Friday, May 29, 2009


Isabella, the owner/author/mother of the weblog "a touch of dutch" has awarded my blog, and a couple of others, with "Great Expat Blog" award.

Here is her related blog entry. "I want to thank you all with your expat blog and love reading what you have to share! You are making a positive contribution, and your contribution to expats is helpful!" she says in her blog entry. Isabella, just thanks for the award! (Actually, I am no longer an expat "physically" as I am in Turkey busy with my military service. But I keep this blog active as a virtual link between Holland and I.)

I already had written about her blog a while ago; it is really a great blog. I take it as an unofficial guide for living in Holland. And it is so comprehensive! Isabella, just thanks a lot for sparing your time for your blog, for your enthusiasm, and for making such a great help for people googling about Holland. This is really something to be greatly appreciated!

Seven awe-sum things

As part of the award, she says "List seven things about yourself that are awe-sum".

I will make a small change, and I will list seven things that are not only awesome but also related to Holland.

A with-minimized-prejudice guy: Compared to the people in my environment, I am noticeably free-minded and also free-of-prejudices. This, I owe to my living experience in Holland (and also in Denmark). The people I met from different countries as well as the general lifestyle in Holland are the main factors behind. The people in my military unit are aware of this, and they sometimes call me "the free-mind Willy"
2- A can-still-understand-some-dutch guy: I thought I already forgot all Dutch I know. But, checking some websites in dutch, I surprisingly noticed I can still understand quite dutch! (Isabella, your blog is of great help; you put some dutch sentences/phrases, which helps me to refresh my dutch :) )
A can-bike guy: I can bike, I can bike, I can bike!! This I learned at the age of 28, in Amsterdam :). I even managed to travel between two cities :)

4- A having-dutch-friends guy: Many expats say that dutch people, although they are very kind, are difficult to make friendship with. But I have managed to develop very nice friendships with dutch people in my work environment: I am still in contact with Maikel, Daniel, Suzanne, Tjeerd, and I am glad that this is the case..
5- A good-cook guy: I am very good at cooking some dishes from turkish kitchen. Lentil balls, bulgur salad (kısır), pepper with stuffed rice (dolma), lentil soup, yoghurt soup.. All of these, I learned in Holland while living alone in Funenpark. (I should also thank to all friends who joined me for dinners, BBQ parties)
6- A bird-fan guy: I am a bird-fan. This, I owe to different birds I came across in the canals and parks of Amsterdam & Utrecht (Moorhens, coots, geese, swans, jackdaws, magpies....). I use the word "different" since you do not see any of those birds in Istanbul, which is a quite urbanized city.
7- An awesome guy: My university building was just next to the zoo Artis, but I have never been there :( That's quite awesome considering that I am a nature-loving, animal-loving, zoo-loving guy :)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Smile in Photo: A Must for Dutch Driving License

Yeah, quite surprising...

I take driving lessons nowadays due to my attempt here to get a driving license. I take the lessons usually on the road which is just in front of the military complex. So, the SFH (our Soldier From Holland, abbreviated) watches my driving attempts when he has guarding duty at the gate of the complex.

Yesterday I had a short chat with him after my driving lesson was over. "Commander, I got a license here in Turkey,and also one in Holland" he said. "I got 100 from the exam in Turkey, and only 80 from the one in Holland, after my second attempt to pass" he said. I had already heard once from my German class teacher that many "experienced" turkish drivers had to take extra lessons when they wanted to make the license valid in Germany. So, it looks it is noticeably more difficult to get a driving license in Germany, or in Holland as the SFH told me.

The funny part is just coming: the SFH says that in Holland they turned down the photo he submitted for the driving license: "it must be a smiling one" the authorities had told him. How surprising!.. "Are you serious???!!" was my reaction. "Yes Commander, that was also the case for the passport photo" he replied.

One of the things I admired in Holland was to see everybody smiling in streets, in hospitals, at information desks, in restaurants etc.. But, I did not know that this was "kind-of" a policy they wanted somehow every citizen "to obey"; which is really to be appreciated I guess..

I must ask my dutch friends if they are familiar with this "smiling photo" policy :)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Somebody from Hoorn in my Military Unit ..

Yeahh, it was totally surprising for me.. To meet a soldier from Holland..

It happened few weeks ago. I heard that there was a new soldier from Holland. Ugh.. Somehow I feel Holland as my second home. That was why I really felt excited to hear about somebody from 'my second country'.

Then, I met him. Well, of course he is of turkish origin. He told me that he was born in Holland and he is from Hoorn. It was such a nice feeling to talk about Albert Heijn, drops (he loves them !, he is not a typical turkish guy anymore :) ), trains, Alkmaar, football teams (he is a professional football player), Blokker ...

Then, I went to uncle Wiki since it was the first time i heard "Hoorn". I have learned that it is somewhere close to Alkmaar, on the coast of Markermeer, and it is really a nice historical city! Weird that I did not hear about it when I was in Holland..

"Do you know Blokker", he asked me, "the store chain". "Of course" I said. I was there almost every week. I usually went to the one in Javastraat, next to the turkish supermarket I went for shopping. There was also one on the other side of Rietlandpark station of tram 26. (And I remember how I was surprised when Vahid and Sara told me that they do not know about Blokker :D)

But, the weird point is, I never questioned the meaning of the name! Of many such things I discussed with Maikel, Daniel or Suzanne, this never became an issue. I guess the main reason was that I thought it came from the word "blocks". :), which makes some sense when you think of what is sold in these stores..

Who would guess that I would learn the origin of this name in Turkey, in the military complex, from someone in turkish military clothes ... This is life :) It is so unpredictable :D

Yeah, this "soldier from Hoorn" told me that Blokker was indeed the name of a village in Hoorn area. " "They even have a football team, and I played there some time ago" he said.
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