Sometimes being an Expat Sux!

I can probably count the number of close friends I have had in my life on two hands.  These are the friends that I know will be there for me through thick and thin.  They are the ones with a box of tissues or a bottle of wine and they are the ones that remind me that I can have a dream and turn it into a reality and they will be right beside me to cheer me on.  These friends, these soul mates, these are the people that I miss more than anything living here in Turkey.

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Sure I have The Turk’s family.  They have welcomed me with open arms but they are not my girlfriends, the ones you tell your deepest secrets to (although I think we can all agree my life is a pretty open book – or blog).  Plus that whole pesky issue of not speaking the language makes it tough to form close bonds.

With The Turk away I have become increasingly lonely and with the Daughter at school during the day I find myself mind numbly bored.  I have come to the realisation that I must actually like him (at least a little bit).  His health scare certainly scared the shit out of me and now I am just waiting for him to get the all-clear from his doctor before he can come home.

I am told that an overwhelming sense of emptiness and loneliness is normal for an expat and the waves of loneliness comes and goes leaving you either gutted or living on a high.  Being so far away from home the onset of depression can occur suddenly, the tiniest thing will set me off and when that happens the most I can hope for is to be left alone in my blackness until clarity re-sets.  I think if I lived in a more expat friendly city I would thrive but living here in Mersin it can be an incredibly hard slog.

It is my own fault you know.  Having this blog has opened up a huge window of contacts but I squandered the opportunities that I had and did not go out of my way to cultivate friendships and relationships with people.  I was always too busy and I know how difficult it can be to form friendships.  It can be a hard slog but do you know what else I have realised?  I realised that if I don’t make the effort then nothing in my life will change.  Deep I know.

So this is what I did.  I got off my ass.  I made contact with people.  Plans were made.  Dates were set and I can happily say that I now have a great little group of friends to play with.  I have learned that I am not the only one that suffers from the blues living so far away from home.  We are all missing our family and our friends.  A support system needs to be in place for us expats.  We need to be each other’s family and to step in and be that shoulder to lean on when needed.  Coffee in Carsi?  Sure.  BBQ in Yenikoy?  Definitely.  Drinks in Viransehir?  Of course!  Also I need to be friends with someone who can get me ham and yes there is such a person here in Mersin – hello Danny Boy!

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Like I said it can bloody difficult living here.

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25 thoughts on “Sometimes being an Expat Sux!

  1. I do agree that depression can creep up very quickly. It’s happened to me a few times 😦
    I live in basically an expat free zone! It is me and one other. She has been my rock so unknown how important it is to get out there 😉
    Oh and I hope The Turk is home soon & getting better 😉

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  2. You describe the reality of expat life — especially life in a country where there’s a language barrier — so well, Janey. It’s good to read of your connections!

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  3. We only have one true friend, as those we thought were soon disappeared when we had nothing to give them.
    Here we are making new friends, but on our terms. The community is totally different, and there will always be someone to have a conversation with. We all have one thing in common, boats, whatever shape, price tag or size. Add to that we also have a dog, and that is a second topic of conversation.
    I never thought anyone would be interested in reading my musings in a blog, but I am glad I have it. Out there are friends of a different kind. Life is really good at the moment.
    Hope The Turk will be back with you soon.

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  4. It’s true.! I wouldn’t have survived Mexico without my expat family.!! Or my dear Mexican friends.! Making connections definitely bridges the loneliness 🙂 Hope the Turk comes home soon.!!

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  5. The problem with expat friendships is that they are often made on the basis of speaking the same language, which is a dubious reason to make friends. Unmaking the friendships often takes much more effort. . Having said that I have very good friends here, relationships that have stood the test of time and distance.

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  6. Most excellent post. I give you an enormous amount of credit for living where few other expats do. Both Diane and me also have too few friends to count here in Status Symbol land; everyone’s too busy with their kids, jobs and commutes. Even the people we like turn out to be too unreliable fro us. Are we asking too much? Perhaps. Or maybe the American lifestyle is the one with the problem, not us. We hope to start a new chapter in Asia but understand that reaching out to others is the only way to start. Glad you made some connections. I love the blog BTW and thanks fro liking my post also

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  7. I agree that being an expat really accentuates the highs and lows in your life, but I have found that they get less extreme once you’ve settled in somwhere. I threw myself in to expat life when I arrived in Brunei, maybe a little too enthusiastically, after having struggled to fit in when we moved in the UK. I have to say I’ve been very lucky living in Brunei though as English is widely spoken and there are a lot of like-minded people here.

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  8. I’m lucky in that I am an expat in the Netherlands, arguably one of the best countries for an English-speaking person to move to, with a culture that resembles my own, excellent English spoken everywhere, etc … But I definitely have my moments of loneliness. Like you, I know that I just need to get out there and meet people, but on the other hand it’s like … I’m an adult now!! I have so many amazing friends back home … surely all the hard work should be done now?? :p But when I push myself, I do find that it makes a world of difference, and as a bonus it makes my huge amount of alone time (boyfriend is a lawyer) something I actually really enjoy.

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    • I remember having a conversation with my bestie back in Sydney a couple of years back. It went a little something like this:

      Bestie: Let’s go out tonight. Meet some new people.
      Me: I don’t need any new people in my life. I don’t have time for the people I already have.
      Bestie: 😦

      Now I find myself doing the exact opposite. Bestie would be laughing loudly right now.

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  9. I’m in Oman and there is a small, but very welcoming network of teachers here. Will any become close friends? It’s too soon to tell as I’ve only been here two months. But I do feel comfortable sharing stories and experiences with some of them and not so much others. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be an expat pre-internet though. Social networking is my life line to those who know me best.

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    • I first came to Mersin in 2001. There was one other expat that I knew of and I didnt even meet him until 2004. He had been here for a few years at that time so he had a few friends. The problem is, of course, that expats really don’t stay in the one place for too long. You meet, you form a bond and they (or you) leave.

      I think if I was working it would be easier too but I am merely (not merely) a Turkish housewife.

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  10. Great post!!! Definitely it’s hard not to have close friends around. When you’re moving somewhere new, you are ready to face the challenges of a new country, cultural differences, new holidays, foods, tv shows, different ways of thinking and so many other things, and then one day you’re suddenly crushed with a realization of not having your closest social circle around, people who understand your way of thinking and your sometimes stupid anecdotes and idioms..) Heh, well it’s a price to pay. Thanks to internet and new technologies, without it I wouldn’t be able to live abroad. I live in Bursa, very nice city with very few expats. Hoping to have a better language level soon and be able to welcome new social connections in my life here.

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    • Bursa is definitely up there with Mersin for expat scarcity but a lovely spot for sure. Good luck with your language level. I cannot believe how quickly Daughter has learned the language and how ridiculously bad I am learning it lol!

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