Hijabi problems: “you don’t meet our dress code”

So, I had originally prepared a draft stating I would soon be gainfully employed.

But then, I forgot discrimination is legal in Turkey.

I applied for a job as an English conversation teacher at doğa koleji, and all of the phone interviews went well.  It was basically a sure thing.  But then I went in for the face to face interview and I could feel the eyes boring holes into my head. Still, I didn’t let it get to me. The principal seemed nice and the kids loved me, but I made sure to ask if it was a problem to wear hijab (because I’ve heard stories, you know.) and they said “no of course not.”

No,  of course not.  Because discrimination is messed up. Why was I worried?

But then they didn’t call me back. I called them in a week and got an email saying that I “unfortunately didn’t meet their dress code. ” uh… Huh.

It doesn’t take a genius to know what it was about my outfit that didn’t meet their dress code.  What makes me livid is that the secretary was wearing a miniskirt that exposed her butt, but somehow my dress is not up to code?

Don’t make me laugh.

This is one of the problems I didn’t forsee in Turkey.  In a predominantly Muslim country  with at least half of the female population wearing the headscarf, I thought things would be easier for me than in the US.  Oh my, seems I was wrong. I should have listened to my husband when he warned me the first time.

I looked up the legality of this discrimination, and apparently it is all above board. Even cell phone companies and banks can ban headscarves on their employees. In case you were wondering,  those companies are garanti bank, iş bank, turkcell, and Vodafone.

I’m sure you can guess who isn’t getting my patronage.

I kind of laugh about it now, sitting in my bed sick as a dog (I’ve been throwing up all night from food poisoning, so this headache has made me worse).  “Progressives” whine about “conservatives” being all kinds of bad things,  including dumb and trying to ban the progressive way of life (demanding headscarves, banning alcohol, birth control,  etc ).

But here’s the thing, progressives.  Take a good long hard look in the mirror.  Who is obstructing who from living their lives how they want?

Well,  it’s back to the drawing board for me.  Maybe I should focus on food science jobs,  where covering your hair means a lesser chance of contaminating your samples rather than a reason to hate me.

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.


It’s not you…
It’s me.

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.