Sarah from Sisli
- Tell us about yourself
Hello. My name is Sarah Perrich. I'm a writer and a teacher from Baltimore, Md, a quirky little city on the East Coast of America. I have a travel/writing blog at http://www.wasconstantinople.wordpress.com which details all my adventures and misadventures in my six months as an ex-pat here. I enjoy cooking and eating, (anything to do with food, really) reading, writing, art, and experiencing Turkish culture.
- What made you come to Turkey?
Last year I was relieved of a family responsibility which had kept me close to home, and for the first time in my adult life I was free to travel whereever I wanted. I was underemployed and single, and I thought with few responsibilities it would be fun to travel somewhere far from home. I had a friend who was studying in Istanbul, so I thought why not? So really, I came on a whim. Before that, it had never occurred to me to go to Turkey. It wasn't even on my list of top ten places to visit. But I'm so happy I came.
- What do you do in your daily life?
I teach and write. I go for long walks, and talk to my new Turkish friends. I explore new neighborhoods, and try not to get fat despite the abundance of delicious food. I'm trying to learn Turkish, but it's going very slowly.
They're all in America.
I came here in November of last year, just in time for the bayram. I was utterly overwhelmed my first few weeks, and exhausted all the time from all the new sights and smells. I come from a small American city, which was laid out on a sensible grid; Istanbul is a huge, sprawling, ancient city full of tiny, twisting streets, and I spent much of my first months lost and slightly panicked. I had never heard much Turkish spoken before, and the language was incomprehensible to me. Simple things like going to the grocery store were incredibly difficult, never mind trying to go to a bank or a post office or trying to take a bus by myself. But in five months I've gotten a wonderful job teaching English, I've made some friends, and I've learned how to use public transportation. No small feats, those.
- Has living in Turkey influenced your approach to life?
I've had to learn to give up some control. I'm a planner by nature, and living in a foreign culture where I don't speak the language well has forced me to become more flexible, to allow for small disasters, to embrace those small disasters as adventure.
- Turkish language?
Merhaba. Iyiyim, teşekkur ederim. Effes, bir tane lutfen.
- Let's talk about the region you are living in?
I lived in Kadiköy for my first five months, and now I live in Şişli. There is a lot I miss about Kadiköy. It was a much more vibrant neighborhood, with lots of bars and restaurants and shops. It had nice parks and was by the water, and the people who lived there were very friendly. Şişli is kind of a dump by comparison, but it now takes me twenty minutes to get to work in Taksim, instead of an hour and a half, which frees up a lot of time for me to go exploring.
- Have you traveled in Turkey? Tell us your discoveries
I've only been to Cappadocia and Ankara thus far, but plan to spend more time traveling this summer.
- What is your preferred characteristic trait of Turks?
Turks in my experience are very helpful, friendly, hospitable people.
Turkish men in particular can be a bit paternalistic, which is nice when the ckeck comes or when you're lost and desperately need directions, and not so nice when a man you barely know starts telling you what to do and how to do it.
- Turkish Cuisine?
At work we get a hot meal every day, cooked by a lovely Anatolian woman, so I feel I know a lot about home cooking here. I've been exploring the street food and have loved almost everything I've had so far, from balık ekmek to döner to tripe soup.
- Any suggestion to new comers to Turkey?
Relax, it will be less overwhelming soon. Do all the touristy stuff in your first few weeks because you'll never do it again.
- Any suggestion to people planning to visit your region?
Don't plan every minute. Just walking down the street can be an adventure. There are a lot of touristy sights to see, but leave time to stroll by the water and watch the boats.
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