Drowning

I had a nightmare that I was drowning.

It didn’t start out that way, of course.  Most of my nightmares start with me being unable to control my car in some way, then it rolling off with me in it into some bad situation.

This time, it was into an ocean that was pitch black.  I tried to swim, but the water was thick like molasses.  I knew it was a nightmare because water isn’t like that,  and I know my own nightmare trends (I am prone to aware nightmares/dreams)… But for a minute I couldn’t wake up.  Lifting my eyelids was like lifting ten tons of concrete. 

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I haven’t been feeling well lately, and I blame the weather.  This sudden heat has given me daily headaches, neck-aches , and a little bit of a stomach ache (but I’m not sure if that’s from heat or something else).  Compounded on top of my already dour mood,  I haven’t been all that pleasant.

Of course, drowning doesn’t help.

I feel like I’m drowning here.  Not in Turkey, but in this over crowded house.  I know hubby is too, but there’s not a damn thing to do about it now.  No one seems to be aware of nor care how uncomfortable we are. 

All.  The.  Time. 

We are always expected to do things when we don’t want to do them.  Expected to dress a certain way and act a certain way and speak a certain way… And you can only put up with it for so long before you explode. 

While hubby tells me to do my best, his struggles are much different from mine.  Yes, he has to deal with his own inner demons and social/familial pressures to provide for all of us (which is kinda bs in my opinion,  why are you looking at us for money when we both are unemployed? Here.  Take all our life’s savings.  Just take it.  We don’t need it or anything.).

But a gelins pressures are different.

Like I’ve told you before, the women in the house are kind of like a maid.  Particularly gelins,  because they are at the whim of their mother in law.  Sure, I can always say no, or not get up to help when I hear work noises, but I’ve heard them gossip about the girls in the family who are “lazy” and “unhelpful”.  On one side,  I don’t really care what they think.  But on the other side,  I live here so I’m trying to not make it too awkward.

With the heat it’s been especially hard, since I live in the same house as my brother in law (BIL) (with no AC mind you), so I have to be full on covered unless he is at work.  Our room doesn’t even have a lock, so I’m always waiting anxiously to have to throw on all my clothes again in case BIL wants to talk to his abey. 

Everything is just accumulating. 

NO I don’t want to clean the kitchen right now,  my head hurts.

NO I don’t want to hang the laundry,  it’s hot and I have to wear all my clothes to go outside.

NO I don’t want to eat!

NO I don’t want to go anywhere!

NO don’t move the stuff I put in our room!

JUST LEAVE ME ALONE BEFORE I DROWN!!!

The in laws will be leaving for the beach soon and we should have the majority of every month to ourselves for the summer.  I know we will be feeling much better then…

But for now,  I have to keep holding my breath.

Flailing my arms.

Trying not to drown.

Peanut

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

peanut
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 🙂

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!

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!

Turkey 105: kimsin (who are you?)

I’m taking a minute from packing (the never ending struggle that has been our lives for five years) to add a new course to my Turkish lessons series.  One of the most confusing aspects of Turkish culture for me (and even my husband!) are family titles.  Pretty soon (inşallah) I will be filling my blog posts with stories including members of my husband’s family… And I will likely refer to them by their family titles.  So first,  a few general notes:

Firstly,  I found it very interesting (and helpful) that turks consider which side of the family the member is on when assigning a title. None of that maternal and paternal nonsense.  In some cases there is no difference in the name regardless of side (i.e. Cousin, grandfather…) but the majority do.

Second,  these titles are not set in stone.  For example,  you may call your cousin uncle or aunt if they are much older than you,  much like America.

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We were on our way to see some family!

So,  let’s get started!

Baba: father

Anne: mother

Ağabey or abi: elder brother (used as a sign of respect,  can also be used for male friends or extended family who you are close with)

Abla: elder sister (same rules as abi apply)

Babaanne: paternal grandmother

Anneanne: maternal grandmother

Dede: grandfather,  paternal or maternal

Dayı: maternal uncle (can also be used for older members of your extended family,  usually on the mother’s side)

Amca: paternal uncle (same rules as dayı apply)

Teyze: maternal aunt (same rules as the uncles)

Hala: paternal aunt (you guessed it,  same rules)

Yenge: a woman who has married into the family,  or a female member of a spouse’s family (a sign of respect, typically used for those who are older than the one who is speaking.  For example,  my husband calls his uncles wife yenge,  I am called yenge by his younger cousins,  etc.)

Inişte: a man who has married into the family,  or a male member of a spouse’s family (the male form of yenge)

Kız: a young girl (used as a term of affection)

Kuzen: cousin,  either maternal or paternal.  Usually you don’t add this title to the persons name,  though, or call them by this title.

Torun: grandchild.  Also not typically used as a title or with the persons name.

Here are some examples of how these titles may be used in conversation

Ayşe speaking to her older brother,  Mehmet:
A: Abi,  when are you coming back from school?
M: In about an hour.

Aylin speaking to her maternal uncle, Hussein:
A: Hussein Dayı,  how are you?
H: I’m great kızım (my girl),  how about you?

