Life Decisions

Whyyyyy is life so hard?!

Read that in the whiniest voice imaginable,  and that’s basically been me for the last week.

Let me give you a little back story:

So,  I applied for an office job I saw on kariyer.net (along with a slew of other jobs) that requested a native English speaker for a job handling paperwork and phone calls that are all coming in in English. 

Well,  I got an interview!

Then I got an offer!!

But it’s not as easy as that.  There’s a lot of pros and cons to this job,  which is making it really hard to decide to take it or not.  I’m already dragging my butt producing the necessary documents for a work visa so I can get some advice from other expats here, and other people familiar with this place.

First off,  let me clarify again that I am living with my in laws and we (hubby and I) have no income.  Due to the drama in our lives,  it’s possible hubby won’t be able to work for a few months or even more than a year.  So… Yah.  Pressure. Even though no one is asking me to work or provide for us, I put it on myself.

Let me lay out why this decision is so hard. Let’s start with the cons. I mean,  there are more pros than cons,  but the cons are pretty big.

CONS

1. Commuting
Always a big issue with jobs in large cities… The commute and the cost thereof.  This job is minimum 1hr away,  and the commute is completely by metro (subway style, but above ground.  What else do you call that?).  From my door to the metro is 5 minutes,  and from the metro to the office door is 5 minutes,  but the rest is in a slam packed cabin.  Standing room only (plus a change in trains at one stop).  The cost comes to 100tl per month, not to mention having to get up extra early and come home kind of late.

2. The pay
While the pay isnt terrible, it’s not great.  Gone are the dreams of making big money based on being american/native English speaker.  Yes,  as a private school teacher you can make a nice profit, but these jobs are neither long term nor terribly legitimate (I. E. The working conditions can be bad,  some legal corners can be cut, and other things that are a smidgen sketchy). And I think you recall the hijab problem I blogged about before. But anyway,  the job pays 2.5k a month,  which is not bad but also not as much as someone like me could potentially make.  That’s where things get confusing, because a lot of our expectations are based on rumors and stories, not directly from the horses mouth,  so to speak. While half of this camp says that is a severe devaluing of my abilities, others say I should jump on it because it’s the upper bracket for such positions.

3. Taxes
I have to pay taxes on income to the US ;( boo.

4. Locked Contract
With the work contract, I’ll be locked in for a year. If any better opportunities come along, I’ll be out of luck until the contract expires.

PROS

1. Getting out of the house
A stupid pro according to my husband, but an important one to me. I need to get out of this house! I need to be productive! I need to have something else to do than stare at a blank wall and work as a maid all day! Even my mother in law agrees with this.

2. Good working conditions (or so it appears?)
One of the big red flags I’ve been hearing from other expats is the big discrepancy between US and Turkish working conditions. Since I haven’t had any experiences myself, I’ll let you Google some horror stories (or tell yours in the comments!). But anyway, as far as this office goes… Everyone speaks English (well, but not fluent), the hours are fair with a little leeway for tardiness (9am to 5.30p, but if you are 10 or 15 min late it’s ok because my commute is long), no weekends EVER, clean and modern working space. Oh, and a coffee machine.

3. The pay
While I said the pay isn’t great, it’s also not bad. In any case, it’s a hell of a lot more than 0tl a month, or even worse, spending from our savings (which we’ve been doing since we got here).

4. Additional opportunities
This position gives me the chance to travel internationally on the company’s dime. Plus I’ll be in contact with people that often request private English tutoring (for which I am able to provide with pure profit to me). Oh, and from what I’ve been told, I can take a Turkish course through the company for free for one hour during work hours.

5. Insurance
They pay my insurance (and I think hubby gets added under me as well), which means no more monthly fee for us!

6. Financial freedom, Socialization, and independence
Both scary and exciting… If I have a Monday through Friday job, that means I’ll have to go out into this country alone. Travel by myself. Actually be part of this country. That’s both terrifying and exhilarating. At some point I need to stop being a tourist and start being a citizen (which I’ll be applying for in May İnşallah). Going hand in hand with that, I will need to get a phone, be social with my coworkers, and make some friends (İnşallah. At the very least be a pleasant coworker). Actually, you know, live a normal life for once.

