13 Jul A leap into the unknown – How a latina moved from Brazil to Turkey
Since I was a kid I had this strong desire to see more, to learn more, to go further and was probably that feeling inside of me that made that 4 years old me to push my parents to enroll me early at school, which wasn’t an easy thing for my parents to do for sure, it required a lot of meetings, convincing and tests to prove I could do it. And don’t get the wrong impression, I wasn’t an extrovert and talkative kid, but somehow, I knew what I want and knew I could do it and at that age what people said didn’t matter for me.
That little girl grew up and as much as she learned about the world as much that desire to explore increased inside her. It took her to University, to study the only subject she could ever think about working with, International Relations. When the first opportunity to go abroad appeared, she took it as fast as she could and went for one semester studying in Spain. A life-changing experience for her, being surrounded by people from different countries and cultures, seeing the world from a different point of view. And guess what, it could only have multiplied her wanderlust mood.
I had to go back home, to finish University and while working to get my Bachelor degree I also started working in a very good company, one of the best multinational freight forwarder companies in the world, for sure a place where you can make a great career if you work hard and follow the steps to the corporate success. I could even have a life traveling for work if I wait and work more than everyone else. But that feeling inside me was once again telling that I needed to do more and that was the moment when I applied for an international internship program, this program had worldwide internship opportunities and my aim, in the beginning, was to go back to Europe and that was where I started sending curriculums until someone from the program organization contacted me and asked if I would be interested in a job in Turkey, I said why not and after a few talks and emails exchange I got the job and moved to Turkey after 2 weeks.
That was when I took a leap to the unknown, I said yes to a job that would pay less than I was already earning, I only knew it would be enough to survive in Turkey, I didn’t know where I was going to live, I didn’t know much about the country besides what we learn in school history books, I knew nothing about Turkish language, I just knew a little about what the company wanted from me. I still can’t say exactly why I say yes to it, which were my reasons for jumping on it, but I guess that “It’s now or never” feeling plus “we need a quick reply” pressure that made me leave any fear behind, saying yes to a new adventure and not listening to all the comments of people who say that that shy little girl, wouldn’t make it alone, wouldn’t last one month by herself so far away or those jokes saying someone would get my passport and make me a prisoner, like the soap opera, about women’s traffic that was being shown at that time in Brazil. And what was supposed to be a good one-year work experience for my CV, is completing now six years life-changing mix of dream and challenges.
Turkey received me with open arms, as it always does for his visitors, it is the famous Turkish hospitality, according to Turkish tradition, a stranger at one’s doorstep is considered a guest from God and it is taken as seriously as the huge Turkish patriotism. This warm welcome together with Turkey beautiful ancient history, breathtaking natural landscapes, turquoise paradisiacal beaches, fresh and tasty cuisine can melt your heart and make you fall in love very quickly with this country. But that can be tricky, just like that pretty perfect social media pictures, it is gonna take some time and some not so pleasant moments so you can be able to carefully remove all those layers of filters and see the real picture.
Life in Turkey is the biggest challenge I’ve ever had, and I’m the type of person who won’t hesitate on a skydiving adventure, but here I learned to fear things I never thought was possible and I’m not talking about fear for security, I actually feel very safe living here and I’m always recommending everyone to come and see this amazing country. But I guess that was the big culture shock of when you learn the deep of such a different country and religion. My new fear was less about me and more about others who don’t have a choice or are blinded and can’t see a way out. I fear I can’t help because even if they listen to what I have to say, as they will, since they are curious and will ask you about a lot of things, most of the time my ideas and opinions as a foreigner, a foreigner woman, a Brazilian foreigner woman, won’t be taking seriously.
When I came to Turkey, I fall into a job I’ve never pictured myself doing before, I started working with sales, customer relations, and marketing. Well, marketing was always something I had an interest in, so it was the easy part for me but sales was something very new and out of my comfort zone. I was entering a very niche area, full of technical terminology, many words I didn’t even know the meaning in Portuguese, my native language, so my first step was to study hard to learn this new knowledge in Portuguese, English, and Spanish. On my first 2 years in Turkey I was so focused on my career that I didn’t even learn much of Turkish language, just the basic daily things, since I didn’t really need it for my job, because all people that I work directly with at the office speak English and all my customer were foreigners. So only at the end of my second year here that I started making an effort to really study the Turkish language. And as much as you kwon the language as much as you can understand the country.
I found a job I’ve always dreamed about, that takes me to many new and different places. I travel to many international exhibitions and I’m always meeting interesting new people. But not everything is easy, this niche area that I’m working is totally men dominated, there aren’t really many women on this business area, which means no matter how well you know about the business, you will still not be taking seriously from many men. And I’m not saying I’ve been treated like that in countries that people often see it as conservative, like middle east countries, many times I have these same unfair judgmental comments from European men, that consider themselves very open-minded. And I guess in time I learned that if you can find a good example to get inspired, you should be the example and inspire, I needed to be the change I wanted to see, don’t mind the critics from people that can’t understand it and show I was there to stay.
Nevertheless, I wouldn’t change those experiences, I don’t regret any of the choices I made, I’m sure if I just went for a job in Europe like I was planning before, I wouldn’t have learned and grown this much, and I wouldn’t have become the women I’m proud to be now. This whole new world changed me in so many ways, my life in Turkey and all the places my job has taken me, have taught me a lot about understanding and respecting others even when you don’t agree with their opinions and way of life. I won’t ever again take for granted my roots and my family, who always made me feel free to fly, explore and made me feel safe to come back anytime in case something went wrong or if I just changed my mind. I learned how most of the people are not that lucky and that they will never feel what this kind of love and support is, they will never have this choice.
This new life changed me and Turkey will be forever part of me, it made me a better person but I’m still working to be my better version, learning with the new challenges that are always coming, living and trying to be an example, of respect and love, because in the end what everyone need is love and maybe like that I will be able to make my little corner of the world a slightly better place.
This is a guest post by Anna Carolina Carvalho. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @annacarvalhotravels.