Carmel in Istanbul

I’m here!!!! 

I landed at Istanbul Airport. The flight was fairly uneventful. But, the food was soooo good!!  I asked for thirds.

I have no idea what the nice lady sitting next to me said during most of the flight. Her name was Inci. I’m pretty sure I agreed to go to her house for dinner this weekend. I think. Mert told me to not just nod and smile when people are saying things I’m unsure about. But, she’s so nice.

He met me at the airport. He’s so sweet. He looks just like his pictures. Tall, wavy blonde/brown hair, muscular build, like a swimmer and teeth that are so white they don’t look quite real. He’s absolutely gorgeous.

 I pointed at Inci and said by butchering her name, “This is Inci! I was sitting next to her on the flight. She’s so nice. We spoke the whole flight.” I think she’s invited me over for dinner. I’m not quite sure. “

Inci had been standing next to me. She was waiting for her husband and kids to pick her up. Mert bent down, kissed the back of her right hand and then respecfully placed his forehad on the back of her hand. This is the customary way to greet your elderly in Turkey. Awww he’s gorgeous and has good manners.

He then gave me a hug, grabbed my arms, stood back and said, “Look at you cilgin kiz! You look just like you.”

I’m assuming this is a good thing. He also smells so good. I love Turkey.

Mert looked at me and asked, “Did you actually speak with each other? Or did she speak to you in Turkish and you smiled and nodded in agreement?”

I said, “Well, it was mostly her. But, she has such a kind smile and she made eating motions, while looking at me and pointing from her to me.”

Mert looked at, a still very smiley, Inci and spoke to her in Turkish.

”Merhaba Inci hanım. Benim adım Mert Demir. Carmel’in arkadaşıyım. Sanırım Carmel sizi yanlış anladı ve ne dediğini pek bilmiyor. Ona yolculuktan ӧnce uçakta anlamadan herşeye başını sallamamasını sӧylemiştim ama beni dinlememiş sanırım. Herhalde kulaklarımı duymuyor nedir. Neyse, sizin onu evinize davet ettiğinizi sanıyor. Eminim yanlış anladı sizi”

Inci said “Evet, tabii ki davet ettim oğlum. Uçakta ӧyle çok yedi ki, zavallı herhalde çok aç kalmış diye düşündüm. Uçakta üçüncü tabağını isteyeni hiç gӧrdünüz mü siz?”

Mert said ”Tamam Inci hanim, eminim iyi kendisi. Merak etmeyin ben aç bırakmam onu. Bir de herşeye kafa sallamamayı ӧğrense iyi olacak”

Inci said “Pekala, umarım güzel ülkemizi sever. Bari hemen yemeğe gӧtürün zavallıyı”.

Mert shook his head and said “Tabii gӧtürürüm”. 

Inci smiled at me, hugged me and said in Turkish, “Güle güle güzel çocuk. Umarım bol bol yemek yersin” And with a funny look on her face she winked, “ve kafanı ӧyle herşeye sallamayı da bırakırsın“.

I hugged her and nodded yes to whatever it was she said. I’m sure it was very nice.

We walked out of the airport into the cold bright parking area. It’s such a nice sunny day. A bit cold. But, I love it. The wind blew my hair into my face when I pushed it away from my eyes

Mert had stopped walking and stood next to a car that looked more expensive than my school loans totaled. 


I heard a beep and the trunk popped open and placed my bags inside. 

I’ve never been in anything so luxurious in my life. You can smell the leather. There were so many buttons it looked like the cockpit in an airplane.


I asked, “Is this your car?” 

He said, “I hope so. But, just in case, maybe we should drive off really fast.” 


As we drove out of the parking lot I ran my fingers along the dashboard and started to touch the buttons that looked like they may be controls for the radio.

Mert took my hand gently in his right hand and said, “Don’t touch that.” With a smile. If I wasn’t so overly stimulated by all of the knobs and leather, the very large sun roof and his very soft hands, I would be miffed. His hands don’t look like they’ve ever done a day’s work. Wow.


 We merged onto the highway.


I asked, ” Are we going to Nisantasi?” 

