CONTRIBUTED BY LARISSA KOERSCHNER
Hello fellow Incirlik Families! My name is Larissa Koerschner and my family and I have been stationed here in Incirlik for a year and a half. My husband is a Tanker Pilot on the KC-135 – NKAWTG! (look it up, it’s a good one) – and we have a 6 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. We are a ‘get-out-and-go’ kind of family and thought it would be great to have an online resource available to help others learn about – and explore – new places while stationed here in Turkey. Turkey Tamam is part of the Overseas Yes community, a series of online resource sites for American servicemembers and their families stationed in Germany and Korea.
Ever since we heard the words, “You’re moving to Turkey” two years ago, we have been on the world’s wildest roller-coaster ride! We had to sell our house in less than 3 months, figure out what things to ship and store, plan international travel for two adults, two kids and two large dogs (all while working in visiting family on the way here), learn the ins-and-outs of living on a host nation military installation (mostly the hard way), navigate the never-ending in-processing procedures, locate and explore the off-base necessities (i.e. McDonalds, the Malls and Home Depot-like stores), all while adjusting to our new life in a foreign country. Sound familiar?
From the moment we landed at Incirlik I knew this was not going to be like any other overseas assignment (we had previously been stationed in Okinawa, Japan). I thought, “How could my husband have forgotten to mention that this is not a US Military Base?!” Since I had been overseas before I was ready to hit the ground running; little did I know that things were going
to be different here – very different!
My husband and I are very “go” people and love to explore new worlds, cultures and cuisines. I was ready to explore Turkey as soon as we arrived, but not having my international driver’s license put a big kybosh on that (it would have been nice to know about this prior to PCSing from the States where getting one of these is extremely simple). However, that didn’t stop us since my husband was able to drive us in our ‘upgraded’ Hyundai rental (yes, we paid extra for the upgrade of Automatic and A/C – I know, we’re big spenders in this family).
Our first official outing was underway – The Optimum Mall! We had heard from others stationed here that, “It’s close by,” “Just keep going on the D400 – you can’t miss it!” So, we buckled the youngsters in their carseats (not a common practice in Turkey by the way) and headed toward the exit of our new gated community. Equipped with our 14 forms of identification and gate passes we were ready to explore our new host nation.
Conversation on the journey was never dull with all of our new surroundings. As we drove down the D400, my 5 year old asks, “Mommy, why is that guy holding a gun?” My 2 year old yells, “Mama, horsey, horsey!” Me to my husband, “Babe, look out for that truck. I think he’s coming over…Yes, he’s definitely coming into our lane…brake….hit the horn!…Didn’t he see us?!” 30 minutes later we were past the traffic and the local chaos. Glad to have survived our first drive through downtown, we took a breath and started to enjoy the simplistic scenery.
“Wait, didn’t they tell us the mall was close? And that we couldn’t miss it? Maybe ‘close’ is a relative term in Turkey.” An hour later, we realized that we must have definitely missed it. So, we turned around and headed back to our new home – Mission failed.
This was just the beginning of our realization that we were in for a challenge – in more ways than one. Read about the rest of this adventure in Welcome to Turkey Tamam – Part 2.
You’ve been there, right? What were your first off-base moments like here in Turkey. Were you as turned around and confused as we were? Tell us we’re not alone… please!