So this is where I’m at. Do you see the conundrum here? While I would be perfectly happy to take a job much closer to home… One in the hand is worth two in the bush, am I right? Personally, I’m leaning towards taking it… But my worrying husband is less excited. I’m waiting on a bit of information from a friend to help seal the deal.

What do you think I should do?

Advertisements

First Wife Syndrome

  While the world begins to fret about a new(ish) virus epidemic, I’ve been struggling with my own illness.

Commonly known as first wife syndrome,  this illness is at epidemic proportions in Turkey and commonly occurs in the first wives of families.  It can be particularly aggressive in families with no daughters, and non-Turks seem to suffer the worst from the symptoms.  This affliction can range from very mild to debilitating, and there is no easy way to predict who it will strike. 

Symptoms include,  but are not limited to, back pain, neck pain, head aches, upset stomach, depression, mood swings, lethargy, exhaustion, and general malaise.

But no, really.

Like I described before in a recap of things I love and hate about Turkey, there’s a different standard applied to women rather than men.  In the most extreme cases,  it can manifest as women being treated as near slaves in the house.  This extends to wives, where the women marrying into a family are expected to take on the work of the senior woman in the house (mother in law) when they are there.  This has recently become more of a burden on me too.

Don’t get me wrong,  I have no problem with helping.  What I don’t like is doing things on my own when it isn’t something I’m doing just for me.  For example, forgive me if I get mad about doing my brother in laws laundry.  He’s not my husband and therefore not my problem.

This has been more of a problem since the winter started,  since my mother in law is prone to illness.  The first week it was OK,  but after a month of being asked to make tea (when I don’t want it),  make enough pita bread (lavaş) for our 5 person family without help,  do other people’s laundry, etc… Mmmmm how about no.

But what can I do? If I say no,  I’ll start a traditional rift between wife and mother in law.

This really made my blood boil when I was being told to assist my husband’s aunt in her serving us (as guests) when her own grown female grandchildren were not being made to lift a finger.  This is not normal in American culture (as I know it), and when we first got here nothing was expected of me, it was just a pleasant bonus when I helped so frequently.  But as I’m learning to do things on my own,  it seems that they’ve forgotten I’m not Turkish.

Maybe I should be flattered?

Nah,  I’ll just be mad.

Hopefully things will improve when we move out of my in laws house.  Whenever that will be. The longer I stay the more culture shocks I go through… Is that how it’s supposed to happen?

And now I kind of feel bad for feeling this way! Just because things are different doesn’t make them wrong…

But I can’t turn off 25 years of living my life with a different set of expectations!

What is an expat to do?

It’s not you, it’s me

  Within less than a week of putting my CV out there,  I’ve gotten several call backs.

One of which I was extremely excited about.

I was asked to interview for a marketing position in a small dried goods company.  They only dealt in international clients, all of whom spoke English. For this reason,  they needed a fluent/native English speaker, particularly one that could help them break into the US market.

Perfect!  And my extensive education in food technology was a huge plus! By the end of the interview,  they had practically hired me.

But there was one big problem.

The commute.

One hour by train and a 20 minute walk (including crossing a major road with no cross walk) in a large industrial complex stood between me and this great opportunity.  With my limited Turkish abilities,  it wasn’t possible.

I really wanted to make it work.  I wanted it to happen,  but what can I do?  The pay wasn’t outstanding, but I feel it was negotiable.  The job was exactly up my alley, plus the great benefit of doing all communications from the safety of an office.

An office practically a life time away.

If it wasn’t for that long,  creepy walk after the metro… It could have been.

But it can’t.

Sigh.

It’s not you…
It’s me.

My Playlist

Sometimes, when things are really bad, you just want to cry.  But after you wash your face and pull yourself off the floor, you need to remember how hard you are. 

