about near the Dikili çarşı, and if you look at about 2 o’clock with your back to the sea, you’ll see the köfte shop. It’s quite small and old school, but amazing! I wasn’t looking forward to a köfte ekmek (I had wanted ayvalık tostu…) but I’m glad I went for the popular choice! 

The bread was soft and buttery and crammed with tomato, onion, and köfte.  Not one bite went meatless. Oh,  and the spice mix was something else! I swear I tasted turmeric and maybe a smidgen of ginger? And for 5₺ no less! 

But what brought the whole thing home was the pickles. The usta set a whole jar of sliced salatalık turşu on the table…

And when I pulled them out and tasted it… 

I could have sworn it was Vlassic.  That sweet, tangy, dill taste that I have been searching for this last year.  Here,  in front of me. And now all over my sandwich. I think he regretted putting out the jar, because I ate half of it.  Legit, at least 10 slices of pickle.  

I wish I had pictures, but you’ll just have to go and see for yourself! 

Beach-less Week at the Beach 

If you follow my Instagram,  you’ll know I just got back from a week at the beach! 


 But I never actually got to… You know… Go to the beach. 


The struggle of being a not-fully-functioning adult is that you are at the whim of your caretakers. For the weekdays, they were my in laws.  Love them to death, but there’s only so much old folks can do before they get tuckered out. I got to look at the water but not actually put my feet in the sand. 


Hubby joined us on the weekend, but he slept the majority of the day so we couldn’t go to the beach then either. We did spend the entire night (until 3am) out on the town, but still no beach! We went back Sunday in the afternoon to beat the traffic. 

It was still a lot of fun! 

But hopefully we will get another chance soon. The summer is still young! 

By April I mean December, and by December I mean July 2017

Even before we boarded the plane last August,  everyone was asking when we would be back.  I didn’t know at the time, and said we would play it by ear.

The following January,  I had thought that I would be starting a job this September. As you all already know, my headscarf kept that from happening.  But before that,  I had told my family that I would plan on visiting in April (with the promise a future income,  I felt comfortable dropping big money).  Unfortunately I had to take that back.

A bit later,  I had anticipated another job… Another job that didn’t work out.  At that moment I had planned on taking a Christmas break and visiting my family in December.  Well,  looks like that won’t be happening either.

And now I’m starting a course in June,  hoping to find work in the coming months.  Mostly I’ve been applying to schools (which,  as you know,  I didn’t intend to do… But so many are hiring!),  which means I won’t be able to go back to the states until NEXT summer.

image

My mom started a new job on a production line,  so she’s been too busy to miss me.  Hah!  But really, having a scheduled job again instead of being her own boss has made planning a return trip home difficult.  Having to line up her vacation days with my (potential) ones is no easy task! Right now we are hoping I will be able to go stateside again next July for independence day (my favorite holiday!). 

Two whole years (ok, 23 months) since I left.  How will it feel?

Will America still be the way I remember it?

Will it be better? Worse?

What about my hometown? It hasn’t even felt like mine since I moved away for college.  But it feels a lot more mine than Izmir does right now.

While I do feel a little broken hearted (a little crack I guess) that I still have a whole year to wait before I face a 10hr plane flight solo, I knew it could have been like this when we left. Things never seem to go according to plan for us.

And it’s been about a year already, dang!

But hopefully this will.  And maybe if I’m lucky,  I’ll be bringing back more than luggage with me!

The Grass Is Always Greener (except for when it’s not*)

I’m sure most of us are familiar with the old adage “the grass is always greener on the other side”… Which means, everything else seems better than whatever your situation is (an issue of perspective).  While I try not to be that person and seek to embrace the here and now, I’m constantly finding myself looking over that fence and wishing for something different.

But then when I get it, I want something else (or even worse, what I had before).

It is never immediate, though.  It usually takes me at least 2 months (maximum 6) to get bored of my current situation.  This isn’t a new trend for me either, I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember.  Whether it is about work or school or how my room is arranged, I get BORED.

For example…

When pursuing my undergrad in Clemson, SC… I moved every year.  As soon as my lease was up,  I’d pick up everything and move to another apartment. To my defense, there was always something off about the apartment I was in (too small, bug problems, graduated and time to go, etc) but it doesn’t change the fact that it was a trend.  In Florida we only moved once (from a small apartment to a bigger one when I joined my hubby at UF),  but after a year we moved everything in the house because we were BORED OF IT.  We always need a change.

