From South Africa to Istanbul

Taskeen Istanbul

  1. What is your name?

Taskeen Jamal (@productive_muslim_mom on Instagram)

  1. What country were you born in?

South Africa

  1. What job did you have in your home country? 

Marketing at Unilever

  1. How long have you been living in your new country for?

4.5 years (+8 years in the UK before this)

  1. Did you immigrate alone or with your family and kids?

I immigrated to the UK first with my husband, and then both my children were born in Istanbul, since we moved here 4.5 years ago.


  1. If you had immigrated with your kids, what were their ages when you immigrated and how did they adjust to the new environment?

Istanbul is all they know 😉


  1. How are the schools in the new country?

To attend English speaking schools you will need to go to International private schools- these range in price and can get very expensive depending on the area and system used. Some international schools offer Islamic studies and Arabic. Otherwise state schools are available where Turkish is used as a medium.

  1. What is your job in your new country?

My profession is Marketing and Business and I worked in the UK for 7 years at Unilever in various global and European roles. I left the board room for the therapy room in 2015 when I switched to practicing full time as a Certified BodyTalk Practitioner.


Now living in Istanbul with two small kids under 5, I am a stay at home mum, working part time offering remote BodyTalk sessions to clients all over the world, and in my spare time- blogging which is my other passion!


  1. What do you enjoy about your new country?

I love hearing the adhan, walking along the magnificent bosphorus, the history- there’s always so much to discover Alhamdulillah.

  1. What do you miss the most about your home country?

I have two homes! I miss simple things like a nice big shop at Tesco’s in the UK! And regarding South Africa -family and amazing food!


  1. What advice would you give someone that is contemplating to immigrate to the country you have immigrated to?

Always be clear on your purpose and intention to move. That way you can establish whether the new country can meet your needs. Be prepared to be flexible, to take time to learn and adjust. You will need to learn Turkish to survive here – it’s fun and easy to pick up though!

  1. What challenges, if any, would you advise them to anticipate based on your experiences when you first moved to your new country?

Language and cultural differences. Things work differently here – queuing is not common practice for instance!

The other strange thing is that there is a lack of English speaking Islamic events and Muslim gatherings- for example zero madrassah for kids! I started the first Muslim English playgroup for toddlers in Etiler to meet this need. We are slowly building up our community over the years but as places are far apart, and during the pandemic it’s been a bit challenging but Insha Allah we will continue to grow and offer more.


  1. What advice would you give them to overcome those challenges based on how you overcame them?

Be patient and open minded. I also joined many expat groups for the incredible support and learning from others. There are Facebook and WhatsApp groups covering different interests – from women groups to expat cooking groups to mom meet ups which have been amazing to help me navigate around and adjust more easily.


  1. How was the visa process for immigrating to your new country?

My husband’s company organised this so this time it was much easier Alhamdulillah. Don’t know much more on this!


  1. How is the cost of living in the new country compared to your home country?

It depends largely on your income of course which varies so much across different sectors and jobs. Some earn in $ which is more advantageous. Overall, certain expenses are higher here than in SA for example rent and schooling. Food and eating out is relatively affordable as is public transport. Buying a car here is incredibly expensive as you can only buy from other expats (tax law)- some choose to long term lease or like us – use taxis and buses to get around.


  1. Anything else you would like to add, or any advice you would like to give to anyone that is contemplating moving to your new country?

You only get to fully appreciate another country by living there- not just touring! So if you want to experience another culture and life abroad, Istanbul has much to offer. It does take a lot of effort to adjust but with the right mindset and preparation you will be able to manage the challenging aspects and fully enjoy all the best it has to offer Insha Allah!


Follow Taskeen on Instagram as she shares amazing tips and resources for mums. Click here to view her Instagram page.

See links below to some of the previous articles in this series:

From South Africa to the UK

From Lahore to London

From Cape Town to Abu Dhabi

From South Africa to Saudi Arabia


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