How long have you lived overseas?
What made you decide to leave the US?
We retired from our jobs working on Boston's commuter rail system and wanted to have a special adventure for a year. We moved to Istanbul, Turkey and after a very short time, it became clear that we didn't want to leave.
What do you miss about not being in the US?
Really, not much. We meet expats who tell us about how homesick they get from time to time. But we've never felt that way.
What are the challenges of living where you are as a foreigner?
Learning the difficult language (Turkish) was challenging but not insurmountable and always interesting. Also attaining the required agility to avoid vehicles coming at us the wrong way down a one way street and which have no intention of stopping for pedestrians.
What are some of the pleasant surprises you've encountered in your new home?
Turks (along with the country's minority residents) are very warm, welcoming people. We pinch ourselves every day that we've been able to join the Turkish national health insurance system, for a modest monthly fee. The long, convoluted history of this part of the world is fascinating and forever engages us. We are living in a city that feels like it is the center of world political developments. It's actually quite exciting. We can definitely say that living here is never boring.
What are some of the unanticipated problems?
Being able to get things done as fast as we are used to is sometimes frustrating. Living as the only foreigners in an apartment building in a bustling city like Istanbul after years of living in a house on a quiet side street in Cambridge, MA also has its challenges, but, at the same time, has its very real rewards.
What are some advices you have for Americans who also want to get out?
Do it sooner rather than later. You won't regret it.
--Mark and Jolee Zola
Mark and Jolee's balcony (with flowers) and just inside. Photos are lifted from their excellent blog, Senior Dogs Abroad.