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Guys! We survived the first month! I say 'we' because it truly has been a group effort. We've had LOTS of highs and LOTS of lows, but we made it. They say that it takes about 3-6 months to completely adapt to life abroad and I believe it. This month has been quite the month of transitions and I'm slowly learning that not all things are easy. Who would have guessed? That being said, after one month of living here, I have a new appreciation for every single day.
Let's start with the good because I like to think I'm a positive person. First, you wanna talk about beautiful? Turkey is like the Giselle Bundchen of countries. Maybe there are other countries with equal model status (one with 50 states maybe?) I've only been to a couple, but Turkey has definitely been promoted to supermodel rankings since I've been here. We have only had the opportunity to travel a little bit within the country, but there are moments on every trip where I am just in awe of how beautiful this country is.
Speaking of travel, what an opportunity! Mike and I are constantly saying how lucky we are to have this opportunity. We are able (and plan) to take a two hour plane ride to any European country. Plus, we are given a grant to help us do this. This is truly the opportunity of a lifetime and there isn't a day that passes by that we don't remember that blessing. We've already traveled a bit to some nearby places in Turkey (Bodrum, Pamukkale, and Cesme) and have a few domestic and international trips already planned for the next few months.
Third, this is an incredible experience to have as a newlywed couple. We chose to do a smaller honeymoon following our wedding because we knew that we'd be travelling a lot once we got here and started joking that we were getting a two year honeymoon. I don't know if I would go that far, but it truly has been amazing to do this with Mike. He constantly cracks me up and keeps me smiling, but also is an amazing travel partner. He isn't afraid (or at least doesn't show it) to try and speak Turkish or get lost wandering the city. Plus, he's an awesome tour guide/travel planner. I can't imagine doing this by myself and am constantly learning and seeing new sides of him that make me want to keep him around.:)
Now that you've suffered through the cheesiness of that last paragraph, let me be the first one to tell you that moving abroad is not easy. It. is. hard.
Logistically, it has been exhausting, mainly for Mike. There are a million different things that need to be done, from getting residence permits to figuring out where to live, and dealing with it all is mentally exhausting. Trying to get our furniture was frustrating enough. Add about a million other things to that list and you're right where we are. Mike has been here almost two months and we're still working things out.
On top of the mental exhaustion, it is emotionally exhausting. There has yet to be a week go by without tears. In fact, for the first two weeks, we would celebrate a day without tears. It's extremely difficult being in a completely new culture. It's an incredible experience, but it's tough. I have been in places and situations where they spoke another languageand other situations where I looked different, but never have I been in a situation where I've experienced both at the same time. When we walk around, people automatically know we aren't Turkish. It makes it that much harder to assimilate into the culture here and even after a month of living here, we still don't feel like we're immersed in the culture.
We also have struggled to meet people. I think that's pretty normal when moving to a new place, but I feel like it's heightened here. I think that when I thought about moving here, I knew that we'd have trouble with the cultural immersion, but I don't think that I ever realized that it would be quite as lonely. There are days where Mike and I only interact with each other. We've had days where our big adventure is the mile walk to the commissary. I'm naturally pretty introverted, but there are days, especially when Mike has been out running errands, where all I want is actual physical interaction with people. We've tried different techniques and have yet to find any solid friends.
Despite the mental and emotional exhaustion that we've been through, we've survived. It's been a month of new discoveries, lots of travel, and a few road bumps along way. We've got a lot to look forward to this month with lots of travel on our calendar. I'm hoping that we'll celebrate a week without tears and that we'll make a few friends. All I do know is that we will remain thankful for this opportunity that we have in front of us because it's truly a gift. Every. Single. Day.