When I first moved to Florida I had a whole summer with no job, and no class.  No real point in taking a job when I would be working for the University in a few months,  you know? Don’t want to deal with another W2… But anyway,  I had been looking forward to a whole summer of nothing but beach trips and laying around.  In case you forgot,  I pulled double duty in Clemson (school full time plus a part time job after classes and on weekends).  I had been dieing for a little personal time.  I’m sure you can guess what happened… I was climbing the walls in 2 months. 

image

When I started my graduate program, I was thrilled!  I would find any excuse to be hard at work in the lab, assisting in everyone else’s projects.  Even when mine started,  I planned everything to a T,  enjoying the details and relishing the time spent working hard.  But it only took a week of driving 3 hours every day, digging in the dirt for an hour plus, then busting my hump for hours in the lab for me to regret my decision (spoiler alert: it was all worth it in the end!).  That was about 6 months into my program.

While in Florida I developed an affinity for kitchen projects (homemade bread, yogurt, pasta, cheese, etc), and was always looking for extra time to start one.  As my graduation and our upcoming move to Turkey approached, I wistfully thought of all the time I could spend as a housewife on such projects- including sewing, working on my art, writing,  etc.  Plus the excitement of moving to a new country, learning a new language, and adjusting to a new way of life would surely keep me busy (and entertained!).

image

Of course, for a while, it did.  It took about 4 months for me to learn how to do things on my own.  Towards the end of that learning period I was frustrated and sick to death of being monitored every minute.  I missed being able to do things on my own!  Grocery trips, laundry,  even cooking required the watchful eye of my mother in law… And some things still do.  How I craved my independence again (a side effect of moving to a country where you don’t speak the language well)!

But now that I can do things on my own for the most part,  people expect me to.  And now I’m annoyed about that too!  I don’t want to do five people’s laundry by myself.  I don’t want to cook everyone’s meal.  My arms are tired from kneading enough dough to feed a family with lavaş.  I’m biting my tongue and kicking myself for wanting my independence and looking back at when we first moved and nothing was expected of me. Why did I want more responsibility?

OH yeah, and art projects/ learning Turkish? Bored of that too.  As you can see by my lack of comics lately… I just don’t feel it right now. Or as they say in Turkey,

canım istemiyor

.

image

And as of January I became bored with the housewife life and started looking for a job.  My dream of endless hours of projects and hobbies turned into a nightmare!  I crave the social aspects of a job, of having a reason to get up and get dressed in the morning, of having a goal every day that is assigned to me.  Sure, that goal could be to clean the house- but I’m bored of that.  I want something else!  Hell, I even miss UF and all the work I did there as a teaching and research assistant. I’m sure I’ll be happy with a job for a while… And as long as the job keeps giving me new things to do I will probably be entertained for a while.

But it is a certainty that I will again grow BORED of what I’m doing.  As soon as I make something a routine, I don’t like it anymore. What’s wrong with me?  This can’t be normal.  I always wonder how my husband can entertain himself for days on end by studying the same things, watching the same lectures, and writing the same notes.  I mean,  they are probably different but it’s the same to me!

My next goal is to be able to move out and get my independence back (İnşallah).  We had become so used to it being just us that it is a huge burden living with three other people (family or not!).  I’m sure I’ll miss the crowded house after we leave it.  Or maybe not? Maybe that’s one thing I won’t get bored of!

I think the key is balance…which I had at UF (some work, some school, some off time, some friends/social outings), but I was still bored. It could very well be that the life of a student (I. E. Being poor and pinching pennies) was what I was bored of. No TV, no dinner table, no nice vacations (well we did have a few we made out of a necessary trip)… But I don’t know. I have a curious spirit I guess. It’s always looking for something new.

The Best Laid Plans

If you guys remember my post from three months ago, when we first got to Turkey, our trip from the US was anything but easy.  Having missed our initial connection in Germany due to a bad weather delay in the US, we had a long layover and arrived in Turkey at 1am.  What should have been a 2 “day” (including time changes) trip with an arrival at 2pm on Day 2 turned into a 3 “day”trip with a 1am arrival.  And if you don’t recall, my husband is borderline phobic of planes.  It went a little something like this:

2526

Needless to say, I’m not exactly looking forward to my first visit back to the states… the best laid plans, am I right?

