Settle down 

Oh my lord. 

Moving plus school starting up again sure is a hand full! 

And yes,  even though we are  just downstairs, it was still a hard move! Because we are literally starting from 0. You have no idea how much you collect through years of living until you start from scratch again. I can’t say this enough. 

But I must admit I’m all about those new appliances (even if the bill made my eyes tear up a little). 

So, deepest apologies for not posting, I know I should be better… But I’ve been swamped with house projects after coming home from work.  

But I am alive and relatively well! Nothing a little chocolate can’t fix…! 

Advertisements

Elbow Room

Great news! 

The renter downstairs (bottom floor, flat 1 of 3) has moved out! 

You know what that means? 

We are finally moving out of this flat (3rd of 3)!!! I could dance and cry for joy simultaneously. I’m not exaggerating. 

Of course the apartment will need a bit of sprucing up.  It is, after all, about 30 years old.  Nothing a fresh coat of paint and some new floors can’t fix! There’s nothing like a little renovation! 

Plus I need a side project.  

Meanwhile we are also working to finish the second floor construction, but now that can slow down as other things have been popping up in our lives lately…more to talk about later. 

Check out our new floors! We only put them in the sitting room and bedroom, but we are so impressed we are thinking to put them everywhere… But that costs money. Crossed fingers we can do enough to be able to move within two weeks! 


new floor in the bedroom! It’s amazing how much it brightens the whole room!

Old furniture frames the renter left behind need to be broken down for fire wood… But the kitchen  cabinets are solid! Old floors are ugly, but a carpet can fix that.  Or maybe more new floors? 

T-minus 12 hours and 5.5k miles

The time that we have been waiting for over the last five years is finally here…we are about to board the plane to Turkey for more than just a vacation.  We are starting the next, exciting chapter in our lives!  I wanted to take a minute to answer some questions that everyone may have- particularly those who haven’t been part of our adventure until recently.

DSCN1089

  Why are you moving to Turkey?

Well, that isn’t a short story, but I will make it one.. my husband is a citizen of Turkey, and came to the US on a scholar visa (graduate education) in 2008.  Now that he is done with school, his visa is no longer valid- which means it is time to go back to Turkey!

  Can’t he get US citizenship?

Yes and no… because he is married to me he can apply for a green card.  But, because he was on a J-1 visa he is required to spend 2 years back in his home country (Turkey) before any changes can be made to his visa status (read: J-1 to green card).  So even if we wanted to live in the US permanently, two years would have to be spent in Turkey.  Yes, a waiver can be given by Turkey for this home-stay requirement… but his situation basically assures they would not grant this waiver.

  How long will you be there?

That’s a good question, and I don’t have the answer to that… but inshallah, forever!  There are a lot of complicated facets to different time periods that must be met (e.g. 2 years because of the visa, 15 years because of other things…).  Of course, if I am absolutely miserable in Turkey (inshallah not, and I believe that I won’t be) we will explore other options.

  Where will you be living?

I can’t really tell you that, because where we will end up will likely be our home long-term.  So, you know, for security… but I can tell you that we will likely spend a good bit of time in Izmir! We hope that hubby will be assigned to a western town, close-ish to Izmir 🙂

  What are you going to do there?

Another answer that I don’t have… I know for at least a year I will simply be trying to adjust to Turkish life…the language, the culture, etc.  After that year I should be eligible for Turkish citizenship due to the length of our marriage, and once I attain citizenship I will have many more options inshallah.  But who knows, maybe we will start our family shortly- and I would prefer to be a stay at home mom.

 Do you even want to live in Turkey?

Short answer: YES!
Long answer:  Anyone who knows me well knows that I don’t do things that I don’t want to do.  If I didn’t want to live in Turkey, I wouldn’t go.  There are many things that I love about Turkey, and as a Muslimah I feel like Turkey is a great country to raise a family (some religion, but not too much).  While going from an American life to a Turkish one will be quite the change, I see many benefits for me personally and for our future family that one can only find in Turkey.

  Will you ever come back to the US?

Of course!  It is my home, after all, and I do have family here.  However, I foresee my trips to the US to be more vacation-like rather than a permanent move in the future.  I don’t plan on relinquishing my US citizenship, so coming back for any length of time shouldn’t be a problem (besides the outlandish cost of a ticket 😡

Well, I think that pretty much sums up the majority of the questions I have been receiving…and now everyone is caught up!  Inshallah I will be able to reveal more about the drama we have been going through since March…but it all really depends on how things unfold.

