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Dace from Ankara

Dace & Ender
 Untitled Document

Thanks to Dace Jurjane Türker for sharing her experience in Turkey with us.

Tell us about yourself
My name is Dace, I come from Riga, Latvia. I am 33 years old and I have a Turkish husband Ali (the true reason why I came to Turkey in the first place!), and half Turkish, half Latvian - blond and blue-eyed son Ender, who is 2 years old. We all live in Çayyolu, Ankara.

What made you come to Turkey?
As I just said - Ali, my Turkish husband, was the reason, why I came to Turkey. Well, I guess - one should ask the following question as well; that is - why did you stay in Turkey? I should confess, it was a hard bit at first - without knowing the language, with constant fear of natural disasters (I came to Turkey on August 15th, 1999 - two days before the big earthquake…a kind "welcome to Turkey!"…), other hardships of living in a foreign country (trouble with visas finally made as to "run" to the Marriage Office and get the thing done as soon as possible! (Well, I hope, we would do it one day anyway, if there were no visa problem…We just did it fast and quick. And celebrated the real wedding later on in Latvia.) Short after arrival I started to study Turkish intensively (at the foreign language center in Istanbul "Taksim Tömer"). Now I think of it as a real turning point - one gets to know other foreigners, share the difficulties, learn and have fun together - that really helps a lot, especially at early times after arrival in a foreign country. I was also really lucky to meet my future aikido teacher Teddy Wilson at the language classes. That too turned my life a lot and made me love and practice martial arts for all my life, I hope. While living in Istanbul, I was working at the Hagia Sophia museum - that too was a place, where I met so many interesting people - some of them even became my friends.

What do you do in your daily life?
Again - I answered already some parts of this question; I live in Çayyolu and try to enjoy as much as possible the last wonderful days of autumn before the winter comes - which is grey and never ending in this area (so it seams - although we had quite a lot of snow last year). I finally was able to continue aikido classes (there is a new class just opened in Fitness Club of Konut 2). I also started painting classes - something I always fancied to do, while studying only the theory of art for years, not the practice. Just two weeks ago I started to drive my own car (I got Turkish drivers license last spring) - so, I practice a lot, and damage the car (and others' cars) a lot at the moment - hope, I will soon master the driving art as well…. And, of course, the absolute most of my time is spent together with little Ender - sometimes I wonder, how much energy can a little man like he have! At night, when daddy comes home, and I am totally exhausted, the little sportsman runs toward his dad with the ball and invites to play football…. Then an hour later he runs to his bed and drops asleep…Just to be up the next morning at 7a.m. and run again… We started taking him to the play group in the local kinder garden - it seems, he learns to enjoy the company of other kids…

Family?
I told the most already… I have husband Ali, with whom we have been together for 7 years now, and been married for 4… Then Ender, who arrived in this world on 6th September, 2002. Ender's babaanne is also living here in Ankara - at times, when his mummy and daddy decides to enjoy - have some fun on their own and "get out in the streets", he plays with the granny until she is breathless…. And then, of course - the Latvian counterpart of our family back in Latvia - my mother, father, older sister and her family along with a beautiful 1 year old Laura, whom I hope to see again next Christmas. I should say, for me this is the hardest part of living in a foreign country - when you come home again, you realize, that everything has changed so much, and you feel sorry not to be able to see your parents growing older, and kids growing bigger and smarter… Some kind of "life interrupted". The changes surprise you too much, because you don't see those people as well as the places every day…

Can you compare your first days here with today?
Hard if not impossible to compare - at least I cannot tell explicitly, what times were "better" times. On one hand, as I said before, it is definitely very hard at first without the language and knowledge about the place you live. It changes and becomes easier in that sense, when you get used to the life style and start to master the language, to some extent, of course. On the other hand, at first you get excited about the unknown things - different culture, customs, life styles. Later on it becomes more of a routine and doesn't surprise you so much any more. As more you stay, as more "things" you start to have around (be it your sweet heart, child or simply a house you just bought) - it starts to "tie" you to the place, and it is a bit scary to feel, you couldn't "escape" from the place, if you suddenly wished so. Well, it has to do with psychology, for sure - people like to have some "back up" scenarios and B plans in their lives - to be on the safe side….

Has living in Turkey influenced your approach to life?
Not in a way, that you can always mutter "kısmet olmadı" ("bad chance") as an apology, if something goes wrong, or even if it's clearly your fault…. Maybe I became a little more distant from the "things I cannot change"; try to just "go with a flow" and not to wreck my nerves to change everything "as it should be"… Me too - I sometimes try to put on the beauteous smile instead of screaming at someone and saying what I really thing - if I am sure, that wouldn't help either…. I try not to disagree with elders (such as your mother-in-law or the elderly lady next door) - if it's not a life-and-death matter, of course…. Try to use all the necessary "chit-chat" - "Nasilsin? Sağol, ben de iyiyim"…. That usually works on people and helps to get into nice relations afterwards.

Turkish language?
Cannot say I master it, but I can use it all through my daily business, and I speak bits of different Turkish "dialects" and "jargons", learned from my Turkish friends….

Let's talk about the region you are living in?
Not much to say - I actually still feel a bit like a newcomer since it's been only one year after moving from Istanbul to Ankara.

