5 Year Blog birthday!

Today is my 5 year blog birthday!

In August 2013 I was living in Turkey and had been living there for two years, I decided to start writing a blog to share my experiences and let people see that living there wasn’t all one big holiday! A month after starting my blog I actually moved back to the UK (which ended up being temporary..) and then it became more of a place just to write my thoughts about moving back. Then a few months later I moved back to Turkey again, carried on writing about life living there and exploring the area. Then of course, Berkay went into the army for his national service so I wrote about that a lot, if you’ve been following me since 2015 you will remember my countdown posts! He finished the army, we got married, applied for his visa and now we live in the UK.
I haven’t really been concentrating on my blog as much over the last year as I kind of fell out of love with the country a bit, having seen too much of a side I don’t really like… however, after our most recent holiday back in June I fell in love with the place again and have been trying to be more regular with my posts!

Back in April I finally reached 1,000,000, ONE MILLION views, which was very exciting, so thank you for everyone who reads my posts or follows me, really much appreciated!

Just for fun, here’s a link to my first ever blog post where it all began:
https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2013/08/18/a-little-about-me/

 

How did our cheesy, love story begin?

I’ve mentioned before that our relationship started as the very typical, cheesy, holiday romance story that everyone is so quick to judge, but I’ve never really gone into much detail about how we met, so here it goes!

In July 2010, me and one of my best friends decided to go on holiday, we trusted my Dad to choose the destination, and he chose Calis Beach, Fethiye.  We went in July for a week, after we’d finished our A-level exams and had just left college. I was 18 years old…
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The hotel we stayed in, who would have thought back then, that I’d eventually be living around the corner to here, walking past it and waving Berkay off to work there everyday for 2 years..

It started off as a normal girly holiday… until roses kept appearing on my sunbed, and outside my room door. (I can see you rolling your eyes…I told you it was a cheesy story!!) I ignored them at first, but eventually realised it was one of the waiters doing it.. you guessed it, this particular waiter was Berkay!

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The view from our balcony and the pool, where a lot of time was spent spying on Berkay with my friend 😉 

We hardly spoke, actually he could hardly speak English … (I can see you rolling your eyes again!) … on the last night of our holiday, he got his friend to write a note to me saying ‘Do you want to go out for a walk with me’. Going against my mum, dad and everyone else’s advice of ‘don’t go off with anyone on your own’, and risking loosing the friendship I had with my friend by leaving her alone in the hotel on the last night… I went. We went for a walk along the beach and ended up staying there until 5am, just walking back and forth. Luckily, Berkay wasn’t dangerous, and my best friend forgave me for abandoning her. I wouldn’t advise anyone to go off alone like I did though just for the record, I went against my better judgement but thank goodness I did, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have ever seen Berkay again or be who I am today…
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This was the first and only photo we had together from July 2010..

The time came to go home, and of course I was devastated, we swapped numbers, msn addresses & facebook ‘friended’ each other, but honestly I didn’t expect to hear from him again, everyone knows the reputation Turkish guys have… Oh how wrong I was, even before I had got to the airport I had a text, and a couple more awaited me when I landed back in the UK.

We spoke everynight on MSN without fail, every night after his work had finished, Berkay would walk to the internet cafe and we’d talk to 3-4am. My family all thought I was crazy of course, and hoped it was all just a holiday romance.
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The good old days, back in 2010 when we’d speak to each other on MSN all night, every night.

I decided I wanted to go back and visit Berkay, alone this time, and my parents very, very, very reluctantly agreed. I had strict instructions to keep in contact 24/7 and obviously they knew the hotel address I was staying in.. So, in October 2010 I went back to Turkey for a week, this time we stayed together in Remer Hotel. Although I already knew Berkay well from speaking on MSN everyday, this was our first real chance to get to know each other in person. He had learnt English really quickly, and was pretty fluent by then.  I have to add, going abroad alone, flying alone, to meet someone I’d hardly spent time with in person, is very out of character for me, I’m the shyest person I know, people who have met me will probably agree.. I have no idea what came over me.. love makes you do funny things I guess! We had a great week together and done the typical tourist things, we visisted Oludeniz and done a few boat trips, including one in the pouring rain and wind, it was freezing. The most memorable thing from this whole holiday was how we both went in the hotel swimming pool in the cold, stormy rain, and had everyone looking out of their balconys cheering us on, like I said, love makes you do crazy things!

