Turks who moved abroad miss homeland, but say have no regrets

In recent years, scores of Turkish foreign-language public and private school graduates have been moving abroad to work or pursue their higher education. While they miss their homeland, few intend to move back.

Duvar English 

According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK), the number of Turkish citizens that moved abroad reached 330,289 in 2019, thereby increasing by 2 percent compared to 2018, Cumhuriyet daily reported on Jan. 10.

54.6 percent of those emigrants were men, and 45.4 percent women. What is more, 15.2 percent belonged to the 25-29 age group, 13 percent were aged between 30-34 and 12.6 percent were aged between 20-24. 42.5 percent of those emigrants came from Istanbul.

Hüsna Sarı, a 33-year-old journalist who worked as a reporter in Turkey for 5 years, is one. She moved to Toronto, Canada in 2018, where she now works as a producer for the Canadian broadcasting network CBC.

“All our articles had to go through a censorship filter. Our work began resembling advertising rather than journalism. This angered me, and I was anxious for my future. That’s why I decided to move abroad,” she said.

She also underlined the sharp differences between Canada and Turkey. “During the pandemic, the Canadian government paid 2,000 dollars a month not only to its own citizens, but also to those who stayed there on a student visa. The only condition was to pay taxes,” Hüsna said.

Merve Nur Ambrosioni, also 33 years old, moved to Dublin, Ireland four years ago. She now works for the social media application Tik Tok. She cites “nepotism based on political affilitions,” “a staggering economy,” “low wages,” “social pressure,” and “féminicides” as the factors behind her departure.

While the health sector in Ireland does not outperform that of Turkey’s, Merve Nur Ambrosioni pointed out that “a functioning legal system in Ireland helps minimize racism and domestic violence.”

Like Hüsna Sarı, she emphasized the economic aid provided by the government during the pandemic. “300 euros were provided every week to students, even foreign, that stayed in Ireland back then,” Merve Nur Ambrosioni said.

38-year-old Özlem Özer moved to Frankfurt, Germany, where she works as a dentist at a local clinic. “In Turkey, I didn’t have any guarantee or protection for the future in terms of old age or illness. That’s why I wanted to live under the administration of a welfare state,” she said. Özlem added that she could “no longer find happy people around her in Turkey.”

Yet for those emigrants, living abroad is not easy feat.

“My best memories are in Turkey. My family, friends and loved ones are still in Turkey. I miss my country very much” Ambrosioni said.

Hüsna Sarı, who does not intend to return to Turkey anytime soon, also said she misses her family. “Turkey remains the most beautiful country on earth. I miss it so much,” Özlem Özer told Cumhuriyet.

Still, few intend to move back. “I will never return to Turkey. I do not expect the economy there to improve,” Merve Nur Ambrosioni said.

The same applies to Murat Dönmez, 28, who works as a doctor in Berlin, Germany and does not consider moving back to Turkey, unless a “critical situation” emerges.

“Even my university professors are thinking of leaving the country,” he added. “I wanted to move away from the tense environment that prevails in Turkey and not think 3 or 4 times before buying something,” Murat Dönmez said. “In Germany, my expectations were met.”