Moving Again– This Time, to Germany

In August of 2014, my boyfriend (now husband) and I moved to Istanbul, Turkey from North Carolina; tomorrow, movers are coming to our apartment and we’ll begin the process of relocating to Germany, arriving to our new town a couple of days before the new year.

This has been a long time in the making, between the planning and figuring out logistics, but it didn’t really seem real until recently.  Suddenly, what once felt abstract now feels very concrete and immediate.  We’re doing it.  We’re moving countries, again, and will be dealing with everything that comes along with that– a new language, new culture, making a new social group, etc.

I find myself thinking that it has to be easier this time around, since I’ve already gone through the process once and know what to expect.  I know that learning the language won’t be instantaneous and I’ll have to be patient, and not be afraid to make mistakes while I’m learning.  I know that there will be a million cultural idiosyncrasies that I could never imagine and that I will have to learn how to navigate.  I know that I can’t take anything for granted or assume that things will be the way that I’m used to, even small things.  I haven’t spent much time in Germany– only a long weekend in Berlin.  I’ve never been to the small city in southwest Germany that we’re moving to.  (Although my husband has several times for work, and assures me it’s very nice.)  Germany is almost a complete blank slate in my mind at this point and I know the only way to get used to it is through immersion, and figuring it out as I go, and I know that requires patience, patience, patience.

Adjusting to Turkey was a journey.  I had no idea what I was doing when I moved here.  And that was fine– sometimes you just have to take the plunge.  I went through a cycle that I later learned is pretty common when it comes to moving to a new country: things were awesome at first, then got difficult, then got easier, then got difficult again, and finally really evened out and became normal, easy life at after about a year and a half.

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It looks something like this.

 

For me, the “frustration/annoyance with everyday differences” was the grocery store.  I never would have guessed that would be my biggest stumbling block when adapting to life in Istanbul– I had done a fair amount of traveling and had studied abroad before this move, and had gone grocery shopping in other countries without any problems, but our local grocery store in Istanbul was an entirely different story.  We lived in an old, busy central neighborhood, and our local grocery store was VERY small and VERY crowded, and as it turns out, the social rules dictating personal space are very different in Turkey than in the US, which made squeezing around the tiny aisles with a million old Turkish aunties who had no problem throwing some elbows or bumping into me really stressful.  Plus, you bag your own groceries here, and people are not shy about almost physically pushing you out of the way if you’re going too slow, so checking out and having to converse in a new language, handle a new currency, and bag my groceries as quickly as possible all at once with a bunch of pushy people bearing down on me was… well, it was an adventure.  And not really a good one.

But I adjusted.  I learned to be quicker when counting money, and I learned to speak up when someone was crowding me.  Life here got easier again.  The “confronting deeper cultural/personal issues” came when I had my first job here, which ostensibly was in English but I needed a level of Turkish to communicate with the support staff which was beyond what I could speak at the time, providing almost daily frustrations in addition to adapting to a new work environment, with a new work culture.  But then that eventually got easier, too.

I’m hoping it goes more quickly in Germany, now that I know what to expect.  However, there is one huge thing that is different with this move: I’m five months pregnant this time around, which completely shifts the planning and focus of the move.  This time we’re less concerned with living in a cool neighborhood downtown with lots of bars and shops, and more concerned with having an apartment big enough to house a newborn and hopefully guests as well.  I’m spending a lot of time researching healthcare and birth procedures in Germany, and looking for mom groups I can join in our city.  When we were moving to Istanbul, I was so excited about the ADVENTURE of it all, the mystery of a new city and the excitement of discovering it, and while there is certainly some of that this time– I’ve already made a list of places in surrounding countries I want to visit, thanks to the fantastic train system in Europe– I’m probably spending most of my time fantasizing about all the green space and parks in Germany where I can take walks with the baby.  After living in Istanbul with its 15+ million people and nonstop traffic, I’m looking forward to living in a quieter, more peaceful place.

There are a million things that I will miss about living in Turkey.  I think there is literally nothing better than a waterfront meal at a fish restaurant in summer, either on the Bosphorus in Istanbul or on the coast, and there is no beating the amazing and unique history of Istanbul.  I’ll miss being able to pop off to either the Mediterranean or Aegean coast for a quick weekend trip, or randomly stumbling across ancient ruins and being able to explore them whenever we want.  I’ll miss the fantastic Turkish breakfasts and the ferry rides.  I’ll miss the street parades and the simit-sellers yelling outside my apartment, the strolls on the seaside, and the friendly street cats who are just waiting to be petted.  And I’m sure there are a million other things I’ll miss that I don’t even realize yet.  It’s always that way when you make a big move.  Although it’s not like we’ll never be back– my husband’s family is here, so we will always have a connection to Turkey.

Right now I’m feeling very grateful for the experience of living in Istanbul and everything it’s taught me, and very excited about this next step in our lives.

