Being an expat is bloody hard. You are uprooted from your place of birth (usually voluntarily), drop kicked into a country where possibly no one speaks your native tongue and you spend your first few days completely shell-shocked and shaking while trying to find a place to live, get a job and re-start your life from scratch. I am sorry to tell you my friend there is something else that you need to do. You also need to throw yourself into the deep end of social interaction. You find yourself scanning crowds, searching for anyone that may come from your homeland and if you find anyone (and I mean anyone) who has an accent similar to your own you pounce on that person with the hope that they will become your new best friend.
I think I had it pretty easy when I first got here. I had family. People who actually like me (well most of them anyway). I wonder how I would have coped being in Mersin, in Turkey, without family to support me and I shudder at the thought. I imagine I would probably be holed up in my room, rocking back and forth, mumbling “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie. Oy, oy, oy” while eating the unpacked cardboard boxes at my feet.
Having my blog has helped me meet new people and I think it has been a pretty successful venture. I often get emails from people via the blog or on Facebook who are expats in Mersin or thinking about moving to Mersin, hopeful of meeting some new people or wanting advice. I try and get together with all of them too although they have not always been successful meets.
Today I was at the Forum which is a large shopping centre near Pozcu where I caught up with a few expats who I had met through my blog. A coffee and a chat. Commiserate at their dramas and laugh at their triumphs. After coffee I left them to meet Daughter and her cousin at McDonalds. Living in the Village there is no takeaway. Wait. I lie. You can get a Tantuni delivered (which I love) for 3TL (about $1.50) but your standard burger and chips is just not available so when we go to The Forum Daughter always froths at the mouth in the hope for a greasy fix. I watched her and her friend order their meal from my nearby table and then noticed Daughter talking to a lady in the queue behind her. I always maintain a ‘no talk’ rule with Daughter regarding strangers and I was starting to get a little annoyed at her complete disregard to my rule but she was so animated with the conversation that I forgot to be annoyed and was more curious about what they were talking about. Daughter’s meal arrived but she ignored it and continued to talk to the stranger. When the stranger’s meal arrived she brought the lady over to our table.
“Mum. This is Evelyn. She lives here and I helped her order lunch.”
Evelyn smiled meekly, “Your daughter asked me to join you for lunch.”
Daughter took Evelyn’s tray and set it down beside me, “There you go Mum. Another one for your little group.”
I had to laugh at the look on Daughter’s face. She was ecstatic with the thought that she had played matchmaker and that Mum had a potential new friend. I know she worries about Mum being lonely when she is at school or at a friend’s house. So Evelyn sat down and we had a long yarn about her move to Mersin from Scotland. She is in love and hopes to be married before too long. Hmmm – boy have I heard a few stories recently about this subject. I say nothing and merely nod enthusiastically when she suggests that The Turk and I come along to her wedding in April (with Daughter as bridesmaid of course).
So there you go. Another little friend for my expat group. If there are any more of you out their get in touch – the more the merrier!