Mert said, “Since that’s where you’ll be living, I thought it was a good idea to drive there.” 

I noticed a slight laugh when he said that. Sometimes, I’m not sure if he’s a tad bit rude, sarcastic or making a joke. 


I said, “Well since I’ll be staying near Nisantasi I guess it’s a good idea then. hmpt. It’s supposed to be very nice and upscale. I’ll be able to walk to the English speaking school I’ll be working at.” Do you know how to get there?”


With another smirk, he’s also smirky. If that’s a word. I don’t think it is but, it should be.


 Mert said, “We’re going to leave the airport and take the Kemerburgaz ramp to Istanbul. We’ll then continue onto the D020, make a slight left onto Hasdal Kemerburgaz Yolu D020. At some point we’ll be turning right onto Taskisla. Should I keep going? Would you like to help navigate?” 


More of that smirking and a bit too loud laughter. 

“No thank you,” I said. 


He asked, “What is the name of the English speaking school?”

I said, “English Speaking School.” 

“That’s original! If you get lost you can tell someone where you work.” 

And for some reason, he thought it wasn’t rude to start laughing. Again. 

I started to explain why it’s called that and then noticed the music started to get louder and louder. I think it was to cover his laughter. 

He lifted his fingers to his lips and said, “shhh listen to the nice music.”


And with that, he opened the sunroof, turned up the music and drove. Too fast.




Hande Yener- Askin Atesi


Mustafa Sandal – Araba

My adventure begins!

Today is the day! I’m leaving everything and everyone I know. I’m excited yet, terrified. I want everything to work out. But, if it doesn’t, I know I can always come home.

I’ve traveled out of the country before. But, I’ve never lived out of the country.

My parents dropped me off at the airport.  They made sure that I had everything I needed. My passport, camera, money, credit card and house keys. The house keys are just in case I come back, unexpectedly, and need to let myself in. I’m sure I’ll be fine. I’m also sure that I would be calling for them to send me money and buy me a plane ticket. So, no need to worry about me not being able to let myself in.

Before I got out of the car by mother said I can come back whenever I get scared.

My father said that it will be an adventure and don’t be scared.  He said, “Life is about living. Go and have an adventure. New people, places, food and not knowing what each day will bring. That’s what life is about. And in case the adventure gets scary, here’s some pepper spray sweetie.”

I said, “Dad, I don’t think it’s a good thing to bring pepper spray on the airplane. It would be considered a very bad thing to bring pepper spray on an airplane.”

With that, I handed it back to my dad, kissed him and said, “Güle güle baba!”

From behind me, I heard him say, “What the hell did she just say, Mary?”

My mother said, “I heard gooly gooly baba. I have no idea what any of that means dear. It’s like a foreign language.”

My dad said, “I’m pretty sure it’s a foreign language considering she’s going to a foreign country dear. Jesus.”

And with that, I got into the line to be searched like a thief in the night and wait for my plane.

Turkey here I come. Please love me the way that I think I’ll love you.


Picture courtesy of @aussiegingersnap

Letter from Mert

Hi Carmel,

I can’t wait for you to get here! I know you will love Turkey. It is the most beautiful place in the world. I may be a bit bias though. You will also love the area that you will be living. Nisantasi. The area is very nice and your English school is down the street from your apartment.

Once you are settled in, I will introduce you to my work mates and best friends. Their names are Beyza, Janset, Fatih and Emre. I have known them all since we were all kids. Fatih and Emre are both very smart, loyal and funny. Janset is as well. Minus the funny part. She takes a bit of time to get used to. But, she’s a good friend, once you get to know her. My friends, will be your friends. They all know English and it will be easy for you to communicate with them. My mother is also looking forward to meeting you. Her name is Belgin. She doesn’t know very much English. But, you’ll manage. She said she wants to take you to play, Okay. It’s a game. You’ll love it!

Make sure to text me as soon as you get on the plane in America and as soon as you land in Istanbul!

Sincerely your best and only friend in Turkey. For now of course.

