In late November 2012, my family and I emigrated to Turkey! Moving to another home a few miles away is difficult and traumatic enough, but moving to another country is naturally an entirely different undertaking. Thankfully though, the British government’s FWA (Framework Agreement) decision was like a wonder drug to me: nothing but nothing I could experience in Turkey would be worse than the prospects for me as an interpreter (and taxpayer) in the UK!
We chose to settle in Bursa, one of the most beautiful and modern cities of Turkey. This is Turkey’s fifth largest city, otherwise known as the “back garden of Istanbul”. It is a mere 90-minute boat ride away from Istanbul with excellent nationwide transport connections. In 2015, as part of a massive road building programme, it will lie halfway along the Istanbul to Izmir motorway, cutting 9 hours from journey times. High speed rail is coming, too. Istanbul will be just an hour away! Bursa’s future definitely appears to be bright and promising. Geographically, Bursa sits in a valley surrounded by majestic mountains, forests and nature reserves. The seaside is a short trip away and Mount Uludag, Turkey’s premier ski resort, is 40 minutes by car. In hindsight, I think our decision to settle in Bursa was absolutely spot-on.
Our first few weeks in Turkey involved visiting family and friends and exploring our new surroundings. Hannan and I then quickly got down to the task of rebuilding our life. First, we bought a little car that would get us around. Second, we hired a renowned interior designer by the name of Ayşe Take. Third, we rented an apartment nearby. Then, the workmen came in to reconstruct the vast 240 square metre flat that would become our home.
Our neighbours were introduced to us via the deafening noise as everybody wondered who on earth was commissioning extensive building works in the middle of winter! People said to us: “This is unheard of. No one carries out building works on such a scale. Why didn’t you buy a newly-built home, instead?” Well, this was not just another flat and it certainly was not just another estate. “Sayginkent Sitesi” is reputed to be Europe’s biggest residential development set in 90 acres of parkland and it has won numerous design and environment awards. The renovation works took six months to complete: the result was truly awesome and well beyond our expectations.
We are determined to make the best of our new life in Turkey. Naturally there are so many differences in lifestyle in the two countries, both in the positive and negative sense. For example, whilst I was in London for a two-week interpreting assignment in July, I could not stop laughing when I saw people switching on air conditioning units at just 23 degrees. Turks would never resort to air conditioning at that temperature! With regards to driving, I have never seen so many kamikazes let loose on the roads as in Turkey. In the UK, 75% of these drivers would most certainly be disqualified from driving! So far, however, if my experiences are anything to go by, I definitely think there is more positive than negative to living here.
After a considerable absence from the interpreting and translation arena, I want to declare to the whole world that I am re-born, fresh as a whistle and eager to resume my career. There is so much I have yet to achieve. In the coming months, I want to analyse the Turkish market, write to my existing clients, introduce myself to new, direct clients, widen my network and cooperate with colleagues in Turkey. I am aiming to offer high-quality, reliable Turkish language services and give added value to my clients in the UK and EU. I am conjuring up slogans like: “British quality, Turkish prices”.
Professional plans aside, I hope to enjoy the delights of these beautiful, sun-kissed, historic lands. I want to enjoy the gorgeous blue skies, months of guaranteed sunshine, magnificent cuisine. I want to visit the countless places of interest, tourism centres, mosques, shrines and historic monuments. I want to trek in the mountains, walk in the forests and swim in the sea. Maybe I will learn how to ski. I want to discover the culture and history of this amazing country and visit all its 81 provinces. Thousands of years ago Alexander the Great marched his armies across Anatolia and Marco Polo traded silk in the Kozahan market in Bursa. Her Majesty the Queen also visited here in her first ever royal trip to Turkey a few years ago and sent a letter of thanks, following her purchase of a silk item. A couple of months ago, I visited that shop and saw the letter and asked the shop keeper if he knew what it said. When he said "no", I translated it for him for free. It was such a delight to see his happiness.
At the ripe age of 51, it looks as if my life is just beginning...
I have many fond memories of Britain where I spent 41 years of my life, and I will always love the UK. I send you my sincere and warmest regards from Turkey and wish you all the very best of fortune and success, excellent health and a long life. If one day you should pass through Bursa, please give me a call so that we can meet up and enjoy an Iskender Kebab (speciality of this region), baklava, Turkish delight and a cup of Turkish coffee.
Tel: +90 224 501 0202 - Mob: +90 531 031 8419