Turkey 650: Turkish Family Residency Permit-How To!

Today, after weeks of preparation, we finally went to the immigration office in Izmir to turn in my documents for my residency permit.  Alhamdulillah and Allah cok sukur, we got it right the first try!  Let me tell you right now, so many people/websites/officials told us different things- that I was very concerned about succeeding in this endeavor.  Several friends told me about their struggles of getting a work permit for Turkey, and that really had me wondering if I would be ok.  Well, here I am, with a successfully completed Family Residency Permit!  It appears as though being married to a Turk makes a huuuuuge difference when it comes to the residency permit process.

I really wish someone would have told me straight how the process went…so now I am going to tell you!

Keep in mind that every situation is different- and these are a few of the things that made our situation unique:

  1. I am American, my husband is Turkish
  2. We have been married 2.5 years, so citizenship eligibility is right around the corner
  3. Hubby is awaiting assignment to his job by the government- he isn’t just jobless
  4. We went EVERYWHERE for these things together, and with his dad.  I feel like having a “team” helps the process
  5. We applied and completed everything in Izmir
  6. I have no criminal record

If I were a Cuban male, married for five minutes, and applying in Kayseri by myself- would things be different? I have NO idea.  That’s why I want to really impress upon you that what I did and what worked for me may not work for you.  But this is how it went….

 What you need:

4 photographs of you, within the last 6 months, BIOMETRIC (Biometrik)

1 photo of your spouse, BIOMETRIC

Your passport, and a photo copy

Your spouse’s Turkish ID and photo copy

Proof of 24k TL from the bank, in your spouse’s name (from the day of your application)

Proof of Turkish insurance

Your Turkish marriage licence

Proof of Turkish residency for your spouse

Your vergi (tax) number

Your entry visa

$145 (in TL, at the exchange rate of the day) and 55TL

What is a family residency permit?

The family residency permit is intended for allowing the spouse (and children) of a Turkish citizen to remain in the country for 2 years.  The 2 years is kind of pre-determined.  Whether or not you can make it less, I am not sure.  However, I am pretty sure that you can’t make it more than 2 years on the first application.  This is my understanding.  I went for the 2 years permit even though I am eligible for citizenship in a few months, because that citizenship process takes forever- and it is better to be safe than sorry.  A friend of mine recently applied for citizenship based on bloodline, around 3 months ago, and she is still waiting for approval.

The good side is that it seems like the easiest/ cheapest permit to obtain. On the bad side, you don’t have the right to work.

Biometric photos

We obtained our biometric photos from a “foto kent”. Biometric is basically just a face close up with a white background.  I was scarved and also wore some makeup- but nothing crazy (a bit of blusher, eyeliner, light eye shadow, and filled in eyebrows). If you look like someone else, they may not accept it.  No problem with being covered though. Ask for a digital copy- it will make filling out your online application form a lot easier.

Passport/ Turkish ID

I think this is pretty straight forward.  Make sure you copy the page with your info and picture on it.  Turkish IDs need both sides copied.

Proof of money

The proof of money was also a lot simpler than I though it would be!  You simply go to the bank and ask for the proof from your Turkish citizen spouse’s account. It will be signed by the bank worker on duty.  If you have your account in dollars rather than TL, ask the bank associate to include a statement of what the value of the dollars would be that day, in TL.  That worked for us- but if someone at the immigration office is having a bad day, they may not accept it.  Fair warning.  ***IT IS CRITICAL THAT YOU OBTAIN THIS FORM THE DAY OF YOUR APPOINTMENT

You can spend it all after you’re done 😉

Proof of insurance

Ok, this is where the situation becomes uniquely married.  That is, I am covered under my husband’s SGK- national health coverage.  If you just got here, you will have to pay a fee for it (unless it is after the elections on Nov 1, 2015 when you read this- then I have no idea).  There is a form to obtain from the SGK office, and something to print off from online to prove you are covered.  Bring it all.  Heck, we even got a special form from the SGK office with my name on it saying I am covered too, just to be safe.

No need to buy private insurance when you are married ;).

