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We will send regular newsletters to our members who have signed up for receiving it during the registration. In 'mymerhaba' newsletter, our editorial staff provides updates, with regard to any information related to places worth visiting, viewing, or otherwise worth knowing, for those who care to know more....

Maria from Moda

Cooper in snow
 Untitled Document

Thanks to Maria Caicedo Helvacioglu for sharing her experience with us...

Tell us about yourself
I was born in Colombia but raised in the lovely, bucolic suburbs of Long Island, New York. Like many others before and after me, I grew up with two cultures surrounded by warm friends and very funny siblings. During my summers, I spent most of my time on the beaches of Long Island, and in the winter, I enjoyed skiing in the North East. I've always had an interest in Art and Design, so I naturally gravitated toward a career in Fashion. After I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design, with degrees in Fashion Design & Marketing, I worked in the "Garment Industry" designing men and women's clothing. When I tired of the hectic pace of long, hard days at the office, and long commutes back home, I decided to explore the U.S. a little more by moving to the South. (Perhaps outside the U.S., not many would assume there is much cultural difference between the people that reside in other parts of the States, but the differences are apparent. However, that is a whole other story.) In any case, before coming to Turkey, I definitely found the weather very agreeable in Florida and the folks in North Carolina very friendly.

What made you come to Turkey?
An illness in the family brought my husband and I to Istanbul. His mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, so we moved to be by her side. Fortunately, with the help of a few skilled doctors at Alman Hastanesi, she has since been able to keep her cancer in remission.

What do you do in your daily life?
I walk the dog, I walk the baby, and I walk myself. My toughest job, at the moment, is being "Mother". However, the weekends offer us a little more excitement. Both, my husband & I fly remote-control model airplanes at Hezarfen Airport. (I will make sure to report on this topic at a later date.)

Family?
Yes. My husband, daughter, and son "Cooper", a cute, mixed terrier dog, live with me in Moda. My sister's live in Long Island, my parents, whom are now retired, live in Florida, and my brother lives in Hawaii.

Can you compare your first days here with today?
Not at all, I was not a "mother" back then! During the first months, my husband and I had the pleasure of gallivanting all over Istanbul, enjoying the fantastic nightlife. I think there is something in the "water" here. (Please check below for more information under "Turkish Language".)*

Has living in Turkey influenced your approach to life?
Without question, I am more vocal; I am way more passionate about things in general.

Turkish language?
The best thing I did for my social life was to enroll at "Tomer", the language school, in Sisli. Not only did I pick up a lot of Turkish language, but also along the way, I met lots of interesting new people from different parts of the world. Together, my classmates and I often got together to paint the town red. (By the way, I was the third person in my class to get pregnant that semester.)*

Let's talk about the region you are living in?
Moda, Kadikoy, which is on the Anatolian side of Istanbul, was once a much smaller, chic resort place with big, old wooden houses by the Sea. Flash forward some forty odd years later, and it is surrounded by low-level height apartment buildings, dotting a still, although not as quiet, neighborhood.

Have you traveled in Turkey? Tell us your discoveries
Being Catholic by birth, Efeses blew my mind away. I could not believe that the Virgin Mary spent time living in that little house up there. I have also yet to climb "Mount Ararat", presumably the place where Noah's Ark lies.

What is your preferred characteristic trait of Turks?
In spite of living in a crowded city, unbelievable kindness and warmth even coming from a perfect stranger, which cannot be said about other cities I've experienced.

What was the annoying one?
"Please eat more", and the traffic situation. The car, and not the pedestrian, has the "right of way" mentality. (Please read "…new comers to Turkey" below for more info.)*

Turkish Cuisine?
I am a vegetarian, so I am incredibly lucky to have an abundance of "Mezze" to choose from. I live in a vegetarian's paradise!

Any suggestion to new comers to Turkey?
Please do not take the traffic situation personally, the "honking" noise that resonates from a vehicle for the pedestrian to get out of its way. However, do look both ways when one crosses the street.*

Any suggestion to people planning to visit your region?
If one hates sitting in traffic, avoid driving during opening and closing times of football matches at the stadium. Otherwise, enjoy the wonderful views of SultanAhmet across the Marmara Sea, especially at sunset!




