We arrived in July 2007 so it will be 5 years this summer.
What area of Turkey do you live?
We were in Ankara for 4+ years and moved to Cappadocia in the summer of 2011
Why did you decide to live in Turkey?
We lived in Uzbekistan until 2003. After leaving there we knew that we still wanted to live overseas but were not sure where. We were looking at a few different countries and visited Turkey in December 2006.
We liked the fact that the language was similar and the culture was not too far apart. I also was interested in Bilkent University’s MBA program. We prayed about it and discussed it with friends and decided Turkey was the place God wanted us to be. I have been very happy with the decision.
What did your family and friends think about you moving to Turkey?
Since we had lived in other countries (Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) before, they were not surprised and were quite supportive.
What were the biggest obstacles you had to overcome living in here in Turkey?
Turkey is more expensive than we expected, but we have adjusted to that for the most part. I think the language and culture barrier has been the biggest. Turkish culture is quite different from Central Asia, more than we expected. Adjusting to that has taken some time. Also, learning our 4th language has gone slower than we had hoped.
What are the good things about living in Turkey?
Neighbors, history, beauty, food- too many to put a total list here.
What do you miss the most from home?
Family and friends, familiarity, understanding almost every word that is spoken.
If you have kids, what is it like being a parent in Turkey?
In many ways it is easier than parenting in the states as we are able to avoid so many of the negative aspects of pop culture. They have much of that in Turkey, but since it is in another language, our kids do not ingest much of it. And especially in Cappadocia we love all the open space and opportunities it provides.
Living in a village is a special opportunity to be part of a small community. In Ankara it was a bit more difficult as we have a lot of kids and apartment living was not ideal, but the kids had more opportunities for organized activities like Ballet and sports, which was nice.
Have you found it easy to integrate into the community?
Yes and no. Thanks to our landlord’s support we have been accepted in our village. Two of our kids attend the village school and that has been great for building relationships. At the same time we have a ways to go as evidenced today. A man in the village died and today was the funeral. Nobody told us about it. I think when they start including us in that kind of thing, we will know we have been fully accepted.
In your opinion is Turkey a cheap or expensive place to live?
We find that our budget is similar to what it would be in the states. However, we used to live in Uzbekistan and compared to there Turkey is very expensive.
How do you find living with the difference in culture?
We are used to it after so many years overseas. There are times when it is difficult, and we wish for a familiar culture, but, in general, it is not a problem.
Have you managed to learn Turkish, do you find Turkish easy or hard to learn?
I am in the process of learning. I find all languages difficult and Turkish is no exception. I am not fluent but I can have conversations and understand much of what is going on around me, but I still have a long way to go.
Would you recommend others to come live here in Turkey?
Yes. Turkey is a great place to live. I am constantly recruiting friends to come to Cappadocia.
If you had to do it all over again would you do it all again, and what would you change if you would?
Yes. Honestly, I would not change a thing. Even the difficult aspects have worked to grow me as a person and us as a family.
For anyone who is planning to make the move to live in Turkey, what would your top 3 pieces of advice be for them?
- It is not as European as it may seem at first glance. Under the surface the culture is quite different.
- Recognize that there are certain topics that are taboo to discuss in Turkey. I will not mention them here, but it is not hard to figure out.
- Come as a learner and in need. This is true for moving to any foreign country. Generally speaking humans love to teach and to help those in need. When we come in as experts, we lose out on so many opportunities for deep connection with our hosts
Learn more about Duke’s life in Cappadocia through his blog Captivating Cappadocia
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