Kısmetse olur

If it’s meant to be, it will be. 

Hubby and I like to think that some things in life are just fate.  No matter what you do, you can’t escape it.  Or no matter what difficulties come your way, the good that is fated for you will arrive.  It goes both ways, doesn’t it? It helps us deal with the fact that, for a very long time our best laid plans never worked out. Because it wasn’t meant to be.  Right? 

Speaking of fate… 

We had our first “date” six years ago today.  

I don’t remember if I’ve ever told yall about how everything had to align for us to meet. How a guy from Turkey and a girl from small town South Carolina wound up in the same place at the same time under such circumstances that they ended up talking to each other. I probably have, but it’s been a long time. I might as well tell it again so you don’t have to go sifting through hundreds of posts to find it. 

I had a short blurb about it on my about me page, but I’ve taken it out because it deserves it’s own space (plus no one needs that much information in an about me. It’s just too much). 

The more I look around the more I see stories like ours, but it doesn’t make it any less special to me.  It just reinforces my belief in fate and soul mates. 

Hubby was born and raised in Turkey.  He went through his education in Turkey, took his undergrad in Turkey, then went to the US to better his education. He came to the US and started with ESL in Mississippi and Texas, later starting his Masters degree in Connecticut. 

Meanwhile, I was born and raised in South Carolina.  While he was starting his ESL I was roaming the halls of my high school during junior year,  sneaking wine coolers, and trying to balance my rebellious self with my southern surroundings. After graduating, I started my undergrad at a local campus of USC (as in, the University of South Carolina, not California).  

 He was in Connecticut, and I was in South Carolina.  Hey, but we were on the same continent! 

When things in Connecticut started going down hill, a friend of his suggested giving Clemson a try.  He thought about it long and hard, and said “what the hell”, and moved there for the winter term in 2010. At the time, I was still at USC trying to figure out what area I wanted to study.  Come to find out, my interests best aligned with food science. Only two schools in the state have that major (and SC residents get a sizeable scholarship at SC universities, so I was limited to my home state)… The best being Clemson. 

I moved to Clemson for the fall term, right after my birthday in August 2010. I had been working for a grocery chain in my hometown, so I transferred my employment to the local branch in Clemson.  The same grocery store that my future husband happened to live behind. 

Due to that graduate stress, hubby got sick in September (bless his heart!).  He took a walk with his roommate to the grocery store for some tea and otc medication. While perusing the aisles, a certain messy haired glasses wearing employee sat on the floor checking dates on some product or another.  She was cute, but he was too shy to say hello. 

After I was done pulling expired product and putting back items left by customers at the registers, I was called to clean up a spill at the front. 

Hubby was having a hell of a time figuring out which medicine to buy.  In Turkey, you have to go to pharmacies to get your hands on any kind of medicine.  In the states (at least in SC and FL) , the actual pharmacy window in a Walmart, Target, or grocery store can be closed while otc products like Aleve, Tylenol, Thera flu etc is still available on the shelves for purchase.  Who could he ask? There was an old lady stocking the shelves in this department just a second ago… 

After cleaning the spill in the front, I pushed the mop and bucket to the back of the store, the double doors easiest to reach by cutting through the pharmacy department. As I passed down the toothpaste display, I heard an “excuse me”  from the neighboring aisle. 

The old lady he saw before was gone.  He had picked up two possible options, Thera flu and alkaseltzer cold. But which one would be better? Looking up, he saw the frizzy top of a girl’s red head, lead by a mop handle.  He called out to her, and when she rounded the corner he ran into the bluest eyes he’d ever seen. 

And the rest is history. 

It’s crazy to think about how close to not meeting we could have been.  If he hadn’t been sick that day. If I hadn’t been going down that aisle after mopping.  If my coworker had still been stocking shelves.  If I had applied for a different job instead of transferring to the local branch of the chain I had been working for (which, BTW, I hated that job). If he hadn’t said yes to going to Clemson.  If I went to the other university that had my major. 

If he would have gotten cold feet and never came back later to get my number. 

I don’t believe in coincidences.  

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Happy Turkey Anniversary to Me! (a.k.a 12 Things I Love and Hate About Turkey) 

Well well.  How time does fly. And what a busy week of celebrations!

As of right now, it has been exactly one year since we touched down in Turkey!