Mert Demir

Awww, Mert is so sweet. He knows that it’s my first time in Turkey and I’m scared.  I will have to find a way to remember the names of everyone. And learn how to pronounce them. I did try to use a translator that sounds out the words for you. For some reason, I don’t actually believe Fatih is pronounced ‘Fatty’. Nor is Emre pronounced emery. As in an actual emery board. No one is going to name their child after a nail file for goodness sakes. Janset, is close to Janet. Beyza is close to..well Beyza and Belgin like the waffle. Okay! I’m ready! I can do this everyone!

I’m just finishing packing. My plane leaves in a few days. I can’t wait. I’m so scared. What will everyone be like? Will they like me? Will I actually learn Turkish?


For my Turkish readers:


Sevgili Carmel,

Buraya gelmeni dört gözle bekliyorum. Türkiye’yi çok seveceğini biliyorum. Dünyanın en güzel ülkesi. Tabii biraz ön yargılı olabilirim bu konuda. Ayrıca İstanbul’da yaşayacağın semti de çok seveceksin. Nişantaşı.  Çok güzel bir muhit ve çalışacağın ingilizce okuluna da çok yakın.

İyice yerleştikden sonra seni kendi yakın arkaşlarımla da tanıştırırım. İsimleri Beyza, Janset, Fatih ve Emre. Hepsi çocukluk arkadaşlarım.  Fatih ve Emre, ikisi de çok akıllı, sadık ve eğlenceli insanlar. Janset de öyle ama eğlenceli kısmı hariç. Ona alışman biraz zaman alabilir, ama yine de tanıdıkça seveceksin. Benim arkadaşlarım senin de arkadaşın artık. Hepsi ingilizce biliyor ve onlarla iletişim kurman kolay olacak. Annem de senin gelmeni sabırsızlıkla bekliyor. Annemin adı Belgin. Pek fazla ingilizcesi yok ama eminim bir yolunu bulacaksın onunla iletişim kurmanın. Bana geçen gün seni okey oynamaya götüreceğini söyledi. Evet, okey! Buradaki popüler bir oyunun adı. Seveceğinden eminim.   

Amerika’da uçağa biner binmez ve İstanbul’a inince hemen mesaj atmayı unutma.

Sevgiler…Türkiye’deki şimdilik tek ve en iyi arkadaşın.

Mert Demir

photo courtesy of

My first post!!!

Hey! Hello! Hiya! Or should I say….


My name is Carmel and this is my very first post on my very first, and actually only, blog!!!

Why am I starting a blog? Considering I’ve never written anything but emails, texts and very bad( but passable) college papers I would be asking me too.

Anyway, guess who’s moving to Turkey? Me! Carmel Rachel Smith, who’s never been to Turkey. And who doesn’t really know any other languages. Including Turkish. But, I’m slowly learning.

“Merhaba” Hello.  “Tesekkurler” Thank you very much. “Benim Adim Carmel” My name is Carmel. See?!  Slowly, but surely.

When I told my dad this he started laughing hysterically. I do love him. But, sometimes he’s a bit rude.

He asked me why would I move somewhere named after a bird?

Bless his heart. He has traveled quite a bit. So, I’m not sure how why he believes it’s named after a bird. I started to explain that it’s not. But, then he started laughing hysterically again. So, I stopped.

Anyway, I’m starting this blog to commemorate my Turkey Journey. Okay, that made me laugh.

I’ll be leaving next week. I’m quite happy to be moving. I live in some questionable apartments and last night my next door neighbors, Steve and Joe, were killed.

I was speaking to Jack, the guy that lives on the other side of them, today. We’re both so shocked. I knew this place wasn’t very nice. But, this is scary. So, I’m so happy to be leaving.

I’m going to be living in Istanbul to work in an English school. I’ll be working with all ages to teach conversational English. I’m so EXCITED!!!!

I can’t wait to see where I’m staying. Apparently, it’s a great area with lots to do and see. I can’t wait to meet my students, try new foods, go to the Grand Bazaar, take a ferry, meet new and interesting people and actually learn the language and have fun.

I’ll write more about how I got this awesome opportunity soon.

I have to get ready to take some things to my parent’s house to leave while I’m gone.

Have I said how excited I am yet?





picture courtesy of @idkitsjule