 

 

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Seven Artists I’m Loving Right Now

(Quick note: generally whenever I use images in this blog, they are all pictures that I’ve taken and own the copyright to.  Obviously I don’t own the images in this post, but I do list sources for them and, when applicable, websites for the artists.  The cover painting for this post is Portrait of James Hamilton, Earl of Arran by Kehinde Wiley, which can be found here.)

I love art, I love art museums, and I love finding new artists to follow.  Below is a list of some of my current favorites, all of whom are contemporary working artists except for one.

Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley has been making well-deserved headlines lately, since Barack Obama chose him to paint his presidential portrait, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  I discovered Kehinde Wiley several years ago by his re-imagining of Judith and Holofernes, which hangs in the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, my old stomping grounds.  The NCMA is a great museum in general, but I literally stopped in my tracks when we got to Wiley’s painting.  There is something I love in the combination of his hyper-realistic portraits and brightly colored patterned backgrounds that I haven’t seen from any other artist (although his works do remind me a bit of this Vincent Van Gogh painting, which I also love).  He also provides a fresh take on many existing artworks, like the aforementioned Judith and Holofernes and the famous portrait of Napoleon.

You can find his website here.

(Image 1 Source, Image 2 Source, Image 3 Source)

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Judith and Holofernes
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Randerson Romualdo Cordeiro
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Alexander I, Emperor of Russia

Monica Martino

Monica Martino is an artist living in Georgia who makes all sorts of hilarious, clever products like t-shirts, mugs, and paintings, all designed and drawn by her.  Basically, she does what Urban Outfitters does, but better, and as a small business.  I have several friends who have bought things from her Etsy shop and been thrilled with them, and they make fantastic gifts, in case you have anyone in your life that you’re still stumped on what to get them for Christmas.  Anyway, seeing her stuff always makes me laugh, and I have a bunch of things bookmarked on her Etsy page for future purchases.

You can find her Etsy shop here.

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Perfect stocking stuffer for your grandma, no?

Ester Hernandez

Ester Hernandez is another artist I discovered via the North Carolina Museum of Art (no, really, it’s wonderful! go visit if you’re in the area!), where her painting La Ofrenda was part of a special exhibition of Chicanx artists.  Her work is part of permanent collections in the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, and Stanford, and she also has permanent collections in Mexico City and London.

You can find her website here.

(Image 1 Source)

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La Ofrenda

 

Clare Caufield

Clare Caufield is a British artist who does dynamic, dreamlike drawings and paintings of city scenes.  I found her while obsessively poring over Etsy, looking for art of my favorite cities.  It turns out that she has her own website as well where she posts her galleries, exhibitions, and art she has for sale.

You can find her website here.  All images were taken from her website.

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View from the Rialto Bridge, Venice
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Charles Bridge, Prague

Gustav Klimt

Okay, hear me out.  This one is obviously different from the other artists on the list because he’s both 1) dead and 2) super famous and firmly canonized.  But I think he’s worth putting on here because I didn’t really know much about his work until recently.  The only painting of his I knew was The Kiss, which honestly, is not my favorite work of art ever.  Maybe it’s been ruined for me because it’s so ubiquitous, and I associate it with, like, college dorm room posters and notebooks and stuff.  (But a lot of Van Gogh and Monet stuff fits into that description as well, and I still like them, so maybe not.)

Then I went to Vienna, Klimt’s hometown, in the summer of 2016, and it turns out that he’s actually a really amazing artist.  (Who could have guessed, right?)  His work was everywhere you turned in Vienna and so much of it was more interesting than The Kiss.  He’s worth looking into more if you don’t know much about him.

I don’t have a website where you can buy his stuff (obviously), but I do recommend that you check out the movie Woman in Gold, about one of his paintings that was stolen by the Nazis and starring Helen Mirren, based on a true story.

(Image 1 source, Image 2 source)

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Dame Mit Faecher
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Detail from ‘Medicine’

Hayv Kahraman

Hayv Kahraman is an Iraqi painter, illustrator, and sculptor who is based in Los Angeles.  I honestly don’t know much about her outside of her art, but her work seems to focus mainly on women and the Iraqi diaspora, and is both wonderful and, at times, harrowing.  She’s getting lots of attention both within the art world and from more mainstream media outlets, so she’s someone to watch for sure.

You can find her website here.

(Image 1 Source, Image 2 Source, Image 3 Source)

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Leveled Leisure
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Inside/Outside
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Honor Killings

Ingrid Vermeer

Ingrid Vermeer is a Dutch artists who I found on… wait for it… Instagram.  She did a project where she drew portraits of people on Post-It notes every day for a year, and then switched to 100 days of drawing on found objects.  It doesn’t look like her stuff is available for order online, but I really enjoy following her.  Her art is just… fun.

She can be found on Instagram with the username studioyellowdays and her blog is 365 days of post it people.

(Image 1 Source, Image 2 Source, Image 3 Source)

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Self-portrait on an old encyclopedia page
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Some of her post-it people
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Part of her 100 days of drawing on found stuff project