When is “enough, enough!”

  Dangling at the precipice of a looming graduation, we stare down the barrel of a big decision.  

While a May (Spring) graduation was not meant to be, I will most likely be graduating inshallah in August 2015.  Yes, that is only a few months away!  While I am very excited to take my degree, that leaves us in a precarious situation.  The time has come to make a decision about Turkey.

The hubster has shot his final bullet, attempted the last remaining problem that he could think to take on.  His adviser was very supportive of this topic and he has been working on it since November 2014.  Come to find out… it has been solved already, two years ago by a research team that he knows, in Turkey.  The day we found out was devastating.  I can’t even find a stronger word to describe the inner turmoil.  With only one year left on his visa/ scholarship and nothing to show, we are left with the soul-crushing decision of “is enough finally enough?”  When is staying in the US doing more harm than good?  For me? Well, I will be graduated in August inshallah and it makes no difference for me.  To be quite honest…this would be a good time for me to uproot and leave.  If we were to stay another year, I would have to find a job and a source of insurance due to the new “you must have insurance” law (at the moment, the school provides it for me). This would be the ideal time to make a clean break…well, as clean as it can be when you are leaving your home country to start a new life.

But for him. For him…no.  There is no clean break.  There cannot be a clean break until he obtains his PhD.  At this point…is it even feasible?  That is the question we are saddled with.  The psychological damage caused by our latest revelation, along with years of abuse from his adviser (see previous posts for those stories…some were not even mentioned), he can see no shining light at the end of the tunnel.  This leads us to ask- is staying in the US another year worth the time? We aren’t getting any younger.  True, if we stayed another year that is more money in our pocket to help start our lives in Turkey…but that is a year of “working debt” that he has to endure, regardless of what degree he returns with.  Even more, if he wants to continue pining for his PhD in Turkey, that is a year he could have been working on it there.  We are wondering if staying is just prolonging the inevitable defeat.  Of course, being the optimist, I am always encouraging him and telling him that his degree is still possible.  But it would take a miracle.  I’m constantly praying for one.

At the moment he is saying that going back to Turkey is the likely choice (we’ve given ourselves until April to decide).  But we both know that his heart is not in this decision, and it is still clinging to the chance at a PhD.  I can’t even describe my frustrations at this situation.  He isn’t lazy, he isn’t stupid.  He is one of the smartest people I’ve met in my life mashallah and if this life was fair, he would have his PhD in hand by now.

Please keep us in your prayers as this life-changing decision looms before us.

——-~———

As stated above, the time is coming for our departure (either now or a year from now), and we could use your help.  If you are looking for someone in need to donate your sadaqa (charity) to, look no further. In order to start a new life abroad, it costs money.  Beginning your life over with nothing but two suitcases is a challenge.  We have some funds, but two plane tickets would go a long way in helping us out.  Visit the link below to donate.  Even $5 can help us.

When in Turkey… we need a hand!

A change of opinion

My husband and I have been enjoying the first two days of our vacation (mashallah), sunshine and blue skies!  This has been more than a break for us thusfar, it’s been a chance for us to think about our current situation as far as school is concerned. and where we want to go from here.   Last night we began looking at real estate for this area, just for fun.  How expensive is it to live on an island? Ofcourse, as you  can probably imagne, the prices ranged between 100k-300k, regardless of location on the island.  Well, what about in Turkey?  We then looked up real estate in the small ocean town where the in-laws have built a beach house (a long project that’s been around since before the hubby was born).  The price was still around 100k…turkish lira.  If you aren’t familiar with the conversion factor at this time (April 2014), it’s 2.13 (USD->TL). So that means… about 50K dollars.  WHAT?  yes. An Agean sea view apartment, 2 or 3 bedrooms, 50k dollars.

At this point the hubby shared with me that if we both could work in the US, even for one year, we could make more than twice that much together.  He expressed a desire to work in the US, even if it’s only for a few years.  Surely, he stated, this would give us a huge leg up financially in Turkey.  I nodded my head, smiling, then opened my mouth and said:

“But I wan’t to live in Turkey.”

Hm, since when did THAT happen?  I surprised myself with this candid statement.  He smiled and said that he knew that I would be happy living in Turkey.  But I still can’t help but wonder when my opinion on this matter became so concrete.  Turkey seemed like a cloud on the horizon, perhaps there is a silver lining somewhere- but it was a cloud none the less.  But now,  there is no doubt in my mind that I want to experience life in Turkey!  The food, the culture, the life style…I want it all!  Whether or not I could work in Turkey, I don’t know, but I know I wan’t to try!  Additionally, I miss my in-laws!  Being in University,  I am not close to either my in-laws or my own family.  Indeed, I don’t even hear from my own family as frequently as I hear from my in-laws (once a month/ every two weeks vs every weekend).  I’m not angry or accusing my family of not caring, they are simply busy, working, while my in-laws are retired.  Still, there is no doubt that I love them all, and living further and further away from my own family makes living in Turkey seem less difficult (on a personal front).

