The PR consultant, digital nomad, and trilingual expat, Aylin Nazlican, talks about her background, travels, and life!
1. How did you begin your expat lifestyle? As a student, entrepreneur, trailing spouse,
professional, retiree, etc? And tell us about that journey!
I grew up in a pretty small town in western Germany as the child of Turkish immigrants,
and for some reason I remember always feeling like I was supposed to be somewhere
else, somewhere ‘bigger’ - literally and metaphorically. I always wanted to be part of
something on a larger scale, beyond one country’s borders and across different
cultures. My first experience with this was my study abroad in Istanbul during my
Bachelor’s at the University of Cologne - it was my first time leaving home by myself
and experiencing a completely new place. Of course I was partly familiar with the
Turkish culture and language, but I had never been anywhere near a city as huge as
Istanbul. I then realised that I never wanted to limit myself to just living in a small town,
and having tasted that exciting and crazy new thing, I decided to move to London after I
got my Bachelor’s degree i went on to do my Master’s at Kingston University. What was
supposed to be a year abroad ended up being six years of living, studying and working
in London. As I had always had that special connection with Istanbul though, I knew I
would end up here one day, and when everything changed during the pandemic and I
realised that my location doesn’t have to limit my work and my career in any way, I
decided to take the jump and move here.
2. You are from Istanbul but live and work in London? Is that correct? What is it like
living the expat life? Did you find it hard to integrate into a different culture? Language
I was born and raised in Germany and lived in London for six years (from 2016 to 2022).
Moving to London from Germany was obviously a big step for me, as I was 23 at that
point and everything seemed so new and so big. Adapting to life in London wasn’t too
challenging for me though, as I felt like the diversity of the city and the fact that many
people I interacted with weren’t originally from there made me feel like I somehow
actually belonged there - as opposed to being an immigrants’ child in a small town
without any diversity. This mix of cultures in London was an incredibly refreshing thing
for me, so the six years I spent there were a very enriching and great experience.
Funnily enough, moving to Turkey showed more cultural differences to what I was used
to than I expected. Although I grew up in a Turkish family, the environment I grew up in
and the time I spent in Germany and the UK in the phases of my life that shaped me the
most, I wasn’t as familiar with the lifestyle of young professionals in Turkey. It has been
a year now and I feel more and more like I am getting used to it, but in total I can say
that Istanbul already feels like home to me and that I enjoy tackling those cultural
differences to learn more.
3. Your career in PR is impressive. What advice do you have for women looking to
advance their careers?
This will sound so cliche, but what I would tell young women in the industry, and
probably my younger self as well, is to be a bit less humble and shy about their own
strengths and skills. Being someone who works in a female-dominated field, I still see
differences in the way women present themselves in professional settings, especially at
a young age and early on in their careers. I think you have to be confident enough in
your own skills to just DO things and not be scared to show confidence in your own
talent - and not think about how others might perceive you. In more tactical terms, I
would always say that being proactive wins. If there is a company that you find interesting -
send them an email. Is there a person on LinkedIn that you find inspiring and would like
to potentially work with? Message them. Having skills and developing them is great, but
if you don’t show people what you can do, no one apart from your closest circle will
know about it.
4. Where have you traveled or lived in as a digital nomad that has left a lasting
impression on you and why?
Ever since I moved to London in 2016, I have kind of been travelling in a triangle
between the UK, Germany and Turkey constantly. In the last couple of years, when
remote work became the norm in many industries, I tried to make the most of it and avoid
staying in one place (of those three) for too long. Although I split most of my time
between those three countries, I tried to visit new cities and travel more within them.
One of the places I really loved outside of that triangle, was Positano and the rest of the
Amalfi Coast. I have always felt very close to that Mediterranean lifestyle (probably due
to my origins) and the joy of being by the beach and having good food, and Positano
was just all of that at once.
5. What has life been like for you as a digital nomad?
It has been amazing to be able to work from anywhere I want and show that you can do
your job well and succeed in your career without having to decide where you want to
live. I feel like this distinction between your location & personal life and your work has
made the quality of life of so many people around the globe so much better, and has
shown that we’ve been missing out on so many opportunities and enjoyable things for
way too long. Although it can get a bit exhausting at times to spend more time at
airports and on planes than anywhere else, I would never want to miss out on the things
I am able to do now - from never missing birthdays of loved ones again to being able to
visit family and friends I haven’t seen in a long time while not having to worry about
work or having to take annual leave. Although I think the last year has been less
travelling and more settling down in Istanbul, I want to always keep that side open and
make sure I always have the chance to decide for myself of where I want to be and work.
6. What advice do you have for female expats facing cultural or language barriers in
It’s incredibly important for anyone who finds themselves in a new, unknown
environment to just get themselves out there and not be scared to ‘embarrass’
themselves. Female expats, no matter where they are and how new or strange the
place is that they live in, should always try to make as many new connections as
possible - whether this is with other like-minded people and professionals or just
connecting with locals in their day-to-day life. Even if this means literally just getting to
know the baker next door that you always buy your bread from, it will massively help
with your sense of belonging and getting to know the place and the culture around you
to feel less like an outsider, while also growing your network.
7. If you can disclose - what was the best company you worked for/best client?
I had an in-house role at a tech startup as their PR Manager in EMEA for about 15
months until last year. What I loved about working there is the fact that the company
had really mastered the new ways of working and their vision for what work should look
like in the future. The company doesn’t have any offices, which means that the team
was fully distributed and fully global. Employees could live and work wherever they
want. Additionally, the company also embraced asynchronous work, which means that
everyone could work at whatever times work best for them while mainly communicating
via video recordings or written content, and without unnecessary, exhausting meetings.
This level of flexibility was a huge change in my life and made me realise that I don’t
have to constantly sit in one place to do my job. I was able to travel much more, spend
more time with family and friends, and explore new places like cafes, co working spaces,
museums and other venues to work from. This also massively helps creativity and
productivity, as there are so many inspirations that we’d miss out on if we were just
sitting in an office.
8. What have been some of the challenges you have faced professionally? How did
you overcome them?
I can’t say that I have experienced any major challenges and issues in my career so far,
but one of the things that are worth mentioning is finding your place and establishing
yourself in an industry that at times can get quite competitive. In the PR industry, as well
as most other industries I guess, you can sometimes find yourself in old school
environments where it is more important to people to PR themselves internally rather
than excelling at their work. Once you notice that you feel like your value to the team
or the work that you do is not being appreciated enough purely because you don’t like to
constantly show off, it is probably worth looking for other opportunities and finding
environments that value the actual work that you do.
9. What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to spend time with friends and family and explore new places around me, no
matter if it’s culture and art or new restaurants and cafes. I am also re-discovering my
love for film and television and am trying to bring myself up to date on what is going on
in the film industry. My partner and I just adopted a kitten, which we had been planning
to do for a while, so a lot of my time currently goes to entertaining the cat…
Connect/find out more about Aylin here: