Reminiscing My 30s: The 32nd Year of My Life

A little blog post series: I am turning 40 next week, and I thought it would be fun to look back at my last decade before my birthday. So, every day for ten days, there will be a new blog post reminiscing about one year. Also, check out my Instagram for a few more photos and videos from these last ten years of my life.

The Big Picture

I turned 31 and celebrated by traveling to the Black Sea area. Sümela Monastery, a Greek Orthodox monastery in a steep cliff at an altitude of about 1,200 m, had been on my bucket list for a long time. It seemed appropriate as the destination for my birthday and my last trip in Turkey.

Reminiscing My 30s: The 32nd Year of My Life | janavar

On my 31st birthday

That year of my life started with me being super excited. I was going to leave Turkey and all the drama behind me and moving to Boston. I couldn’t wait! Okay, I quickly realized that I wouldn’t even earn enough to afford an apartment on my own, but I was moving to Boston! I found a roommate online, got rid of most of my belongings, packed and shipped the rest, and – man! – I was moving to Boston! I enjoyed my last few weeks in Istanbul, got the skyline tattooed around my left wrist, then took Canavar, and went to the airport. Chapter closed. Right?!

Reminiscing My 30s: The 32nd Year of My Life | janavar

On my last night in Istanbul, I went to the Sapphire observation deck for the best view at the beautiful city

I had a lovely summer in Boston. There were so many new things to explore. My first Independence Day. My first day trips around Boston. I got to know a few great people and had a lot of fun. But:

Eventually, my job started. Everyday life set in. I got terribly homesick for Istanbul and my friends. I worked so much (easily 60 to 80 hours per week – not a joke because at one point I started taking the time) and earned so little. What had sounded like a good salary coming from Europe, was so little for living in Massachusetts. I couldn’t even afford moving back to Istanbul, as much as I wanted it at the time. One of my friends from Turkey offered to lend me the money. Only I was to proud and thought things would improve. For Christmas break, I went back to Istanbul because that was how much I missed the city and my old life.

Reminiscing My 30s: The 32nd Year of My Life | janavar

I arrived in Boston just in time for 4th of July

Unfortunately, that New Year’s Eve I ended up in a dilemma and in the middle of a conflict between two friends. And that is how lost my best friend. I still think about it today and, without going into detail here, I still don’t have any idea how I could have solved that dilemma any better. And I totally understand her reaction. And yes, it still sucks.

Of course, not everything was bad. I fondly remember a weekend with students to New York City when a blizzard hit. We were in a shut down city on an empty 5th Avenue full of snow. Or my winter vacation in an Airbnb in Vermont where we were so snowed in that we just relaxed inside the house. Or a trip with a friend to Florida during spring break. We stayed in a hostel in Miami Beach and explored the area in few days.

Reminiscing My 30s: The 32nd Year of My Life | janavar

My Firsts

That year, there were so many firsts!

Canavar’s first (and only) time flying. He did amazing!

All U.S. American holidays like Independence Day and Thanksgiving for the first time.

Getting to know a totally different system. Like I had to learn how to go to a doctor in the U.S.

My first ballet lessons, which I loved, even though I wasn’t particularly good. Sadly, I had to stop when work interfered so much that I couldn’t attend the evening classes anymore.

Having a terrible work life balance. Too many work hours. Too little money. And: I had to go hiking as a school trip. Like actually climb a mountain while also look after two classes of middle school students. I hate hate hate hiking. Did then. Still do.

What I Learned

I did a lot of learning that year. Besides getting to know a new culture and finding my way around that is.

I learned that I could decide to leave everything behind, but that it also will forever remain a part of me. That all that glitters is not gold. That the American Dream does not exist anymore (if it ever did), especially not for teachers. But also that I can make friends in a new place.

I learned other valuable life lessons, like when my credit card was stolen in Istanbul and they immediately emptied my bank account.

In hindsight, I would say I learned even more from that year later on. For example, that we always have a choice and do not need to stick to a job that doesn’t make us happy. That I went through the typical stages of moving abroad (again) – from excitement to frustration to adjustment, maybe even to some confidence.

While it was maybe not my best year, I didn’t feel as lost as the year before. That was because I was slowly finding myself. And that was and is the most important.

My Travels

1. Rize, Uzungöl & Sümela Monastery

2. New York City

Reminiscing My 30s: The 32nd Year of My Life | janavar

Central Park after a blizzard

3. Branch Pond, Maine

4. White Mountains

5. Istanbul

6. Vermont

7. Washington D.C.

8. Miami Beach & Key West, Florida

Reminiscing My 30s: The 32nd Year of My Life | janavar

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