American Expat Living in Turkey - Expat Interview with Kassandra

Published: 20 Mar at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Turkey
Kassandra is a 5th grade teacher who feels fortunate to have Izmir, Turkey as her current address. Originally from the United States, she always loved to travel but did not get the chance to do so extensively until she made a move across the Atlantic. Now she has opportunities to visit (and fall in love with) places that had never before been on her radar. Kassandra's blog is not a traditional travel blog. Instead of documenting the basic facts about where she finds herself, she prefers to comment on the incidents and accidents that make her laugh. Kassandra's expat blog is called Avoiding Octopi and What Not (see listing here)

life is delicious
life is delicious

Here's the interview with Kassandra...

Where are you originally from?
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

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

How long have you lived in Turkey and how long are you planning to stay?
I've lived here for 8 months and will continue to do so for at least 2-3 years.

Why did you move to Turkey and what do you do?
I moved to Izmir to shake things up in my career/life. I had been teaching 5th grade for 8 years in Asheville, North Carolina when I woke up one morning and realized that I was due for an adventure. So I switched locales. Now I teach on the other side of the planet. What do I do here? A lot of what I did back home: cooking, painting, seeing live music, etc. The biggest difference in my life is that now I can afford to travel all the time. Which is kind of the best thing ever.

I never knew how sweet and beautiful pride could be
I never knew how sweet and beautiful pride could be
Did you bring family with you?
I am a single lady, no kids

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Overall, my move has been way easier than I ever imagined it could be. Although the Turkish language is tough, people in Turkey are kind and I think fumbling through simple day to day things is humorous. My school provided me with a bilingual liaison upon my arrival and she helped me and a few other newbies navigate public transport, local markets and basic language for my first few weeks here. After I received the help to settle in, life felt "normal" pretty fast!

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I immediately felt like I had a family here in Turkey. The expat community is small but precious. My Turkish colleagues and neighbors are sweet and generous. My closest friends here are expats but I do have a lot of friends that are Turkish too!

history is fascinating
history is fascinating
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
In Izmir proper there are several things to check out:

Konak -- Historical city sites - clock tower, square, pier, museums, etc
Alsancak -- Biggest bar scene, shopping, largest variety of restaurants
Kemeralti -- Bazaar
Goztepe -- biking along the Kordon next to the seaside, cultural center for performances

Also, there are many amazing areas AROUND Izmir to visit!
Ephesus/Selcuk, Pamukkale, Cesme, Chios (Greek Island) and Alacati to name a few.

What do you enjoy most about living in Turkey?
There are so many things to be appreciated about Izmir! The weather in this city is far superior to any other place I've ever lived -- it's mild and lovely. The food is fresh and local. The people are laid back. But probably my favorite aspect of living here is that it is super easy to travel -- both within the city on public transport AND to other regions and countries because Izmir (and Turkey in general) is well located.

How does the cost of living in Turkey compare to home?
I got a really sweet deal with the school I work for so my cost of living is a fraction of what it was in America. Some things over all cost MUCH less than they do in the States -- like fresh produce and entertainment. But other things are far more costly -- like electronics.

cultural events are eye-opening -- I bet you didn't even KNOW that camels wrestled!
cultural events are eye-opening -- I bet you didn't even KNOW that camels wrestled!
What negatives, if any, are there to living in Turkey?
The air quality is pretty terrible in the winter when folks are burning coal.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Turkey, what would it be?
Don't drink the Turkish red wine!! A) It's chilled B) It will make you feel terrible the next day, ALWAYS. Even after just one glass.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
My life here has been pretty easy for the most part:) Probably the thing I miss the most is not having more green-space close by. Living in Asheville, NC, USA I was able to go on beautiful hikes multiple times a week. It's possible to hike in this area, but not anywhere near as easy.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I definitely do not want to go back to teaching in the US. Financially, I felt as if I were living like a college student -- close to a decade into my career. If and when I go back to the US it will have to be with a different occupation. And since I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up, my vision of myself back in the States is a big white wall. For now, I'm just enjoying life here.

the ridiculous things found around every corner get me every time
the ridiculous things found around every corner get me every time
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Show up. If someone invites you somewhere, go!
  2. Follow the music. If you hear good music, fun people will be waiting for you at the source.
  3. Make sure you have a sense of humor about yourself. You are going to get lost. You will think you are getting ripped off. You won't understand what people are saying. You will lose things. But the thing is, it's fine. You will always be fine. Getting angry about it is just a silly waste of energy.
  4. Try all the foods. Life tastes SO GOOD.
  5. Trust people. The vast majority of folks out there in this great big world are inherently good.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I started writing my blog before I was an expat. My blog really is just a collection of the little details in life that make me chuckle. It began in America and continues in Turkey. Sometimes I write about things that frighten me (like bloody boxes on the metro). Occasionally I'll just write about something that is on my mind (like insomnia). But usually I write about the things that make me laugh (like gullible children and plastic Jesus' tied atop trees.)

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Via my blog (see link below)

About the author

Expat Blog ListingKassandra is an American expat living in Turkey. Blog description: My blog is a humorous interpretation of the world that I see around me. It explains what makes me happy, what makes me scared and what makes me question what I've always thought of as "normal."
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