Turkey Turkish Asure Noah's Pudding

FOOD: Aşure, a beautiful community tradition

Perhaps you’ve heard the story before: a great evil, a divinely sent flood, and a man with a zoo on a boat. 

It’s one of the oldest stories told, a story that takes many different forms, but what makes it unique is its ubiquity. In every inhabited continent, there is a myth of a great flood: from the Inca’s tale of Pachakuti, to the Mesopotamian story of Gilgamesh, from the strikingly similar stories of Nu’u in Hawaiian mythology, Noah in the Torah, Tumbainot of the Maasai, and Nuh in the Qur’an, to the starkly different stories from the Egyptians, Chinese, Finnish, and Ojibwe

Stories are one of the beautiful things that connects us all as people.

Despite the variety of ways our different cultures play out in the way we tell stories, or even the focus of our stories, this diversity can lead us to see the unifying artistic and creative elements of story-telling. Stories can help us understand one another.  The more we look at the stories we all tell, the more we can see the similarities we share in our experiences and histories. The dish I want to introduce you to today has a similar unifying quality. 

Aşure [pronounced “ah-shoor-eh”] is a Turkish dessert that has its roots in this story of the flood as found in the Qur’an. It is said that when the passengers of the ark were on the brink of starving, Nuh (Noah) mixed together all the leftover grains, nuts, beans and fruit to make what would be dubbed “the oldest dessert.” Together he and the other passengers ate, celebrating the end of the flood, and the next day Allah (God) made the waters of the flood recede.  

Today, while this day is celebrated differently by different sects of Islam, Turks generally share this dessert with neighbors, family, and friends in goodwill and kindness in the Islamic month of Muharram, especially on the 10th day of Muharram [Ashura]. This year, that landed on August 29th. Some Islamic traditions hold that a variety of miracles and divine interactions happened on this day throughout history, including the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. 

Aşure, like the flood narrative itself, is a picture of unity and diversity.

A dessert meant to be shared with neighbors, coworkers, friends and family, aşure is one unified dish made up of surprisingly varied ingredients (like fruit, grains and beans!). Likewise, despite the vast differences in the details of the flood narratives around the world, they all hold a unified history, and are shared from generation to generation. Each tells of a great being acting in response to some provocation to flood the world, leaving a few survivors. While the details of who that great being was, what provoked the flood, who survived, and how they survived differ greatly, those same differences helped create the variety of cultures we see in the world today. 

As easily identifiable markers of culture, food and story-telling have always had this unifying effect. What culturally significant moments do you participate in that involve food and/or story-telling? Is there a holiday that your family celebrates with specific food? Is there a time when neighbors, friends or family gather and share stories of religious, familial, or national significance? Aşure is a religiously significant dish shared with neighbors and friends regardless of their religious background. What’s one way you can invite someone new into your traditions this year?

What’s in Aşure?

Turkey Turkish Asure Noah's Pudding

Aşure is a porridge with a lovely fall taste (similar to cinnamon oatmeal), and a wide variety of textures. if you are an expat in Turkey, you may find yourself easily overwhelmed by the sheer amount you receive from your neighbors. But since it is full of whole grains, beans, and fruit, you can eat this dessert with less guilt than my previous cookie recipes!

The very nature of aşure is that it doesn’t have one specific recipe. Everyone’s aşure is slightly different based on personal taste and what’s on hand. Here are the general categories of the ingredients of aşure, and some options of what you can put in yours. Mix and match! Try some different combinations and let me know in the comments what your favorite is!

