The Foreign Feminist


feminist11Spend a short time in Turkey and you will notice that on the surface, women here are more feminine than the majority of their American counterparts. That’s not to say that American women have abandoned their bras and their razors, but the gender roles here are just somehow different. If you look at the number of housewives (homemakers, whatever) in Turkey versus the number of housewives (homemakers) in the States, I feel like those figures would support my claim. While plenty of women have careers outside of the home in Turkey, it seems that as a whole, Turkish society still allows for women to stay at home.

Since the “f” word has appeared in the title and the photo for this post, perhaps you are expecting me to complain about gender roles in Turkey. Well, I’m not going to. Over the last few days/weeks, I’ve been wondering what the “feminist” spectrum really looks like. Of course, I believe women and men must be socially and economically equal. I believe both sexes are loved equally by God. Both sexes deserve the same opportunities to achieve their goals and pursue happiness. If they have the same job, their salaries ought to be the same. But does being a feminist mean that I HAVE TO want to be top dog at my job? Does it mean that I HAVE TO want to put my career before everything else, including my marriage and my family?

While working on my master’s this summer, I told my advisor about my promotion at work. She liked to patronize me and suggested I only got the promotion because I speak English. I corrected her right away and let her know that I work with many other English-speakers. Then she said,”Well, good for you. Keep climbing that ladder. God knows you definitely wouldn’t want to be a Turkish housewife.” WHY IS THAT A BAD THING?!

Could being a feminist ALSO possibly mean that if I choose to, I can have as many children as I want — which is realistically no more than two — and then stay home to raise them myself? I worked in a daycare for four years. I took care of infants (8 weeks old and up), which meant I regularly had to take babies away from their crying mothers and assure everyone that the babies would be just fine when they came to get them 8 hours later.

Don’t get me wrong – 90% of those mothers were doing what they absolutely had to do in order to support their families, and they were spending a FORTUNE to make sure their babies were taken care of. But deep down, it always terrified me to think that I would most likely be one of those mothers one day, and I wouldn’t have $15,000 to send my infant to the “best” daycare in my area. I would most likely only be able to afford those sketchy home daycares that may or may not double as a meth lab.

I live in a country where it’s normal and acceptable to be a housewife. I’ve seen the extremes, too. There are the Desperate Housewives, who leave their villas looking like a walking advertisement for their plastic surgeon, in an ensemble that costs more than my entire wardrobe combined. Then there are the desperate housewives (there’s a difference) who have at least three kids dangling off of their exhausted bodies, which they have to hoist up onto the bus, along with the stroller and groceries, and they probably haven’t had even five minutes to themselves just to shower in two days.

I’d most likely fall somewhere in the middle, which isn’t a terrible place to be. But of course, at this point, being a stay-at-home mom is more of a pipe dream for me. I’ve crunched some numbers, and I would have to work at my current job for at least 3 more years before a baby could even be a twinkle in my eye.

Then of course, there’s the other side of the coin. Even if Canim won the lottery and we could live in a penthouse overlooking the sea and I could afford to fly to NY as often as I’d like while still being able to afford having my hair blown out thrice a week, what kind of a housewife would I be? You decide:

– I used detergent to mop the balcony (apparently that’s a no-no).
– I look up recipes on the internet – which women here won’t explicitly poo-poo, but they’ve remarked on it with some disdain. Meanwhile, I feel like I should be applauded for actually using Pinterest for recipes and attempting to make them Pinterest-perfect to catch up with my peers in the States!  Excuse me for not having the recipe for dolma in my DNA!
– I have no qualms about paying another woman to clean my home.
– I have no qualms about asking my husband to drop our work clothes off at the dry cleaners so everything can be pressed to perfection (because neatness matters MUCH MORE here than it does in the States).
– If I don’t have polished nails, I can still sleep well at night. How can I clean my house AND maintain a perfect manicure???? CHOOSE ONE.
– I am comfortable leaving my house without makeup, although admittedly I will not go to work that way.
– I can relax and even SLEEP knowing that there is laundry to be folded, floors to be vacuumed, windows to be cleaned (and what’s the point of that?  They always look streaky and the dust outside makes them dirty again a few hours later).
– I love having my own money and spending it or saving it (LOL) as I please. If I had to ask my husband for money, I think it would make me sick.

