PERSONAL, Uncategorized

Life As It Is

Leiden in autumn

Leiden in Autumn

This September, as a 28 year old, I’ve started my new study at Leiden University. A challenging task which included me moving to a different country for the second time within a year. As someone who would assume that this alone would be stressing enough for anyone; I was restless enough to not only move, but move away from the country that my husband would continue to live. Hello long distance marriage and all the baggage that comes with it!

The commuting and the planning and the overall unknowingness of the whole situation is definitely not something for the faint hearted. Going back to living by myself again after living together for quite sometime might mean that I have to do a lot less tidying up (yay!) but it also means that most of the time I’ll be laying in a bed that is half empty (meh). All those little lost moments together is the harsh side of this new adventure we jumped in so eagerly.

Is it all that bad? Well, it might depend on which day someone asks me that question but frankly; no.

Being on the much older side of my classmates means that making friends is not something that comes as naturally as it once was. Plus, the fact that I’ll be 31(thirty-one) by the time I graduate and going back to the working life around that age is a thought I would rather avoid. Beyond all the negativity my mind tends to pour on me, my life is what it is: I am doing something I’ve been dreaming of for the last three years.

Living in the Netherlands, was an idea that we have always assumed to be well into the future. Doing a study here (let alone living) which will enable me to learn the language, culture, history, literature, art and linguistics was even beyond that. So why bring myself down over everything that comes after that point?

The answer brings me to my current situation: an inner struggle of going in between being grateful and wanting more. Being grateful for being here and having this opportunity to experience versus wanting to live here with my husband and get to try this new life out together. Okay, and maybe taking some years off of my age might also be helpful at this point but let’s not get into that just now.

Will I ever find a way to settle down to one of those feelings? Probably. Maybe. Hopefully. I’m trying to pick one that will make me the happiest even if it means to have to wait some more. After all, time is all I have.

-Ceren

If you would like to see more of my photography, come and find me on Instagram  @crn.spymn !

 

 

 

 

 

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PERSONAL, Uncategorized

Mostly Here and Sometimes There

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Oh it turns out I have a blog!

Sometime last month, for the second time this year, I have moved to a new country. Like other milestones in someone’s life, these last couple of months were sometimes bitter but also oh-so-sweet.

For someone who always prefers to be on the safer side of things, I sure do know how to get out of my comfort zone. Moving twice in a year, starting a new study in a new country, learning a new language, understanding a new culture and finding a new balance in life while coping with everything that comes with a semi-long distance marriage. Who said life gets dull as you get older?

As I approach another milestone known as the big 30’s; sitting in a classroom, handing over my homework while planning my grocery days and wondering if it was today or tomorrow that the supermarket had 50% off on all the cleaning products, I agreed that our 30’s really are the new 20’s. Only where there is less soul searching and more getting drunk on better quality drinks.

After some time away from here, as everything slowly settle down; I will be thinking, writing and sharing a little bit more. I know it’s too early to jump to any conclusions about what my new adventure in the Netherlands will bring but I am not in a rush. Right now, I am far busier with finding ways to keep my plants alive and settling arguments with my husband about how frequently the vacuuming should be done (even though it is through FaceTime).

-Ceren

 

 

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PERSONAL

When We Were Living There: Streets of Yeldeğirmeni.

I was born and raised in İstanbul. The biggest city of Turkey where ten-something million people live. The streets are always busy, the traffic is almost always terrible and the political tension on the streets is always seems to be high. Chaotic, vibrant, fascinating, unique and sometimes smothering.

When we first moved in together with my now-husband, then-boyfriend; he was already living in Yeldeğirmeni, Kadıköy in an expat building so we’ve decided to stay and rent our own flat in the same place. With parties almost every weekend on our communal terrace and meeting so many different people coming from all around the world, it was hard to find something to complain about. Living in that couple of centuries old building surrounded by like-minded genuine friends whom we still keep in touch, we’ve fallen in love with this little neighbourhood.

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Streets of Yeldeğirmeni

Exploring the small cafes and treating ourselves for a breakfast outside became our weekly ritual and small walks taken between the streets were our treat. Mural art on almost every corner, international students trying to escape the high prices of Moda area were now turning this Kadıköy corner into a small town bursting with culture, art, peacefulness and calmness… Something hard to come-by in İstanbul.

The day we moved to our second flat only two minutes away from our previous one, between one of my many popping in-and-outs; a woman stopped me to ask if I could take a picture of her and her friends. After posing in front of our not so special building, she has explained that in the 70’s when they were all students at different universities, this was the building that they lived for four years and four more after that. And this was the first time any of them visited it again since going their separate ways. ”Yeldeğirmeni has changed a lot with all these art cafes and the coffee spots now, but the spirit is still the same.” one of them said. It turns out she was there to look for a spot to open her own art gallery just a street away from the very same building where she studied art and dreamed about owning a gallery one day. As fascinating as it is, I suspected this was only one of the many hidden stories surrounding these old walls.

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The unchanging residents, cats.