  • Grains: Barley, Wheat, bulgur, and/or rice
  • Beans: White beans and/or chickpeas
  • Dried Fruit: Dates, dried figs, dried apricots, dried cranberries, raisins, and/or other dried fruits
  • Seeds + Spices + Seasonings: Anise seed, sesame seeds, black cumin seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, rose water, and/or orange blossom water + a sweetener like honey (one could also use maple syrup, sugar, turbinado, or a sugar substitute like stevia)
  • Nuts: Pine nuts, walnuts, almonds and/or pistachios
  • Fresh Fruit: Pomegranate kernels, orange (or orange peel), lemon (or lemon peel)

Start with soaking the beans, raisins and grain separately overnight. Then cook the beans on the stovetop in water, add the grains, and let it thicken. Then add fruit, spices, and nuts until the porridge comes together. Here are links to some more specific recipes if you struggle not having a specific recipe to work from. 

All Recipes Asure

TurkishFoodie Recipe

Personally, I really enjoy the flavor of aşure. The first few spoonfuls are fascinating as I work my way through the high complexity of textures. But, I can quickly become overwhelmed by the complexity, so I tend to only eat a little at a time. Try making aşure yourself, and tell me what you think! Do you enjoy the complexity of flavors and textures? Which ingredients do you use? 

I hope you make some aşure this fall and winter, and share it with a good story, unifying the people around you.

Now tell me:

What are some ways you bring unity to your community through food and story-telling?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Nia McRay from @Tastes_Like_Turkey

I am a lover of words and stories, student of culture, amateur photographer, adult cross-cultural kid, English tutor to TCKs (Third Culture Kids), and aspiring foodie. We will probably be instant friends if you give me good coffee, invite me to cook with you, or start a conversation with me about personalities, culture, and how the two intersect. I’m a life-long nerd, believer, and creative-in-the-works. I am all about the journey, so traveling and cross-cultural living is always something that has captured my heart and inspired my imagination. 

In 2016, after teaching in an inner-city school and needing a change of pace, I spent a year abroad in Izmir, Turkey with a friend. I absolutely fell in love with the city and the people. The conveniences of a big city with a friendly, slow-pace-of-life atmosphere is all found between the mountains and the sea. What’s not to love? So, after my year of adventure, I knew I wanted to come back to Izmir to live. 

Positioned on the perch of Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, Turkey is both a mix of cultures, and a unique culture all its own. The more I learn, the more I want to learn, and this desire to learn is what drives me to write. As a pretty quiet person, I write to learn, to discover, and to process. As someone who grew up in a cross-cultural context, Turkey’s diversity and mix of cultures is something I personally relate to. Plus, if you’ve ever tasted Turkish food, you know that it is definitely something to write home about. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the Funks’ blog and to grow and learn in the process.

TasteslikeTurkey NiaMcRay Izmir Turkey Çay Tea Time

CULTURE: Tea Time in Turkey

When I lean out on my balcony and listen to the sounds of Izmir, they are abundant.

I hear the stray dogs in the park outside my apartment barking, chasing cars. I hear the call to prayer, echoing across the valley, the melodies bouncing between the mountains. I hear the breeze off the sea, rustling leaves. I hear the sound of children playing, of car horns, of stray cats screeching.

Above it all, a light tinkling sound, like a windchime. Like the uncontrollable laughter of fairies, or the ringing of a distant silver bell comes the sound I’ve come to love the most: the sound of çay [pronounced the same as “chai”] spoons clinking against the glass as people stir the sugar into their tea. It is the school bell for life lessons, the gong for heated debates, the signal that work has paused, and the doorbell for the gateway to new relationships to be opened.

TasteslikeTurkey NiaMcRay Izmir Turkey Çay Tea Time

Çay and Hospitality Culture in Turkey

Hoş geldiniz! In Turkish, that’s “You have arrived pleasantly” or simply, “Welcome!” As a westerner living in Turkey, the most impactful difference in culture for me has been the idea of hospitality, which can start with this simple phrase. In the States, someone is hospitable if they invite you over and offer you something to eat or drink, or if they bring you a meal when you are going through a rough time.

The idea of hospitality runs much deeper in Turkey. It is an attitude about time that is driven from a heart bent toward hospitality. Hospitality doesn’t have to be something meticulously planned out (although it certainly can be!). Rather, a posture of hospitality is one open to connecting with people in meaningful ways, allowing one’s schedule to be interrupted for the sake of the person in front of you.