So, I could be a successful housewife, just not by Turkish standards. But my husband loves me, even with all of the things I listed, and he doesn’t measure me by Turkish standards. My value as a woman does not depend on my domestic capabilities or my professional accolades. It depends on something else, which my husband already seems to understand (hence his decision to be my husband), and I, for some reason, am struggling to figure out.

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Spoiler Alert: We ELOPED!

"It's a beautiful night. We're looking for something [fun] to do. Hey baby, I think I wanna marry you."

“It’s a beautiful night. We’re looking for something [fun] to do. Hey baby, I think I wanna marry you.”

Your eyes do not deceive you. The yabanci bride who only wanted one small, simple, intimate wedding ceremony will have had THREE celebrations (of varying degrees) before the end of 2015. But hey, at least the first one was small, simple, and intimate. 🙂 

We eloped for practical and romantic reasons. Practical: Housing. It’s a long story, but I was going to have to change (read: DOWNGRADE) my apartment and we were tired of living in two different cities, so in an effort to keep things helal (or halal or kosher or whatever you want to say), we decided to be married on paper so we could live together without feeling a black cloud of ayip looming over us. Romantic: There was no way we could wait until January to be husband and wife. We’re each other’s best friends, partners, teammates, all of that good stuff. To us, engagement is not about figuring out whether or not your fiance is “the one”. That’s what dating is for. I told Canim not to propose unless he was prepared to marry me the next day if need be (why would “need be”? I don’t know but I had to be dramatic to make my point). So, we were ready to be married as soon as we got engaged. Engagement (again, to us) is about planning, preparing, and making arrangements for the future. Where will you live? How will you balance finances? Blah blah blah boring adult things. 

In July, we got my parents’ blessing to go ahead and be married on paper as long as we will still have the reception in January and the American reception in July. Fair enough. Everybody gets a little bit of what they want. I bought a simple lace sheath, my brilliant and artistic friend made me a brooch bouquet (which will be used at all three weddings), I Pinterested a hairstyle, ordered some pink shoes and sixpence coins, and two weeks after I returned to Turkey (August 30th), I became Mrs. Canim. 

In another post, I will explain the process for an American-Turkish marriage ceremony. Most of that was a blur, to be honest, because Canim is SUPER efficient (a quality that did not really shine until I returned to Turkey), so I just had to sign along the dotted line for most of it. 

The Wedding Day: 
Canim took me to the kuafor for hair and make-up at 10:30. Before that, we made a stop at Platin to buy new nail polish for my “professional” manicure. I had a meltdown the night before over my inability to successfully apply two coats of nail polish to any of my 20 nails. I just can’t do it when I’m nervous!

After I was dolled up, my brother-in-law (BIL) and mother-in-law (MIL) picked me up. I was disappointed to learn that the bozos at the jeweler had failed to have my wedding band ready in time for the ceremony. However, I opted to not go Bridezilla on said bozos because, to quote my husband (hehehe), “Darling, here is Turkey. Every time something is wrong.” The end. Full stop. There’s always something wrong, so don’t sweat it. 

One hour before the ceremony, when we were less than 1 KM away from the house, the bozos called and told my BIL that the wedding band was ready. So, BIL turned around to go exactly where we had just come from. He drove like a bat outta Hades to get the ring. While MIL and I waited in the car, she turned to me and said, “The box in the bag is yours.” So I opened it and discovered a SIX PIECE lingerie set. Gorgeous white satin. I was flattered, humbled, and then REALLY embarrassed to think about what must have been going through her mind as she picked out the set. I mean…you know. And she’s his MOM. Agggh. Anyway. 

So, I got ready at his parents’ house, and sat on a bed staring at the clock thinking,”30 minutes until I become Mrs. Canim. This is a big deal.” And I started shaking a little and my eyes were welling up with tears, so my darling MIL swooped in with some baklava (I had 3 pieces – sue me) and helped me buckle my shoes because I couldn’t do it myself. 