We came with so many expectations- none of which actually happened.  I’ve also improved my Turkish dramatically (I now know to say nasip değilmiş to my previous statement), and I think I’ve had about as many culture shocks as I’m going to have.  But that remains to be seen I suppose…

Am I home sick? Of course. When your past 25 years were spent (for the most part)   in one culture/on continent,  you’re going to miss what once was.  But I’m not losing any sleep over it/crying over it. Hell, even hubby is “homesick”  for America, and he only spent 8 years there. But after its been a bit longer, I’ll probably be missing Turkey whenever I go home to the states.

Anyway, here are 12 things I love and 12 things I hate about Turkey, now that I’ve had a year to let it all sink in.  I reserve the right to recycle concepts from my previous love/hate lists here and here, since it’s been a year! Keep in mind, some of these things may be unique to Izmir (but I wouldn’t know, since I’ve only lived there!)

I love…

1. The food/ food culture!  No matter where you are from, you can’t deny that Turkish food is on point.

2. Pazar.  We have something similar in the US (farmers markets and flea markets), but the Turkish Pazar is on a whole different level.  Check out my descriptions of pazars and pazar etiquette here.

3. Celebrations.  Ain’t no party like a Turkish party, ‘cuz a Turkish party don’t stop! The last Turkish celebration  I went to was a wedding, and I had an amazing time! The dancing, the singing, the laughing when my hubby tried to do some traditional Turkish dancing… It was great.

4.  The cost of living.  Compared to the US, the cost of living is quite low. But the standard of living is also lower. Food, clothes (from the pazar), and non – electric things tend to be pretty cheap.

5. Public transportation. This may vary in different cities, but the public transportation in Izmir is top notch. I can get anywhere without a car (which is good for me, since I never got my drivers license changed and I can’t drive stick anyway).

6. Turkish hospitality. Despite the drama, Turks are very nice.  They are always eager to give you something and provide you with lots of snacks and goodies. You will never be hungry or thirsty if a Turk is around!

7. Ice cream.  I don’t know why, but the ice cream here is better.  I think it has more vegetable oil in it, but I like it better.  Even the ice cream from Burger King or McDonalds is superior in my opinion. In the states, I could barely consume a small milkshake, but here?  Give me the large. Hell, give me two! Maybe they aren’t as sugary? I’m not sure…

8. Fruit juice options.  This may seem silly, but I am all about the fruit juice here.  There are so many (cheap!) options that are very good.  I remember trying to find a decent juice in the US that didn’t taste like the watered down version of whatever I bought.  Plus there were like, 100 orange juice options and almost nothing else.  Here? Peach juice, sour cherry juice, apricot juice, ATOM (the best mixed juice ever in LIFE), and then the standard orange, grape, apple… And I personally reach for the nektari (nectar/thick juice).

9. Snacks. Speaking of consumables, Turks know how to make a good cookie/biscuit/ snack.  The chip flavors here are so good!! Not to mention the dozens upon dozens of cookie/biscuit types that I consume like an addict.  Again, in the states cookies were just too sweet and I almost never bought them.  Here? Come at me with that Eti Cin, Yulafli biskuvi, bademli kurabiye…I’m waiting!

10. Rules don’t apply.  This can be good or bad, but for the most part it has benefited me since I’ve gotten here.  In Turkey, rules can be applied very unevenly, at the whim of whomever you are dealing with. This can make your life easier or harder, but so far it’s been easier for me.  I like how I know that no matter what rule comes my way, I know I can wiggle out of it if I try hard enough (yes, this even applies to the government).

11. Haggling.  Haggling here is a way of life.  You are expected to do it, be it at the pazar or at a job interview for a better salary.  I appreciate the fact that it isn’t taboo.

12. Majority Muslim population. I like how I blend in here as a hijabi.  With the majority of Turkey being Muslim, I don’t have to worry about being singled out like I do in America. If you’ve seen my previous posts, I’m not one to apply religion to politics and what not.  Hell, how I practice Islam is often pretty different from how people here do…but I do appreciate how I remain anonymous in a crowd.

I hate…

1. Nosey nosey nosey neighbors. Or should I say,  nosey everybody? It doesn’t matter if it’s the corner store owner down the street or the family friend of xyz years.  Every dang body thinks they need to know all about your business. To the point where you rethink leaving the house if someone is on the street.

2. Not using brand names. Ok, so I’m American. In America we call thinks by the brand name most of the time (honey, I need a Kleenex. Hey can you get some Fanta and Lays? We are running out of chlorox!). Not so in Turkey. Just the other day I asked for sarıkız (a soda), and the cornerstore owner had no idea what I was talking about.  I pointed to it and he said “oooo you mean soda”.  No,  I don’t mean soda! I mean sarıkız! I dont want Uludağ.  I don’t want sırma. I want sarıkız! Ugh! This leads to a lot of confusion, especially when I can’t remember the general term for something (like a cleaning product) but only remember it by the brand name!

