One of the most interesting things about telling people you’re leaving the country is seeing their differing responses.
Reaction has varied from “Gosh, how exciting – good for you” (our daughter’s headteacher) through to “What about me?” (one of our respective parents).
There are also widely varying opinions and beliefs about our destination, Turkey.
Anyone who watched Rageh Omaar’s excellent BBC television series, The Ottomans, has seen how the country has developed, how it’s become westernised, and the part that Islam, Christianity and secularism have all played in its history to date.
Turkey is keen to enter the EU and it’s been announced that talks will resume on this next month, but many people still seem to see it as “backward”. I’ve been asked whether “they” have the internet, hospitals, even running water. One of my aunts is convinced I’ll have to wear a burka.
To be honest, other people’s opinions don’t bother me. They might imagine I’m living in a shack with mud on the floor and goats roaming through whatever passes for my kitchen, but I know that’s not the reality. Yes, there’ll be power cuts. We’ll have to drink bottled water, certainly to start with. My high-speed fibre-optic broadband will be distant memory. It won’t be like living in the UK…..but then that’s kind of the point.
What’s harder is explaining to your parent that, while you understand they don’t want you to go, it’s a decision that’s been made and no amount of playing up or sulking is going to change your mind. We’re not doing it to ‘get away’ from them and we’re not abandoning anybody. We’re doing it because it’s the best thing for us and our own lives, and because we want to.
There’s a school of thought that believes you should stick around and be there for your parents as they get older. There’s another that says you should seize every opportunity while you can, because it might not be there later on.
We’re in the second camp. This was always our long-term plan and in all honesty it is happening sooner than expected. Part of the reason for changing our minds is realising that we shouldn’t wait – “one day” might never come.
We hope our families can understand that.