TasteslikeTurkey NiaMcRay Izmir Turkey Çay Tea Time

Few things exemplify this as much as çay zamanı, or tea time, in Turkey.

Tea is quite possibly the easiest thing to find in Turkey. Here in Izmir, as you walk along the seaside, tea sellers call out loudly, letting you know you can stop them and get a hot cup. Every restaurant, every café has it. It is a must-have when picnicking or grilling out with friends and family. Everyone drinks a few glasses at breakfast, and it’s almost as important as a smoke break during work. It is a staple in the home. In fact, Turks drink more tea per capita than any other country in the world. Yes, an average Turk drinks more tea than the Chinese, British, or Irish by far.

On average one person will drink the tea from nearly 7 pounds of tea leaves each year! I have heard from several people here: “Oh, yes. I drink up to 20 cups of çay each day.” Of course, not everyone drinks twenty glasses each day, but it is such a plentiful drink here, it is easy to see how one could easily do so.

Çay is one of the drinks of hospitality in Turkey. If you are invited to someone’s home, expect to be offered çay. If you finish your meal at a restaurant, a complimentary glass of çay will be brought to everyone at your table so that your conversation can continue.  If you stop by a shop and start up a conversation with the shopkeeper, he will offer you to sit wherever may be possible in the cramped space, and bring you an hourglass-shaped cup of çay on an ornate saucer with a tiny spoon and one or two sugar cubes alongside it. In fact, I haven’t entered a rug shop where I was not offered a glass of the deep red drink as the owner pulled out rug after rug of various designs, reading my eyes to narrow down his display to designs I gravitated towards.

This is how Turkish society runs: fueled by tea. Even though it is highly caffeinated, the calming effects of tea make this drink, and the culture it inhabits, a “slow down, have a sip, stay a while” atmosphere. When you are offered a cup of çay, you are invited to slow your busyness and truly be with those around you.

Over a strong and flavorful glassful, you may find yourself sharing stories from your childhood before you’ve exchanged names with your fellow drinker. There is something beautiful and deeply human about sharing a moment in which a stranger becomes an acquaintance – or even a friend. Most of the experiences I’ve had like that in Turkey have been over a glass of çay. It’s actually the most-drunk beverage in the country, besides water. And though this is a common experience today, this wasn’t always the case.

History of Tea in Turkey

Of course, as Turkey has been the connector between east and west for most of history, located in the most crucial area of the silk road, tea has been moving through Turkey for over two millennia. Surprisingly, however, tea did not become a part of everyday Turkish life until the early twentieth century when the government made efforts to grow the crop in northern Turkey where tea production now booms.

Rize, one of the three major tea-producing cities of Turkey that borders the Black Sea, is home to 60% of tea production in the country, which supplies about 260,000 tons of that lovely leaf per year. Due to the demand for tea domestically, very little is exported, despite Turkey being the fifth largest producer of tea world-wide. So, if you are looking for some of that famous Rize çay, it may be hard to find outside of the country.

If you do find some, however, you’ll want to brew it right.

How Turkish Tea is Brewed:

One of the most unique things about Turkish tea compared to its counterpart in other countries is the way it is brewed. Firstly, it is brewed in a double-boiler kettle called a çaydamlık. The bottom kettle is filled with water, and the smaller, top kettle is filled with the dry black tea leaves. As the water in the bottom kettle boils, it slowly roasts the tea leaves, and you can smell the rich flavor. Once the water has boiled, water from the bottom kettle is added to the tea leaves to steep while the bottom kettle continues to boil. This creates a dark tea concentrate in the top kettle.

TasteslikeTurkey NiaMcRay Izmir Turkey Çay Tea Time

When my Turkish tutor taught me how to correctly brew tea, I got the sense that she deemed this one of the more important cultural lessons she would give me. Indeed, it has become a useful skill to have. I have found that there is never a wrong time or season to make a çaydamlık full of çay and be ready to invite someone to have several glasses with you.

