Well it is that time of year again when I hear from those who have fallen head over heels, met their one true love and are looking at moving (or perhaps have already moved) to Türkiye to live the fantasy with their beloved.
This is the epic love story isn’t it? This is the love story that The Bard wrote about centuries before, a love more powerful than Napoleon and Josephine and a love that will last through eternity like Jack and Rose. But just before you go packing your bags and dreaming of a new life in Türkiye with your true love let’s go over what you are getting yourself into – a little bit of a reality check shall we say.
For the sake of this post I am going to assume that you have met your true love in Marmaris or Fethiye or Bodrum (like me). A holiday romance (like me). And for the sake of this post I am going to assume that you are female (although no discrimination intended guys). Finally for the sake of this post I am guessing that your man does not live permanently in Marmaris, Fethiye or Bodrum and instead comes from a small village some 18 hours away (or 12 hours or even 4 hours) where he will return to his family home for the winter months (again like me).
Right – let’s get started.
Can you imagine a life living in a quaint Turkish village? Would you be happy living with your in-laws, his family, literally surrounded by hundreds of people and yet somehow being incredibly lonely? Are you ready to immerse yourself entirely into a culture that is incredibly foreign and can be relentlessly unforgiving at times?
Take off the rose coloured glasses people.
Look again at that quaint village? In daylight what it might really be is a bit of a dump. If this place was back in your homeland you wouldn’t be caught dead living here. Right? Am I right? I’m right. Electricity comes and goes. So does the water. And speaking of water, is it safe to drink? Maybe. And those people around you? Are you merely a slave to wait on them or perhaps you are seen as nothing more than a yabancı and generally get ignored from morning to night. I am not saying that they are going to treat you like that so don’t start losing your mind and writing me horrid messages, I am saying they might be. It happens. You, as the gelin, may be expected to do a lot of running around for the fam bam. Be prepared for that possibility.
What about that lifestyle you were after? Do you picture yourself spending your days on the farm, perhaps walking through the quaint village, arm and arm with your love, waving to your neighbours and having time to smell the roses?
That’s not roses you are smelling people – its horse shit, or cow shit, or goat shit, or … well you get the picture … and it is everywhere!
Are you designed to live on a farm or did you grow up in a wing at Buckingham Palace (or in my case Manly Beach). Trust me when I say the sounds of chickens clucking and cock-a-doodle-dooing is like a jackhammer to my ears and I believe that meat should be purchased from a supermarket and not retrieved from your driveway after Baa Baa was slaughtered before your very eyes.
But you will make allowances after all you will be together with your love. It will be wonderful. A happy life.
As long as you realise that he has been working away from home for over six months and, now that he has returned home, he will no doubt need to get another job to continue to support his family (and you) for the next six months until the summer season re-starts. Work can be scarce for many here in Türkiye. He will no doubt work extremely long hours leaving you at home with his family or maybe all by yourself. Perhaps he will disappear for hours to the local cay ev for cards leaving you to stare at the four walls making you feel like your home is your prison cell. Of course he will need to visit all of his extended family and you will be dragged from home to home like a show pony. Are you ready for that?
Don’t get me wrong people, I love Türkiye but I arrived here in The Village with my eyes wide open. I had travelled here every year for a decade before we made the decision to pack up our lives. I knew what I was getting myself into and I still find it difficult. Every single day. Difficult. If you think that this is going to be your very own Shirley Valentine or Eat, Pray, Love then do yourself a favour and unpack your bag right now, get on the telephone or on Skype or Whatsap and nut out some ground rules for you and your love.
He will need to support you 110% I don’t mean financially, I mean emotionally. You have moved here from your comfortable home, from a country that is your mother tongue and you have left your family and your friends behind. He cannot get angry at you. He must not get frustrated or ignore you. You will have questions. Hundreds of them. I still do.
You will be lonely. Thank God for Facebook (don’t diss me I mean it). Find expats groups. Find likeminded people. I know this might be difficult in the small village (I’m the only one in our village) but look in the neighbouring towns. Some from our expats group here in Mersin come from small villages in the mountains or even from neighbouring cities to spend the day with friends. Offer to help at the local school. Your English is a gift to the teachers here.
Really, really do your research. Find out where you will be living and what it means to live in that area. If it is a teeny, tiny village you need to throw yourself into that lifestyle wholeheartedly. Find out what allowances you will need to make – culturally that is. Will you be living in a conservative area? Can you do that or do you want to wear your cut-off shorts and to hell with them all?! Perhaps you will be living with his family. You will have no privacy. They will come and re-arrange your drawers or walk into your room unannounced at all hours. Boundaries. Draw that line in the sand and make sure he (and his family) abides by it.
Finally a little bit of advice for your partner from me –
This lady is your true love. She has moved here to be with you. Don’t make her regret that decision. Do the right thing. Treat her with the respect that she deserves. Treat her like a fecking princess! She IS a fecking princess!! Spend time with her. Don’t disappear for hours on end leaving her to your family to entertain. Help her settle in to her new environment. Please don’t get agitated at her when she is unsure of herself or of what is going on around her. Understand the difficulties that she is having with the language barrier or the culture. Most importantly don’t be a complete douche or you will lose her forever!
Now breathe … and go pack those bags!
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