Expat Interview: Natalie Sayin
Natalie Sayin has kindly shared her expat interview with us. She left the U.K. 9 years ago to move to Turkey. In her interview with Quest Turkey, she tells us what life is like for a foreigner living abroad, how easy it is to learn the lingo, and offers advice to those who are considering moving to Turkey. And she answers in one short sentence, whether or not she would ever return to the U.K.
What brought you to Turkey?
In the beginning, I never intended to live full time in Turkey. My first experience of the country was a two-week holiday in Marmaris. That holiday was enough to make me realize, there was more to life than my mundane 9 to 5 job in the UK. I applied for a job as a holiday rep and was placed in Marmaris. From there, my life just took off in ways I never imagined and over the years, Turkey became my home.
Describe to us the moving procedure?
I am the worst person to ask because I only had a car when living in the UK. I sold that, packed my bags and got on the plane. I had been living with my mum and dad so there were no problems with property, moving furniture or selling personal possessions. I had nothing apart from the suitcase of clothes that I bought with me.
What are the good and bad sides to living in Turkey as a foreigner?
Turkey is not as materialistic as the UK so there is no pressure to own the latest car or have the best-looking house on the block. What you see is what you get. I have not experienced any bad points about living in the country, just life hurdles and personal issues that would have occurred no matter where I was in the world. I am generally an optimistic person who lives with blinkers on. Things that may bother other people normally pass me by or I will look at bad points as a challenge or obstacle to overcome.
Do you work?
I am a freelance publisher and work on my own so this is not a good example to describe working in Turkey. In the past, I have worked with Turkish people in Emlaks and tour companies. Their way of doing business and the UK way of doing business was very different. I would advise anyone who is thinking of working in Turkey to keep an open mind and encourage two way discussions at all time.
Is it easy as a foreigner to work in Turkey?
No. While I was working as a travel rep, they always obtained our working visas however outside of that industry; it is very hard to work legally if you have no specific skills. Even when I married my Turkish husband, we assumed that I could work legally but this was not the case. In the eyes of the law, I was still a foreigner. We only discovered this when a spot visit on foreign workers happened at the Emlak where I was working. Luckily, our pleas of ignorance were listened to and I was let off with a warning but I have heard of other foreign workers being deported or fined.
Can you speak Turkish?
I have basic knowledge of the Turkish language but considering the fact that I live here, am married to a Turkish man, and also have Turkish citizenship, my level of fluency should be higher than what it is now. I struggle when learning the language. I will still be learning it until the day I die. I speak Turkish in basic conversations with friends however will never discuss business or money in Turkish, as there is no room for mistakes then!
How vital is it to learn the lingo?
That would depend on what you are looking to get out of your time in Turkey. If you do not learn the lingo, you will confine yourself to a little bubble and in reality not have an in-depth knowledge of the community around you. If you try and learn it, it is one step into making new friends, fending for yourself and it will make it easier to understand the traditions and culture of the Turks.
What advice would you give to expats wanting to learn the language?
My advice would be to learn as much as you can, but do not be hard on yourself, if it does not come easy. I am still learning new words every day, so do not think learning the language will be a quick process.
How different is the culture compared to that of your home country?
It is very different and I can think of many examples. In the UK, we would always pre-arrange visits to friends and family but In Turkey, it happens on the spot. Another occasion was when my neighbor once gave me a plate of food and I was completely unaware that I should have returned the plate back with some food that I had made. It appeared that I had snubbed her. The role of a woman is also very different. As an independent western woman who married into a traditional family, there have been many culture obstacles for my husband and me to overcome.
Is it easy to settle in to life in Turkey?
Yes, if you are open minded, level headed and prepared for the obstacles that will come your way. If you move here, thinking it is the answer to all your problems, there will be disappointment. The country provides a great base to have a good life you still have to be realistic and work at adjusting to the change in lifestyle.
What should people know before moving?
The western part of Turkey has greatly adapted to tourism and expats however do not assume that the whole of country is like that. Every region has its own traditions, culture, and heritage. Do not delve straight into buying property. Spend time traveling around the country and renting property. This will greatly help you to understand the Turkey and its people.
Would you ever consider returning to your home country?
No, I will die in Turkey.
Visit Natalie's blog here