The first lady we saw at the SGK office told us that we had to get all of these forms to prove that we just arrived in Turkey and had been in the US previously.  What a headache.  We asked someone else, and they said a stamped passport was enough.  This is a GREAT example of how things in Turkey sometimes depend on the person you talk to.

Turkish marriage license

If you got married outside of Turkey as we did, you would have to file your marriage with the Turkish consulate.  You will receive the aile cuzdani (marriage license).  We did this the week after we married. YOU NEED THIS. If you haven’t done it yet- do it now!

Spousal residency

Again, as we just arrived, we had to go to some building that said nufus on it…don’t ask, this was when we just got here about 2 months ago, and have hubbys father sign a paper saying that hubby was living in Turkey again.  You are going to need that form.

Vergi/tax number

When you are a non-citizen who wants to have a bank account or do something financial with the Turkish government, you need a tax number.  You will be able to get this with your passport at your local Vergi Dairesi.  It takes a few days for the system to register you, so do this early.  You need this number to pay your fee.

Entry visa

THIS is something that took me FOREVER and a lot of STRESS to find out.  If you are coming into Turkey and intend to get a family residency permit.. you can enter on an E-VISA/tourist with no problems!  Everywhere I looked it said E-VISAs can only be used for short term residency permits.  Well, that was a big fat lie.  You can get your visa for entry into Turkey as simple as click, click on the internet!  Bring a copy of the print out when you go to the appointment.

$145/ 55TL fee

This is where we hit our snag today.  The fee for a 2 year family permit is pretty low compared to others, that I have heard.  Is this because Im American or because it is a family permit? I have no idea. But that was the fee.  PLEASE note, so you don’t make our mistake, the $145 should be paid in TURKISH LIRA according to the exchange rate of THAT DAY.  You will pay at the vergi daire that is closest to your immigration office.  Bring two photocopies of your receipt!

The application form

The application form is pretty standard and easy to answer.  YOUR permanent address should be the one in your home country.  You only have to answer the questions in red.  The area that was confusing for us was the “supporter’s work/income” section.  Because we had the proof of funds, we simply put 1000TL for the income, because you are basically showing 2 years of minimum wage when you show the 24K TL in the bank.  I don’t know if this could be a problem for someone who is NOT waiting for a gov’t job. As hubby understood it, if you have the cash in the bank- the income is not important. Either way, it worked out.  Also, I filled out and sent in this form the day before the appointment (because that’s all we had open).  I heard that if your visa runs out while you await your permit appointment that it’s ok…but I don’t like pushing the limits.

I want to stress- very much stress- HIGHLIGHT, UNDERLINE, and BOLD:

everyone and everywhere is different

It is unfortunate that, as I have come to realize, everything can be made more difficult when someone is in a mood.  If the bank teller doesn’t like you, they may not give you a form stating turkish lira and dollars. If the vergi daire person doesn’t like you, your form could take longer to process.  If the immigration office person thinks your hair needs work, they can say your insurance proof is insufficient and you need more documentation. That is Turkey.  Sure, if you complain you can probably get around all that nonsense- but it is a head ache none the less.

If you have any other insights for different countries/ cities/ situations, please send me a message or drop a comment below to help out the others in your situation!

 GOOD LUCK!

That Farm Life Though

Anneanne owns a field out in a koy area in Izmir, and a large portion of the family came out to help pick up the walnuts from the three trees that are out there in early September!

walnurt1

It was an all day event- and I got to be a farmer for a while.  The youngest dayi climbed the trees and beat them with sticks to make the walnuts fall, and everyone else picked them up and threw them in buckets and sacks.

And by everyone else, I mean mostly the second oldest dayi and Baba.

I mostly played with puppies.

walnut2

It was still a lot of fun!  Hubby played with a pellet gun and practiced his aim.  He started out not hitting anything, but by the end of the day he was knocking cans off tree stumps. We made tea over an open flame and ate lots of walnuts and figs.

walnut3walnut6walnut5

As the day progressed and our tummies rumbled, the oldest dayi prepared kofte. He used to own a restaurant at one time, and he has quite a way with knives!  I was mesmerized by his technique of chipping an onion into finely diced pieces using only a knife and his hand- no cutting board!  He even laughed at my amazed expression.

