It has been just over 3 months since my family moved to Turkey. We had actually never visited Turkey before we moved either. To say that we are “wet behind the ears” would be an understatement.
Before we moved, I started trying to learn some basic Turkish using Duolingo. I also did lots of searching about Turkey and watched a little bit of Turkish content on Netflix and YouTube. I watched a lot of travel vlogs and read some travel blogs.
I’m really glad I did those things. They definitely helped take the level of difficulty down a notch or two. But in the end, crossing a culture and living in a new country is always going to be a jarring and momentous task. All the things we take for granted, all the routines and mindsets that we have developed over time, these things work like square pegs in round holes. Whether it is Turkey or South Korea or Argentina or anywhere else, there are unique aspects in each culture. The more there are, the more challenging it will be to feel normal and at home. It will take time and the desire to adapt.
That’s my hypothesis, anyway. Check back with me every 6 months!
When I was digging through vlogs and blogs, I found a ton of great content focused on the European side of Istanbul – primarily around the most well-known and beloved sites. Sultan Ahmet Cami (Blue Mosque), Ayasofya (Hagia Sofia), The Grand Bazaar, Topkapi Palace, Ortaköy Cami, Galata Tower, Istiklal street, and Taksim Square. Occasionally two districts from the Asian side would show up too – Üsküdar and Kadıköy.
These places show up regularly because they are amazingly beautiful and historically rich. It seems that when you think of Turkey, you think of Istanbul. And when you think of Istanbul you think of these picturesque sights.
Personally, I am eager to explore these places more and get to know more of the history and the culture of Turkey. I’m excited to share that with you. For the last 3 months, we have mostly been setting up our new life here.
You see, therein lies the key difference in my mind from most travel blogs and travel writers compared to our approach here. I love and am compelled by those writers and video producers. In my case, I have always wanted to experience a culture in the longer term as a resident. I honestly never knew how that might (or whether it even could) play out one day. But now we are here, embedding in the culture outside of the tourist areas, trying to learn to speak the language, building friendships with locals, and learning to live in a new culture.
I have no idea how this blog will evolve over time. That fact actually makes me really excited. I feel a great sense of freedom to explore, observe, and learn. Because it is all so new it is difficult to know where to start. That’s why I’m writing this now. I want to give you a window into my mind as to how I’m approaching things. I think, at least for this season, this blog will be in a more narrative format. It’s my story of crossing a culture and exploring a totally new and foreign region.