Have you traveled in Turkey? Tell us your discoveries!
There are so many - it is really hard to specify all! I can just tell, that once, 7 years ago, my future husband Ali kept telling me of different places in Turkey - Virgin Mary's grave, the birth place of St.Claus, the "cave cities", where first Christians hided two thousand years ago… then I only smiled sarcastically until…I saw it all with my own eyes. And much more there is to discover.

What is your preferred characteristic trait of Turks?
I must say I generally prefer Turkish women to Turkish men (it's just in terms of characteristics - please, don't understand me wrong…) - there is this one kind of them: they seem to be "support role" players, they don't make the usual "every thing is so wonderful" chit-chat, they are a kind of "matter- of - fact" people, they don't put tons of make up and dress in less than nothing to prove their femininity… They seem to be a little passive even but…they are the ones who really run the show - both in business as well as their families. This is a fine example of true matriarchy working in a real life. Among men I like those types, who don't try to "jump over their a…back sides" (sorry - Latvian expression..) to prove that they are MEN….

What was the annoying one?
Here I should be careful, because I think Turks don't like criticism even in it's in the mildest possible form, particularly if it comes from a foreigner - someone who is not exactly "one of them". So, naturally, some kind of "double-meaning" is often welcomed; when someone says to you "çok güzelsin" (you are so beautiful), "seni çok özledim" (I missed you) or other staff it doesn't necessarily mean love or affection from that person. It is simply what people say without giving it much of a thought, simply not to sound "ayıp" (hard to translate that one, maybe "un-appropriate").

Turkish Cuisine?
I like all kinds of olive oil dishes, dolma, salads but not the heavy and oily meat staff (especially lamb meat, or dishes from the odd parts of animal's organs…). Among sweets and deserts I would definitely prefer all the lovely puddings they have (sütlaç, tavuk göksüetc), not the real "sugary" sweets.

Any suggestion to new comers to Turkey?
Look for new friends, preferably someone, who is "in your shoes" first of all; finding a Turkish friend could be wonderful and he/she could help you through the hard times during adaptation period. I would suggest not to be too quick with that though - because it takes some time to adapt the culture a little bit and not to take by mistake a simple natural Turkish kindness and hospitality for the signs of a life long friendship. In other cultures (like my own) it happens much more slowly but then it often lasts forever.

Any suggestion to people planning to visit your region?
Hard to say, what is meant by "my region"? If for my "native region", Latvia, Riga - go there in summer for various festivals and celebrations, to spend many unforgettable and enjoyable days and nights of - let's say - not very boiling summer season… If Turkey - there is practically something interesting to see in any region… You could only consider security, if you would decide to visit the far East region, close to the borders…Also - every European should want to see all the historical places of early Christianity (Cappadocia region) as well as the ancient cities, such as Efesus or Troya. That is the true beginning for us - the cradle of European civilization. Come to see and never forget it.





Lisa from Kadıköy
Aaron from Çekmeköy
Adrian from Istanbul
Agnes from Gümüşlük
Aida from Nisantaşı
Aisha from Istanbul
Amanda from Bursa
Andy from Izmir
Anke from Kemerburgaz
Antonina from Bulgaria
Arlene's Secret Paradise
Ashley from Kadıköy
Borahan from Taksim
Bruno from Datça
Brandts from Holland
Carmel from Bursa
Carole from Kalkan
Caroline from Kuzguncuk
Claire from Izmir
Claudia from Fenerbahce
Cornelia from Florya
Cumali from Adana
Cyrus from Istanbul
Dace from Ankara
David from Van
Dmitri from Beşiktaş
Filiz from Beyoğlu
Fred from Adana
Frederic from Ankara
Hana from Istanbul
Harry from Antalya
Iben from Alanya
Ingrid from Tesvikiye
Isa from Istanbul
Jan from Kuşadası
Jane from Manavgat
Janine from Izmir
Jennifer from Istanbul
Jennifer from Sultanahmet
John from the Bosphorus
Kathy from Izmit
Kayla from Bostancı
Kenya from Beyoğlu
Leela from Nisantasi
Lisa from Sydney
Marc from Kosuyolu
Maria from Moda
Maya from Izmir
Michelle from Göztepe
Molly from Galata
Nilgün from Suadiye
Omar from Ankara
Omar from Umraniye
Paolo from Beşiktaş
Pat from Göreme
Pat from Yaniklar
Patricia from Kartal
Patrick from Bodrum
Paul from Antalya
Pennie from Çengelköy
René from Izmit
Robbi from Dalyan
Rosalind from Alanya
Russ from Gebze
Ruth from Cappadocia
Sarah from Gundogan
Sarah from Sarıyer
Sarah from Sisli
Sophie from Istanbul
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Steve from Tarabya
Tara from Cengelköy
Trevor from Side
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Latest comments about this article

 By yoyo  5.5.2005

I wanted to ask Dace whether I could get a Latvian version of her article on ”To be a threshold: The dances of the Sufi whirling dervishes in Turkey. Talking to the leader of the followers of Mevlana, Hassan Dede”, since we had only a Lithuanian reprint in our newspaper. Thank you! ([email protected])

 By vane  8.12.2004

I want to ask Dace where is the playgroup she takes her son is. thanks

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