Expat Interview with Katharina - German/Dutch Expat in Turkey

Published: 25 Feb at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Turkey
Katharina grew up in Germany and The Netherlands within an international family. Before moving to Turkey she happily lived in Amsterdam where she was working for the literary publisher Penguin Books UK and leading a long distance relationship with Bülent. About 2 years ago she decided to make the move and call Turkey her new home. In her blog Canım Benim, she shares her Turkish Adventures with her readers, writing about her love for the country, its people and its culture. And about her observations, findings and struggles as she goes through life as a 30 something year old girl and expat. As Turkish locals would describe her: in love, in action and in-dependent. Katharina's expat blog is called Canim Benim (see listing here)

Meet Katharina - German Expat in Turkey
Meet Katharina - German Expat in Turkey

Here's the interview with Katharina...

Where are you originally from?
That’s always a complicated question for a global nomad like myself. I was born in Belgium into an international family. My parents are both from mixed backgrounds, which makes me Greek/Armenian/German/Swedish from my father’s side and Belgium/German/French from my mother’s side. I grew up in Germany and later in The Netherlands. So my usual answer to people asking is: I’m from Amsterdam. Originally? I am European.

In which country and city are you living now?
Alanya, Turkey.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I have been living here permanently for exactly 2 years now. We are planning to stay for as long as we enjoy living here. And we enjoy it a lot so no moving plans at the moment.

Enjoying the view of Alanya during sunset together
Enjoying the view of Alanya during sunset together
Why did you move and what do you do?
I moved because of my long distance relationship that began some 10 years ago. It was about time that one of us made the move and I felt very excited about changing my life and moving to Turkey. I started up a company called YELLOW ROCK Alanya with my best friend here. It’s a service company that helps foreigners who want to invest in property in Turkey. We advice them and investigate their possibilities. We assist, translate and guide them through the whole process. We match them with a good real estate agent and provide them with the right local network.

Did you bring family with you?
I wish. Most of my family is living in France now. But I am blessed to have a very sweet in-law family here.
How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
It’s hard to say. All countries I have lived in before felt, to some extent, a bit foreign to me. I had been traveling between Amsterdam and Turkey for so many years during my relationship that the Turkish culture kind of grew on me. And my grandmother has always lived in Istanbul so it’s never been ‘foreign’ to me. Although living here is very different from visiting and it completely changed my way of life. I guess an even bigger transition for me at that time though was moving from a capital city to a small town like Alanya.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialize with other expats?
Yes I find making friends and meeting people in general very easy in Turkey. People are so open and friendly, always in for a talk and curious to get to know you. Most local friends I know through my man and through his restaurant. Some of these friendships go back to the very beginning of my ‘Turkish Adventure’ one decade ago. Alanya also has a huge expat community. I have met most of my expat friends through language school, the gym and on weddings, birthdays, nights out and coffee dates.

Life sure is good in Alanya
Life sure is good in Alanya
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
First of all Alanya is famous for its very long sandy beaches that stretch for miles along the coast. There is a lot of water sports, boat tours and diving activity going on. A hike to the castle is also a pretty amazing experience and there is so many local little places where you can get fresh Turkish breakfast and homemade meals while taking in the breathtaking view. Visiting the local markets, the many caves in the area and small villages in the Taurus mountains behind Alanya is also a fun excursion. My favorite getaway on a hot summer day is the Dimçayi River, with its floating restaurants and tree houses where you can chill, sleep, swim, do some fishing and eat good food all day long.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
There are so many things I love about living here. The best thing is of course to be living together after so many years of long distance relationship. Then there is the simple lifestyle that comes with living in a small town by the sea, which I really started to appreciate. The Turkish hospitality, kindness and humor. The amazing amount of fresh food and delicious dishes. The sun shining 300 days a year. To be living in an amazing country to explore. Being close to Istanbul. I can go on and on.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
Compared to living costs in Amsterdam life got a whole lot cheaper. The only things more expensive than in Holland are fuel, alcohol, meat and imported brands. So actually, you are encouraged to live a healthy lifestyle here.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
Being so far away from my family and friends and missing them a lot. Also, traffic can drive me crazy sometimes. It’s n’importe quoi most of the time. And, generally speaking, the lack of awareness towards nature and environment. Things like people throwing out plastic bottles while driving really makes me angry. And the heat and humidity during the high season in this area makes me want to escape the country for some weeks every year. Which I do.

At work for Yellow Rock. Getting a tour (from my father in-law) on a construction site
At work for Yellow Rock. Getting a tour (from my father in-law) on a construction site
If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Be open minded.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Living in a place where a huge majority of the population shares the same cultural background, the same mentality and the same religion it is easy to feel misunderstood at times and it can be hard to communicate your own (different) point of view.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I have no intention of returning to The Netherlands. Turkey is my new home now, in German it’s called Wahlheimat. If I would have to return however, I think I would do a very poor job at coping with repatriation.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  • Research about the place and the culture that you’re moving to. It will adjust your expectations and might save you from one or two major disappointments.
  • Learn the language, find ways to network and be open to locals. Everything is easier when shared and being able to express yourself. Find other expats that you can relate to and exchange information with.
  • Try not to compare your old life with your new one all the time. This is a whole new story that requires a different attitude from you. It will challenge you in new ways and bring you different experiences. So try to stay open minded, flexible and diplomatic towards the differences.
  • Take it easy. It’s normal to feel completely out of place, overwhelmed or lonely some days. Remember that. Just relax and take a day off from trying so hard to make it work. Smile, take a plunge into the ocean and trust that everything will be better again tomorrow.
  • Never lose your sense of adventure. Stay curious about your environment and where this adventure is leading you to. There’s no such thing as being a ‘good’ expat or a ‘bad’ expat. Everyone’s journey is unique and worth discovering.

  • Floating around on the beautiful Dimçayi River
    Floating around on the beautiful Dimçayi River
    Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
    My blog is called Canım Benim, literally meaning ‘my life’ in Turkish but commonly used as ‘my darling, my dear’ too. I write about my life since I moved to Turkey, about my observations, my travels and the Turkish culture. With traveling I don’t only mean geographically but also traveling through the different stages of life itself, personally and as an expat. I write about how to cope with cultural differences and missing your loved ones. About being 30 something and a self entrepreneur. About deciding what it really is you want to do in life and the question of when to start having a baby. About discovering Turkish Cinema, one of my passions. About sailing my multi-cultural relation-ship. I question the concept of ‘home’, of being an ‘expat’, a third culture kid (TCK), a nomad. And I love to share everything good and delicious that this amazing country has to offer with my readers. So one could say that CB is more of a soul-survival-travelers-blog about my personal adventures and cultural discoveries in Turkey, rather than a practical and informative ‘how to’ guide for expats living in Turkey.

    How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
    Apart from my blog (see below), everyone is welcome to follow me on Twitter @CanimBenimTweet, on CB’s Facebook Page where I post almost daily, and on Pinterest. I love comments and creative input. Rather than just ‘putting myself out there’ I love to interact with my readers, other bloggers and expats.

    Katharina blogs at http://canimbenim.blog.com/ which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Canim Benim has an ExpatsBlog.com listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Katharina, please also drop her a quick comment below.

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    Comments » There is 1 comment

    Alexia Lundgreen wrote 11 years ago:

    Thank you expatsblog for publishing my sisters interview and for nominating her. Katharina I Love reading about your life in Alanya and am super proud of you! Keep up the good work!

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