By April I mean December, and by December I mean July 2017

Even before we boarded the plane last August,  everyone was asking when we would be back.  I didn’t know at the time, and said we would play it by ear.

The following January,  I had thought that I would be starting a job this September. As you all already know, my headscarf kept that from happening.  But before that,  I had told my family that I would plan on visiting in April (with the promise a future income,  I felt comfortable dropping big money).  Unfortunately I had to take that back.

A bit later,  I had anticipated another job… Another job that didn’t work out.  At that moment I had planned on taking a Christmas break and visiting my family in December.  Well,  looks like that won’t be happening either.

And now I’m starting a course in June,  hoping to find work in the coming months.  Mostly I’ve been applying to schools (which,  as you know,  I didn’t intend to do… But so many are hiring!),  which means I won’t be able to go back to the states until NEXT summer.

image

My mom started a new job on a production line,  so she’s been too busy to miss me.  Hah!  But really, having a scheduled job again instead of being her own boss has made planning a return trip home difficult.  Having to line up her vacation days with my (potential) ones is no easy task! Right now we are hoping I will be able to go stateside again next July for independence day (my favorite holiday!). 

Two whole years (ok, 23 months) since I left.  How will it feel?

Will America still be the way I remember it?

Will it be better? Worse?

What about my hometown? It hasn’t even felt like mine since I moved away for college.  But it feels a lot more mine than Izmir does right now.

While I do feel a little broken hearted (a little crack I guess) that I still have a whole year to wait before I face a 10hr plane flight solo, I knew it could have been like this when we left. Things never seem to go according to plan for us.

And it’s been about a year already, dang!

But hopefully this will.  And maybe if I’m lucky,  I’ll be bringing back more than luggage with me!

Advertisements

The Best Laid Plans

If you guys remember my post from three months ago, when we first got to Turkey, our trip from the US was anything but easy.  Having missed our initial connection in Germany due to a bad weather delay in the US, we had a long layover and arrived in Turkey at 1am.  What should have been a 2 “day” (including time changes) trip with an arrival at 2pm on Day 2 turned into a 3 “day”trip with a 1am arrival.  And if you don’t recall, my husband is borderline phobic of planes.  It went a little something like this:

2526

Needless to say, I’m not exactly looking forward to my first visit back to the states… the best laid plans, am I right?

Leave America at the airport

While rocking together on a porch swing in the cool Mediterranean night, my husband turned to me and asked

How are you feeling about Turkey?

DSCN2809

Naturally, my first instinct was to say “good!” but, I wanted to give a more detailed answer than that.  Between jet lag and all of the running around we had been doing, I had been very tired recently and he was worried about how quiet I had been for the week we had been there- and that I hadn’t been my normal, bubbly self.

  I assure you all, I am just exhausted.  

But anyway, I started to really think about how I felt about Turkey. Really. And the word that kept coming to my mind was

different

DSCN2813

But not different in a bad way, like how my mom uses it to describe food she doesn’t like…but different in a..different sort of way.  I know you shouldn’t use the same word to define or describe a word, but there it is.  Turkey is different than the US. It just is.  If you come here looking for a western experience, you are going to be very disappointed.  The traffic is different, the speaking is different, the way of showing affection is different, the buildings are different, the lifestyle is different… the only thing that isn’t different is that we all bleed the same blood.  It is so different.

I can understand how culture shock could flatten a lot of people who aren’t prepared for this huge change.  I suffered it myself the first time we came four years ago.  Fortunately I know what to expect this time around, and have been mentally preparing myself for this change for several years.  Also, I have the huge benefit of the love and support of family (in Turkey and back int he US) while I am here.  That definitely helps take the edge off.

A bit of advice to those struggling with a culture adjustment- jump in with both feet and leave America (or wherever you are from) at the airport.  Fighting against your new home will only make you miserable.  Embrace it, enjoy it, and find the parts that give you comfort.

I hope it keeps working for me too :).

Greetings from Izmir!

DSCN2758

Wow, it seems like forever since we landed in Izmir at 1am on Wednesday morning- but today is only Monday!  Upon landing we were greeted by my in-laws and some cousins and whisked away to the beach…where there is no internet.

But that’s ok! We have been so busy managing the garden, visiting the beach, and seeing family that we haven’t had time to miss it.  Here is a teaser of what we have been up to in the last five days…
DSCN2796dancinguse

DSCN2808
We will be staying at the internet-less beach house until October, so I can’t be sure about my posting schedule.  The posts will come eventually though! Especially now that we are trying to figure out my residency permit stuff and what not. Ah, to be an expat…

Update

Sitting in the airport in Munich right now… Waiting on our new connecting flight that leaves in around… Ohhh… 8 hrs. There was a 2hr weather delay in Charlotte that made us miss our previous connection.  New ETA for Turkey is 1:15am

But at least the flight from Charlotte to Munich was otherwise uneventful.

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

Turkey 102: How to Stay Well in Turkey

Welcome back to my “Turkey lessons”, and I hope they are helping you!  I may even make them a series ;).  Today’s lesson is how to stay well in Turkey.  Traveling always comes with some health risks, and it is important to keep yourself well when traveling abroad.  Here are a few tips for keeping yourself healthy.

Cay
This painting is two years old, ok? No judgement!

1. Keep your immune system up: This one is obvious and applies to any travel you do.  When going abroad, you will be exposed to microbes such as viruses that you have not been exposed to before.  It is important to keep your immune system up the best you can with proper hydration, healthy eating, and adequate sleep.  Personal hygiene should also be kept well, such as washing your hands frequently, but in Turkey people do tend to be very clean ;).

2.  Watch what you eat:  Some delicacies in Turkey are more…delicate…than others.  For example, çiğ köfte and kokoreç.  The prior is a raw ground beef patty, and the latter is roasted intestine.  Both are likely breeding grounds for food-borne pathogens such as E. coli.  Don’t get me wrong- I eat them both and LOVE them both!  The Turks have a long history of brilliant food culture, and they know how to prepare these foods right- but sometimes our american guts can’t handle it.  So, I would advise starting our these harrowing food adventures in small bites- testing the waters before jumping in.

3. Don’t drink tap water:  While Turkey has a water system that is drinkable, such as in the US, some areas may be…questionable.  Within my husband’s life, he can recall a time when the water in Izmir, one of the most developed cities in Turkey, had water sanitation issues.  My in-laws still drink from a water cooler in the kitchen…and I think I will follow their suit.  But don’t be afraid to try the spring water, when it is available!

4. Embrace natural remedies:  Homeopathy is fairly common in Turkey, and its popularity is growing in the US.  When I had a stomach ache my mother in law gave me fennel tea- and that helped a lot.  Much like the food culture, the Turks have a long history of homeopathy and they have honed their skills.  While there is a place for homeopathy, it is still important to know when enough is enough- and to consult a physician if your ailments become too serious.

I hope these tips help you when spending time in Turkey, and if you have any other advice, please drop a comment below!

When In Turkey: A comic!

I’ve always enjoyed drawing and stories, so what’s better than putting them together? I’ve doodled strips of things that happen in my daily life since I was in high school, even developed a few fiction comics that I never actually finished…

Everyone says to write/draw what you know. What is more interesting than drawing my own life? Well, maybe I’m being a little boastful, but moving to a new country opens up a world of stories that other people may enjoy! Introducing a comic based solely on my life, featuring my hubby and I- and those who appear along the way!

All art is done by hand using pens, spectrum noir markers, and colored pencils

WTCover
When in turkey…do as the turks do!