The Ceremony:
I’m not gonna lie to you guys. The Turkish marriage ceremony is rather…unceremonious. Canim’s father and two best friends walked me into the belediye wedding salon (aka city hall). He was pacing and waiting anxiously for me to arrive. When we saw each other, we hugged and tried really hard not to cry. After taking lots of pictures, everyone left us alone to say our vows to each other (Turkish couples normally don’t do that, as it is assumed that by showing up for the ceremony, you already promise to be the ideal spouse until you die. But I’m American. I like contracts and having things spelled out explicitly and without confusion – plus I thought it would be more romantic than “evet”). We said a slightly tweaked but mostly traditional version of American vows, but I said them in English and he said them in Turkish. Then, we walked upstairs where everyone was waiting. We sat down, the officiant sat down, said a lot of things that I barely understood because I was waiting (and maybe even leaning in very closely) for the question that sounded something like, “[Yabanci Bride], Canim eş olarak kabul ediyor musunuz?” And I said,”EVET!” But I was too eager and she held up the microphone so I could say it again. Then she asked him, he said, “Evet,” she said some more things, we signed some papers, and she left. One of our witnesses pointed to the floor very urgently but I didn’t know what she was saying. Someone else said,”Ayak!” and I remembered to do this: 

Ayak Basmak - Foot Stomping I stomped on his foot to show who's "boss" - but really, he had made no attempt to stomp on mine - so who's really the boss?

Ayak Basmak – Foot Stomping
I stomped on his foot to show who’s “boss” – but he had made no attempt to stomp on mine – so who’s really the boss? 🙂

We switched our rings onto our left hands, had a short and sweet kiss (once on the lips and once on my forehead, which I found so adorable), and then cut the cake. Oh, this was our cake topper: 

International Love Courtesy of Giving Ink on Etsy! https://www.etsy.com/shop/givingINK?ref=l2-shop-info-name

International Love
Courtesy of Giving Ink on Etsy! https://www.etsy.com/shop/givingINK?ref=l2-shop-info-name

After the ceremony, we took pictures in a park along the sea, but it really felt like taking pictures on the surface of the freaking sun. Then, we went back to his parents’ house to freshen up. After that we had dinner at our favorite restaurant which means “Snow White” but has absolutely nothing to do with a princess or dwarves. 

After dinner came the real party – our “mini-moon” at the Hilton. Let me tell you – I’ve never stayed in a Hilton before, and now that I have, I don’t know how I can ever stay in a pansion or even a different 5-star hotel. That place was a piece of American heaven, I tell ya. It was like sleeping on a cloud. We were treated like stars, with far too many free drinks (including a bottle of champagne), impressive room service, and they let us check out several hours later than we were supposed to. It was paradise. 

All in all, every time I think of that day (aka 5 days ago), I can’t help but grin ear-to-ear. I’m glad we didn’t wait. 

Got the ring (mine is obviously on the right) just in time, so I didn't have to foam at the mouth like Bridezilla. Crisis averted.

Got the ring (mine is obviously on the right) just in time, so I didn’t have to foam at the mouth like Bridezilla. Crisis averted.

Brooch bouquet. :)

Brooch bouquet. 🙂

 

Poppin' bottles

Poppin’ bottles

In Sickness and in Health

In my last post, I mentioned how in a brief moment of silly superstitiousness, I blamed myself for Canim feeling sick. It was my fault because I brag about him too much, I share too many cutsie pictures of us on Facebook and Instagram, and I gush about him every chance I get. All of the gushing (according to superstition) conjured the nazar and made him sick.

Well! I’m not sure what this means, but I am now sick, too! It turns out that even though he was being a bit theatrical, he was, in fact, sick. Our symptoms are almost identical, only mine are a little bit worse. Of course!

While I can’t say that the “evil eye” is the reason we both got sick, I do still think it was my fault. Here’s why:

Yesterday morning, I woke up feeling sluggish, irritable, and a bit queasy. I’m not a morning person, so I didn’t think much of it. My body is often repulsed by the idea of having to wake up at 6:30 in the morning. But yesterday morning was different. As a result of 1 week of eating almost nothing but fruits and vegetables, and I mean LOTS of vegetables, I have been in the habit of having 1 tomato, 1 cucumber, and a little üçgen peynir spread on a cracker for breakfast. Anyway, yesterday’s cucumber left something to be desired, so I ate 3 small tomatoes and a few crackers instead. That’s when I knew something was wrong. My stomach felt so strange, I couldn’t even drink tea. Every cup of water I attempted to drink tasted bitter and dirty.