The çay is then served in an hourglass-shaped cup that is reminiscent of the Ottoman tulip. Traditionally the çay concentrate is poured to the top of the “hips” of the glass, or even to the middle of the “waist” of the glass (depending on how strong you want your tea). The rest of the glass is filled with boiling water. Even diluted by the water, the tea is pretty strong. As these traditional glasses have no handle, one of the skills that must be acquired quickly by the Westerner in Turkey is the ability to hold a hot glass filled with freshly steeped tea by the rim and sip from it.

TasteslikeTurkey NiaMcRay Izmir Turkey Çay Tea Time

There is a variety of ways to take one’s çay: light-colored, medium, or very dark (also called rabbit’s blood for the dark red color), with or without sugar (stirred into your tea with those dainty spoons, or, like some older folks like to do, stuck between your front teeth or in your cheek), even sometimes with lemon, but never with milk.

However you take your çay, remember to take the moment to slow down, enjoy someone else’s company, and have a few glasses. For, as the Turkish adage goes, “conversations without tea are like a night sky without the moon.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Nia McRay from @Tastes_Like_Turkey

I am a lover of words and stories, student of culture, amateur photographer, adult cross-cultural kid, English tutor to TCKs (Third Culture Kids), and aspiring foodie. We will probably be instant friends if you give me good coffee, invite me to cook with you, or start a conversation with me about personalities, culture, and how the two intersect. I’m a life-long nerd, believer, and creative-in-the-works. I am all about the journey, so traveling and cross-cultural living is always something that has captured my heart and inspired my imagination. 

In 2016, after teaching in an inner-city school and needing a change of pace, I spent a year abroad in Izmir, Turkey with a friend. I absolutely fell in love with the city and the people. The conveniences of a big city with a friendly, slow-pace-of-life atmosphere is all found between the mountains and the sea. What’s not to love? So, after my year of adventure, I knew I wanted to come back to Izmir to live. 

Positioned on the perch of Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, Turkey is both a mix of cultures, and a unique culture all its own. The more I learn, the more I want to learn, and this desire to learn is what drives me to write. As a pretty quiet person, I write to learn, to discover, and to process. As someone who grew up in a cross-cultural context, Turkey’s diversity and mix of cultures is something I personally relate to. Plus, if you’ve ever tasted Turkish food, you know that it is definitely something to write home about. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the Funks’ blog and to grow and learn in the process.

FunkTravels Eski Foca

TURKEY: A Day Trip to Eski Foça – Lookbook

Northwest of Izmir along the Aegean coastline, Eski Foça is named for the now endangered Mediterranean monk seals which also are the town’s mascot.  

Like Alaçatı or Urla, Foça is an easy day trip from Izmir. We visited Foça for the first time with Turkish friends. This last summer we enjoyed a day boating with friends off the coastline near there. (Make sure to check out our video from our long day of boating!)

Several local companies offer boat tours that will take passengers closer to the island of the seals for approximately 50 Turkish Liras which includes lunch. While our recent tour was a private one, it was no less fun! 

Most people go to Foça for the day mostly to walk along the u-shaped bay area crowded with fishing boats.  The town is known for it’s clear, cold waters that can be enjoyed in the town near all the restaurants.

Another well-known past-time is choosing a water-front restaurant among the renovated historical, yet charming, Ottoman-Greek houses. While all Turkish food is delicious, the meze, or appetizers, and fish are the best options to get in Foca.

One of these days I will update this post with all the things to do in Foça, but for now, enjoy our lookbook and picture yourself in this town on a beautiful, sunny day!

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

FunkTravels Eski Foca

We want to hear from you!

Did you enjoy this Lookbook of Foça?

Have you been to Foça, Turkey?

What did you love when you traveled to Foça?

