Here I am, down to less than a month in this place that has been my home for four years. Four years goes by fast.
I have already started packing and downsizing. My upstairs neighbors (a.k.a the dorm girls) gleefully took several bags of clothes off of my hands. I am done planning lessons for the year. My exams are printed and ready. Not much is left to do here but prepare to say goodbye.
I know I haven’t written much this year. I haven’t felt very inspired. The last year and a half or so in Turkey has been a little rough – ever since the economic downturn and resultant chaos at our school took its toll. We are leaving a little burnt out, but I don’t want what has happened at the end to tarnish four years of amazing memories.
I’ve been taking all the photos off of our computers and hard drives and organizing them to prepare for the next big move. Looking through them, I can see how much we have grown. We haven’t aged much (we both look young for our age), but there is a difference in our eyes. I came here as a fresh new teacher, naive and ready for adventure; I am leaving this place a wiser, savvier, stronger, braver, more worldly and more confident person than I ever believed I could be when I first stepped off of that plane.
When I really reflect, all I can feel is gratitude. I am ten times the teacher I was when I first came thanks to the experiences I had here. I know I can step into my next position with confidence. I got to work with incredible students that I love dearly and will keep in touch with for years to come. I made amazing friends – who are really more like family at this point- without whom I never would have survived as an expat. I learned how to operate with a new set of rules in a new culture and learned a new language to boot. I traveled to over 30 countries on three different continents with the love of my life.
Yes, I am happy to be leaving. I am ready to move on. But I will always be grateful we said yes to Turkey, even when many people thought we were crazy. I could not have asked for a more beautiful country, full of countless treasures and wonders, with amazing food, and more importantly, amazing people to begin this journey I have always dreamed of.
These last few weeks are going to be emotional, if you couldn’t tell.