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!
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?