And that it takes more than a hurricane to knock you down.

This is my (currently quite short) Playlist that helps me thug it out/cheer me up (I used to use Pandora but…) :

Moment 4 Life – Nikki Minaj
Cruise (Nelly remix) – Florida Georgia Line
This is how we roll- Florida Georgia Line
Bangır Bangır – Gülşen
My House – Flo Rida
Sen misin ilacım – aydilge (aka the kiralik aşk song)
GDFR – Flo Rida
Worth it – fifth harmony
Fancy –  iggy azalea
All I Do Is Win – dj khaled
And especially
Let’s go – trick daddy (this has been my go to since high school… Thug life chose me.)

Look at that… It’s working already!

What do you like to listen to when you need a boost?

Six Things I Love and Hate about Turkey (6mo revisited)

Well, it’s been 6 months since I’ve been in Turkey… And they have been very difficult.  Some of it is the adjustment factor, some of it is the great loss of independence,  but a huge chunk of it has to do with the matter I keep alluding to but refuse to talk much about.  Sorry about that,  by the way…

The last time I wrote about Things I Love and Hate About Turkey, I was speaking from a memory that was made four years ago… And reasonable expectations of how things would go.  Well,  the veil has been lifted, and I must admit there are many things I either forgot about, or didn’t know, that would make the list now!

Therefore, I present to you, my 6 month revisit of the things I love and hate about Turkey (and I feel making it 6 things for 6 months is appropriate). I’m going to make this list a 3 and 3, just because that’s easier 😉
image

I love


1. Sharing
Sharing is caring, and in Turkey those are words to live by.  I love how, if anyone buys any kind of goodie for themselves, they get enough to share.
2. Hospitality
One of my favorite things about Turkey is how people are incredibly hospitable.  For example, whenever we go to visit neighbors- coffee and/or tea, plus some sort of snack, is definitely going to be provided.  Even if you have to wait for a while when you go out for an errand that shouldn’t take long (getting pictures printed, going to the bank,etc), they will offer you a beverage to keep you comfortable. Nice!
3. Friendliness 
So far, in my experience, Turkish people have been very friendly and generally nice.  Our local cheese vendor, neighbor, doctor, bank associate, and others have all gone out of there way to show an interest in my husband and I, and our general happiness. Lots of hayirli(si) olsuns going around, and in the case of our elderly neighbor- blown kisses.

I hate


1. Lack of personal space
 It’s like I wear a sign that says “please touch me, I don’t mind”. Or crowd the hell out of me.  This really hit me when a stranger (female,  of course.  Men don’t get to touch random women without a big fight) walked up to me while I was at the ATM, and started adjusting my jacket hood without even speaking to me.  Don’t touch me lady! I don’t know you! And I’m trying to handle private banking stuff here,  back up!  It’s bad enough when family does it,  but complete strangers?
2. People=politics
People aren’t people, actually. In reality, we are all only our political opinion. Even more,  we all wear our opinions on our foreheads, and therefore whatever you think I believe must be true.  Except… none of those things are true.  In my experience,  people here assume they know your politics just by looking at you (e.g. Head scarf means I’m politically conservative apparently) and will treat you differently based on their assumptions.  They will even make your life measurably more difficult.  Because people aren’t just people.  That is not a thing.
3. Men vs women double standard
Even though this is also prevalent in American cultures,  it can be even more pronounced here.  Fortunately I don’t have to deal with this too much in Hubby’s immediate family,  but his extended family and friends sometimes rub me the wrong way.  I know it’s normal here,  but I can’t help it!  Women are expected to serve while men get the luxury of being serve…  Get off your butt and do something yourself,  jeez. Let me reiterate that this isn’t something I have to put up with (much).

 

Milk and coffee does not a cappuccino make.

A few days ago, hubby and I went out on the prowl with BIL (brother in law) for a good time.  After buying a French press (as seen on instagram),  we wandered into a hookah bar and lounge. If you aren’t familiar with hookah,  it is the tall standing water pipe through which you smoke concentrated tobacco that is flavored with syrup (usually fruit flavored).  It is very popular in the middle east,  and is rising in fame in the states.  I actually owned one state side, but I was never good at packing the bowl.

