From the heat and glorious sunshine in Dalyan I landed into drizzly rain and 18 degrees at 4 o’clock in the morning. It wasn’t quite the welcome that I was hoping for.
Apart from the cold, the thing that struck me about visiting ‘home’, was the oddity. It is a strange feeling to be in a place you know so well but feel out of place. I have always lived in Sussex. In my childhood I spent days walking and horse riding around the countryside. In my previous job I spent hours driving the length and breadth of the country. I know it like the back of my hand. I know what is round every corner and yet it doesn’t feel quite like home any more.
It made me think about all of the things that I have got used to and some advice if you have just moved.
Allow yourself to miss things: food, clothes, being able to communicate easily. I miss Sainsburys but so far that’s it. I have never eaten pork so never bacon cravings for me!
Don’t allow yourself to miss: narrow thinking, getting bored, feeling trapped.
Learn the language but don’t get upset with yourself if it’s too difficult and takes time to master. Enjoy the period where you can sit in coffee shops and restaurants and not have to block out inane chatter. It’s effortless when it’s all gibberish.
Get used to the problems of the country not really being your problems. You don’t have a say in them, so it’s easier if you just accept them as they are. It’s quite liberating to know that you can’t vote in Turkey and it is pointless voting in the UK. I have to admit that from the outside the UK is looking a bit like a disaster zone at the moment.
Embrace the local shops. You can find most of what you want and if you can’t there is this amazing invention called ‘the internet’. Everything can and will be delivered: music, movies, books, food, clothes. Almost everything.
If you can Skype or call your family every week. It helps keep you feeling normal. It is very hard to be left out of things. My family recently went to wedding that I wasn’t invited to. After the initial outrage, I gave myself a talking to. I wouldn’t have flown home to attend so why was I bothered?
Remember that Turkey is very accessible. People can easily visit and vice versa. You will be able to get home within a day if you have to.
On those days when a really simple thing could be easily handled if you were back home, and you get frustrated, and you start really wishing you could go back home try and remember that every day you live in a foreign country you get better at it. Every day you live abroad you learn something new. About yourself, the country you live in, and about how to remain patient.
Plan on making friends that you actually like. I know how that sounds but when people are thrown together in a strange country it is easy to put up with people that you wouldn’t at home. Be true to yourself. If you are a homebody you won’t be happy pretending that you are the life and soul of the party.
You might forget who you are and where you came from, and maybe that’s the point. But no one ever really runs away. Once you come to terms with all of that you will be able to really settle down.