Since the summer has mostly come to an end, the nights are coming sooner.  We ended up eating our dinner by lamp light- 12 of us huddled around a blanket covered in food- fried potatoes, kofte, peppers, salad, and bread.  You don’t know how dark darkness really is until you sit in a field with no lights at night.  I even caught a glimpse of some heat lightening in the distance.

Little did I know that that heat lightening would be followed up by two days of rain.

It is actually quite interesting how much I enjoy these simple things.  When I was young you couldn’t pay me to be outside more than five minutes.  As I’ve gotten older- I’ve come to embrace the outdoors more and more…sweat and all.

walnut4

Now is the right time for me to be in Turkey, huh?

A day at the beach- Turkey style

Recently we went to the beach

And it was quite an affair!

beach

The whole side of Anne’s family came to this event, including cousins who came all the way from Antalya!  This beach trip was a day long outing, arriving at 9 am (which was actually later than we intended) and leaving after sundown.

Upon arrival we scouted out a picnic space, where we quickly corralled the cars and formed our own private space, with a beautiful view of the ocean.  Laying down mats and blankets, a large sitting space was formed and the piknik tüpü (small propane tanks) were fired up, and tea was quickly brewed.  Well, as quickly as tea can be brewed in Turkey and still be deemed acceptable.

beach4

The night before we prepared loads of gül börek with lor (cheese curd) and herb filling.  These, along with boiled eggs and olives, served as our breakfast.  It didn’t take long for the kids to run down to the ocean front and begin swimming.  But we had to be very cautious of prickly sea urchins, which this beach is known for!

The adults (including myself) stretched out with pillows and found our own leisurely activities to enjoy.

beach2

While I read my nook in the shade of an olive tree, Hubby and is uncle enjoyed a few rounds of tavla (backgammon).  Later, I took part in a few games of okey (rummikube), which I actually prefer.  I know tavla is supposed to be, like, the national board game of Turkey- but I just can’t get the hang of it. My family back in the states used to play tournament Rummikube at family reunions, so I’m much more familiar with that game.

Before dinner we went down to the beach and enjoyed a brief swim.  After noon the water gets rather choppy, and the wind will chill you once you get out of the water! This is particularly true for me, since I wear a whole swimming costume to keep everything covered.  I had the great pleasure of escorting Hubby’s youngest female cousin who is around 5 years old, into the water.  She insistently wanted to show me something- but all I could understand out of her mouth was yenge…at least I’m not the only one who struggles to understand her slurred words!

Returning at the beginning of dinner preparations, the ladies of the family-led by Anne- fussed over my wet clothes and bundled me into the back of an uncle’s van to change.  How do these people have loads of clothes everywhere? How do they know what to bring? Turkish mysteries…

For dinner we enjoyed loads of mangal and köfte, along with a delicious salad consisting of chopped lettuce, peppers, onion, tomato, cucumber, salt, lemon juice, and olive oil.  As the men cooked over the grill, the women prepared the salad and broke the bread, making sure everyone got their share.  I apologize for the lack of pictures, but I was rather busy stuffing my face.

Lastly, watermelons and melons were sliced, along with cookies, sunflower seeds, and other munchie things.  All the while the kids were running back and forth from the ocean to our picnic shelter.

Listening to the adults speak, I did get a little upset that I couldn’t understand much of what they were saying- but they were sure to include me in their jokes, and make sure I felt welcome.

beach3

We were the last to leave the area well after dark- saying selams and görüşürüz as the large pack of over 20 people went their separate ways.  I love the depth of family in Turkey, and how important it is to stay in touch.  Unfortunately, due to jobs and school, summer is the only time everyone can get together.

Until next year!

Greetings from Izmir!

DSCN2758

Wow, it seems like forever since we landed in Izmir at 1am on Wednesday morning- but today is only Monday!  Upon landing we were greeted by my in-laws and some cousins and whisked away to the beach…where there is no internet.

But that’s ok! We have been so busy managing the garden, visiting the beach, and seeing family that we haven’t had time to miss it.  Here is a teaser of what we have been up to in the last five days…
DSCN2796dancinguse

DSCN2808
We will be staying at the internet-less beach house until October, so I can’t be sure about my posting schedule.  The posts will come eventually though! Especially now that we are trying to figure out my residency permit stuff and what not. Ah, to be an expat…