Oh!  That’s the call for boarding!  I guess I will see you guys tomorrow afternoon, in Turkey 🙂

DSCN1295

It’s About That Time

This comic post is a little late since we got so busy packing the last week… for those of you who don’t follow me on instagram, we left Florida yesterday morning- for the last time.  We are now in South Carolina, staying with my mom, waiting on the final word regarding our delicate situation… yes, it has been a many-months-long process.  Inshallah the news will be good!

H1 H2 H3

The Horrible, Wonderful, Scary, Exciting Truths About Moving Abroad

Let me stop you right there-  we aren’t certain about our moving just yet…but it has been a topic floating around the office as August approaches.

As we careen into July, the possibility of our moving to Turkey has been looming more and more daunting on the horizon.  While discussing the many things I need to do- such as purchase my visa, pack my suitcases, buy more luggage…one of the technicians in the laboratory asked me

Aren’t you scared?

And honestly? I don’t really know.

You see, I’ve known for years that Turkey was a likely destination for us in the future.  You can see from my earliest blog posts that I wasn’t that excited about moving there.  However, as time progressed and the idea marinated in my brain, I became more and more comfortable with the idea. Of course, spending a summer in Turkey four years ago did help soften my heart to the eclectic country where east meets west in a dazzling display of cultural curiosities.  At this point in my life, mere weeks away from holding my Master’s diploma inshallah… this seems like the perfect time to start a new chapter in my life.  Like I have said before, it is more like a new BOOK!

But that question really struck me.  No one had asked before if I was scared.  Nervous?  Excited?  Won’t you miss ____?  Those questions I’ve had, but scared…? Hmm…the more I think about it….

Not particularly.

  Naturally there are some aspects of moving that are always nerve wracking.  Packing, planes, leaving your loved ones behind…and due to the latter I have been living at arms length from most people since moving to Florida.  Why get close when you are only going to cry when it is time to leave?  Maybe that is a little depressing, but hey-  whatever gets me through this upheaval right?

DSCN1125

So I thought I would make a list of my three biggest fears and my three biggest excitements regarding my move to Turkey inshallah… maybe it will help those of you who are also moving, to see it from another perspective.  Let’s start with the scary…

Fears

  1. Home sickness:  Yes, being home sick is a fear.  I have heard my husband describe his home sickness when he initially moved to the US- how it would come in debilitating waves.  Home sickness can act as a catalyst when already weighed down by other stressors.  It is an unfortunate eventuality, but I hope that I can keep it under control until I have adjusted to Turkish life.
  2. Not being a citizen:  There are so many hang ups that come with not being a citizen.  Paperwork, mostly, and the idea that if you get in trouble you don’t have the same assurances as a citizen does.  This is another aspect of international life that my husband brought to my attention.  I am holding my breath the first year of my move, until I can apply for citizenship.
  3. Miscommunication: There are many verbal and non verbal ways of communicating- and I dread the idea that I may give the wrong idea to strangers, particularly, due to my way of speaking (even in Turkish), or my body language.  The last thing I need is to offend someone, or have someone think I am coming on to them.  In Turkey…that could end pretty badly.  While adjusting to the general culture of Turkey doesn’t worry me so much- these little methods of communication are daunting.

Excitements

  1. New sites/places:  The best part of moving anywhere, in my opinion, is experiencing new places and sights that you have not been able to see before!  While I have been in Turkey before, so not everything is new,  I look forward to spending the summer months lounging with my husband in his family’s beach house in Izmir,  watching the snow fall in large feathery drops onto the orange rooftops and rolling hills in central Turkey, and hearing the Ezan as an alarm clock in the morning.  Every country/ city has it’s beauties…and while I may be leaving the Florida beaches and palms, I am gaining the Mediterranean breezes and mountains.
  2. A new standard of living:  While this may come off as daunting for those of us who are used to the luxury of the first world, I am very excited to be able to experience a more Turkish way of life.  Not like Turkey is a poor country by any means, but the standard of living is very different.  For example, I am thrilled to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables every day for incredibly cheap, make my own tarhana (a special Turkish soup) and salca (pepper or tomato paste), hang my clothes out on a line to dry, and utilize public transportation- even ferries!- instead of using my own car to go everywhere.  If that means I can’t afford a smart phone- so be it!!
  3.  Living a new language:  Four years ago I would have laughed in your face if you told me that I was going to speak Turkish- and speak it well.  While I do have a long way to go before being fluent, the possibility of mastering Turkish is more realistic when in Turkey.  There is something so empowering about being able to express yourself in multiple ways…and I can’t wait to live this new language on a day to day basis!

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.

…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.