Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 21: I-Stay-Bul

Entering my third week in Istanbul I feel myself changing. I was blown here by the excited winds of tourism, overwhelmed by a strange land. While adjusting to my new surroundings I've been considering my life and what I'm doing with it and the use of my return ticket is becoming less and less appealing.

The Blue Mosque, seen from the apartment of someone found on Freecycle.

Returning to the States after my backpacking trip was a wonderful feeling. I was homesick and returning to my family and friends who I hadn't seen in nearly a year. I was also immediately swept up in a promising new job so I moved into an apartment in Brooklyn, started renting it, and I felt satisfied.

Everything changed on January 29th. Simultaneously Banu arrived from France and my landlord called and warned me to stop having guests. Since my job hadn't blossomed as I hoped I couldn't afford the rent without renting, staying in NYC suddenly soured, and I soon found myself back living at home trying to figure out how introduce Lola to Ginger.

The floor of Hagia Sophia (holy wisdom).
Apparently the light in this mosque is legendary.
I bet no other mosque in the world has imagery this diverse.

Now that I'm in Istanbul, looking at my life from across the Atlantic has given me new vision.

If I return home at the end of this month I will be living with Dad and will need to find some sort of job to support myself. I feel cautious of getting a design job because I want to be location independent.

I've been saying "I want to be location independent" ever since I returned from Europe. Only now I'm realizing what good is being location independent if I'm not traveling?

As I am young, have healthcare until I'm 26, and have no location-anchored responsibilities, I see this as a prime opportunity.

Chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. Too bad they weren't still gas.
A lifetime's worth of ornaments on the ceiling.
Inside the dome.
Everything ornate.

If I stay here in Istanbul I have not only the opportunity to experience a new country and culture but I can easily get a job teaching English while continuing freelance design work. To compound that, Turkey's favorable currency exchange rate and relatively cheap expenses allows me even more flexibility.

But I just see this as a first step. I'm getting my training wheels before I take off for real. My heart tells me that I would like to live like this for the next few years. Istanbul is a great sandbox because it's foreign for me but I have Banu to rely on if I need help.

Ultimately I'm realizing that I can take what I will learn while living here and apply it to living many other places.

Galata tower seen from the Bosphorus bridge.
People fishing for fun or for dinner.
The epitome of Turkish humor–mashed potato sculpture

But everyone isn't as excited about this idea as I am. Understandably both of my parents were surprised when I shared my new intentions and expressed their concerns–thankfully mixed with their support.

Nearly all of my relatives are concerned for my safety. Given their degree of knowledge of Turkish culture, what they see about Muslims on the news, and rising tensions between Iran and Israel, I understand their anxiety. I feel fortunate to be surrounded by people who care for me and support me even though they wouldn't want to be in the same situation. I will take some precautionary measures, like getting in touch with the US embassy and staying in closer contact. Additionally I hope that my blog serves as a window into my life and Turkish culture.

In addition to concerns for my safety, Dad thinks I'm running away from responsibility. To some degree he is correct, though I would phrase it as "meandering away from the rat race." Ultimately I see no need to rush into a career where I will likely work the rest of my life without experiencing the world first. I'm 23 and carefree but that doesn't mean that I'm shying away from responsibilities–I just don't to be controlled by them.

I think I have the best parents in the world. Just remember, it's your fault I am this way.

Salespeople at Banu's sister's local market asked me to take their photo.
They must have felt satisfied by their produce.
Basket rides 20TL.

Overall I am feeling safe, relaxed, and open to this new experience.

Good news for today is that Banu and I found an apartment and we're moving in tomorrow.

I suppose that means I will be updating again soon.

Güle güle!

PS: Rather than update you on my Turkish vocabulary, I've started free lessons at Live Mocha.

1 comment:

  1. I can relate a lot to what you are saying, as I have more or less been in the same situation. Keep living the way you want to live and remember that the greatest opportunities in life only come to those who actively pursue them and are unafraid to stray from the established paths.


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