Stomach cramps abounded, and then I skipped lunch. I never skip lunch. It is what gets me through the day. Actually, no. Lunch doesn’t get me through the day. My post-lunch Turkish coffee gets me through the day, and I couldn’t even have that. When I refused that AND I refused a vanilla cappuccino, my work BFF gasped, plopped down in her chair and said,”Allah Allah, you really ARE sick!” She blamed the nazar, because we know a few people who may be casting it my way, which amused me in the midst of my turmoil.
ImageI made it through the work day and hurried home. I appreciate the way my sickness waited for me to be in the privacy of my own home before unleashing its fury on me.

Like the dutiful (pun sort of intended) fiance that he is, Canim came to check on me and reciprocate the TLC I had given him when he was sick. We tried to figure out the source of our sickness. We figure it could be one or all of the following: the absurd fruit and veggie diet, the copious amounts of organic dried apricots we’ve both been eating, and/or my tendency to walk around without wearing layers and I sometimes tiptoe around the house barefoot (if my slippers somehow manage to be inconveniently out of reach).

Personally, I think choice 1 and choice 2 joined forces to create the perfect storms in our stomachs. Dried apricots can MESS.YOU. UP. if you overindulge. Who knew? Now  I know that dried apricots and chickpeas (that’s a story for another day) are two delicious, “healthy” things that secretly want to kill me. Choice 3 is entirely Turkish, and I have to be as receptive as possible to the local scientific hypothesis that not wearing layers when it’s 80+ degrees out will make you suffer all kinds of maladies. The whole wearing slippers thing has definitely become a part of my second nature, but sometimes, I deviate back to my American mentality that being barefoot in the house won’t kill you. However, I try to be sensitive about wearing my slippers as often as possible when I’m around Canim, because I don’t want him to worry that my lack-of-slippers will cause problems for us when we try to have children in the future (maşallah, tug your ear, pucker your lips and knock on wood!).

So yeah, this probably wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for my idea for us to try the extreme diet. The dried apricots were actually his choice, but we only bought them because we went to Carrefour one day *just* to buy fresh mint leaves for one of my detoxtails, and ended up realizing we were starving, so we bought every “healthy” food item in sight. 🙂

Editor’s Note: When discussing illness in Turkey, be careful not to say “sick” too much, as it sounds just like the Turkish f-bomb. You can say “ill” when talking to an English-speaker, or just say “hasta” because it means “sick” in Turkish, and it’s easy to say.

Also, anyone notice how I managed to do three product placements in one picture? #talent

-YB

So, You Think You Want to Live and Work in Turkey?

They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in a field. I have been a resident of Turkey for 14,400 hours, but I did spend roughly 120 days in the States during that time, so I am really closer to about 11,500 hours, give or take a few, and if you want to challenge me on that, congratulations. You’re a bigger nerd than I am.

Since I am an expert on what it means to live and work in Turkey as a foreigner (totally kidding), I figured I would compose a list of rules/things to consider BEFORE you take the leap of faith and move to Turkey. Disclaimer: This list applies to people who want to live AND work in Turkey. If you are here just to live but not work, you are so lucky and I’m really jealous, but you may find that some of these things do not apply to you. Second disclaimer: I already know I will probably contradict myself a few times here. If contradictions make you uncomfortable, do not move to Turkey. You will not be able to handle it.


So here, in no particular order other than what pops into my head first, I give you:

THE TOP 10 RULES/THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE LIVING AND WORKING IN TURKEY

  1. Learn the Turkish alphabet and at least SOME basic words and phrases. I came to Turkey knowing very little Turkish. I knew greetings, the names of some fruits and vegetables, and numbers under 100. Now, I speak much more but I know I still sound like Tarzan when I try to put sentences together (God bless my future in-laws for their patience while I try to speak). My point is, a little bit goes a long way here. People will be happy that you at least try to speak their language rather than expecting them to know English. However, undercover bilinguals are lurking everywhere, often eager for the chance to help you and show off what English they know. The Turkish alphabet, in my opinion, is one of the best alphabets in the world. It is everything the English alphabet ought to be. You can put any Turkish word in front of me, and I will know how to pronounce it, even if I have no idea what it means – unless it has a circumflex/”hat” on it, such as â, î, or û. I will never be able to pronounce those letters. Image
  2. Embrace and Respect Turkish Hospitality. If you’re considering moving to Turkey, you’ve done plenty of frantic Google searches and you’ve come across so many things explaining Turkish hospitality. They’re famous for it, and rightfully so. People are seldom in a rush here (unless they’re waiting behind you in line. Just kidding. I rarely see anyone “waiting in line”). There is always time for çay (tea) or coffee, and you should be willing to make time for that as well. Be prepared for the tulip-shaped glass your scalding hot drink will be served in. My advice is to hold it very gently from the rim, but you’ll learn what’s best for you.Image It is not uncommon for visitors to show up with little to no advance warning, but it seems hosts don’t feel irritated or inconvenienced by it like they might in the States. That could be because Turkish households are immaculately clean and there is always some food to offer guests. Accept what is offered to you, at least a little bit, and try not to leave your çay glass half-full. Now, if you are living and working in Turkey, after some time you won’t really be a visitor and it is possible to exhaust a Turkish host’s hospitality, even if they won’t admit it. Know when you’re wearing out your welcome and don’t expect people to serve you all the time. Sincerely offer to help. I can’t believe I even have to write that, but I’ve been amazed by the way some foreigners carry themselves when visiting. Do not be the entitled foreigner people worry you will be!
    Image
  3. Tidy Up! Like I said, Turkish homes are immaculate. That’s another thing Turks may modestly deny, but trust me. It doesn’t matter how big or how small, Turkish homes are always clean and presentable to whoever may drop by. No one expects your home to be that way, and unless you are assisted by a Turk, your home will never be that way. Just accept that. However, it’s worth it to put a little more effort into housekeeping than you normally would. Tidiness also applies to your appearance and eating habits. I can’t tell anyone how to dress or eat, but as a foreigner, you will already be a bit of a spectacle, at least in the beginning. If you’re going to be watched/gawked at, don’t you want to at least look good? Americans tend to be a bit more relaxed when it comes to appearances. Going food shopping in pajamas with major bed head or wearing dirty sneakers with wrinkled jeans and a hole-y t-shirt is common in the States. Don’t do it here. Again, take some time and put a little extra effort in, because most of the people here, no matter how rich or how poor, strive to be tidy in appearance. I feel embarassed for other foreigners when they walk around in public looking like they just got out of bed. Just don’t do it. And as for eating habits: at my previous job, people stared at me when I used my left hand (I’m a lefty) to eat or drink. But as you already know, they were a little old-fashioned. I’ve since learned to eat with only right hand, but now it doesn’t really matter anymore. However, Turks are much more polite when it comes to the dinner table. *Contradiction alert*: Though “community plates” are common, especially for things like salad, and forks are often double-dipped, that does not mean their standards of table etiquette are lower. Chew with your mouth shut, finishing chewing before you speak, and cover your mouth if you’re going to use a toothpick at the table – AND FOR PETE’S SAKE, USE A TOOTHPICK, NOT YOUR FINGERS!
  4. Learn a Few Things About Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. I am not even going to tell you why he is so important, because really you must research him for yourself. However, I will tell you to be very careful about which Atatürk “facts” you insist are true. People’s feelings about him vary, but whatever the feeling, I can promise you it is likely very strong, and things can get super awkward if you say things about him without knowing how your audience feels about him first. Be sensitive. 
    Image
  5. If You Don’t Know What to Do, Take a Hint from a Trusted Turkish Friend. Okay, *contradiction alert* this rule is valid but you should also know that as a foreigner, you can’t always get away with doing things the way a Turk would. For example, your colleagues may be able to come to a meeting a few minutes late, but DON’T YOU DARE DO IT. See item #8 to find out why I will slap you if I find out you’re slacking while on the job in Turkey. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing which exact things you can and can’t do. Eventually you will develop the instinct to know, but mostly you will just have to be embarrassed from time to time when you do something that you probably shouldn’t have done. Don’t know when to kiss cheeks, shake hands, or just smile politely? Look at your TTF for that. Depending on how religious/conservative a person is, he/she may not want to even shake hands with a person from the opposite sex. That one is hard to gauge, so pay attention to what you see others doing. If you make a mistake, it’s not a big deal, but it is awkward.