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Some of the photos we took together in October 2010.

In January 2011, I decided to visit Berkay again, and did so for a week. This time I felt confident enough to stay in an apartment he was renting in the winter, instead of booking a hotel. The apartment was really bad, it certainly opened up my eyes. I also had a funny Turkish experience on the way to Fethiye from Antalya airport.. Berkay and his friend came to pick me up in his friend’s old banger car.. the fuel gauge was broken and the car kept running out of petrol…the journey should have taken 3.5 hours but ended up taking twice as long. We had another great week together, I met his friends, experienced my first ‘Turkish Picnic’ and enjoyed seeing Turkey outside of the tourist season. Saying bye to Berkay when the time came to go home this time was the hardest, I guess that’s when I knew the only option was to move to Turkey.
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A couple of photos from January 2011, this was the turning point when I knew I wanted to move to Turkey.

I can’t remember how the conversation went, but I must’ve told my parents I wanted to move to Turkey, I can’t even remember their reaction, but reluctantly again, they agreed.  Neither of them had ever met Berkay, none of my family had, so Mum and her partner at the time, came with me for  a week when I made the big move. It was a big decision, one made so much harder as it meant leaving my 3 week old baby sister behind. On the 26th April 2011, I left the UK, packed my life into a suitcase, and moved to Turkey. Whilst there, we had a bad experience which left mum’s partner in hospital for 3 days, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it gave Berkay a chance to prove to her how loving, kind and caring he was. He helped them so much over those few days, that she felt confident enough leaving me with him when they returned to the UK a week later.
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April 2011
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This is a personal favourite photo. Taken in the first few days after I moved to Turkey, me looking out to sea at Oludeniz. It reminds me how I’d entered the big wide world away from parents and the comforts of home, which were thousands of miles, and oceans away.

Berkay found us an apartment, which until September 2013, we called home. I feel like we proved everyone wrong, it’s not the typical Turkish boy/English girl story. He has now met all of my family, visited the UK 5 times, and is now as much a part of my family as the rest of us, they all love him.

The rest of my story is documented on this blog, from my last few days in Turkey, to the reasons I moved back to the UK,  the difficulties to adapting to life back here,  the joy at being reunited, and the sadness at being apart again..

Those were the first 3 years, lets hope there are many more to come… I will carry on blogging through all of them.
To be continued… ❤

Holiday fling or the real thing? Can relationships with Turkish men really last?

During a relaxing, carefree holiday In Turkey, it’s all so easy to fall in love with a handsome stranger with a sexy accent, romantic walks on the beach, watching sunsets together and a lot of fun in the sun, but what happens when you return home, can the relationship continue or will he forget about you as soon as you board the plane?

We’ve all seen the typical ‘Take a Break’ magazine stories about Turkish men being love rats, cheating on British women, manipulating them for their money or using them for a visa, but are they all like that? The answer is no, they’re not, and some (and only someholiday romances can go the distance and turn into loving, long lasting relationships and marriages.

A lot of things really depend on what circumstances you met in. If you met him while he was working in a bar one night and the only communication you had was while either one or both of you were drunk, the chances are it’s not going to turn into a real meaningful relationship. Drunken conversation and sex does not make a good foundation. What is more important is spending real quality time together and getting to know each other properly before moving forward, although admittedly that is difficult whilst on a short holiday. The normal rules of dating are put on fast forward, it’s easy to get carried away and fall head over heels when everything is moving quickly, you know your time together is limited and that you’ll soon be returning home so everything is rushed. First date, second date, first kiss,sex…It all happens in a blur and it’s difficult to know what is going to happen next and what it all means.

I suppose it’s important to figure out if it is love, or lust. Is it really possible to fall in love with someone in a country thousands of miles away from home where there are so many obstacles to overcome? The language barrier  is an important one. Is it really possible to ‘love’ someone you can hardly communicate with? Communication is key. Getting to know each other from 4000 miles away is never easy, but nowadays with Skype, Facebook, FaceTime, email and text, there really is no excuse not to keep in touch, if that’s what you want.