Anyway,  we wandered into the lounge and settled on a green apple/mint blend hookah experience… And began to peruse the drinks and snacks.

image
Oh boy!

I was so excited when hubby said I could pick anything I wanted- prices be damned! If you haven’t noticed from hints and comments I’ve been dropping… We are going through a very very difficult time right now (the two verys are absolutely warranted),  and this outing was an attempt to unwind.  Anyway,  we all settled on a classic cappuccino.  After waiting nearly 10 minutes (were they roasting the beans right now?),  they came back… With this.

image
What is this supposed to be exactly?

Based on my vast coffee experiences, I immediately deduced this to actually be a standard coffee with milk.  It was,  at least,  a dark roast. No foam to be had at all.  I looked first to my hubby,  then to my BIL…

Neither seemed to notice or care about this travesty…

This 6TL lie!

I then asked hubby,  who would also indulge in the occasional cappuccino with me in the past,  and whispered my disappointment.

What do you expect? It’s Turkey

Well,  for 6TL I expect a hell of a lot more! We commiserated with each other that everything on this list is likely the same coffee with milk,  and moved on to our board games.

image

image
So Turkish checkers is different...

I mean,  I can’t complain too much I suppose.  The hookah was very good, the lokum was delightful,  and the service was on point (changing coals and whatnot).  Even better,  the cafe wasn’t bustling with rowdy people, and there was an appropriate ratio of men and women to make the setting comfortable.  All in all,  it was a fun night…

But leave the coffee to me.

image

The hunt for the Holy Grail

Since I’ve come to Turkey I’ve been on the hunt for the Holy Grail.  My Holy Grail isn’t so much about the cup, but what’s in it.

I’m talking about coffee (no surprise there)!

coffee

I thought it would be fun to share the hunt with you guys,  and maybe it’ll help other expats who are having coffee withdrawals.

So,  I’m planning on having at least 3 installments, comparing instant coffee brands,  Turkish coffee brands, and finally,  filtered coffee brands (most likely Cafe brewed,  because I’m not willing to drop the kind of money a coffee machine is here).  I didn’t think it was fair to compare different coffee types to each other,  since it is kind of an “apples to oranges”  scenario.  I will,  however, give my overall favorite across the board.  Lastly,  I want to rate the coffee on a scale from 0 to 10 based on smell,  taste, and texture.

First,  let me describe my ideal coffee.  As anyone in a predominantly coffee drinking country knows, everyone has different ideas of the perfect cup! For me, I prefer a medium roasted filtered coffee (a slight bitter taste in the back of the tongue, but not overpowering), with a slightly creamy and smooth texture from half and half.  I do like my coffee slightly sweet (two spoons of sugar in a large “American cup”) but not dessert-like.  I’m always down for additional flavorings, particularly nutty (hazelnut, almond,  pecan,  etc) and sweet (vanilla, mocha, white chocolate,  etc).

I expect the first installment will be INSTANT,  and I hope to have it ready by next week.

If anyone has any suggestions,  let me know!

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

DSCN3066

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.

DSCN3067
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.

DSCN3068.JPG
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?

 

Turkey Day!

This past Thursday was my first Thanksgiving ( Turkey Day) in Turkey.

However, there was no turkey.  This is the first year that we didn’t have at least a piece on Thanksgiving, and this is the second Thanksgiving I didn’t spend with family (the first being my first year in Florida).

Still, I was able to skype with my family before they had their turkey meal.

That’s what it’s all really about though, isn’t it?  Family, friends, and being thankful for what you have.  Hubby and I decided to start some of our own Turkish/American Thanksgiving traditions!

But turkey will be making a comeback, if I have anything to say about it!

*btw, I apologize these aren’t as detailed as my usual posts, I was in a rush to get them up before it was way past Thanksgiving. Thanks for your understanding 🙂

27282930