Who are you and what have you done with my Clorox?!

I never considered myself to be a “brand loyalty” person, but I found out that I secretly am.  It’s even a secret to me! 

  This doesn’t tend to be an issue for foods that I am not accustomed to, or I am always willing to branch out in (i.e. cookies, snacks, cheeses, and the like).  However, it appears I am a stickler for my chemicals, cleaners, and non-edible products.

 Take bleach, for example.  Here, a common brand name is Güldal.  Their product is even in the same style bottle as bleach in the states

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It looks like bleach, smells like bleach, behaves like bleach, but because it doesn’t say clorox, my brain refuses to accept this product as bleach.  Similarly, toothpaste has been a struggle.

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You’re not COLGATE

  Another big one for me is mayonnaise.  If you are a self-respecting southerner, you will only purchase and use DUKES mayonnaise.  However, the options for mayonnaise are limited in Turkey, since it isn’t the most commonly used condiment around here.  I grudgingly buy you, random turkish brand…but my heart will never accept you.  Not like we use mayo that much anyway…

Don’t even get me started on coffee.

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WHY!?

  Honestly, I would even purchase store brands (Walmart/great value, Publix, etc) in a pinch, but even that was okay in my heart of hearts.  Those are brands that I’ve atleast witnessed on the shelves or seen others using in my 25 years in the United States.  These peculiar new brands do not resonate with me like the ones back home.  I’m certain this will change as my mind adjusts to these shelves stocked with strangely named products and brands. 

  Do any other expats struggle with this mental disconnect?

 

Leave America at the airport

While rocking together on a porch swing in the cool Mediterranean night, my husband turned to me and asked

How are you feeling about Turkey?

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Naturally, my first instinct was to say “good!” but, I wanted to give a more detailed answer than that.  Between jet lag and all of the running around we had been doing, I had been very tired recently and he was worried about how quiet I had been for the week we had been there- and that I hadn’t been my normal, bubbly self.

  I assure you all, I am just exhausted.  

But anyway, I started to really think about how I felt about Turkey. Really. And the word that kept coming to my mind was

different

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But not different in a bad way, like how my mom uses it to describe food she doesn’t like…but different in a..different sort of way.  I know you shouldn’t use the same word to define or describe a word, but there it is.  Turkey is different than the US. It just is.  If you come here looking for a western experience, you are going to be very disappointed.  The traffic is different, the speaking is different, the way of showing affection is different, the buildings are different, the lifestyle is different… the only thing that isn’t different is that we all bleed the same blood.  It is so different.

I can understand how culture shock could flatten a lot of people who aren’t prepared for this huge change.  I suffered it myself the first time we came four years ago.  Fortunately I know what to expect this time around, and have been mentally preparing myself for this change for several years.  Also, I have the huge benefit of the love and support of family (in Turkey and back int he US) while I am here.  That definitely helps take the edge off.

A bit of advice to those struggling with a culture adjustment- jump in with both feet and leave America (or wherever you are from) at the airport.  Fighting against your new home will only make you miserable.  Embrace it, enjoy it, and find the parts that give you comfort.

I hope it keeps working for me too :).