An important thing to be sure of is that you are both wanting the same thing, are you both looking for a quick fling, or is one of you more serious than the other? While on holiday, a lot of us let our guards down, we are physically and emotionally relaxed and free from all the stresses of home, this makes it oh so easy to get carried away, but in reality, when you’re 4000 miles away back at home and have work to do and bills to pay, are you still going to be as interested in your Turkish ‘lover’? If you are serious about the relationship, be certain he is too. A lot of Turkish men working in resorts see a lot of women come and go, as soon as one flight leaves, another arrives. Some men see women, British in particular, as easy and fun loving.  They assume, rightly or wrongly, that these women want nothing more than 2 weeks of fun, and the reality is he probably won’t be interested in keeping in touch until you’re back next year.

Turkish men have a reputation as being love-rats, only interested in money and a visa. Sure, some of these men are really clever, scheming, con artists who cover their tracks well, however, in most circumstances there are some clear signs that your ‘relationship’ is doomed. Don’t ignore the signs and leave your brains at the airport. If you’re old enough to be his grandmother, or great-grandmother, he’s probably not genuine. If he runs to the toilet when his phone rings, he’s probably talking to one of his many other holiday flings, or a Turkish wife. If he tells you he loves you in broken English after having known you 5 mintues, he’s probably not genuine. Once you’re home, is he constantly making excuses and too busy to talk to you? Did you do a bit of Facebook stalking and find out he actually has 5 different profiles with photos of him and a different girl on each one? These are all huge red flags, don’t fall for his charm or excuses, it’s not worth the heartbreak in the end.

A lot of women  who have experienced the above sell their stories to magazines or newspapers or create online groups and blogs ‘warning’ everyone about the dangers of Turkish men. There seems to be an assumption that all Turkish men will try their luck and manipulate British women for money. If your fella gives you a list of duty free alcohol, trainers and the latest iPhone he wants you to bring out the next time you visit, realise he is not genuinely in love with you, he is more interested in your bank balance. If every time you speak to him he mentions how his mother, father or sister’s friend’s dog-sitter etc.. is ill and he needs money to pay the hospital bill,  end the conversation and delete him from your life. He’s lying.

Turkish men are not all scheming, money grabbing rats, far from it. Generally, Turkish men are very proud; they work to provide for their families and would never ask someone for money, especially a woman. Using my relationship as an example, I don’t have a penny to my name, Berkay works hard everyday to provide for us both. When family come to visit, the most he’s ever asked them for is a bottle of Nando’s sauce.

If people try to tell you that your guy isn’t genuine, that he’s cheating on you or using you for money, most of the time they are probably right. Don’t dismiss their concern as ‘jealousy’. Take their concerns on board and be wary. If the signs are there, pay attention and take notice, if not, stay on guard but don’t turn into a bunny boiling stalker.

Trust is important. When you’re living 4000 miles away from someone, it’s going to be impossible to know what they’re doing and who they are with every minute of the day. Gut instinct will be the key, if you think he doesn’t deserve your trust or he’s acting suspiciously, move on, there is no way a long distance relationship will ever work if you cannot trust each other.

The most important thing for me is can you really make the long distance relationship work? Are you patient enough to understand that while friends and people around you may be settling down and moving on with their lives, you’re going to be back and forth only seeing each other for a limited number of days per year until you come to a decision as to where your future is? You can only visit each other so much as your job, and your bank balance permits. At some point, one of you is going to have to give up your life in your own country and move away from your friends, family , job and everything you’ve ever known, it’s inevitable and is the only way forward, eventually.

This brings us to the issue of visas. Depsite what everyone thinks, visas to the UK are not easy to obtain, if you are unwilling to try to settle in Turkey, be prepared for a long battle to get your Turkish partner to the UK, it’s not something to take lightly, it’s a long, hard process and the stress can be enough to split couples up.

There are also cultural differences, and religion pays a large part in some circumstances too.  Is he Muslim? Will he expect you to give up certain things? Will he expect you to be a stay at home mum/housewife? Is he willing to let go of some of his more traditional Turkish cultural values, and are you willing to give up some of yours? Can you come to a compromise?

If both of you are willing to make it work and put in the effort as well as having the patience, trust, understanding and communication, your relationship may well turn into something wonderful. If not, enjoy it for what it is and move on, either way you’ll have great memories.