Being Šeherezada: Turkish Teenage Years in Croatia

By 24 August 2022
Being Šeherezada: Turkish Teenage Years in Croatia
Instagram/Berguzar Korel

August 23, 2022 - TCN is delighted to welcome Irmak Erol to the team, kicking off with a Turkish viewpoint of growing up in Croatia. Welcome, number 178! If you would like to contribute to TCN and become TCN 179 and write about the Croatia where you are, contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject 179 with your sample article.  

I moved to Croatia in 2006 when was 13 years old. Because I started primary school a year earlier back in Turkey, I arrived in Croatia having finished elementary school and ready for the fiery corridors of high school, as ready as one can be. There are certain phases in life when you don’t particularly acknowledge the emotions you go through. Thinking back today, I must have been scared, anxious to say the least, but all I remember is the feeling of being lost. The breadcrumbs that led to that feeling are somewhat scattered too loosely as it is, like trying to see through a misty window. It’s a blur.

I started 9th grade in IB, XV. Gymnasium. A couple of months later, around 8pm, a classmate called and told me to turn the TV on and find HRT 2 in an excited manner. She wouldn’t tell me why. I ran to the living room, reached for the remote, and there it was. Binbir Gece, or as translated in Croatian Tisuća i jedna noć (1001 Nights) was playing its first episode on Croatian national television! At first, I couldn't believe my eyes. It made me feel excited, and effortlessly empowered.

In the following years, the Turkish series blossomed, and the floral landscape became a norm. I would laugh humbly every time someone compared me to Šeherezada. That humble laugh never really ceased to exist. 16 years later, it's still there, lurking.

The popularity of the Turkish series had a major influence on my expat experience, appreciably contributing to the adaptation process in a foreign country. I stopped being an expat once I had been in Croatia longer than I had lived in Turkey, but that's a story for another time. It is funny to think that through struggle, one can develop a feeling of home, a sense of belonging. I think that also applies to people, as much as it applies to places. It's not really about good or bad; it's about rawness.

I've been gently muffled with the comfort of a flicker in people's eyes when they find out that I am Turkish. The very same flicker that kept my teenage years warm, subsequently continued to illuminate in momentary flashes during a friendly encounter with a lady working at a kiosk throwing Turkish words at me or the entrepreneurial endeavors sweating from one government building to another interacting with seemingly bored and/or annoyed individuals prior to my visit, hiding behind computer screens.

Šeherazada is a homage to the life I have so far lived. It is a building block emphasizing the positive impact of cultural fluidity on an individual in a societal frame. Because I felt accepted, I had the courage to meet new people, to make friends, to have my first big crush on a guy fanatically wearing red Converses; I had the luxury to listen to music more passionately, knowing I have friends to go to concerts with, to notice the colours around me as brightly as they may appear, to discover places within places that I thought I already knew, to develop new ideas, ultimately new realities...