Brit in Kıbrıs: How it Began

Ceylan Atakan

In the summer of 2014, I had booked my ticket to my motherland, that being North Cyprus. I took the drastic decision to not return from my holiday and make the move permanent. My parents bought a flat and I moved in at the beginning of the new year. Excitement and anticipation of life somewhere completely different took over, it took some time to settle, that’s for sure, but I loved it. Always have done and always will do.

I was 25 years old, working at a lifestyle store in Central London and freelancing for Londra Gazete before making the decision to move.  If I’m honest it was very tiring, but I loved what I was doing and that made it fun.  The past few years had taken a lot out of me and the hustle and bustle of London was becoming too much to handle. Work – home – eat – sleep – repeat and that was what my life consisted of.

Fast forward five years and here I am on this tiny island about to take you on my journey as a Brit in Kıbrıs. 

Living in North Cyprus, you do have to accept how different life is compared to the UK. From the difference in culture, to the difference in weather, to the difference in mentality, they seem worlds apart.

We’ve just entered the new year but let me take you back to the Black Friday storms we had; the torrential rain made me feel like I was in London. It was so bad that the internet connection went, followed by the electricity cutting out, just after I’d put a load of washing in! So, no Internet, no electric, no central heating and the thunder wouldn’t stop. Oh, the joys of living in North Cyprus! Luckily, it only lasted 15 minutes and then there was light again. Three hours later, the sun came out and not a cloud in sight. Music to my ears. It meant that I could do some Black Friday shopping after all and the sun was joining us for it. The sales in Cyprus are nowhere near the same as London, though I did pick up a few bargains. 

Life in North Cyprus isn’t something I can fit onto one page. It’s more of an ongoing journey, adapting to a relaxed lifestyle, so different to what you’re used to, yet somehow still feels like it’s home. Popping round to someone’s house just for a Turkish coffee or rolling out your own pastry once every week is the norm. Just like hardly going to the beach when you live here is normal too. 

Honestly, hand on heart it’s very different and I miss London so much sometimes. Thanks to COVID-19 we can’t even hop on a plane and visit whenever we want anymore. I hate that. Don’t get me wrong, moving back to the UK isn’t something I’d consider, although I think it will always be home to me no matter what. 

The culture here is definitely something else, there’s no 24-hour supermarket, hardly any online shopping, and all the workplaces rarely check their emails, but, wait for it, everywhere has WiFi! Bringing us even more into the 21st century is the fact that pretty much all restaurants deliver, and there’s even a food delivery website for orders, with a vast choice of different world cuisines. Bet you weren’t expecting that, right? It’s certainly becoming more practical in regard to availability of essentials, but as an island, there’s still a long way to go.

You go to a clothes shop, like New Look for example, and there’s a long queue of customers waiting to pay with only one open till, I mean really?! This is a common theme everywhere though, from restaurants to banks and offices to pharmacies; only one or two people provide customer service and half the time they’re dilly dallying or sending you to someone else to get what you need sorted. 

It can be very frustrating at times, particularly when the lifestyle you’re used to is fast and prompt. It can make you feel like you’re going about life in slow motion. To simply put just how relaxed it is, there’s a two-hour siesta in the summer for banks, pharmacies and offices because it’s so hot. Can you imagine that in the UK? There’d be utter chaos!

Living here can require a lot of patience sometimes, but the friendliness and welcome you always receive, on top of the physical and aesthetic attraction, makes adapting to the relaxed lifestyle a lot easier.

Despite all the ways in which Cyprus differs to what we may be used to in London, there is a calling to the motherland that it seems we all hold in our hearts, no matter what generation you are or where else you live. 

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