Friday, 3 September 2010

English conversation

I miss having good, intelligent conversations with other English people.   OK I have conversations with people on the internet, which I enjoy, but it's not quite the same.

In all the other areas where we have lived in Turkey I have made friends with other British people living here.  I've always avoided the "ex-pat cliques"...those of you living abroad will know what I mean.  Those groups of foreigners who stick together  and who don't make any attempt to integrate. I can't stand the way they attempt to make a little Britain out of their part of Turkey.  They lead their lives in their British ghettos as if they are still on holiday, and moan about everything Turkish.   But I've always managed to find like-minded people to get together with for a coffee and a chat.

The last 18 months of living in this village has been quite lonely at times, with Mr Ayak away and no other foreigners for miles around.  It's just as well I enjoy my own company most of the time.

Last week at the hotel I met an English couple and their daughter from Suffolk.  There have only been a handful of British people staying there this season, so to hear an English voice is quite rare.  We hit it off immediately.  We all had so much in common....and chatted happily for hours. 

My good friend Pauline, who was one of the first people I met when I moved to Turkey, had at that time lived here for 10 years.  Due to personal circumstances she had to sell up and move back to England. That was six years ago.  However we kept in touch and I visited her occasionally on my trips to England.  I discovered a few weeks ago that she was coming over for a short holiday to stay in Turgutreis where we lived at the time, her first visit since she left.  So we arranged to meet up in Bodrum on Wednesday.  She insisted on treating me to lunch which was lovely.  We sat down in the restaurant at 12 noon, and were still chatting at 5pm.   Doesn't time fly when you have so much to talk about!

Yesterday was the last day of the holiday for the people from Suffolk, and they told Mr A that they would love it if I could get over again to see them before they left.   So I went over yesterday, and again we spent hours chatting.  We said our goodbyes, swapped email addresses, and promised to keep in touch.  And I think we will...they are just so nice.

So this week has satisfied my hunger for English conversation. 

I have another friend who lives in England but also has a home in Selçuk.  She is due over here next week.   She always comes to visit me in the village for a day or two, so I have that to look forward to.

We take our daily interactions with people of the same nationality very much for granted.  It's not until you lose this that you realise how important it is. Having hours of wonderful conversation has really lifted my spirits in what has, in all other respects, been quite a difficult week. 


  1. I do understand about people living in different cultures who stay in a little huddle, not integrating.

    I think that is why there is just a bit of hostility in England about overseas second & third generations insisting on staying in little ghettos and not making any attempt to integrate with us at all.

    I am so pleased that you aren't like this (I never thought you were because from your blog it is obvious that you live like the locals do.)
    It is very necessary though to keep in touch with your own culture so the meetings with good friends is essential to your wellbeing.
    What a pity Pauline had to move away.
    Wishing you more opportunities to meet likeminded British people.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  2. AM so glad you got to chat with peeps and see your friend. I often wonder how u manage cos I know it can be lonely. I too didnt fall into the english ex pats stuff when i lived in spain. I can never understand why people move to another country and dont embrace the culture and language. I was lucky that I did have an english friend but I also made good friends with a Norwegian Lady and I was also lucky that my spanish neighbour took me under her wing. xx

  3. Maggie and Bomb...I agree with you both. It is important to embrace the language and culture when you move to a different country...but at the same time not losing your own identity. I've always managed to find like-minded friends amongst the ex-pat communities..simply because they behave differently..they don't join in the coffee mornings and boozy evenings,and huddle together. They tend to detach themselves and like me, look out for people like them. I've made a new friend today...a Turkish woman who speaks perfect English...more in my next post!

  4. Second attempt to leave a comment - it all went pear shaped before.

    I know exactly how you are feeling because this is just how I used to feel back in France. When one finally meets a like-minded soul that speaks one's language it is the best possible feeling in the (isolated) world.

    Glad you've got a new buddy though

  5. When I first moved to Lucknow 16 years ago, I couldn't find anyone from the British Isles anywhere. But there is a convent here with it's mother house in Ireland and some Irish nuns were there at that time. I met them at Mass and we became good friends. The Irish nuns are all retired or have passed away. I miss them!

  6. However much you try and integrate and make friendships in your adopted country, it's still pretty difficult to have a proper, meaningful conversation unless you're fluent in the language. I agree with you, it's lovely to have a good chat in your native tongue!

  7. FF: The comments problem seems to be sorted again now...its all to do with reverting widgets..haha whatever that means!

    Its not always easy to find likeminded people amongst the expats but when you do it's great.

    Gaelikaa: Oh I'm sure you do miss them. I only realised how much I missed my friends when I moved to this village.

    Jan: Yes it certainly is!

  8. I do know what you mean.
    When I see my dear friend 'the old biddy', it is a delight just to natter.
    We are on the same wavelength, out of the expat colony world...for which she has much more tolerance than I can muster, but then she is a much kinder person...and we can have all the silly giggles that make life bubble.

    E mails exchanged with her are great too, but it's not the same!

  9. Fly: Yes it's the silly giggles too. Somehow the humour can be lacking in conversation with people other than your own nationality.


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