This is the second time I’ve been trying to write something about me leaving Turkey. As if this is the most important event in the history of humankind. The first draft was in Turkish, and also couldn’t decide on the writing’s format. But there you go. Hopefully, this will be worth it. This writing has no any intent other than me getting things out of my chest and giving some unneeded information about myself. Perhaps my children in the future might read this so that’d be nice. Hello from 2021 :d
I’m a 24 years old mostly brown, with a bit above average height and below average weight, Turkish citizen with Kurdish origin. Formal education-wise I have nothing concrete to show. Finished high school with a semi-religious curriculum. Haven’t learned any relevant skills or knowledge during this time. My 4-years attempt to get into a university has failed for various reasons. I’m not sure whether it was my loss of interest in studying in Turkey that have led me to pursue programming or that my interest in programming has derailed my effort and wish to study. Anyhow, it didn’t happen. But always liked the idea of studying in a well-known university, being in an academic circle, and mostly focusing and problems that only a few hundreds of people might care about. Liked the idea of abstracting away from the outer world. But my high school performance proved I do not have the necessary talent and will for such a path. Always felt Maths is not for me. Maybe I would’ve liked it if I had a genuine interest but that train is long gone. Anyhow, knowingly or not, I do feel that I am channelizing my keenness to an academic world to what I do now as a profession.
Before developing any interest in the world of software development; I had done some filmmaking (writing, editing, music, directing), 3D animation, and design. Still have an interest in those areas but my passion for what I’m doing now strongly overcomes what I’ve done before. It’s more ideal for the conditions I had, and for what I plan in the future. I feel lucky to have chosen this path. But not lucky enough to have been started earlier.
As a newbie with no experience and degree, not finding a full-time job is no surprise. To break the famous “I have no experience but want a job-no job because I have no experience” conundrum, I figured I need to try many things until it finally somehow works. Continuously applying for jobs, getting in interviews, improving skills, and doing freelance jobs to build up a “good” CV was my plan all along.
For the past few years, I must’ve applied to hundreds of jobs in Europe (also in US), have gotten tens of interviews and tons of rejections. There were times, when the rejections were getting into my skin, I’d rather focus on looking for jobs in İstanbul after feeling the doors were shut to me to leave for abroad. After a short time, I’d regain my interest and desire, then repeat the whole “apply for jobs until I get a response” routine.
Just this year, I felt quite close in two different interviews, one based in Amsterdam, and other in Barcelona. And I say I felt close because I was looking for apartments rent prices in those cities. Failed in both. Then applied to a job that I later managed to succeed at.
Interview & Paperwork
What’s interesting (at least to me, this is my career we’re talking about) is that my company was first looking to position me in the office they were going to open in Tallinn, Estonia. And this time too, of course, I felt “this is going to work” and started doing research about where I was supposed to live in the future. But, as it turns out to be fortunate for me, the plan to open a new office in Tallinn was postponed, and they asked me to consider the position for the HQ in Munich, Germany. I was like, “You son of a bitch… I’m in.”
Now, since I’m a third-world country citizen, I’d need to prove myself to the agencies and offices of the Federal Republic of Germany, that I am worthy of working and living there, and that I am actually not taking any jobs from any EU citizens. I am okay with this process by the way. Taking people based on merit, that I can’t say no to. But yes, the process can be difficult, and grueling. I will not go into how I got the visa. The process involves preparing about 30 different papers (each with 4 copies), translating the Turkish papers into German (which can be expensive), getting a PCR test before the flight, filling an application form by hand which I’ve messed up quite a lot because I feared they’d reject me for my shitty handwriting, which would’ve been a suicide-worthy moment, and having a trip to the German consulate in İstanbul, which was a nice one. Got the visa by post in about a week. Packed my things, and took my flight. At first, I was shocked when I landed in Munich, because I was wearing shorts and the weather was cold.
Reasons to leave
Where to even start with this. I should make a list. But no wonder, much of it is about the country itself. Simply by changing the country things dramatically get better. For example, according to the UN Development Programme, the Human Index Development score of Turkey is 0.820, in 54th place. Compared to where I live now, Germany has a score of 0.947, in 6th place in overall rankings.
While it is clearly easy to see why Germany was a better option, of course, the motivation behind my decision has many key points.
