Who are you?
I am an American opera singer and former lawyer.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I moved to Antalya, Turkey in March of 2010. I came here because I wanted to go someplace I’d never been and to explore a new culture and language. I also wanted sun, beach and low cost of living.
What challenges did you face during the move?
One challenge of moving into my own apartment was getting it set up with the basics. In the U.S. An unfurnished apartment has a refrigerator, stove, heat and hot water. In Turkey you have to buy everything, including your own water heater and heat/air conditioning unit.If you want cable TV or internet, you need to get a residence permit first, which is another challenge.
How did you find somewhere to live?
I walked around the neighbourhood where I wanted to live and went to the real estate agents in the area. I rented an apartment quite easily, just by showing my U.S. Passport.
Are there many other expats in your area?
There are a few expats in my area, but mostly they are spread out across Antalya, which is a big city.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
Great. People here are very friendly and always willing to help. They enjoy welcoming foreigners.
What do you like about life where you are?
I like the relaxed pace of life here, and the warm, sunny weather.
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
The biggest cultural difference here is probably the openness and directness of people. People ask strangers personal questions, such as what they earn or what they pay for their apartment.
How does shopping (for food/clothes/household items etc.) differ compared to back home?
This is a big change for me. I buy most of my produce at the weekly bazaar in my neighbourhood, and sometimes buy clothes there as well. Other items I buy in various local stores. I’ve learned which stores carry which goods, but the availability varies. There is a large grocery store where I could get everything, but it’s not in walking distance, so I make do with what I can get.
What do you think of the food in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?
The nice thing about food here is that it’s very fresh. People tend to cook what’s in season. It’s also a healthy Mediterranean diet including lots of olive oil and vegetables. I particularly like the multiple variations of eggplant.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
The best advice I could give is to try to learn a bit of the language – it’s not easy – and to be patient. Remember that things are different here than in your home town, and that this is part of the fun of living abroad.
Ellen shares more information about life in Turkey through her blog Ellen in Turkey.