Rose is a British expat living in Turkey and in this interview she shares her experience of being a mom in a foreign country. Read her tips on how to enjoy Turkey, how she makes friends in Ankara and how she feels about safety in Turkey?
Here is what she says about herself:
I am originally from the UK but have lived in various countries including China, Italy, and Uzbekistan. We cycled from the UK to Turkey with my husband and what an adventure it was!
I am a teacher by profession but we now have a baby daughter and Live in Ankara. I no longer need to ‘work’ full time as looking after Tamsin keeps me busy!
When did you move to Turkey and where in Turkey you live?
We first lived in Antalya 5 years ago for a short time and now we live in Ankara and have been here for a year.
How did you discover Turkey? What made you decide to come and live here?
My father in law is a travel writer and he moved here with my mother in law. We have been coming to Turkey for 12 years and love the country, the food and the people.
Do you have some tips for future expats moving or planning to move to Turkey? What they can expect in Turkey and how to deal with cultural differences?
There are a lot of friendly and hospitable people in Turkey and you will be made to feel welcome wherever you go in the country. You can prepare by being open minded and being ready to do things differently then you would do normally. I never used to drink tea without milk as I thought this was strange but now its very normal and I am used to the idea! Be ready to try and communicate even if you don’t have a language in common, hand gestures and a smile go a long way to understanding someone. You never know, if you try the language you will pick up some words to get you by. Admittedly I need to learn a lot more of the language but I get around.
What were the biggest adjustments you had to make when settling in Turkey?
Living in Ankara has been an easier transition than living in Tashkent so I was pleasantly surprised how easily I met new people and found things for me and my daughter to do.
What do you enjoy most about Turkey?
I think I would have to say the thing I love the most is the food and abundance of fresh fruit and veg available at reasonable prices. I wish I could cook Turkish food better but I will keep trying and possibly try a cooking course to help me on the way. The next best thing is the adventures that can be had in Turkey from walking through the mountains and pine forests to swimming in the crystal waters along the coast. There is something for everyone.
What you enjoy least about Turkey?
The difficulty in doing things like registering your phone, sorting visa, registering a baby. Things seem to be made complicated unnecessarily.
Was it easy to make friends and how did you make friends in Turkey?
I joined some groups on Facebook and found people to meet up with for coffee in a coffee and kids group. I joined prenatal yoga and met other mums to be who are now my friends and their babies are my daughters friends. I found it easy to talk and meet new people. It did feel a little like online dating at first but it worked.
What would be your advice to other expats in Turkey about meeting people and doing it with a baby in a tow, as you are an active member of the expat community in Ankara?
I would say just bite the bullet and go and talk to people. They are in the same boat as you and I am sure will want to meet up and have some company other than talking baby talk! You can join groups that do activities, there are music classes in Ankara, mum and baby yoga, coffee morning once a week and playgroups. When I go to the park and see other mums I say hello and have a chat if I can.
You became a mother in Turkey. How is your experience being an expat mom? Becoming a mom in a foreign country can be hard on women sometimes, as they are far away from their family. What can women do to make that first period with a baby easier?
I would say as I didn’t have my family or friends here, I accepted offers of help and support. If people offer to do something, they generally mean it. The nice thing when I was a new mum was that a friend brought round a few nights of dinners for me to freeze so I didn’t have to cook. I Skype or Facetime family as often as possible and have photos everywhere. Even in my daughters’ room we have photos of all our friends and family and say good morning and good night to them all every day.
How is healthcare in Turkey? Were you happy with your birthing team and the overall experience in giving birth in Turkey?
I had a fantastic Doctor called Asli Yuceturk at Guven hospital. She was very pro natural birth, spoke perfect English and was very supportive during my pregnancy and birth. I was very impressed with the hospital and treatment I was given and feel it is better than it would have been in the UK.
Generally, how do you feel in Turkey? Do you feel safe/unsafe, happy/unhappy? What would you change if you could? What do you miss most about home?
I feel very safe and happy in Turkey. Its a beautiful country and we get to adventure to new places all over Turkey. We are traveling to Cappadocia soon and then Adana and along the coast. We are lucky to live in such a beautiful country with lots of different and interesting places to visit. If I could change one thing I would have my family and friends closer.
Do you feel accepted by Turkish people as a foreigner living in Turkey?
I feel very welcomed by Turkish people and I practice my Turkish whenever I can even if I don’t always get the words correct.
If you had to choose again, would you come to Turkey? Do you see yourself living in Turkey for a long period of time?
I see myself and my family living here for a long time. We all (myself, my husband and my daughter) go and see our families in England a lot and they come to visit us. I definitely know we made the right decision to move here and I would choose to come here again without hesitation.
When you compare the cost of living in Turkey with England, are the prices higher here? Cost of living in general, would you say it is expensive to live in Turkey or not?
I would say the cost of living is lower than England depending on what you do and places you visit. You can spend a lot of money if you buy imported goods or go to fancy restaurants. You can live very minimally as bills are cheap and you can get groceries relatively cheap.
What is your advice for future expats in Turkey?
Embrace the country and everything it has to offer. Go and explore the wonderful places all around Turkey, from beautiful Antalya and Bozburun by the coast, Istanbul, Cappadocia and theBlack Sea coast. We are heading East to Adana and Konya next week to continue our Turkish adventure.
Anything else you would like to add? Something that surprised you about Turkish culture?
As a new mum, a lot of people have an opinion about how you should be caring for your baby. You should do as you feel is best for your child and politely thank people for their advice.