Monday, May 27 2024 - 4:26 PM
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Far From Home

It was the fall of 2013; I was 14 years old and in the eighth grade. My parents had just picked me up from school in northeast Washington state. They told me we were going to move over 6,000 miles away from home to the country of Turkey because of my dad’s new job.

Now in my short life I had already moved around quite a bit. My dad is Iranian, my mom is Swedish, and my dad’s employment had sent us around the world a lot. I was pretty used to it by then, but this time I was so settled where I lived that it came as a shock and a big disappointment. I had lived in Washington for the longest period of anywhere at the time, which was for about five years. And I would miss my pets and friends. We had two dogs, one a mixed Labrador Retriever and the other a mixed German Shepard; and we had four cats, three black ones and one orange one.

I was going to a country where I wouldn’t be able to speak the language. My dad would be working with refugees, but none of us spoke Turkish. All I wanted at the time was to stay where I was and not change anything at all.

Journey to Turkey

About four months went by and the time finally came for us to leave. We packed up our whole house into one little room, because our renters would be taking care of the place till we returned. We said goodbye to our pets which our renters would be looking after. Then we stuffed our 12 pieces of luggage into our car and drove off to the airport. We knew we wouldn’t be back for a while, so my parents luckily were able to meet up with the couple who had agreed to buy our car at the airport before our flight.

We boarded our plane and set off towards Paris, where we would take another plane to Adana, Turkey. This journey took us about 22 hours to complete. Finally we arrived and sorted out our visas, got into a cab and went straight to a hotel for the night. The next morning I woke to the hot sun shining through the window, I heard the sounds of the city and the smell of Kebab cooking. Life was strange, nothing like I was used to; so many new things and new cultures to adapt to. It was difficult.

A few months went by. I missed home so much, and it was a struggle to adapt to everything that I experienced. Probably the biggest culture shock was how intrusive many people were in Turkey. For example, we would go to a restaurant and the waiter would ask us so many personal questions. They would ask where my dad worked, why we were there, who we were, and many other questions that made us all uncomfortable. But that was part of their life and we had to accustom ourselves to it.

Moving to Germany

After a year and a half we moved to Germany, and I have to say that wasn’t much better. I had to attend a school where I couldn’t understand anything and where I barely had friends because of language barriers. The reason I went to this school was that there was not an English-speaking school nearby. The teachers did their best to teach me German but the desire to return home made me unfocused when trying to learn the language. A little over a year later my parents decided it was time to go back home to Washington; my siblings and I needed proper education and a place to feel settled.

When we got back, and I felt the American soil again and smelt the fresh air, I was filled with such excitement. It was surreal, but then I began to realize how special those couple years had been in Turkey and Germany. There were so many memories and experiences that had shaped me into a new person. Even though it was tough, I really do not regret any of it. It has all worked to shape who I have become, and it opened up my mind to something different–a new culture, a new world, and most importantly, amazing memories I will cherish forever. And I have to say I miss it. What I learned was this: the struggles you face will pass, and once they do, you will remember the good and will have grown through them.

Simon Bakhshnia writes from the Pacific Northwest.

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About Simon Bakhshnia

Simon Bakhshnia

writes from the Pacific Northwest.

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