So where does that leave us now?  Well, struggling to finish our degrees seems to be the case.  He is still unsure if he can take his PhD at this rate, but I am always the encouraging voice in the background.  Hayirlisi olsun.  Whatever comes next is nasip.

For all the right reasons

Do you ever wonder if you are doing something for the right reason? Sometimes it’s hard to say…especially when this decision will change your way of life forever!  You begin to ask yourself questions like:

“Am I doing this to blend in/ be different?”
” I like this now, but will I like it 5yr from now?”
“Am I just caught up in the rush of it?  Do I really feel this way?”
“I don’t care what others think,  but will I stick by this life choice if the going gets tough?”

Both marriage and moving to Turkey were easier decision to make than this one. What I’m talking about is converting to Islam and wearing the hijab.

Yes yes yes, I know what you’re thinking. You probably know (or are) a muslim who doesn’t wear hijab. No one can force me to wear it, I don’t have to wear it if I don’t want to. I suppose this is partially true. No one can force me, and that is a fact. But I feel like, if I am going to claim a religion that I wasn’t raised in, I must do everything that entails.

I really do like hijab. I think it is beautiful and comfortable. However, I began “trying it on” in the winter. Recently the high temperature here have reached 80F and I longed to feel the warm sun on my arms and neck. I have no problem covering my hair, I have been doing that for years (not daily, but several times a week with scarves given to me when I was in Turkey). What makes it difficult is covering my neck and wrists. I greatly admire the muslimahs that wear hijab as a sign of devotion.

But even with this issue, I cannot deny my draw to Islam. This has been a change I’ve been struggling with and contemplating since our return from Turkey in 2011. I have been looking deeply into the practices and beliefs of Islam, making sure that I am fully informed and agree with the aspects of Islam that many people may not know, even trying to reconcile the truth with the questionable practices we in the US associate with the Middle East. The more I read, the more I understand and love the faith. I’ve been told that it is better to accept the faith, take my shahada, and then try and adjust myself to the requirements and expectations. For instance, I haven’t eaten pork in 4 years (I never was a fan), but not drinking on occasion is a feat I still am trying to complete. Not touching men…well, I find refusing a business hand shake incredibly rude, so that one may never come to fruition completely in the US. But no one is perfect! Even the completely veiled hijabis have faults. It’s part of the faith to struggle with ourselves (inner jihad).

If my heart knows that Islam is the true and right way, why am I holding back? Changes…they’re hard. And I continue to circle back to my original questions. Is this really how I feel? Or am I caught up in the rush of a new concept to adapt to, and a group to which I can belong?

…and nothing else matters

the future?
the future?

Every day things look worse and worse for us here.  I really have no idea what we are going to do…and what will happen.  When you don’t know how it is going to end, it is hard to care about the assignments in front of you.  For instance, I have a paper due (the lit review of my masters thesis proposal) as a class assignment for one of my courses, at the end of this semester…but oh how hard it is to give two cares when I probably won’t see next semester.   At first I was partially excited to return to Turkey, imagining the days spent without any stress or concern, baking and watching TV all day with no end to the relaxation in sight…

But then there’s the money problem.

The stipend for PhD students is minimal at best, if you get any at all.  With uni being free in Turkey, the  stipend side is iffy.  Here, if you get an assistantship to pay tuition, more likely than not you get a stipend as well.  Not so in Turkey.

Also, if he decides, or comes to the point, where he will be working solely from his Master degree, he will receive a monthly pay (thats how they do it, a monthly rate instead of hourly) of approximately as much as the stipend he is receiving now to take his PhD in the US.  Two people living off the measily stipend of a student? Good luck with that.  Yes, Turkey is a much cheaper place to live…because many of the comforts we enjoy in the US are not as common place there.  I am quite certain I cannot work on a resident permit, let alone work without a grasp of Turkish.  This adds to my concerns.  It was hard enough starting over in a new state when we were able to drag everything we owned with us (pots, pans, linens, etc), let alone starting off in a new COUNTRY where all we have is what could fit in 4 suitcases!

This adds to the urgency of finishing up in the US. First, padding our savings with the stipend money that we try very hard to save could benefit us enormously when we move.  Second, the starting salary he would receive from finishing his PhD would be a good 1,000TL higher a MONTH.  Roughly, ofcourse.

We are trying our best to make it work here.  He does NOT want to go back to Turkey empty handed, and neither do I.  Clearly, staying in the US is the best option… if he can get his PhD.  If not, there is no chance of being able to get it after waiting even one year.  With military service looming overhead, he would not be able to finish a PhD in Turkey in time…the long term result being a minimal salary that couldn’t provide the lifestyle (or the family size) we had in mind.

He said already “Raziysan gel” (great song), and I agreed and came with him.  Regardless of our situation, I will be with him in the end.