3. Family-centric culture.  I’m about to sound like a terrible person, but I’m going to be real with yall. I love my family (Turkish and otherwise).  I like to be around them and do things with them… To an extent.  What I don’t like is when people get offended when you just want to do your own thing. Or when they think they have a right to make your life decisions for you. I miss the level of independence from family that is normal in America.

4. The cost of electronics.  In a world where computers and smartphones are considered a luxury.. You’re going to cry when you see the bill after purchasing something as small as a clothes iron or coffee machine. For example, a standard iron (like a sunbeam brand one) can cost upwards of 70₺. A basic coffee machine with nothing more than an on button can cost 100₺, let alone one with a timer.  Basically anything with a plug is prohibitively expensive.

5. Being unable to communicate. While I am perfectly capable of getting around, buying these at the shops, and haggling at the pazar, I still can’t fully communicate. There are some complex concepts (like emotions), and other topics that require a delicate tongue.  When I’m upset, I can’t explain why to someone who doesn’t speak English without sounding like an idiot. If I want to have a stimulating conversation, it certainly won’t be in Turkish.  I want to be able to express myself to those around me, beyond simple daily tasks! But sometimes it’s better that I don’t speak Turkish so well, since some things I’m thinking are better left unsaid….

6. Still not being independent. It’s been a year and I still haven’t achieved the level of independence I had in the US. Some of it comes from culture, some comes from my inability to pass my plateau of Turkish language, and some comes from my own fear to continue to push my current the boundaries.  Certainly this will improve in time, but for now I hate it.

7. Being sweaty…all the time.  Being sweaty is basically a part of life in Turkey.  Even though I lived in Florida and South Carolina (both hot and humid states), AC/”klima” are a common fixture in my country.  Every house has central heat and air, the buses and other transportation are nearly refrigerated, and you need to carry a jacket in the summer for the rooms you will be in.  But in Turkey? Nah, man. I have never seen central air, only the window units (klima), and even those aren’t always available. With the massive amount of public transportation/ walking comes massive amounts of sweating.  You need to get used to it.

8. Lack of deodorant.  I think this is an issue more for the older generation, who uses “kolonya” (a scented alcohol rub thing.  Its not like cologne as we call it).  Combine being sweaty/hot with not using deodorant…and in most public places, there is a horrendous body odor.

9. The cost of meat.  It’s just…insane. Compared to the comparatively cheap cost of meat in the states.  Fortunately I’m a “zeytin yagli“(olive oil based food) kind of person 😉 so it isn’t that big of a deal I guess…but I find it hard to make some of my favorite things.  On that note…

10. Lack of other culture’s foods.  Where’s my chinese? Japanese sushi? Italian? Mexican? When you do find foods that aren’t Turkish, they are crazy expensive!  All you can eat sushi for 60TL?  When I used to eat it for 12$? Are you insane?

11. Franchises are NOT the same. When I roll up to a Burger King, McDonalds, or Dominos, I expect the food to be as it was in the states (since these are American franchises). NOPE.  The menus aren’t even the same! So when I get that hankering for something familiar…tough luck.

12. Culture clashes.  As much as I try to adjust my expectations, there are just some cultural differences that I can’t get over yet.  For example, women are expected to take a (in my opinion, EXTREME) service role in the house, particularly for guests.  To a point where, in the US, it’s considered rude/degrading to be expected to do what you are doing. This wasn’t a problem at first, because I was foreign.  But after a year, I’m not foreign anymore…and these expectations are falling on me.  Maybe I’m just too prideful, but I very much struggle to meet the societal expectations here.  Fortunately, my husband doesn’t put them on me.  And when we get to move out, we will have more control.  But for now? ugh.

 

What Doesn’t Kill You

My dear friends and readers, I want to put your minds at ease.

When it comes to our relationship…

Me and hubby are just fine.  Great, actually. Maşallah!

A lot of my posts have been really depressing,  if not a little disturbing,  as of late.  Yes, as far as other aspects of our lives are concerned… It kinda feels like a wrecking ball came flying in through the wall followed by a legion of space aliens intent on probing us in unpleasant ways.  We may or may not be their dinner, it is not yet clear.

But we are holding each other’s hands through it, and telling each other it will be ok.

Aside from the mysterious shroud that’s been upon us since last year that… Hopefully… I’ll be able to release to you in a bit, I’ve been struggling with filling my role as a bride in Turkey.

