Sunday, March 23, 2014

Going to the Mall and Expat Life

Cam had a fifteen minute errand for work one Monday earlier this month.  Unfortunately it was a ninety minute drive from our house.  Fortunately, at least for me, he was willing to drop the kids and I at the mall in Tekirdag.  A Turkish mall is much like a Canadian mall.  There is a movie theatre, food fare, grocery story, hardware store. tech store (or two), a toy store, arcade and lots of clothing and shoe stores. There were no North American movies showing at the theatre, so we planned to eat and shop and hang out.

There were two nice surprises in our day though.  One was that on the main floor, a sport organization had set up a skating rink and was giving local children lessons.  That was fun to watch and though I hoped our kids would leap at the opportunity to skate, there wasn't really an opening in the arena's schedule!

There seemed to be some pretty decent skaters among the teachers.

A group of boys are waiting while the girls are on the ice.

The boys resting in the massage chairs.

The other surprise was that the wife of a colleague of Cam's from one of the service companies Cam employees, agreed to meet the kids and I for lunch. She and her husband have been expats for almost ten years and have literally lived all over the world.  It was interesting to hear her stories and get a peek into how the other half lives.

The company her husband works for and others like it have many North American and European expats working for them.  This means there is a built in infrastructure to deal with expat needs.The companies have a system for dealing with the housing, medical, and even the recreational needs of their expat employees.  The other positive side is that when a new family arrives in the city, there are other expats to ask the questions that the company can't answer.  Where can I buy my favourite brand of ...? Where do you get your hair cut ...? Which butcher has the cuts of beef my family likes ...? It makes us envious since we've had to figure those things out entirely on our own.

The downside of their experience, from my perspective, is that their tenure in any country is temporary.  Because of the demands of the work, they can't elect to stay in places they are enjoying. Every couple of years they move on to new countries, new cultures, new languages and new friendships. The other downside is that there is no pressure to learn the language or get to know anyone outside of the company. 

In our situation; when this particular work is complete; we expect to return to Canada and take up more or less where we left off.  We will have been able to more than scratch the surface of the culture, its history and people. While I can't say we have made any life long Turkish friends, yet,we have begun to be acquainted with the locals. 

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