Lisa from Kadıköy
Aaron from Çekmeköy
Adrian from Istanbul
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Aida from Nisantaşı
Aisha from Istanbul
Amanda from Bursa
Andy from Izmir
Anke from Kemerburgaz
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Arlene's Secret Paradise
Ashley from Kadıköy
Borahan from Taksim
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Carole from Kalkan
Caroline from Kuzguncuk
Claire from Izmir
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Cornelia from Florya
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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
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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
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Rosalind from Alanya
Russ from Gebze
Ruth from Cappadocia
Sarah from Gundogan
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Latest comments about this article

 By Lalish  15.3.2009

Hi Maria, Hi Maria, I moved to MODA from the UK last summer and enjoy it very much.. However my work involves a lot of travelling so my job can be very antisocial.. So I still don’t many people living in region. I recently have regained my determination to study Spanish. I am going to Dominican Republic for holiday at the end of April and if I start a Spanish course now, I will at least be able to say a few words. Do you have any recommendation for Spanish schools in Kadikoy? (I am sure you needn’t to go one of those but perhaps heard of them being good). I know there is Cervantes in Taxim and I am worried that if its in Taxim, It is going to make it hard to stick to the schedule .., If you are still in the neighbourhood, I’d like to meet with you perhaps over a coffee in Moda.. Mt e-mail.. [email protected] Thanks

 By Lila  12.2.2007

hi i am living in anatolian side.I am still learning spanish and i want to practise my spanish.İ am 25 years old.İ want to meet someone who speaks spanish. my mail:[email protected]

 By Hilda  2.5.2006

Hello Maria, It was great to read your interview but when I saw all of the other poeples´ replies I just had to write my own too! Guess what I also have something in common with you :))) I too studied fashion design and mechandising management in Chicago at the International Academy of Merchandising and Design. I live in Miami now for about 8 eight years and my husband who is Turkish and I are have been planning to move to Turkey for three years hopefully it will be this year. We have a daughter Emily 6 and a little welsh corgy ”spottie” who will come with us to Turkey. We are thinking about moving to Izmir although all of our family is in Ankara, we are so used to the hot weather and cant do without it. I am Mexican, originally but grew up in Chicago and met my Turkish husband Ahmet here in Miami. well I hope you still check this page for new messages I would like to be in touch with you. HIlda

 By marcela305  14.4.2005

Hola Maria, Mi nombre es Marcela Fandiño, también soy Colombiana. En 2 meses me estaré mudando para Estambul junto con mi prometido, él es turco. Yo también viví en Long Island, en un pequeño pueblito llamado Smithtown, aunque fue solo por un año; en este momento estoy radicada en Miami, pero como te digo no es por mucho mas tiempo. Me gustaría entrar en contacto contigo allá, siempre es bueno conocer personas en donde vives que tengan las mismas raíces culturales, si te parece buena la idea escríbeme unas líneas a mi correo electrónico [email protected] Marcela

 By Sara  24.5.2004

Dear Maria, First of all I´d like to say I am following in your footsteps. I am also a Fashion Marketing graduate that is moving to Turkey due an an illness in the family.My husband´s mother is also diagnosed with breast cancer, and therefore, we will be by her side. I was so shocked and excited to read this article. You sound pleased to be living there. I hope I will too. Please keep in touch at, [email protected]

 By DianaDiez Bayraktar  26.4.2004

Dear Maria, I was very happy to see your message, while surfing the Net. I am also Colombian but moved to NY after graduating from University, I now live in Long Island and am married to a turkish man. This summer my kids will attend summer camp in Istanbul and I am planning to take turkish classes at Tomer, but I am returning home in 2 months, the summers are enough for us for now.

 By eliftasdizen  23.4.2004

Dear Maria , It was really interesting to read you article. I admire your bravery for getting up and moving to istanbul. I am half turkish and half american that grew up in RI. Currently, my husband, Tolga, and I are trying to decide whether or not to move back to turkey. I am very conflicted about the whole thing and would like to correspond with you a bit if i could. [email protected]

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