Not wife,  but bride.  It’s a little different.  It comes from my in laws’ perspective rather than my husband’s.

But when it comes to my hubby,  he is a gem.  He is always willing to give me a hand when I need it, pamper me when I want it (and even sometimes when I dont), and bend over backwards to make our current situation as comfortable for me as possible.  Some things can’t be helped though, like the increasing expectations being put on me by others.  We can’t do much about that without making this delicate living situation far worse.  So for now I have the grin and bear it, waiting until we are able to start our own lives,  just the two of us.

While all of these things have been putting a lot of stress on us, it’s just another battle that we have to go through together.  Our lives have been nothing but battle after battle against outside forces trying to make things hard for us.  At this point we are more than just husband and wife,  we are life battle buddies.  But I guess those two things are the same.

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Rough weather ahead...

Well,  you know what they say…what doesnt kill you makes you stronger.  And we aren’t going down without a fight.

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 😉
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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).

 

For the love of NAZ

Clingy
Needy
Jealous
Coy

All of these things can fall under the category of Naz behavior.
And in Turkey… It’s a good thing.

Before you become thoroughly confused and suspicious of this posts authenticity, let me explain!

  Naz is a noun that encompasses many different teasing actions and attitudes that can be performed between lovers,  or families of lovers.  These things are not done out of petulance or caprice, but purely for the purpose of playing with the one you love… Trying to wind them up,  if you will.

It isn’t that the pair are actually clingy,  coy,  or jealous… They are just playing at these attitudes.

A few examples:

– A man’s family comes to ask a woman’s family for a marriage agreement,  in old Turkish fashion.  The man and woman already agreed to marry,  a private proposal occurred,  and the family is all on board.  But for the sake of tradition,  they are including the marriage request.  The woman’s family may play a little game of “well… I don’t know.” all the while, both families know it is a sure thing.

-A husband and wife are laying in bed,  reading books.  The wife turns to the husband and says “honey,  I have to go to the bathroom… Will you walk with me?” the husband sighs in exasperation and the wife snickers to herself,  loving his reaction.

While naz is usually associated with women and their families,  let me tell you a secret… My husband is the king of naz,  sitting on his naz throne.  He loves to push my buttons and watch me go crazy,  all the while laughing his head off.  I always wondered why he insisted on driving me mad,  and I’ve only recently come to discover it is a common activity in Turkish marriage tradition, and can be seen as a type of affection.

Now that I know what he’s up to,  I take it in stride.  It seems I had also been participating in naz,  though mine is of the clingy type – dragging him up and down the halls so he has to be with me no matter what I’m doing.

In America, I had never determined a word for it… And in most cases,  it’s considered bad in western culture!

Well… This explains a lot!

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10 Things I Love and Hate about Turkey

I’m taking the nod from Cheryl over at Four Camels and a Coffee to Go (which I recommend following) and doing a list of 10 things I love and hate… however, I think I will continue in her footsteps and keep this list to travel rather than a list of my general likes and dislikes- which you will eventually be able to make yourself due to my constant ranting!  So this list shall be entitled: 10 Things I Love and Hate about Turkey (including the process of going!), keeping it in line with the theme of my blog…and my life!  I think I may make a new list after living in Turkey for a few months…what do you think?

What I love about Turkey…

  1. I love when I speak Turkish and people understand me.  I’m still learning- but when I can converse with someone and we understand each other… SUCCESS!!!
  2. I love being near my in-laws.  I, for one, do NOT have a monster-in-law! I love my new mom and dad, and I am so happy to be able to be near them (not to mention, I can understand them better in real life than on skype…)
  3. Turkish food.  Turkish. Food. Turk-ish Food.  I think that goes without explanation.  How can you not LOVE a huge spread at breakfast time, making jams with your mom and grandma,  chowing down on a 1TL doner from a street window…
  4. Even before I converted to Islam, I loved the sound of Ezan (adhan, the call to prayer).  It’s something you’d have to experience in person. I can’t explain it.
  5. However, now that I am muslim, I very much look forward to the turkish bayrams and religious holidays.  Maybe it’s just me, but anything celebrated is better with family.  Since no one in my family is muslim, my hubby and I are basically left alone for the muslim religious holidays like Ramadan and Kurban.  I can’t wait to celebrate with family!!
  6. While this was on the list of hates for Cheryl’s blog, I have to bring it up.  I love Turkish toilets (aka squat toilets).  They take some getting used to, but it is far more hygienic than western toilets and you dont break your back trying to pull some hovering stunt.
  7. If you go anywhere in the middle east, you will know and share my love of pazars/ bazaars.  I greatly appreciate the availability of produce in Turkey, and I absolutely adore clothes shopping at large bazaars such as the one in Konak, Izmir. ❤ Give me some knock-off designer brands for 5$, I can totally live with that.
  8. I really love Turkish music and the style of turkish dancing and celebrations.  I had the pleasure of going to an engagement party and crashing a cousins wedding while in Turkey- and those people know how to partaaay!
  9. Coming from the US, there’s no question why I love the public transportation available in Turkey.  Who needs a car when you can find taxis, buses, trains, charter buses, and cheap flights anywhere in the country?
  10.  Lastly, being from a first world country, I love the cost of living in Turkey.  Homes are cheaper, food is cheaper, clothes are cheaper… I mean, not everyone has a car and an iphone, but once you get accustomed to the life style Turkey is pretty swell.