Sema speaking to her husband’s uncle, Can:
S: İnişte,  are you staying for dinner?
C: I intend to,  your chicken is the best!

Let me know if any of these titles seem wrong…  As I said before,  some of these titles can be used in various ways,  and even my husband gets confused. If you can think of any more,  comment below!

See you for the next installment,  İnşallah!

Holiday break, School to date, and Everything in between

Season’s Greetings all! 🙂

With the end of the semester comes SO MUCH TO DO as many students know far too well.  Alhamdulillah, there is one and a half weeks left of classes!  For my husband and I, that’s one and a half weeks left of classes…FOREVER inshallah!  We should both be done with our course work, as long as our grades are sufficient.  I can’t speak for him, but I have two exams and two papers left as assignments before the term is over.  I have actually finished those papers already, so all that I have left are finals in three weeks (Yes, we only have half a week of classes the second week of december, and then the third week of December is finals week, no classes and only exams.)

Additionally, my research is going in the right direction, mashallah!  I have sampling to do in two days, then another set next week.  If I am lucky (and inshallah I am), the sampling next week may complete my third set of trials (I have four trials total, two are completed and two are still running), with the last one not far behind!  If I stay on this path and hammer out my thesis in a few months, I could graduate in the Spring if my advisor and committee agree! THIS IS SO EXCITING!  And no, I’m not sure what I am going to do after I graduate. It all depends on what the hubby is doing.  There is potential that we could leave for Turkey permanently this summer, but that situation is always in a state of flux, so I can’t be sure.  I am planning on applying to jobs in the area so that I could get some work experience and a paycheck until we leave the country.

Thanksgiving break was VERY well deserved, and today is the last day.  We had off school Wednesday through Sunday, but unfortunately I had to be in the lab for experiments every day except today.  However, I only had to spend a short amount of time (less than an hour) there daily, so it wasn’t too terribly bad.  Besides that, I haven’t done much of anything school related these last five days!  I should probably run my current data sets through JMP and obtain some statistical results to show my advisor before leaving for the Christmas break, to further encourage him to give me the green light for Spring graduation… but vegging out on the couch while playing video games is so great ;).

After finals we plan on returning to the home state for a week, inshallah.  I can’t wait to see some old friends and enjoy a bonfire in the backyard!  We both wait all year for this trip to see my family, it has been a whole year since we have been home! I miss my family! Most of the Christmas shopping is done before we go this time, alhamdulillah.  Last year we tried to purchase Christmas presents in the three days before Christmas, and I have no idea why we thought we could manage that. It was a mad dash, for sure.  We purchased a leather jacket (as requested) for my brother, I’m drawing a portrait of my grandparents in their 30s for them, I’m thinking a spa-treatment style hand cream for my mother (she works at a dog grooming salon and spends her whole day with her hands in dog bath water), cologne for the hubby (Dolce and Gabbana The One for men…go, smell it now if you haven’t had the pleasure) and possibly a dressy watch or new wallet, and I bought boots and a new scarf for myself 😉 Can’t forget my Christmas gift to me  ;D.  I still have to determine what to buy my friend(s) for Christmas, but some of them read this blog so even if I did know what I was getting them… IM NOT TELLING!

Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking.  Why would muslims celebrate Christmas? Isn’t that haram?  Well, technically, celebrating the birth of a prophet is not allowed.  Mohammad SAW explicitly told the muslims not to celebrate his birth as the Christians do for Jesus.  Well, Christians believe Jesus is God, but the concept of birthdays is the same.  So why do we do it?  Well, it’s a family and cultural tradition.  Do I believe Jesus is God? no.  Am I spending time with my family and buying them gifts to commemorate his birth? No.  Christmas break is the only time I can see my family, and I love them and miss them so I am buying them gifts. So am I buying gifts for Christmas? I guess not really, I’m buying “I missed you guys so much, here is a token of my love” gifts, but since it is Christmas time and I have been celebrating Christmas my entire life, I guess the term just stuck. I feel completely ok with doing this, and if you don’t then you don’t have to 🙂

Baby fever

“Oh my goodness!  We’re expecting!”

  Something I’ve heard from several of my friends recently.  I am at that age where everyone is getting married… I’m glossing through wedding photos on facebook on a, nearly, daily basis.  But now the new topic at hand is babies.  What startles me the most is that these mommies-to-be are younger than me!  I’m not tutting and wagging my finger, when they want to start their families is their business, but…now I have baby fever.

   My husband and I have been together for four years in September, married for one year as of last May.  Looking at these numbers, I feel as though we have no business starting a family just yet, since once you have a family, you always have a family (inshallah).  Additionally, we are both still in graduate school, no true work experience, and a mere year or two away from moving to another country.  Clearly, this is NOT the time for a baby.

  Oh, but on the other hand… I am almost done with graduate school, and several graduate students that I know have children, or are pregnant.  This is our only chance at having an American child, since American citizenship is by land, not by blood.  Since I will be unable to work in Turkey for a while, until I’ve learned Turkish, it’s a good situation for an aspiring stay-at-home mom.  

  How do you know when you are ready to start a family?  Are you ever really ready?

  I need to go play with a friends baby and get it out of my system.

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.