Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The more things change...

It would be a lie to say that traveling and living abroad hasn't changed me at all. Instead of walking around lost until my feet hurt, too embarrassed to ask for help, I now readily make inquiries – in a language I speak only bumblingly, no less. I chat up complete strangers just because they happen to be speaking Turkish in France, or English in Turkey. I like to think I have a broader perspective on world events and increased empathy, but know that working in a foreign culture has also forced me to develop a more stern and assertive side. My elbows have become sharper from fighting to get onto buses or hold a place in line. Desperate and otherwise-unsatisfied desires for tamales and Thai curry have turned me into a cook. Perhaps strangest of all, I've become a runner in a country a fellow American expat once dubbed "the land the YMCA forgot."

But.

There's always a “but,” isn't there? When I moved to Istanbul, I fantasized about making a fresh start, about trying something totally new, about shedding my responsible skin and becoming the heedless, adventurous kid I never really was. Instead, like a homing pigeon flying unerringly back to its coop, I've wound up with a desk job, a reputation for earnestness, the same bad habits, the same fear of flying, and all the same worries that I’m not doing enough with my life. I left many things 7,000 miles away, but for better or worse, I can't seem to run away from myself.

NOTE: Has travel made you a better person, a worse one, or not changed you at all? Check out other Lonely Planet travel bloggers' answers to this question in the Blogsherpa Blog Carnival: Has Traveling Changed You?, hosted by Nina Fuentes at Just Wandering.

8 comments:

Selen said...

can't read anything because of the background picture...

The Turkish Life said...

I was having the same problem yesterday too but now it seem to be OK. Must be a Blogger bug :(

Selen said...

Yeah must be a bug, it seems to be fixed now...
I've managed to read a lot of pages of your blog already :D

Tamara Colloff-Bennett said...

Thanks for sharing your honest feelings about both sides of the coin involved with traveling and living overseas, I appreciated your honesty as I read your post.

I've lived overseas in several countries for more than 17 years now, and like you - I've experienced disparate feelings about it. Such is life too, I think??

And I think it's the point you made that we take ourselves on the whole journey as well.

By the way, I've never been to Turkey, I have heard it's lovely...

The Turkish Life said...

Many thanks, Tamara. I think you're right too -- as we say here, "hayat böyle," or "life's like that."

Turkey *is* lovely -- you should try it sometime!

jedilost said...

when i was a teenager, and also in my early 20s, i had a lot of friends who were dreaming to go abroad and live there. mainly USA, and Italy, and some other European countries. most of those guys hated the life they had here in Turkey and were hoping for a brighter one in where ever they choose to migrate.

i always found the idea non-realistic, believing that you can never run away from yourself. ok, i agree that life in Turkey might be far worse than western countires when it comes to modern life luxuries, but i never thought this would change the quality of the life you have. and it doesn't really matter where you are. you are always you, and you'll meet good people and bad people where ever you go.

so i guess your post somehow proves me right. but, since i never tried to live in another country, i always envied who had the courage to do that.

qaminante said...

LOL - wherever you go, there you are!

The Turkish Life said...

Belated thanks for the thoughtful comment, @jedilost. I do get a lot of people here quizzically asking, "But why did you come to Turkey? We all want to go somewhere else!"

We all go places for different reasons, of course, and sometimes you just need to find out the obvious for yourself...