Like it? Share it or pin it for later!

2017 FunkTravels Catie Funk Singapore Fisherman's Wharf

GOING HOME SERIES: 6 ways to make your expat visit ‘home’ more enjoyable (Part 1)

If this is your first time living in another country, you maybe find yourself going through reverse culture shock when you return home. It is possible that feelings of frustrations and bitterness towards friends and family who may not have kept up with your life abroad.  You may also find it hard to explain the culture and life you have lived in for the last year. Because culture and questions about everyday life usually overshadow the conversations, the harder it will be sharing the deeper more meaningful moments that happened to you. In addition, personally, I have found the longer you live abroad, the less you want to talk about the small details of culture anyways.

Because culture and questions about everyday life usually overshadow the conversations, the harder it will be sharing the deeper more meaningful moments . Click To Tweet

If you are just wanting to prepare for a better return trip to your native country, preparation is key. Know that you are returning back to your native home where life has moved on without you. While you may consider your transition to be harder or greater, remember that your friends and family have also conquered their own battles. And if they have never visited your new home (or traveled much), the questions may be harder to form. Generally, the offense is unintentional.

While you may consider your transition to be harder or greater, remember that your friends and family have also conquered their own battles Click To Tweet

With preparation, expats can adjust their expectations of their friends and family back home. With even more prep, they can adjust expectations of themselves and how to help the conversations move toward the direction they need as well. 

2017 FunkTravels Catie Funk Singapore Cruise Tour

Here are 6 ways you can help those back ‘home’ understand better:

  1. Think of what questions they will ask you when you get back. (ex. What is the best and worst thing about living overseas, etc.)

Much to Jason’s sadness, I am a reflector and evaluator – see here and here (link to review post). I love setting goals even if I can’t achieve them. I like to see what we have done over the past year. All this means that we do a lot of questions answering ourselves about the good, the bad, and the ugly. In turn, it has made going home much easier because we don’t have to think about the answers to the question others will ask us!

And now, much to your advantage, I also wrote a list of them here. Take these questions and work through them alone or as a family. If your friends or family are thoughtful with their questions, your answers should be respectfully thoughtful in return.

  1. Short answers that answer the questions swiftly.

A friend of mine spent a summer in Africa, and in 6 short weeks, she grew into such a different person. Upon arriving home, she spent the next 48 hours (minus sleeping hours) talking about all that happened and what she learns. Unfortunately for her (and us), we probably tuned out about 1 hour into it.  Your friends and family are capable of lengthy discussion, but sometimes without the context to understand all you are sharing, it could be hard for them to follow along. So instead of talking about what the 30 types of olives are at the weekly market, consider talking about the market and that there are olives there. Help build a base so later you can go deeper.

Help build a base so later you can go deeper. Click To Tweet

  1. Short stories can be powerful.

Sometimes you only have 5 minutes with friends. Those passing meeting can be some of the most rewarding conversations if you prepare for them!  The usually questions begin: “You’re back! Where are you living now? Do you like it there? and how are you?” Instead of just saying “Ummm… good. It’s great”, consider a different approach.

The company I was a part of my first international move shared a great tip for expat returning home. For more meaningful short interactions, prepare 4-5 3 minutes stories that have grown you over the last year to year. Your friend says, ” How are you?” You may say, “ok” OR you can say “Actually, I have a 2 minute story to tell you about how I have learned to…. in the past year. Do you want to hear it?” Then proceed with your story.

For more meaningful short interactions, prepare 4-5 3 minutes stories that have grown you over the last year to year. Click To Tweet

 

2017 FunkTravels Catie Funk Singapore Merlion

 

  1. Plan to visit people before you get to the states.

When we first booked our 4 weeks in the states, I thought, “oh, we have plenty of time!” The first week in Louisiana felt too short, then halfway through the 2nd week in Iowa, I melted down about how we didn’t have enough time! Our problem wasn’t enough time. Our problem was not planning ahead and we assumed people would contact us or make time for us. Remember: Your friends, while they want to see you, are busy with their normal lives! If you really want to meet with people, reach out to the most important ones first. Then if there are others, meet them in groups or with other people as well.