What I hate about Turkey…

Now it’s time to get down to the ugly side of things

  1. I hate, hate hate hate, hate. HATE. H-A-T-E dealing with the consulates/ gov’t officials!  In the effort to find out what Visa I need this time around, I am getting different answers from different places- when they actually feel like picking up.  Get it together, Turkey.  And I know that my future dealings with them will be just as joyous.
  2. Honestly, I hate flying.  Not all flying, but those long-haul flights of 10+ hours.  You know, when your feet start swelling, your legs start aching for a stretch, that guy in front of you thinks it’s okay to lower his seat into your space, and you are breathing in unfiltered germy, farty air.  uuuughhhhh!!!
  3. I really do hate the language barrier that I have to deal with at the moment.  It is hard to not be able to communicate with anyone.  While successful communication was my #1 love, not being able to communicate needs to be included on the hates list.
  4. I hate how people come over without calling ahead and want to oggle me.  Since I am a foreign bride, everyone wants to come see what’s up and how I am different.  But sometimes, you know, I need a heads up or just give me some space. Come on people.
  5. I hate that there is no AC, and Turkey can get hot.  I mean, some people have klimas (like a window AC unit), but regular AC is not the norm in Turkey.  Did I mention it gets hot?
  6. I hate the internet censorship!!  One of the websites I use for translations (seslisozluk.net) is banned in Turkey.  I don’t know why…and I’m sure everyone has heard about the censorship in Turkey on the news lately.  I don’t want to get into that just yet, because I want more information, but yeah, generally…boo.
  7. I hate living out of a suitcase.  While our return to Turkey will be different, the first few months will undoubtably be living out of a suitcase.  This situation isn’t unique to Turkey, but I’m still including it because it is my experience with Turkey.
  8. I hate not being independent.  This is really just a gut feeling to something that hasn’t necessarily happened yet.  I don’t like the idea of not being able to go out without my husband.  Not like Turkey is super dangerous, but I am going to get lost and my Turkish isn’t sufficient yet so…
  9. I hate being bored.  Again, I’m just reacting to a gut feeling.  Since I was in high school (7-8 years ago), I’ve always had a job, classes, or other things to do.  In Turkey…I won’t. Not for a while anyway.  On one side, it’s like the vacation I’ve always wanted…but it will definitely get old.  Hopefully my list of hobbies will keep me entertained.
  10. In the end, I hate being far from my birth family.  I don’t want to belittle the love I have for my in-laws, so I need to clarify birth family, since my married family is also important.  No matter where I am, I miss someone. That stinks.

As this started as a sort of chain-letter, I’m tagging everyone who reads this post and has a list they would like to share.  Please tag me in it so I can read it!  It can be any kind of loves/hates list- don’t limit yourself to my topic 🙂

Happy Mothers’ Day/ Anneler Gunu Kutlu Olsun!

I want to take just a brief moment to say Happy Mothers’ Day to all of those moms out there, and thank you for all that you do to make the world a better place through the next generation.

Also, thanks to my own Mom, who struggled through single parenthood to give me and my brother the best (and safest) shot in life.  I am always grateful for everything you’ve given up for us so that we could have more.

Lastly, thank to my mother in law, Anne (turkish word for Mom, to make the distinction) who accepted me without question into her family when I showed up on her doorstep in Turkey with her eldest son.  Despite the huge differences in language and culture, she loves me as a daughter and I love her as a mom.

  So Happy Mothers’ Day/ Anneler Gunu Kutlu Olsun ❤  Give your mom a hug today.

  Kirk bir kere mashallah


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.