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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Reflections or simple answers made complicated!

So, I have been thinking lately. Not a shocking thing if you know me. I often go into reflection mode when I am asked a good question by someone. I can give a simple answer at the time of the question asking, but then I think about it for a long while and my answer ends up being way more complicated and indepth than the question asker ever wanted to hear. Then I usually reflect out loud or by email to Brian, Abby, Mentanna, or a few other friends, and we work through the thought together. I thought that this time I would open up my thoughts to my blog readers...not sure how many of the people that know I have a blog actually read it so that could still just be Abby and Mentanna. Brian doesn't even read it!

Here goes...
Since we have been back we have been asked how we are getting along here, if we are settling in okay, how the kids are adjusting, and other similar questions. My first answers have been something like fine, yes, pretty well, and we are having fun. After deeper questions...usually from the friends I've mentioned above...I have really thought hard about how we are really doing and what we are really thinking. My initial thoughts on the issue usually have something to do with how much easier it is to live in America and how simple life is here. I have said this to a few people and I don't think they liked it much. The more I think about it the more I think that it sounds somewhat offensive...like I think everyone has such an easy life and that my life in Turkey is so much harder than anyone else's. That isn't what I am meaning. I don't want to offend. How can I answer the question without offending people? Here is what I mean by life here in America is easier.

1. In Turkey life outside our house takes place in Turkish. I know some Turkish, but I am in no way even close to being fluent in it nor can I conduct the majority of my life in Turkish. When I go to the grocery store, the post office, the doctor's office, or anywhere outside of my house I have to be able to speak at least enough Turkish to be understood. That means I have to have a plan. I have to think about what I am doing or what I might want to say to someone ahead of time. Now those places I have mentioned are pretty easy for me. I do them often so I have memorized the script. Hopefully the Turks I come across know the script and don't ask me something that I'm not expecting. Because I am so used to thinking about what I want to say before I say it I start planning my words as soon as I know that I might need them. I will never forget the first time we came back to the states for a visit. I was taking Erica to the eye doctor, and I remember driving to his office and thinking about what I wanted to tell him and how I should say it. About halfway there I realized that I didn't have to worry about it. He speaks English. I know English! The same thing happened when I came back to the states by myself. I learned on the airplane that my flight from Chicago to Houston had been canceled so I was going to have to get another flight. I started to panic because I hadn't memorized the script about needing a new flight when mine had been canceled. A few mintutes later I realized that they speak English in Chicago. I should be fine. So, for me, life is automatically more complicated in Turkey because of the language barrier and the amount of planning normal living takes. I don't usually stress about it or avoid going places where I might need words that I don't know. I just plan my thoughts ahead of time or trudge through if I am unprepared. It works...most of the time!

2. The culture in Turkey is completely different from our culture in America. If you go for a visit you might not notice a huge difference. In our city people seem to be fairly westernized. But, under that western facade is a culture that has deep roots in Islam and superstitions. People may look similar to us or to western Europeans but they don't think the same way. Turks are a very passionate people. We tend to be go with the flow type people. We don't get worked up too much over things. Things are big deals to them. One of my American friends said that everything is either a drama or a trauma in Turk's lives. I felt like we lived from one crisis to the next while we were there. I love the passion though. Because things are a big deal to Turks, people are also a big deal to them. I think they live life deeper than we do. That can be a good thing, but it is tiring when you aren't used to it. They invest in people. The problem with that is that when people make mistakes or let them down they get deeply offended. They have a hard time with forgiveness. That makes for more drama and trauma! Just getting off the phone with a Turk is an adventure. We say something like "talk to you later, bye". They say "it was good talking to you, talk to you later, take care of yourself, tell everyone I say hi, kisses, bye". Even saying goodbye can be tiring because it takes so long!

I have a lot more floating around in my head, but I don't want this blog to be too long. I will add some more reasons later so just chew on this for a while. What do you think?

8 comments:

scmom said...

Okay, it is 3 a.m. so if this ends up sounding stupid, that is my excuse! First off, if you were to tell me that life in Turkey was more complicated/difficult, I would NOT be offended. Second, I think we can all relate to getting a script together... just not for the everyday tasks. I find it ironic that you are telling us about this situation-- but if you think about it, you are really asking us to help you with your script. You know what I mean?-- Okay, next time someone asks me about how we are adjusting, etc., how am I going to answer without being offensive? Pretty much the same principle, thankfully you get to speak english. I think that unconciously we all go through scripts for different situations but since we only have to think and speak in english, we don't even realize that we are putting a script together. Yep, it's 3 a.m., did I mention that already? Anyway, I think a simple answer would just be, "one of the most difficult things about living in Turkey is living with Brian" that's really all you have to say. On a different note, I have a little something to give to you. Actually, I don't have it yet but expect to receive it sometime on Monday. I need to get it to you before I leave next Thursday. Please call me so I can get with you. My cell is 832-594-8435. I sure hope you don't have any stalkers reading your blog!! Well, see you later, too-da-loo, skip to my loo, tell all your neighbors I said hi, bye-bye.

amy warren

Dixon Ailesi said...

Okay so after Amy's comment I had to call her and tell her she was on the list. You know...she now gets to be one of those people who hear me ramble and help me try to make sense of my thoughts. Isn't she lucky! And Abby and Mentanna...no warning her about what she is getting into! I just figured after being able to collect her thoughts and make sense at 3a.m. no telling how smart she is when she is awake!

Mandy B Stenberg said...

Natalie: It was fun to get your comment on my blog. I remember meeting you and Brian as you came through Istanbul on your way to Ankara. And only after seeing Mentana's link on your page do I also remember talking about both of us knowing her . . . I lived with her for about 6 months when we were in seminary in Fort Worth. Crazy how the world goes round! Good to be in touch with you!
Mandy B

mentanna said...

i had a roommate tell me one time that i thought too much....hmmmm that was you! however, i will not give you the same critique. i will applaud your thoughts, and encourage them. i hear you friend. i know exactly what you are talking about. even life in a western european context has many of the same struggles.

Abby said...

wow-nat, I couldn't have said it any better. And Amy-if you read this, watch out! It can be really dangerous being the one that listens to all of Natalie's ramblings. Good luck! Thanks for sharing with us nat, keep it coming.

Gina said...

After visiting with you and your family, I WILL be reading your blog; I think it's fascinating what you and Brian are doing, and hopefully Billy & I will get a chance to come visit you once you go 'back'. (but we'll limit their x-box time, okay??)

WItty Writer gal said...

This was a good post. I can imagine it takes a little while to get used to not being in a panic. I am glad you shared this. I would not have been offended at all. I love our country, but think we sometimes forget how blessed we are to live here, where things are in fact easier.

Ismail said...

I am a Turkish boy who is living in the US. I read all of your post today! I just wanted to see how an American feels about her Turkey experience. Would that be same feeling I have here, Would she also realize same cultural difference I have realized over the last 3 years.... Answer is YES.... We see same cultural difference in different perspective. For example, I had hard time to learn 'quick' way of saying hi! When we meet people we talk at least 1 min. Here, it is just what's up or even SUP! that is it! Life is fast but it is something I have still hard time about it. Anyway, nice blog!