  1. Make a mini photo book and have it ready to show people

Walgreens ran a free mini photo book (maybe 40 pictures) sale right after our wedding and I bought one for all the parents in our family and ourselves. That first summer we traveled to Turkey together for the first time and saw old friends. That photo book was so handy and I whipped it out every time we talked about our wedding. I regret to tell you I did no such thing this last visit to the states. We assume this day in age, that our social media lives are followed by everyone and that all should know what we did during our expat year. But unfortunately, that is not the case and honestly, people just forget. Having a photo book is a natural and easy way to share your lives visually with others. (Read more ways to document your time abroad.)

We assume this day in age, that our social media lives are followed by everyone and that all should know what we did during our expat year. Click To Tweet

  1. Give others AND yourselves grace.

No matter how long you spend visiting your home country, time escapes all of us. There will always be places we did go, things we didn’t do, and people we didn’t see.  And in fact, I would suggest that you do have that list of what you did and things you are thankful for while you visit. Your time home also needs to refresh you and help you process your time living in another country. So be ok with saying no and instead, resting for a day, going out to a movie or just staying home to spend time with your expat family.

 

  • Do you live in another country other than your native one? If so, where?
  • What ways do you prepare before going back to your native country?
  • Which one of this 6 tips stuck out to you?

 

Like this post? Share with a friend on Pinterest!

 

 


 

P.S. – This is the first post of a 6 part series called EXPAT GOING HOME SERIES. Stay tuned for the following articles:

FunkTravels Expat Bangkok Thailand

EXPAT YEARS: 10 things we learned our first year as expats (Year 1 Part 3)

The Funks have been living abroad as expats for just over a year and just like anyone’s life, a lot has happened.  For newcomers here, check out more of our story or listen to our podcast episode where we announced our move to the Turkey.

Currently, we are working to re-apply for our visas. Our 1 year visas are coming to a close, and we are submitting our visas to live in Turkey for another 2 years!

As I wrap up part 3 of our EXPAT YEARS Series, I share 10 things we have learn our first year as expats.

  1. Try to stick with your original plan. (Which we did not do…)

Jason and I agreed before we moved that renting a furnished apartment would be the best option. We could potentially pay more for our home but save money the first year. It would give us time to make sure we were in the right location and look for a more permanent rental that we knew we really liked.

Real life: Jason and I found a newly renovated apartment (not furnished which means NOT ONE SINGLE APPLIANCE) and fell straight into full on house furnishing mode… You know what? We didn’t even look at the other furnished apartment. Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE our apartment and LOVE that we live here. BUT, looking back now, we both agreed it may have been a little easier had we stuck to our original plan. It would have given us a year to save even more without depleting our moving fund and possibly saved us some frustrations of not having hot water for a month.

  1. Having great neighbors is worth your apartment rent and location.

Brightside to #1 is our #2.  One of the main reasons we love our place is our neighbors.  It took a while to get connected with our neighbors, but it is worth all the effort in the world to have good relationships with them. Our neighbors have had us over for tea,  invited me into their women’s group, brought us food after my surgery, and even watered my flowers while we were gone for 2 months this summer.

It took a while to get connected with our neighbors, but it is worth all the effort in the world to have good relationships with them. Click To Tweet

  1. Community is important.

Humans are created to be in community, and while you may not need a large community, it is still important. Married 2.5 years when we moved, Jason and I were comfortable with just being with each other, but we both knew it was not healthy. Community brings a network of helpers and advisors that can support you. Community creates friendships which, while they can’t replace your best friends back ‘home’ it can help ease times of homesickness and loneliness. Lastly, community gives you belonging and identity which is crucial to thriving long term in another country. All is important when moving to another country.

