Frequently Asked Questions: Istanbul Life

I’m a chatty person. I am known to easily strike up conversation with random strangers, and for some reason, elderly people seem to love me. Most of the time, these conversations come out of my dread of uncomfortable silences. The problem is, most of the time, these simple conversations often become longer—much more time consuming—discussions about my life.

Although they usually begin innocently enough, with simple questions that are quick and easy to answer: what do you do for a living? where do you live? how old are your children? These questions inevitably lead to others that require a back story. It doesn’t matter if I am standing in line at the bank and the person talking to me is a complete stranger—some people have a way of getting right to the personal. In moments like these, I have often wished that with all of the apps on all of the smart phones out there, why there isn’t an F.A.Q. app for precisely this scenario. It would make life so much easier if I could just send the answers to a person’s email address at the first hint of one of these questions getting ready to be asked. This app would instantly eradicate the need to answer these types of questions, and would therefore allow me to hold onto the precious few moments I may have with another adult in which I can talk about anything else.

So, in lieu of having this app, I am going to use this space to try to answer some of my Frequently Asked Questions, but because there are so many, I’ll focus on the ones that relate to my life in Istanbul—or at least the events that led up to it.

Q: What’s your full name?

A: Erin Rehill-Seker [Okay, most people don’t actually ask me this question, but I needed to start somewhere, especially since I am asked the following question at least once a week.]

Q: Can you repeat that? How exactly do you pronounce your last name?

A: It’s Seker pronounced SHEH kehr. It’s Turkish. The S is actually pronounced SH. It means “sugar” in Turkish. [I don’t know why I always say this last part, it may just be out of habit, or because it’s still an interesting fact to me.]

Q: Is your husband Turkish?

A: Yes.

Q: How did you meet your husband?

A: We met in Istanbul, in Turkey. [I usually add the country, just in case the person is left wondering where on Earth Istanbul is located—it’s happened.]

Q: What were you doing in Turkey?

[I need to pause here. I have two answers to this question depending on who is asking, where I am when I’m being asked, and generally how much time I have to talk about this.]

A (abridged version): I was teaching English to Turkish middle school and high school students. [This answer doesn’t usually lead to many further questions about my life in Turkey.]

A (real story): I went to Turkey after graduating from college. [This is my attempt at a short answer, but 9 times out of 10 it always leads to the next few questions.]

Q: How did you end up in Turkey?

A: I wanted to travel around after college. I went to Europe with a friend, and while visiting some of my friends in England, we decided to narrow our trip down to just a few countries. We both wanted to spend time in Greece and Italy, so we pulled out a map to see which countries were near by that we should visit. There was Turkey, right next to Greece! So, the next day we bought a ticket and two days later we were on plane headed to Istanbul. [Since this is a blog, I can easily link to the post where I write about this in more depth, which I am going to do right here.]

[Depending on the age of  the person asking, this question usually follows.]

Q: What did your mother say when you told her you were in Turkey?

A: At first, she told me not to “meet” anyone. I already had, so I decided to hold off on that piece of information. As the weeks, then months, went by and I was still in Istanbul, her only question was whether I was ever  coming home. After I came home, and then turned around and told her I was moving back, she completely supported me. [The real answer is even longer than this, but because I already wrote about it in a previous post, here is the link.]

Q: Did you ever make it to Greece and Italy?

A: Nope. Although, I did go to both countries when I was a student in England, so I didn’t really need to see them again.

[Up until compiling this list, I don’t think I have ever realized how many questions I am asked to answer on a regular basis. This is just a sampling. For this reason, I’ve decided to create additional F.A.Q.’s about the other areas of my life—at a later time. Check back, and maybe then I’ll have some advice for my daughter about her own F.A.Q.’s.]

Thanks to Mama Kat for the wonderful blog suggestion!



Published by Erin Rehill

A few years ago, my then eight-year-old daughter told me that she wished I could write down all the things I told her so that she wouldn’t forget them when she got older. In that moment, my daughter gave me such a sense of validation, something I hadn’t really experienced in that way. As parents, we don’t often receive confirmation from our children that we are doing a good job, or that we even know what we are talking about. Since that time, I’ve started to pay more attention to the things I tell her, often thinking to myself “Will she remember this when she is older?” So, this is for her, my words of advice to be read, thought about, laughed at, and maybe even used, when she is older.

Join the Conversation


  1. Very VERY cool story!!! I was a scaredy cat in college. I was young and was afraid of not knowing anyone or anything, getting stuck, having no money, not understanding anything. You know. So, I got married instead. I don’t regret that AT ALL, but I DO wish I had more guts to do some things I’ll never have another chance to do. I admire you!

    I’m here from mamakat’s. I’d love a visit back too!

  2. Good on you for doing a serious FAQ. Most I have read have been like mine – silly (or is that snarky?)

    But then again, most people don’t lead as fascinating a life as you, lady! Such courage to uproot your life and start again for love. Who said romance is dead?

  3. I’m new to your blog, and loved starting off with your FAQ. Look forward to coming back and reading more! I imagine Turkey must be an amazing place to live – I’ve always wanted to teach English in a non-English speaking country (as opposed to only the English speaking countries I’ve lived/worked in). Having taught many lovely Turkish people myself, I would love to travel there one day.

  4. I think the problem here is…Turkey. If you lived in Canada that would seem far less exotic to most people and you would be asked far fewer questions.

    Although, I love to hear how people ended up where they are…wherever that may be. There’s always a cool story behind that. Thanks for sharing yours.

  5. What a cool story about how you met. It’s very exotic. (-:
    I too tend to gravitate towards profoundly deep conversations with strangers and old folks (especially in the grocery store) and I think that’s a good quality. It means you are open and trusting of people. And you know what they say – if old people and animals like you, you have character. (-:

  6. Erin, this is a handy reference indeed! We all have questions that we get asked over and over. Usually, mine relate to what I do for a living or what I did before kids, what I plan to do when my son goes to school full time, and so on. These people are probably just being polite, but I end up talking their ears off, working out the answer for myself. It can get tiring! : >

  7. Awesome. I traveled a lot in college – and loved it – and constantly am telling my younger sister and cousins to travel as much as they can at that age. Much harder to do once you are older and married!

  8. Asking and answering questions can be both exhausting and fun. My in laws went to Turkey and said it was beautiful. My MIL hadn’t expected that, so I think it’s quite a pleasant surprise. Good idea to share your info here 🙂

  9. Awesomeness! What a cool and interesting story. I would have loved to travel in college – I still do. But I am unfortunately much too poor to do any of that. 😦

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