 

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Living in İstanbul and especially in any part of Kadıköy comes with its unique demands. In this case, it is the animals that made these streets their home. Street cats and dogs are part of everyone’s life and if you are one of those who LOVES animals (more than people some people claim), simply going out for a 5 minute walk to the supermarket means stopping at least five times to pet some of them. Preggo Calico, Kuyruksuz, Scratchy cat, Friendly Black, Çamlıbel, Eyeless, Stamppot, Boomer, Perry, Sümük of here, the Bundle family, Kitty cow, Purrito, Miracle Mimi and Huggy cat were our friends whom we would meet and greet everyday. I only hope that they would forgive me for all the weird names that I have given to them. Regardless of their clumsy names, they are and will be the biggest reason for Yeldeğirmeni to be the most special place within all the other neighbourhoods I’ve lived in.

Taking all these into consideration, it was easy to assume that four months after we’ve moved to Doha, when I had couple of days to spend in İstanbul, I was nothing short of happy.

Walking the same streets, going to the same cafes like we used to and more importantly seeing old friends reminds me that 28 is not a young age to feel nostalgia. Guli, whom we met in that first building is married and getting ready to move to Malaysia, just like we’ve moved to Qatar. Duygu, busy as ever with her work but our talks on WhatsApp everyday makes it easier to live apart. Jeff is already back to the United States and still on his search for his true meaning. Sean, living in South Korea with the girlfriend he met in that building. Gizem, moved in with her boyfriend Nik and enjoying the beautiful İstanbul sunset everyday. Kate, Niko, Chrysta, Jack and many others that we’ve shared a drink -or 10- at some point during our time in Yeldeğirmeni may not be there anymore but our memories and some embarrassing Facebook pictures are still there. And my four legged street friends? Some where still there, laying lazily next to a sidewalk or under a car and some were new, replacing the ones that we have lost along the way.

-Ceren

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If you would like to see more photos of İstanbul, come and find me on Instagram  @crn.spymn !

 

 

 

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PERSONAL

Delft: Home is Where the Best Stamppot is.

Centrum van Delft

The word ‘home’ has always been an interesting concept for me. As someone who has lived in two homes with my parents and three homes on my own and three -soon to be four- homes with my now-husband, then-boyfriend; the whole meaning of ‘home’ gets rather complicated. As I’m getting ready to move and try the whole ‘living in two different houses in two different countries’ plan (hello commuting), I can’t help but wonder: What makes a house, a home?

Ever changing; sometimes it is your possessions. To give an example, like that vase you put fresh flowers every week, the photo frames you hand picked one by one or -if you enjoy your hot drinks as much as me regardless of what day, time or season it is-, your beloved mugs. Wherever you go as long as you have your possessions, it suddenly becomes home.

Sometimes, it is who you are with. Either it is your family, your significant other or even your pet; wherever they are, everywhere feels like home. It can be your two cats -like my Misa and Taco, your dog by your side or even your fish tank, it doesn’t matter.

And sometimes it is the city itself. It’s very much like that familiar, warm feeling slowly oozing in your chest whenever you wander the streets. It is saying ‘Hi!’ to the café owner every time you pass by, or stopping at the same flower shop every week for some fresh tulips. You know the whole city is your home.

When I think of all the different cities I’ve been and all the houses that I’ve lived in, I realize they have all had a different way of becoming my home. Some are definitely more missed than the others.

All these thoughts bring me to my next destination: Delft. A relatively small city right between Rotterdam and Den Haag, is where I’ll be for the next upcoming years. As I think more about it, it becomes more and more clear that this city already feels unique.

I have certainly traveled to the Netherlands before but it wasn’t until I met my husband that I had the chance to visit Delft. As soon as you step outside of the train station and walk into the old town, this city somehow captures you. Historical, cozy, small and vibrant. Just visiting De Markt is enough to make me feel content. Even doing nothing much but visiting the little cafés scattered in this town is very well enough to fill up my whole day.

That’s why when we’ve decided to get married, it wasn’t so hard to pick the perfect location. We wanted to get married in Delft. Preferably, in the Stadhuis, right at the glorious Markt. And 6 months after that day, we were already making plans for me to start my new study at a new university, in a new house that we have just bought, only minutes away from the cityhall that we’ve gotten married at. Now, I have to admit that was truly something that we would have never thought of only a year before.

Me, joining my husband in a new country this year in March, I am already about the pack my bags once more for a new chapter that awaits us in the horizon. To make things more interesting -or challenging, if you will- instead of one, I will very soon have two houses to call home.

Would I like to have more time to adjust or o simply do everything without have to hurry? Of course! Picking furniture online and trying to squeeze everything to the limited time we had whenever we visit is no easy task, but with the streets of Delft that I so adore in my heart and our new beginning ahead of us, somehow I am not so worried. After all, home is where the best stamppot is.

A little note to all non-Dutchies out there like myself; stamppot is a traditional Dutch dish made from a combination of potatoes mashed with one or several vegetables. These veggie pairings are usually include sauerkraut, endive, kale, carrots and onions. It is best enjoyed during the cold, grey winter months. Certainly more often while feeling homesick.

-Ceren

If you would like to see more photos of Delft, come and find me on Instagram  @crn.spymn !

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