Tag Archives: expat

Why I’m traveling with my baby

This week, Vera and I came back from a few days in London to see friends and get a little dose of Christmas (it turns out, 3 days of pre-holiday shoppers and relentless Christmas music is plenty). The UK is country #6 for my baby who is not yet five months of age, and I’m already itching to plan another trip. On each flight, a fellow passenger or flight attendant will ask, “Is this her first flight?” and I respond proudly that it’s her 12th and counting. When I talk to people about traveling with the baby, I’m often met with reactions that indicate I must be insane, reckless, or just selfish. These are all valid points, but so far Vera is a very healthy and happy baby, and I hope to keep traveling as long as she remains so. I’m paranoid about ever being the mother-with-the-crying-baby on a plane so I watch her like a hawk for signs of distress and I’ve been lucky so far to have a nearly perfectly-behaved baby (it helps that all I can really do with her is feed and hold her, which are her favorite activities) on each flight. Occasionally, I doubt my own sanity and decision-making when I’m walking around a foreign city late at night with a crying baby, taking a cross-border bus with no adult help, or trying to  juggle a stroller and a suitcase while nursing and walking, but I have no real regrets.

So, in case you wondered, why the hell am I dragging my baby around the world?

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Expat lesson learned: there’s a Turk for that

The most striking thing I’ve found about living in Turkey is not so much the east-meets-west cliche, but the fact that the modern world and the old school of doing things coexist. While I can order food delivery online, you still see many Turks lowering baskets into the streets and getting passersby to go on a beer run (okay, more likely an Ayran run) for them. I can shop or eat at nearly any multi-national chain, though there are also tons of tea houses women haven’t entered in decades and shops that have probably have been running in the red for as many years. I’ve also learned that nearly any task or errand can and will be performed by a specialist with a job description that you may not find anywhere else. No matter what you need done, chances are, there’s a Turk for that. Continue reading

Knocked up abroad: into the home stretch

If you’ve been following me on any sort of medium that I update regularly, you’ll know that I’m expecting a baby here in July (just under 7 weeks away now!). H and I haven’t quite decided on what to call this baby girl yet, referring to her as Rasputina or the Young Turkess (though she’ll be as Turkish as I am, which is to say, not at all). I’ve been documenting the pregnancy on Gadling on a series of posts called “Knocked Up Abroad,” a name inspired by our favorite documentary series ever and conceived long before the actual baby. Here’s a recap of the posts so far:

As I head into the home stretch and don’t have any further travel on the horizon, I’m debating on what to post next. I’ll have plenty to share about childbirth and traveling with a young baby (we are already planning trips when she’s 6 and 10 weeks) but not for another few months. My third-trimester travel consists mostly of subway rides to the grocery store, though the Southeast Asia trip was right on the cusp of seven months. I’ve yet to do any actual baby shopping as I haven’t decided on what we need and it’s baffling enough for a first-timer, let alone in a foreign language, but that might come up. Also have been thinking about attitudes toward pregnant women and babies in various countries (Turks LOVE the babies, New Yorkers can’t be bothered to give you a subway seat and sigh loudly at the sight of a stroller), though I’m reluctant to start any debate after reading all the hateful comments on my first post. Anything you’d like to read about being pregnant abroad?

Expat lesson learned: pantomime and broken Turkish

I’m going to ignore my many pending posts and excuses about not blogging and just post about a typical Istanbul experience. Months ago, Husband got the bright idea to apply for a mortgage refinance on our Brooklyn apartment. Due to annoying coop rules about subletting, it has been sitting empty since we left in April and with lower interest rates, he figured it would be a good way to save some money on the place while we’re away in Turkey. With visions of a few hundred dollars more in my bank account each month, I agreed and applied online through our bank. A few weeks after getting approved for the lower interest loan, I received a letter by email outlining the many pieces of paperwork I’d need to provide the bank, and then realized my coop board would require even more. Thus became the first of many times in which I burst into tears of frustration over the refi.

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Staying connected in Turkey

New calling cards by the amazing Brooklyn Limestone.

Since I started thinking about my pending Istanbul move, after the initial excitement subsided, panic began to set in. How will I find English-language books to read?! Will I have to give up my beloved Android smartphone and my constant connection to Google?! How will I watch the final season of Lost?! I’ve spent weeks researching and pondering solutions and welcome any advice or input.

Books: Kindle or traditional?

I tend to read a lot, a book or two a week, and while that might change as I won’t have 1 hour+ commuting time anymore, I need access to new reading material regularly. Magazines and newspapers I can read online on my laptop, but books are another story. While I’m sure Istanbul has a few English-language bookshops, not sure how the selection and pricing will be, plus I don’t want to be amassing books while I’m living abroad. Kindle is the only e-reader you can use outside the US (to my knowledge) as long as you download on a computer with a US billing address and I’d appreciate the ability to carry multiple books (especially guidebooks) while traveling. Looking at pros/cons of each, I’m still undecided:

  • Kindle pros: large selection, low per-unit price, convenient for traveling, and no buildup of physical books. Cons: high initial price, not the same as actual books, unsure of technology and “feel,” and what if it gets lost or stolen?!
  • Book pros: Proven technology, English-language bookstore or exchange = instant community, no entry cost might add up to less over time, better reading experience. Cons: Higher per book price, less convenient to acquire and smaller selection.

(Legal) ways to watch American TV

I won’t be ashamed to admit I like TV, and I can get over the loss of DVR and set times that I expect to watch shows, but I’ve invested a few years in Lost and need to know how it ends. Also need to see how tragic the new Jersey Shore in Miami will end up. Not to mention 30 Rock, The Office, and the myriad Law & Order-type procedural dramas I watch. So I look to the internet to recommend the following:

  • Websites to download/watch shows outside of the US like Hulu (which doesn’t work abroad)
  • Long-running TV shows I can watch on DVD and pretend they are new. I’m catching up now with season 2 of Breaking Bad and working my way through Freaks & Geeks.

Phone and internet without roaming

H. and I both have T-Mobile’s myTouch Android phones and love the ability to use the internet, Gmail, Google Maps, and other fine products offered by Google. We can unlock our phones and go with Wi-Fi, but I need to read up on the finer points of buying SIM cards in Turkey, I’ve heard things that they limit the time you can use a foreign phone. I’ve set up a Google Voice number that can forward all calls to another number or just be used as voicemail in order to put on my personal “calling” cards shown above and can use Nimbuzz to use Skype on the actual mobile phone device, but welcome other ideas/tips/problems.