Frequently Asked Questions
1. How did you end up in Turkey?
Foreign freelancing has been a longtime dream of mine, albeit a pretty vague one for years. The longer I was in journalism, the longer I worked freelance and could define my own course, the more I wanted to go abroad. But I wasn’t sure how to do it permanently as a freelancer. I mean: if there is an interesting country where some Dutch journalists are already working, what could I add to that? And if there is an interesting country where zero Dutch journalists are based, well, there must be a reason for that, so why would I go there? I just couldn’t figure it out. So I just made trips now and then, like to East Timor when the country had only existed for 1 year (in 2003) and to Gaza and the West Bank, or I wrote stories when I was on holiday, like in India.
Then, in 2004, the journalism academy in Utrecht gave a course on ‘freelancing abroad’, by one of my role models in independent foreign journalism, Linda Polman. I ran. And wow, did I get inspired! I learned what criteria a country needs to meet for one to be able to work there successfully as a freelancer. Ties with the Netherlands, for example, and some other crucial things. I gave it some thought, and concluded: Turkey.
Not that I had ever been to Turkey. But it was an idea worth considering. In September 2004 I took a plane and produced a story in the central Kapadokya region. I could easily sell the story, and people were open in talking to me. So I sold more stories, and flew to Turkey again. And again, and again, to several regions of the country. Every time I managed to produce stories for a wide range of magazines.
In 2006, I felt secure enough. I packed my bags, threw away my old business cards and made new ones: Fréderike Geerdink, journalist in Turkey.
2. So it’s not because of a boyfriend?
No. There are actually women who make conscious career choices.
3. Do you love Turkey?
No. I’m not the kind of person to ‘love’ a country. Turkey suits me somehow, like you can read in this blog post, and this one - but love? No. It wouldn’t be good for my work either, of course, to love Turkey, since love makes us blind and as a journalist that’s the last thing I need. I find Turkey ultra interesting though, and the more I learn about it, the more interested and curious I get.
4. I’m coming to Istanbul; do you have some good tips?
Istanbul is one big tip. It’s just too general a question to answer. For this site, I wrote a series about my own part of the city, Üsküdar, and an article with some tips you might not read in travel books, and that article is here. That’s all I can do for you. Want more? Visit www.enjoy-istanbul.com, by my dear Dutch friend and colleague Marc Guillet.
5. A hotel tip then?
6. Are you married?
Sometimes I am, sometimes I’m not. Depends on my mood. Same goes for having children or not: sometimes I do (3: two girls, one boy), sometimes I don’t. I am asked this question several times a week and it drives me nuts. Why is this interesting?
7. You’re really a spy, aren’t you? Ha ha, just kidding of course.