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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....

Russ from Gebze

Photo: WOW Turkey


Thanks to Russel Hozey for sharing his experience in Turkey with us.

Tell us about yourself.
My name is Russell Hozey. I am 36 years old. I am an American originally from North Carolina but I have lived all over the east coast of the US and most recently in Pensacola Florida. Most of my life has been spent working with electronics and electronic systems. I speak English, Spanish and some Turkish.

What made you come to Turkey?
I first came here on vacation a few years ago and the feeling that I was treated so wonderfully never left me. I have been to Turkey about six or seven times. I have had chance to absorb the culture (somewhat) and the language (somewhat less). Most people here treat me as a yabancı, but the truth is that I feel more Turkish than American everyday.

What do you do in your daily life?
I have recently gotten my TEFL teaching certificate and relocated permanently to Turkey. I live in Gebze\Kocaeli, which is a highly industrial region near Istanbul. I have just started my first job as an English teacher at a language school here in Gebze. I love it!

Family?
In the States I only have one living relative, an older sister who lives in Florida. I miss her but I am so happy in Turkey, I rarely think of going to live in the US again.

Can you compare your first days here with today?
Wow...what a change. At first I feared the natives because I thought they might hate me for being American. Don't laugh.... it is what most Americans think when they first come here...I am just the only one to say it! But now I am delighted to say that all of my fears were left at the passport checkpoint in the airport. I feel so accepted here and even admired for trying so hard to learn the culture and the language. Turkey is a place that strips you of your pretenses and exposes you for who you really are. Quickly!

Has living in Turkey influenced your approach to life?
Well.... that is a tough question. I think I am finally able to relax and be the person I was all along, but unable to show in the US. Only another American could understand that sentence.

Turkish language?
It depends on who you ask. If you ask me.... my Turkish is so-so. But most people here are shocked at my ability. I hear often that my pronunciation is great but of course that is coming from a very kind group people.... so maybe they are only patting me on the back.

Let's talk about the region you are living in?
Gebze is an interesting place because people from all over Turkey come here to work. Some parts of Gebze are beautiful and other parts are very industrial. But it is a great place overall.

Have you traveled in Turkey?
Tell us your discoveries. I have been to Ankara, Istanbul, and some areas in between. But this summer I will have a chance to travel more...I can't wait!

What is your preferred characteristic trait of Turks?
Hmmm… difficult to say. Most Turks are warm and friendly. They greet you and make you feel wonderful from the first time you meet. I think the thing I admire most about them is their ability to look at any situation positively.

What was the annoying one?
Because everyone is so nice, it is difficult to tell the good Turks from the bad ones. Yes there are bad people even in a great place like this.

Turkish Cuisine?
WOW! I have tried nearly every Turkish dish that there is.... and I LOVE 95% of the food here.

Any suggestion to new comers to Turkey?
Well, the same advice that I would give anyone coming to the USA: Be careful, don't walk on dark streets alone at night, and don't wave your money around in crowded places...blah blah blah. But truly the most important thing I could tell newcomers is to learn the basic words for "hello, how are you?, nice to meet you, I am fine, thank you, and please." The most useful phrase is "Çok Guzel" it means very beautiful. Trust me you will use this phrase every day dozens of times because this place is truly amazing and the people are even more so. There is a huge list of things considered rude (Ayıp) to do...most notably having close contact with women.

For the men visiting Turkey.... you can look at the women here briefly, but DO NOT touch them under any circumstances unless they touch you first. Being a gentleman here will get you treated like a King. Being a jerk will get you in big big trouble.

For the women visitors...well you should follow the same advice. Also wear your clothes a little more conservatively than you usually would because some Turkish men could interpret exposed skin as an open invitation to flirt. And believe me, because Turkish girls are very reserved, the men here are looking for any kind of sign that you might be available and open to flirting. Just be intelligent and polite.

Any suggestion to people planning to visit your region?
Anyone coming to Gebze will have a chance to meet people from all over Turkey as this is where so many people work. Gebze is a fairly small place with a lot of charm and a definite love for foreigners. But I think any of the more modern cities would feel the same.




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Aisha from Istanbul
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Ingrid from Tesvikiye
Isa from Istanbul
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Kayla from Bostancı
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Michelle from Göztepe
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Omar from Ankara
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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
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Latest comments about this article

 By ecoprincess  12.3.2009

Russ - are you still in Gebze? I posted a note on the forum - if you get this, please email me at ecoprincess2(at)gmail(dot)com. My husband and I live here, and would love to get together or at least talk on the phone. We aren´t selling anything - just lonesome for an American voice, locally! Thanks. Elsie

 By miss_b_heyv  2.4.2007

hi Russ, i need to ask you a couple of questions please about Kocaeli as i´m thinking of moving there to work as a TEFL teacher. at present, i´m a TEFL teacher in Malta. my email address is [email protected]

 By Venus  28.6.2006

Hi There I work for a company where s located in Gebze.. Good luck V

 By aylin22  28.1.2006

Hi russ I will be moving to Izmit Kocaeli, I will be doing my TEFL course in Istanbul, If i successfully pass I would love to start teaching! Was is easy for you to find your first job placement! I am originally turkish from Istanbul but I was born and raised in UK London. My boyfriend is from Izmit and I am going to be moving there. I love Izmit and i love Istanbul and I am so excited to go! my email address is [email protected] Thanks Russ x

 By drmeta  5.8.2005

To Russ from Gebze, Hi Russ, a clear and open testimony about the ”Gebze” experience. I a couple of months I will also work and live Gebze. Could I contact you fror some additional advice? My email address is [email protected] Greetings, Chris

 By USA-Cumali  4.5.2005

What a great story Russ. Like you I am American and dont see too many testimonials from Americans moving/living in Turkey. I am about to return in the June/July time frame of 2005. Would eally like to hear from you. My email is: [email protected] Thanks.

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