Friday, September 16, 2011

Cats in Turkey (Turkiye'de Kediler)

Before coming to Turkey in 2006 for the first time, I knew little about the country. Of the many things I have learned about Turkey over the years, certain things stand out in my mind and I continue to be amazed at such things.

Cats. I love cats. I would love to have a kitty of my own if it weren't for their stinky litter boxes, shedding hair and their razor sharp claws shredding up the furniture. Cats are everywhere in Turkey and I mean everywhere! The locals call them sokak kedisi, or street cats. Some cats are very polite and love to be touched, while others you should definitely steer clear of. One can usually tell the mean kitties from the nice kitties by looking into their eyes. For example, if you see a cat missing one of their eyes, he's probably a mean cat!

These cats are very clever...after all, they are street cats. You can normally find kitties near restaurants begging for table scraps. Apparently, cats love fish and cheese. But be forewarned: once you start feeding one cat, the rest will follow.

Turkey has ample pet stores with many kitties for sale at absorbingly high prices. If and when I ever decide to have a cat in my home, you can bet-your-bottom-dollar that I wont pay a cent for a cat (expect the shots, etc). I have seen many beautiful, friendly cats that I would happily adopt so long as I can get over the stinky litter box and the couch shredding.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Settling In

Settling in has been a lot of fun and a surely wild ride. From finding a job to activating my internet & cell phone service has been an experience! On arrival in Turkey, I felt naked without my OWN cell phone and my OWN internet at home. Needless to say I spent many hours at the Starbucks one kilometer from my home enjoying fast and free internet whilst sipping on an ice cold beverage. Speaking of Starbucks, I love Starbucks stores in Turkey. Most of them are air conditioned and they simply remind me of home in Seattle. I like to call it my home-away-from-home.

I brought an iPhone 4 with me from the states. Unfortunately, it was not as easy as popping in a Turkish SIM and using the phone. Rather, I had to jailbreak the phone in order to get it working here in Turkey. Once I paid a phat fee for that, I was pretty much ready to go. I have unlimited internet access on my phone--albeit slow--and all of my incoming calls are free! I only pay for text messages and calls that I initiate. A few weeks later Duygu's brother, Ozgur, went with me to our local TTNET store to activate the speedy ADSL internet. Once again, super fast and unlimited internet at home and in my pocket...I have my clothes back and I'm reconnected!

Next was finding a job (to me, it is more important to be connected to the internet rather than having a paycheck!) Before coming to Turkey, I pondered  the idea of working for a bank. Since I have nearly 10 years of finance experience, I thought I could teach these Turks a thing or two. Unfortunately, I was lacking two things: fluent Turkish and the desire to work 70 hour work-weeks. Luckily, I was born with a skill that is very sought after here in Turkey: native English! Duygu introduced me to her old English teacher that works as a high school principal at a very reputable school in Turkey. They must have loved my smile or were extremely desperate as they hired me on the spot.

I then needed to hammer out my legal status as a resident of Turkey. I was pleased to find out that it is not nearly as expensive/time consuming as the US when it came to Duygu getting her green card. I had my residency permit in about a week and it was for the most part pretty painless. Other than making multiple unnecessary trips to the foreigner police station and paying a few (hundred) Turkish Lira here and there, I can't complain much. 

Now that I am legal, have a job and internet in my pocket, it's time to sight see! I had three months to travel and relax and that is exactly what I did. During my nearly three month vacation, we spent time in Western Turkey on the Aegean in Ayvalik, we journeyed to Greece for a few nights (and LOOOOVED it), Spent a few weeks in Istanbul, visited Southern Turkey and the Mediterranean in Fethiye and just explored Turkey in General. More about traveling later...

It is now early September and my 1st 2nd and 3rd graders will start school next Monday. Am I ready to teach English? I dunno. But I am surely reading to give it the good ol' college try. 

I've always said I keep coming back to Turkey because the people are so great and the food is to die for! I continue to meet new gracious Turks and foreigners from all over the world here in Turkey, eating my way into new relationships. All that being said, the real reason I am in Turkey is for my wife. She was generous enough to give up her life here in Turkey to join me for nearly five years in the US--I can do the same for her. I am so happy being here with Duygu and seeing her face when her brother pops by with her niece. I love seeing Duygu's mom treat her like a daughter--telling her what she should wear and what to eat. Duygu is now able to reconnect with friends from her childhood and university friends. She is happy. If she is happy, I am happy. I can be happy anywhere in the world, as long as we are together. Don't get me wrong, I do miss my family and friends...but I just got here, and I'm happy to be here!

Monday, September 5, 2011


Welcome to my blog. This blog is intended for my friends and family living all over the world and anyone else interested in reading/learning about Turkey. My goal is to chronicle all the fun things that come with living in a foreign country through the eyes of a foreigner. For the past few months, I have been living, working and traveling all around Turkey and I have lots of things in my pocket I would like to share. For now, an introduction is appropriate. 

My name is Matt and I just under six years ago, I married a beautiful Turkish girl. After bringing her to the United States and living in Seattle for nearly 5 years, it was time for a change. She missed her family and friends and I needed a change of pace from work. We decided to give Turkey a try. Now, I don't want to say anything is forever, but we decided on Turkey for the long haul. Who knows where life will take us. For now, though, we are happy to be here. 

Before taking the leap across the big Atlantic pond, I had an idea of what I was getting myself into. I had visited Turkey six times before and would typically stay for up to 4 weeks at a time. I kept returning to Turkey because the people here are amazing. My wife's family are very accepting of me and her friends are some of the most sincere people I know. The food...I love meat on a stick (in the words of Anthony Bourdain)...who wouldn't?!? 

But Turkey is more than just great people and tasty food. I encourage you to check back from time-to-time and live vicariously through me. And if you want, come and visit.