Community brings a network of helpers and advisors that can support you. Click To Tweet

FunkTravels Eski Foca

  1. Celebrate everything!

When I moved to Istanbul, Turkey as a single gal, it was also the first time I moved outside of the U.S.A. I found that celebrating the little accomplishments helped me see growth. I would celebrate the number of months living in a city of 20 million people much like newlyweds celebrate each month of marriage until their first anniversary. Make a list of things you will have to learn, and check them off as you learn them. Or write down things you have learned since moving such as buying furniture, refilling your transportation card, or have the air conditioner fixed.

Celebrate everything!... Make a list of things you will have to learn, and check them off as you learn them. Click To Tweet

  1. Take a break.

This is so important! Taking a break every once and awhile is good! We were in Turkey 4 months before heading out to Germany for Christmas. After moving, living in an airbnb for a month, buying furniture, fixing issues with our newly (yet not truly lived in) renovated apartment, starting language… needless to say, we were ready for a break! We actually left our apartment in the hands of a Turkish friend for one day after we left so the leaking roof could be replaced. A break was important and usually is needed in the first 4-6 months. So whether it is just outside the city or another country, get out of town for a bit and relax.

  1. Reflect and evaluate

While celebrating and taking a break are both great things to do, one of the most helpful tip is to reflect. We reflect together every new year, sometimes over our anniversary celebration, and even when other friends ask us questions.  If you are learning a language it is helpful to reflect on what works and doesn’t work, and especially what you have learned to see progress. Scheduling time reflect on your work, personal like and projects is more helpful than you think and can encourage you as you in times of need.

Scheduling time reflect on your work, personal like and projects is more helpful than you think and can encourage you as you in times of need. Click To Tweet

  1. Language opens up doors to locals and culture

Unless you are an English speaker in an English speaking country, learning the local language is always a good choice. (Although I do hear France is brutally unkind about new french language learners).

Is it easy? NOT AT ALL. But have I found (the second time around, and with a longer term vision in mind)  that the more I try to speak, the more others appreciate it.

Will it take time? ABSOLUTELY (that was more for myself). With other projects on the burner, Jason and I are working part-time to learn Turkish and it has been worth every hour.

  1. Keep up at least 1 hobby that you loved back home

Sounds weird but this one little task can make a bad culture day look brighter and mellow out sadness. Like to play guitar? Bring yours or buy one as soon as you can. Enjoy crossstitching, bring your needles and threads. Love to run and exercise, join a gym. You will not regret investing into the hobbies that bring you joy.

  1. Explore all the local food … and maybe even cook it

These Funks love trying new foods, and even though we had both lived here before, I have found there to be so many foods I had never tried. Food opens a whole different door into the culture and locals you are learning about it.  Be adventurous, and order that food you don’t know how to pronounce. Try and then record it in a book and either note how great it was or wasn’t!

Food opens a whole different door into the culture and locals you are learning about it. Click To Tweet

FunkTravels Expat Bangkok

  1. Your family and friends won’t forget you, but it usually looks different.

You may find it challenging to connect when you return, especially if they aren’t able to come visit you.  However, they will still love you! Returning home could require some preparation on your part and you find learn more about that in our next EXPAT SERIES: Going Home.

Your family and friends won't forget you, but it usually looks different. Click To Tweet

Hope you enjoy reading about what we have learned!

 

Are you an expat? If so, where are you living?

What did you learn from your first year abroad?

What have you learned the longer you have been gone?

 

Like this post? Pin it to your board!

FunkTravels Expat Abroad Podcast Turkey

———

P.S. – If you missed it, this is a 3 part series about our first year living internationally.

EXPAT YEARS ROUNDUP SERIES:

EXPAT YEARS: Our First Year Abroad (Year 1 Part 1) 

EXPAT YEARS: The Truth About Living Abroad (Year 1 Part 2)

EXPAT LIFE: 10 things I have learned my first year as a full-time expat (Year 1 Part 3)