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Stranger in Ankara

It’s been three weeks since we arrived in Ankara and we’re lucky to find a furnished apartment that is a lot more affordable than others of its kind in the area – priced at around $1,000 to $1,200 a month. The units are surprisingly huge in contrast to what we normally would have in the Philippines. Ours, for example, has 3 bedrooms, 2 toilets, a large living room, and a kitchen. To my estimate, our unit’s area is larger than our own home back in Legazpi so I am adjusting to the “empty” feeling whenever George, my husband goes to work.

The neighborhood is also nice. It’s quiet, clean, and peaceful…far from the annoying idea commonly had of Turkey. Turkey is a huge country and Ankara is really, really far from the dangerous borders. So relax and quit silly jokes about me making friends with ISIS here because it’s certainly not funny. (UPDATE: Last Oct. 10, 2015, there was a bombing incident at a train station in Ulus, Ankara. Left many dead and the entire country in shock. No Filipino was hurt but let us pray for peace in Turkey.)

Anyway, street names are still confusing and we have yet to learn how to go to different areas so George and I find it extremely convenient that there are taxis everywhere. All we have to do is to press one of these buttons (see photo below) that can be found at almost any corner, and viola – the taxi arrives.

taxis- they're just a press away
taxis- they’re just a press away

While I’m liking it here (so far), having the idea of being in a foreign land finally come to reality is a bit daunting. To begin with, it’s rare to find someone who speaks English here. Except when we’re with the embassy community, communicating with others is almost impossible unless we do sign language or point to photos or google-translate. This gets frustrating most of the time and rubs in that feeling of being an alien. I.BADLY.NEED.TO.LEARN.TURKISH.SOON.

Another is not being able to practice my profession. I’m not only alien, I’m a career-less alien labelled as an “accompanying spouse” in my official passport and introduced as the wife of the new guy at the Philippine Embassy (PE). Oh what else can love and marriage do to us women? Ha-ha! Seriously though, it’s hard. Each day I miss my work and all the trouble that went with it. I miss rushing to work, trying to beat the clock. I miss my office colleagues. I miss the daily lunch breaks where even the weirdest topics could be touched. I miss finding solutions to work-related problems. Really a tough time now, but I know I have to deal with it ASAP and figure something out so I could still be professionally productive.

Finally, it’s sad being away from the comforts of having family and relatives around. All my life I lived in Legazpi City and shied away from Metro Manila where most friends started their careers because it’s too big, too noisy, and too complicated for me. Now that I’m thousands of miles away, homesickness kicks in once in a while. We’re lucky though because the PE community is warm, accommodating, and helpful. Even the ambassador and officers are down-to-earth.

George and I with some members of the Ankara PE family

With all the difficult adjustments we have to go through now, I’m just so thankful to the Lord because we have them as a family away from our family.

Cheers to more adventure and luck!

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