  6. Religion, Politics, and Football: The Trifecta of Sensitive Topics. In the States, pretty much every world religion is represented, and pretty much everyone feels free to practice their religion as they see fit. Do not — I REPEAT — do NOT come to Turkey assuming it is like other countries in this part of the world. If I were you, I’d hesitate before even calling Turkey “the Middle East” out loud. Yes, the population is mostly Muslim, but do not presume to know what that means. Do not assume that people know nothing about your religion or that they hate you because you pray to Jesus (if you do). For the most part, that will not be true. At the same time, don’t assume that they know “the truth” about your religion — gently and respectfully explain what you believe IF (and really, only if) someone asks. Learn a little bit about the headscarf and why it’s controversial these days. Also, be cautious when talking about it with other people here. Just because a woman is uncovered does not mean she is not in favor of the headscarf. For all you know, her mother and sisters cover and she considers herself to be religious, but she doesn’t want to cover her head for whatever reasons. Do not make an ass of yourself by assuming anything about people’s religious or political views here. Religion can be very political and politics (read: loyalty) can be kind of religious at times. Tread lightly. The call to prayer can be heard five times a day, every single day, without fail. It may be a little startling in the beginning, but you’ll get used to it. Certainly do not complain about it.
    ImageAlso, learn something about football so you can have something to talk about with new people. Be wise about which team colors you wear in certain places, and brace yourself for the emotional, heart-wrenching experience of watching your team lose miserably, although inşallah Galatasaray will have a better year next year. 😉
  7. Adjust Your Expectations. I was going to say “lower” your expectations, but that would imply disappointment or dissatisfaction. So, adjust them instead. Turkey is not a third-world country where people have never seen a television or heard of Michael Jackson. We have wifi, Starbucks, real Nike shoes, iPhones, and pretty much everything else you can find in the States with the exception of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Of course, not every city/village is exactly like that, but it’s very common and it is easy to live comfortably here. You won’t be living in a hut and drinking water from a well unless you really want to. At the same time, sometimes the power does go out unexpectedly and for a long time. Traffic rules may be a little lax, but I know of someone who get a 90 TL ticket for jaywalking last week, so stay alert!
  8. Understand How Hard Turks Work. Life is comfortable here, but work is hard. As a foreigner working here, you will most likely have some perks that your Turkish counterparts don’t. You will most likely be paid more money, because the company needed something to attract you to the job. You may even have your house and flight paid for. Your work hours will probably be a little less, but again, you may be paid at least twice as much. Be sensitive and be wise. Don’t brag about money or all your flashy purchases. What may be worse than bragging about money is complaining about money. Do not go on a two-week trip to Europe (where most Turks can’t travel because of bogus visa requirements) or some exotic island and then have the audacity to complain that you only have $1,000 left in your bank account. Also, do not go on holiday and come back later than planned, requiring a Turkish colleague (or any colleague, really) to cover for you. Like I said before, I will slap you hard, Ottoman style.
    Image
  9. Lighten Up. In many ways, Turkish culture can be conservative. However, there are many ways in which it is not. If you’re going to live and work here, get comfortable with people being in your personal space. That means members of the same sex will show affection towards you in ways you may not expect (relax, it’s nothing creepy). People may get reeeeally close when they talk to you. As I mentioned in #3, community plates are normal and double-dipping is just a fact of life. I had a hard time with it at first, but now it’s normal to me. It will have to be normal for you too. If you’re going to live and work here, be prepared to dance. I’m talking to guys here, too. Men dance without shame here. Don’t worry, the dance moves are pretty simple and people often dance in groups. If you see a man reaching for a napkin as he heads to the dance floor, be advised that he is about to BREAK. IT. DOWN. And it will be awesome. 🙂
  10. Either Accept Things or Let Them Go. In previous posts, I’ve vented about how confusing/frustrating cultural differences can be here. I have to remind myself that just because something is different does not mean it is wrong. Turkish culture is awesome but it takes getting used to sometimes. Don’t try to change it or make it “better”- and certainly don’t come here with any ideologies that resemble “white man’s burden” because again: Ottoman slap. While the Turkish Republic is only 90 years old, Turkish culture goes waaaaaaaaaaaay back before anyone even knew America existed, and if you’re from an English-speaking country other than the US, it probably goes back before your culture as well. Sorry. Emperors, sultans, presidents and prime ministers have come and gone, different religions have dominated, but the culture hasn’t changed all that much, so do not think you will change it either. Do not think that it NEEDS to be changed. Embrace it for what it is, and celebrate it, because really, there are so many things to love about Turkey. Deep down, I think I secretly even love the frustrating things. Culture shock is real, it’s inevitable, it’s sometimes painful, and I don’t think it ever really stops (but it does work in cycles). Living in a new culture is an adventure. Adventure is hardship by choice. Be real about why you want to live and work here, and understand that living and working in a foreign country (specifically Turkey) is not just Eat, Pray, Love, but also Struggle, Adapt, Love. Even if you try it and find out it’s not for you, I don’t know anyone who has left Turkey without loving it just a teensy bit. I mean, I love Turkish culture so much, I’m choosing to marry into it!Best of luck! I hope this list helps.
    YB

