What is the Olmsted Foundation, you ask? Where is Izmir, Turkey? Both good questions that I myself asked throughout this process.
Let's start with the Olmsted Foundation. They are a private foundation that sends military officers around the world for graduate school, seeing their participation in the program as a leadership experience that will benefit them when they return to their military duties. The program is a three year program where the first year is traditionally spent in language school in the United States, learning the language of the country you will be living in. Then, once the year is up, you and your family move overseas for two years while the service member attends graduate school. They provide you with a travel stipend and encourage you to travel within your region to learn about the different cultures and ways of thinking.
Mike and my story goes a little like this. We got engaged on New Year's Eve of 2013. After returning from our vacation and before any wedding planning could happen, Mike and the USS Jacksonville went underway for three months, only accessible by sporadic email. You can imagine how much say Mike had in wedding planning. :) After what seemed like years underway, Lady Jax returned to Pearl Harbor for a few days. During this time, I received a text message from Mike (because of course he was on duty and couldn't talk) exclaiming that he was accepted by the Olmsted Foundation and that we would be moving to Izmir, Turkey in the spring of 2015.
I stared at the text message for what seemed like hours. Then, I google mapped Izmir, Turkey.
Lucky for us, Izmir is BEAUTIFUL! It's on the western side of the country and due east of Athens. The Aegean Sea provides a scenic backdrop for a city that is rich in history. The fact that so many people (ie me) have never heard of it is a crime. It is truly a hidden gem. We traveled to Izmir in March of 2015 for a week to scope out the scene. Mike talked to schools about their application process, we met with people about housing and we ate lots of good food.
In June of 2015, we arrived in Izmir and began our adventure. Mike began school, I found a job teaching English, and we both learned Turkish. We were adjusting as well as could be expected, loving our adventure and the speed bumps that came with it, all while missing home. We were able to travel in and out of Turkey and learn about the beautiful culture. We learned all sorts of things, from how to ask for tea in Turkish, to how foreign governments work, to how to take a shower without hot water.
How did you end up in Berlin?
As the year progressed, the political situation in Turkey became more and more unstable. The military felt that it was important to evacuate all dependents (that's me!) from Turkey, so in April, I left and we quickly figured out our next steps. Mike found a one year Master's program in International Relations in Berlin, so we made moves towards Germany. Unfortunately, the week before we moved out of Turkey, there was a coup.
WHAT?!?!? You survived a coup??!??!? What is a coup like?
My experience with the Turkish coup was probably pretty similar to you. We found out about it via Facebook and we sat and watched in on the news. We did get instructions to stay inside, which carried over to the next few days, but other than that, we really didn't see much. It pushed back our move date a couple of days, but other than that, everything was normal.
Never in a million years would I have guessed that I would have lived in Turkey, much less be evacuated and survived a coup. While it's not the typical Olmsted experience, it's been quite the adventure and left us with some good stories to tell. Here's to hoping life in Germany won't be quite as tumultuous, but equally as interesting.