An Expat Talks about Living in Izmir, Turkey
What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Describe how you "dreamed" expat life would be before you moved overseas. Please provide as much detail as possible.
The dream I had before moving to Izmir, Turkey was based in the reality of the life I lived in Istanbul years ago. It was the willingness of Turkish people to help and to understand a stranger or foreigner. I was treated with such respect because of my high education that I could even sit in a tea house among men in a small village and discuss politics. I spent some summers in Bodrum 10 years later and had the same warm interactions. While in a fisher village on the other side of the town center, and a very isolated place at the time, my colleague and I were invited to share dinner with the boatman who had taken us along the coast. We sat in a small circle with his family and ask from the same large pan. I spoke fluent Turkish at the time, so I'm sure that helped. I have many more stories about the people at that time that are incredibly beautiful and unlike any other place I've ever lived.
How has your expat experience met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?
I am very happy to be in Izmir. I see a lot of potential for us to become educated and to enjoy a more humanistic lifestyle. Like many Expats who have come to Turkey for retirement, we have managed to live more cheaply and within our means here than in our home country. Once we have settled and taken care of basic needs, we intend to explore and become much more knowledgeable about the rich Turkish culture.
How has your expat experience NOT met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?
About three months ago, my family and I returned to Turkey with the memories of friendly and helpful Turks. In this short period of time, the blown-up dream of reuniting with a people we respect and adore has lost some of its air. The Turkish student who helped us find a temporary home took more money from us than intended, saying "As a foreigner moving to Turkey, you have to expect to pay more." He owes me $500 and I haven't heard from him since. The new neighbors in our permanent home have turned out to be selfish and ignorant. On one side, they have a dog that barks incessantly and when told that we needed sleep, they said that other dogs barked too. The other neighbor came to my door a month after we had moved in to announce that my son had taken HER PARKING SPOT. The parking space near three homes has three spaces, but she had to have exactly the one my son had taken. Since I was too afraid to move his car and he had left on business for a few weeks, I was the one who had to take her complaints, usually at night when I was about to go to bed and stood in the doorway as she went on and on in Turkish, which I don't speak very well yet. With the help of a couple of Turkish new-friends who have lived overseas for a number of years and speak English, my neighbor-problems have been more or less resolved. Nevertheless, you can see how a dream can deflate in a pretty short amount of time.