Why expats need local friends

Sebnem and me, Turkey
It is easy for expats, especially in a country that speaks another language, to form friendships with other expats. While they can be enormously supportive and fun, it is also important to befriend locals in your host country.

One place I am especially fond of is Turkey. I am not sure if this is because it is the first place I lived overseas after leaving home, or because I had to learn so much in order to understand life there. Either way, it has become somewhere that I feel very comfortable. 

Nur and me, Turkey

I feel indebted to my Turkish friends for their help during my time in Turkey, especially at the beginning. I was young when I first fell in love with the country and not only was I pretty na├»ve, but I was clueless about Turkish culture and knew nothing of the language. 

Ferhat and me, Turkey

I have always believed that if you can communicate with people everything you want to do can be achieved more easily. My Turkish friends were not only encouraging when I embarked upon my mission to learn Turkish, they were endlessly patient as I butchered their language with my dodgy pronunciation and sometime dreadful mistakes. They did nothing but gently correct me and laugh with me about whatever terrible declaration I had made. 

Elif, Ahmet and their little girl, Turkey

My friend Sebnem refers to me as the Turkish-English girl on account of my passion for the place and accumulation over time of various Turkish habits. Elif, Ahmet and I shared a passion for scuba diving. Ferhat warns his friends that I understand Turkish (so goodness knows what they normally talk about). My friend Nur and her children also speak French so we have fun communicating in a mixture of mostly Turkish and French. Eko enjoys laughing at my mistakes (and then correcting them).

Were it not for these friends of mine and several others I am sure I would be less capable in Turkish and therefore also feel less at home in Turkey. Of course, I also had lots of friends who were expats themselves and they played a huge role in my life there too, but it is my Turkish friends who I have to thank for encouraging me to learn their language, appreciate their culture and ultimately love their country.

Who made a difference to your experiences overseas?

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