Turkey, being a place where many professionals from many professions seek to move out and work in other countries, is a key indicator for why it isn’t suited to plan for a long-lasting career. When it comes to the quality of life/salary/growth opportunity ratio (I know that’s not how a ratio works), there are some countries that I, for my own personal reasons, find more attractive than the rest, which would be the United States, Canada, and Australia. Three of which where I’d be too far away from my family and friends. My picks for a best-case scenario were Germany, Scandinavia, UK, Netherlands, and Switzerland. Luckily, I’ve landed in Germany.
This is straightforward. Inflation reached almost 20% in September, 2021. The Turkish Lira is losing value like a balloon losing air. A decade ago, 1 USD cost around 1.8 TL, today it costs above 10 TL. 1 Euro would cost 2.2 TL, now it costs above 11 TL. It’s bad to the point any average Turkish citizen would feel they are getting poorer on a daily basis, becoming more difficult to meet basic needs. Even though I’d change a job and get a higher salary, that rise would not amount to the current inflation, rendering the salary basically the same as the previous one. This is stupid.
Chaos. All I remember from the last 5-6 years. There was a dark, grim period of time stuffed with constant bombings and killings. This pattern was also real and feared from all over Europe as well, but Turkey having a long border with the troubled you-know-where region, the risk is much more alive and imminent. So far we’ve managed to not turn into a civil war torn country alike of those in the middle east. Yet the diverse (and at times radical) frictions in the general population always make room for conflict.
In Turkey, we’re governed by a presidential parliamentary system, where the head of state and the government is one person. We do have a constitution. But in practice, any law can be overlooked, skewed, and ignored for the favor of the party and its members. And how one comes to any office or position of power; is based on allegiance, loyalty, and ideology. And that’s how one would remain in that position. Not based on merit, but based on “Hey, I’ll appoint you there, but you’re my dog now. Be a good dog and take care of the herd.” (I apologize to the dogs, but you get it too). Then we end up with corruption. The party members milked us so much, yet the milk hasn’t run out yet. This is how rich Turkey is. So rich, with all the stealing, it’s still standing.
Too much politics
The main agenda in the country is basically politics. One that isn’t constructive or progressive. Mainly toxic, a lot of finger-pointing, side-taking, and blaming. A big part of the population is, to put it more kindly, uneducated. Uneducated not only as in “didn’t go to school”, but also “schooled dumbs”. We are looping the same events every once in a while. The will to have civilized discussion is so low, you could count those who want it by hand. I wouldn’t recommend anyone to watch street interviews. You might as well watch a live broadcast from a random Zoo.
When it comes to a well-done city planning, fine architectural taste in buildings, clean air, and streets, and other factors that make of a quality city, there are only a handful of places to give as an example. Maybe Eskişehir, İzmir, and some neighborhoods in İstanbul. But that’s about it. I’ve always admired the look of cities in Europe such as Dresden, Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Zurich, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Brussels. The beauties in Scandinavia. The problem in Turkey is that when building new structures, aesthetics and quality are the latest to come into consideration in the planning. This problem while can be tied to the government for lack of regulation, it can also be traced to the lack of aesthetic intelligence and sensation in our population as a whole. In other words, we’re fine living in ugly buildings and cities.
You might ask any person who opposes the government, they’ll tell you everything will be fine if the current leadership were to leave. If you ask a supporter, they’ll tell you everything is fine, maybe even they’ll happily conclude we’re doing much better than Europe. In reality, we are not doing fine, the only countries we’re doing relatively better are the ones who have civil wars or still haven’t invented fire in some Amazon forest. And actually, many of our critical problems will not go away upon a partial or complete regime change. We will have a brief period of ease and cosiness, but once the time comes to pay the bills, we will see that the only thing that’s changed is some decision makers, not the general population, who everything depends and relies on. And for that change, a long time is needed to restore the education system, the institutions, and everything else that’s corrupted to the ground. I may be pessimistic about it, but I believe my worries are not unfounded.
If things change, I will also change my opinion. But until then, I’ve made my decision. My future lays in Europe.
* This ending sounded like a serious statement, it isn’t, but it kind of is. Took me couple of days to edit and finish it. This has got to be worth it.