    P.S. – If I’ve left anything out, please feel free to add other things to consider before relocating to Turkey! 🙂  

First post!

Merhaba!

Welcome to my humble little blog. I guess this is technically a “wedding blog” because I plan to write about wedding-related things, but it’s likely I will digress a lot.

So, who am I writing this for? Well, I am writing this for friends and family back home who are too far away to participate in the wedding planning experience. Sometimes a Facebook update just doesn’t cut it. I don’t think a blog is any kind of substitute, but at least I can be as detailed as I want to be without making people roll their eyes and think, “Oh, there goes another wedding post!” If you’re reading this right now, it’s because you chose to, and not because I am clogging up your news feed with selfies taken with my fiance and post after post about finding wedding venues, photographers, flowers, and ultimately saying “evet” to the dress of my dreams.

I am also writing this for other women out there who find themselves in a similar situation. They belong to a small community of people in Turkey known as yabancis. That’s actually Turklish (Turkish + English). The correct term is “yabancilar,” and that isn’t even 100% correct because the “i” should be undotted. Anyway, what is a yabanci (yah-bahn-jih)? Well, a yabanci can be one of many things: a foreigner, a stranger, a trespasser, but always an outsider. An even smaller community within that community is the one that I am rapidly becoming a part of: the yabanci gelin (foreign bride) community. Being a yabanci gelin is incredibly exciting, but it can also be daunting, intimidating, and confusing. I do not claim to be an expert. I’m just figuring it out as I go. I’m documenting my adventure (1.5 years after it began) in case maybe one year from now, another brave yabanci finds herself in love with a Turkish man and she wants to figure out what she’s getting herself into (hint: it includes lots of fun, lots of language-barrier mishaps, LOTS of paperwork, but mostly, lots of love and delicious food).

I have done more than my share of Googling in the year and a half that I have lived in Turkey. More recently, I have been Googling recipes. I’ve almost mastered making Turkish pilav. Sometimes, if I’m bored or if I am lacking inspiration, I will Google Turkish wedding ideas/traditions, but I know that is often an exercise in futility. Why? Because (spoiler) no amount of Google searching will help me answer all the questions I’ll have about Turkish culture. That means this blog, the one that you somehow discovered somewhere in a sea of spam and travel blogs, will only answer some of your questions. Or, it will answer none of them and only confuse you more. Get used to it. The only thing I can do is offer you a different perspective and share my personal, often unique experiences in the hopes that maybe you can relate in some way. At the very least, I hope you’ll be amused.

My goal is to keep this blog as anonymous as possible for as long as possible. I will share my own thoughts and experiences, of course, but I will avoid posting photos of myself (or my fiance) and using real names. I won’t write anything here that I would not want my fiance to see. I hope to find a way to inform and entertain readers and to get them to think about life, relationships, and the world in a new way. I also want to help other yabancis navigate their way through a very complex culture.

I haven’t figured out exactly how to use this site, but if you have the ability to comment, please, feel free! All I ask is that you be respectful and use discretion. Like I said, I want this to be anonymous, so my comment section ought to be too. 🙂

Sevgiler & saygilar,
–YB