Welcome To Turkey-Land: First Impressions Of A New Ex-Pat

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


The general consensus is that Istanbul is amazing. “What? Wait. You’re going to Istanbul? OH. MY. GOD. I am so freaking JEAL-OUS!”. You almost just have to whisper the word ”Constantinople” in a room for people to start spontaneously orgasming all over the shop.

Presumably it is fairly un-PC to say, therefore, that for the moment at least, I’m not the biggest fan. I’m not sure quite what I was expecting, but I think it involved a few more turrets, more old men with no teeth sitting on carpets and rather less being cold.

There are some gems I’ve seen so far, indeed, and I fully expect — and hope — to look back on this post in a month’s time and shake my head in shame at this naive version of myself. For the moment, however, I have decided to give myself a little bit of space to be a moaning and disillusioned Brit.

I moved here from London just over a week ago to work for an English-speaking daily newspaper here, based in the ”Media Towers”  located about 45 minutes into the city’s boomburb. The publication has a large staff based between here and the capital city, Ankara, with a small number from the U.S. or the U.K. The best thing about the office so far, apart from the stunning view of some large industrial cranes and the airport, is the free gym.

On first impressions, it looked like a perfectly respectable example of a workplace fitness facility. Upon closer inspection, however, this stuff could have come out of the Ark. As I attempted to rev the treadmill — last used by Noah himself — into some semblance of life, an elderly man materialized behind me, hailing from roughly the same era.

From his rather frantic gestures, I gathered that he was keen to show me round. This quickly turned into him putting me through one of the most grueling workouts I have ever had. It is remarkable how much pointing and shouting will drive you into pushing yourself to extent that you emerge, an hour-and-a-half later, with your spine partially dislocated, limbs incapable of anything but the most basic of movements and a sense of absolute accomplishment.

At least if Istanbul doesn’t win my heart I’ll leave with a smashing six pack (and potentially an ancient Armenian body-builder).

By Hannah Bowman


About the Author

HannahBowmanBioPicA restless Brit with big dreams and limited cash flow, Hannah is an English graduate and former Publicist who has spent the past 18 months living and working in Central America. You can follow her wanderings at TheTangerineRidiculousness.com.

  • I’m currently piecing together a year of travel and Istanbul is at the top of my list right now as somewhere to stay possibly long-term. (I’ve actually been looking for writing jobs with English publications as well!) I hope you’ll continue to write about your experiences there and I’ll certainly be looking for your updated opinion post:)

  • Istanbul is great, but just for a visit with a company, not caring about crowds…but stopping there – nah…we stayed in a small quiet place in this country and loved it, without worying about anything

  • Marié

    We visited Istanbul recently and was also a bit disappointed. I think the city is so overcrowded with people that you don’t experience the value of the best of the city… We got very tired struggling to find place on the tram/metro, try to walk on a Sunday through hordes of people enjoying their own city :-)
    Anyway, so yes, I do have sympathy with your first impressions!

  • Anonymous

    Interesting first impression. I think it’s always a little weird when you first arrive somewhere (whether it’s to live or to visit), and it always takes a little time to find what makes that place “tick.” It’s a common refrain, but one ex-pats and visitors seems to always use: They city/country grew on me.

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