Drumroll, please…

Well, first, I’m celebrating my year anniversary in Istanbul (May 12th) – can you believe it?  Time, at times, has flown. Other times, it’s stood so still I thought it might be frozen.  But, I’ve survived, and can almost say that I’m thriving!  I still can’t  believe some days that I live here.

But, I’m going to be able to believe it a bit more, because I’ve decided to stay another year.  I miss my American family and friends terribly, but I’m going to plead for your patience with me while I continue my Turkish adventure.

I weighed this decision very heavily.  And I’ve fluctuated.  In fact, after my Houston Christmas visit, I was determined to come home.  I was ready for an easier life, was missing home acutely, and wanted a better selection of restaurants!  I was at my friend Joe’s party, and was talking about expat life with my friend Melody.  I told her that I would almost definitely return to Houston, saying that I thought life here would have been easier by then.  At that point, I had been in Istanbul for 9 months.  She looked at me shocked, and said that expat life doesn’t get easier until at least a year in.  And she should know.  She was in Japan before she was in Turkey.

And you know what?  The last couple of months have been significantly easier.  I can’t say it’s one thing or another, but I think it’s a

A minaret of the Blue Mosque on a beautiful day in Istanbul.

combination.  I’m learning more Turkish.  Even if I can’t speak it well, I understand more.  I moved into a new neighborhood in January, where I feel like I belong.  I have some good friends, and for the past couple of months, a wonderful boyfriend.  I’m more confident in most situations.  And I can find my way around a bit better.

I certainly have bad days.  Or hard days.  I cry a bit easier over some things.  About a month ago, I was having a really good day, and was walking home thinking about how much my life here was improving.  I turned the corner to my street, and the local florist was selling yellow roses.  Oh, my heart hurt!  I immediately was so homesick for Texas, and everything and everyone I love there.  And recently, I had to miss the wedding of my dear friends April and Jason.  I was heartsick about that.  So, as I made my decision to stay here longer, I had to consider those things.

But I’m excited about my decision to stay.  I have (another!) new job that I’ll start in mid-August.  I’ll be teaching English to middle-schoolers at one of the top private schools in Istanbul.  I really like the people I’ll be working with and for, and the campus is beautiful, and much, much closer to my house than my current school.  I’ve always liked middle school aged kids, and hope that this opportunity works out well.  I’m also looking for an new apartment (in the same neighborhood) now, so I’m excited about that.

It looks like I’ll be home for a couple weeks in August, and I’ll definitely be home for a week and a half at Thanksgiving.  I can’t wait to visit.  And, everyone, you realize now that I’m here another year, you have another year to visit!  You have a place to stay and a free tour guide!

I’ve also made a renewed vow to write more on this blog.  And not all my posts will be this long, I promise!

Friends, thank you so much for your support and love.

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Things I’m going to miss about home

It goes without saying (but perhaps it shouldn’t) that I will miss my loving family and terrific friends terribly.  My heart starts to break every time I think about leaving my loved ones, so I’ve been doing a great job of avoiding sentimental thoughts about my favorite people.

But as my departure date gets closer, I’ve been thinking about the things in my life that I will miss.  I wrote this Wednesday night, when I had arrived early to a dinner with a group of college girlfriends.  It was one of those few, but absolutely stunning Houston spring days.  I got a glass of wine and sat on the patio, enjoying the sunshine, and cool breeze and started to think.  It was a great reflective moment, and a great dinner with my girls.

So, without further ado:

  • Football.  Yes, even the Houston Texans.  Call me a sucker for punishment, but God help me, I love them.
  • Texas beef.  Oh, so good.
  • And pork!  Going to a country that is mostly Muslim, I will have to seek out pork.  Bacon, I will find you.
  • The all-year-round greenery of Houston.
  • Y’all.  As in, the word “y’all.”  It’s just so darn perfect.
  • Chuy’s creamy jalapeno sauce.  It’s manna.  From Heaven.  It makes God smile.
  • The live oak trees lining the streets around Rice University.  I’ve driven by them every day for 10 years and don’t tire of the sight.
  • The casual elegance of Houston.  Jeans, heels, and a great shirt and a cute bag are the acceptable outfit for everything.
  • Speaking of shoes, DSW.
  • Diet Coke.  Not the Coke Light crap overseas.  How much do you think it would cost to regularly ship cases to Istanbul?
  • Eclectic Home.  Best home accessories &  furnishing store.  EVER.
  • Target.  ‘Nuff said.
  • 13 Celsius.
  • The annual Scavenger Hunt that my friend Andrea, her hubby Allen, and friend Bill manage.  Amazingly fun.