Always back to the same place…

How many times must we come to this same point?  Again we find ourselves at the never ending crossroads- the inevitable move to Turkey.  It will happen one day, and each week the day changes.  This time, it seems as though his advisor has declared he will never receive a PhD from this university…that is a strong statement to make.  They are not going to work out, no matter how hard he tries to get along with his advisor.  Now he is prepared to burn all the bridges and bring this ridiculous activity to the department chair.  GOOD!  That man is a bully and a jerk, he needs to be put in his place.

But what does that mean for us?

Obviously,  if no new advisor is found it will be back to Turkey for us.  At this point, I’m ok with that.  WHATEVER it takes to make the madness stop.  I can’t even enjoy the effort to receive my Master degree with a new crisis popping up each week.  Seriously, at this point I don’t care where we end up, I just want it to end- and soon.  There seems to be options in Turkey, a chance for me to continue my education at a predominantly international university.  I’m not even worried about that right now, I’m just worried about having to pay back my assistantship or not.  I’m not sure if I will have to, since I will be leaving the program…that is, if the advisor problem isnt fixed.

I demanded a decision in two months time.  There is a very real possibility we will be on a plane to Turkey next summer, or even January.

And here we go again

Image

And right when you though it was over, it starts again.  This time with more to lose.  Things have been going well for me on the academic side, even a little on the personal side as well.  My classes are challenging but interesting, my advisor seems great, and my labmates are all friendly and easy to get along with.  This is a much better start than I had in my undergrad, where I was basically a loner for about half of my time there and struggled to get a foothold in the university system.  I suppose that’s the good part of graduate school, you know how school works and the department is smaller.  I wish I could say the same for my husband though…

Now his advisor has basically refused to give him any more intellectual support. “Oh thats not my area really…you’re on your own”.  What the hell is that?  Why did you tell him to change his area if you were going to turn around and say its not your area and not help him?  That is the only reason he changed- so that he could get the support he needed from his advisor.  Now the hubby is saying he is going to talk to the international office lady (who has helped him through all his paperwork and problems) about whats going on and if there is something more that can be done.  Doing a PhD on your own is…ridiculous.  So will it be here? Or Turkey?

The thing is,  I’m not sure he realizes that there is very little difference.  Seeing as the classes are not his problem, its the people.  People have been his problem since day 1, even during his undergrad experience in Turkey.  Sure, when we think of Turkey we think of sunny skies, picnics, the beach, delicious food, and spending time with his family…because that’s what we did two years ago when we visited last.  Turkey was a vacation.  If we leave now, however, it won’t be.  Turkey will be life again.  Same people, same problems, different language.  He’s too busy here to go on picnics, go to the beach, go to see my family (that are now 7hrs away)…the story will not change when we go to Turkey. Working in his PhD there, he will be too busy for fun and his family, also, will be around 7hrs away.  It seems to me that Turkey as a solution is not all it is cracked up to be.  I hope he realizes that before he makes a decision that changes both our lives completely.  Maybe for the better. Maybe for the worse.

Standing at the crossroads

So what now?
So what now?

At this point we are standing at the crossroads. This is the point of no return, at which we must take a step in one direction and follow through. The options are neither clear nor simple, both loaded with risks, negatives, positives and uncertainty, but this is where we are.
1. Remain in the US
On my side this is a no-brainer. Everything for me has been working out to a T (for now at least). I graduated magna cum laude 2 months ago with a bachelors in Food Science, was accepted to another university to receive my masters (for which my tuition is covered by the school and I will be paid a salary for living). No clouds here, right? My husband, however (married for 2 months, together for 3 years) is living a different story. Being a Turkish national, he is here on a stressfull J1 visa with a scholarship from his government (going on 6 years now) that gives him 3 more years to obtain his PhD. No problem? Wrong. Everything for him is going to hell in a hand basket. Research is not fruitful, advisor doesnt give two narrow pigeon farts about his struggles, and all the while the debt is ringing up and time is burning out, limiting his retirement in the future and his pay grade. Not too bright.
2. Return to Turkey
And here the coin flips. We’ve known all along that we would be returning to Turkey to work off his debt to his government via teaching. However, we had planned for him to have his PhD and me my masters before this occurred. If we leave now I will be master-less (meaning there is no job for me in Turkey), not speaking the language, and basically house bound for God only knows how long until I can speak the language and learn the customs well enough to venture out alone. Possibly in the future I could take my masters from a Turkish school, but their level of education is pitiful in comparison to the options here. Its better than nothing, right? But for him, he would be able to complete his PhD under an advisor he knows and trusts, studying his favorite topic, in a city that he loves, near his family (whom I also love!). And while he is studying at the university, finding his niche, I will be left in the house with nothing to do but clean and bake. I am not housewife material. But on the other hand, I would be fluent and comfortable in Turkish in 4 years when he must enter basic training (a requirement for all Turkish men) instead of floundering after only a year in Turkey.

As you can see, the decision is not one to be made lightly. There are many benefits and side effects to both options. Family isn’t even being considered, since weighing my family vs. his family balances at 0. They both are wonderful. By the time this is read, however, the decision will probably have been made. All we can do now is look for guidance and a sign. Insallah the decision will be made painlessly.