Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Five Favorites: Life Abroad

Things have been extremely quiet around here.  We've been hanging out at home in preparation for a busy February. The most exciting thing to happen this week (besides Mike and I using MLK Day as an excuse to skip Turkish lessons on Monday) was that it snowed in Izmir today!!! Huge snowflakes kind of snow! I don't think the people of Izmir really know how to react to snow and my cold tolerance has definitely decreased since moving here, but that didn't stop me from loving the snow.

Anyways, I'm linking up again with the Big White Farmhouse today for Five Favorites.  I love her post about her five favorite ways to get 10,000 steps.  I don't have kids to pick up toys with, but I definitely can put her suggestion to be more inefficient in order to get more steps.  I'll carry about 20 grocery bags at a time before I have to make a separate trip.  Ha!  This week, I've been thinking about my five favorite things about living abroad.  It's definitely not easy.  In fact, I'm pretty sure it's the hardest thing I've ever done. That being said, there are a lot of cool aspects of living outside of the USofA.

  1. The Food!  In the United States, you can get almost any kind of food you want, basically whenever you want. My parents even had Turkish food last weekend!  It's amazing.  I love late night pizza or take-out Chinese and the fact that I could have hot cookies delivered in college was truly a gift from God.   That being said, I can almost guarantee that the Turkish food my parents ate last weekend wasn't as good as what I'm eating now.  There's something about eating food in the country where it's from. And, as a substitute for my cookie for delivery, we've got a bakery at the corner of my street.  Baklava anyone?
  2. The language  Turkish is hard, y'all.  I sit through four hours of Turkish class every day and if I understand half of what is being said, I consider it a good day. It's challenging, but I think it's so cool.  I can now go to the grocery store and ask how much something costs, or ask someone what time it is. Plus, I've been thinking about language a lot and how fascinating it is. I mean, how cool is it that thousands of years ago, people completely isolated from each other all came up with words for things such as "love" and "happy"? Maybe I'm just a nerd who likes learning languages, but really, learning a new language is pretty cool. 
  3. Location I'm not always in love with Izmir, but it's proximity to major European cities is pretty nice :)  We can go to another country as easily as going to another state back home.  Not only is it close to other great places, we've really gotten to explore Izmir.  We've found little restaurants and museums that we wouldn't have found if we had just been traveling there for a few days or weeks.  We have gotten to know the ins and outs of our little neighborhood and it definitely is different from just visiting another country.
  4. Culture Going along with #3, learning a new culture is equally as fun. You definitely get a taste for it when you travel abroad, but let me tell you, you get immersed in it when you live there.  We now drink enough tea for the whole Boston tea party, take our shoes off when we go to someone's house, and aren't afraid to kiss someone new on the cheek when we meet them.  We also randomly say thinks like "afiyet olsun" (enjoy your meal) and "ins(h)allah" (hopefully) without even thinking about it. Y'all we're living the Turkish life. 
  5. My comfort zone  My poor comfort zone. It's definitely taken a huge hit since being here.  I leave it almost every day and it's tough.  It's probably the hardest part of living abroad. That being said, it's good.  Nobody should stay in their comfort zone all of the time. You need to push the boundaries and try new things.  I still get nervous to go to the grocery store and practically hide at the gym so I don't have to talk to anyone, but it's a million times easier than it was seven months ago and I'm a better person for it. 
There you have it! My five favorite parts of living abroad! It's an incredible experience, both in good ways and bad. I've cried more in the past seven months than I think I did my entire college experience and I still count down the days until I get to go home, but I'm glad to be on this wild ride. I know this experience is making me a better, more open-minded, grateful person and what could I want more than that?