How did I become a journalist?

This my story… My journey to journalism…

I was thrilled by my deportation!

Or gently saying, I was “asked to leave” London where I came back as a journalist! Thank you UK Border Agency!

SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD: Valentine’s Day had no meaning for me till February 14, 2009 when I received my deportation papers to my flat at Covent Garden, central London.

Early in the morning of that Saturday, my doorbell rang and I went down to see the cupid of my Valentine’s Day.

A British postman was standing in front of me, smiling either at my barely covered body with scruffy look or at the letter he was holding with a bold sign on the envelop: “UK Border Agency”

I knew it was one of our daily mail exchanges with UK Home Office as a part of my Post-Study Work permit application process… But what I did not know was that, the letter held in this red face postman’s hands, was actually the last letter I was going to receive, with “my deportation” order in it.

“You have no right to stay in the United Kingdom and are liable to be removed. You must leave as soon as possible. If you do not leave voluntarily, you may be prosecuted for an offence under the Immigration Act 1971, the penalty for which is a fine of up to £2,500 and/or up to 6 months imprisonment and you will also be liable to be removed from the United Kingdom to Turkey.”

I skip the frustration I felt when I saw these lines… I also skip the tears, desperation, the grief and the feeling of weakness…

Since it was a breaking up, I had to remind myself that I was going to be the winner of this split-up between London and me.

Due to some bureaucratic reasons, my application as a highly skilled workers Tier 1 immigrant has been refused and “my documents had been forwarded to my Local Enforcement Office.” Again, very gently said. I love this British kindness, never leaving any doubt on politeness…

Literally speaking I’ve been deported and my passport was kept at the detention centre Becket House, close to London Bridge.

On Valentine’s Day of 2009, I’ve become someone facing an imprisonment, and a fine up to £2,500, in my words at the day: “I’ve become a criminal.”

After the mail exchanges for almost three months, it was time for the phone hustling to receive my passport back from the Becket House.

Inconsistent and indifferent answers, I received each time.

“You have to book your ticket and go to airport. You will receive your passport when you take your seat in aircraft.” This was one version.

“You will not receive your passport till you come to report at Becket House,” said another officer with a broken English, setting the second version of my situation.

At the last one, I was impatient. “Listen, I booked my ticket and I want to leave this country immediately like your bosses order as well, so can you please tell me how I can leave your country?” I’ve done my best to fit in British politeness.

“Ok, come to Becket House, they will look after you.” At least I’ve had an appointment.

Queuing up at the Becket House is another experience itself. Families from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Nepal and Nigeria, they were all in their best looking outfits waiting to get in and sign their daily attendance report. Curious, doubtful faces obviously did not trust anybody around since they did their best to skip my questions.

Once I was let in, the posters at the wall captured my attention. Slogans written in the best attractive way possible promoting the money, UK Home Office offered to send the immigrants back to their country.

Colourful posters with pictures of beautiful houses and construction materials were put alongside of the bold decks: “We are offering thousands of pounds for you to go back to Afghanistan and build your dream house.” As if those people would have the same lands to build their houses in.

At the counter, the lady began to question me. I’ve become a “number” this time. My name didn’t matter for her. In this part of the earth, I was obviously known by some digits and not my 24 years old label: my name…

Limited conversation we had. Either the way I looked, or the mistake that was figured out, made me leave the Becket House with my passport in hand, after weeks of struggling to have it back.

I have already quit my job, packed, cancelled my bills, my contracts and left London behind.

It was time to enjoy my prawn plate at Heathrow airport with a glass of champagne. I was still trying to be the winner of this break up.

Things got worse when I landed back in my hometown Izmir in Turkey. My room was not mine anymore. It had turned out be a storage. Since I’ve left my flat in Istanbul where I used to live before London, I felt abandoned by Istanbul as well. First time in my life, Istanbul was not receptive anymore, as if I’ve betrayed on my love.

I had nowhere to go. Same clothes I wore for a week, and I haven’t left the house for a minute. I could easily find a job at Big Issue [paper sold by homeless people in UK] as a street seller with the way I looked in Izmir.

The life was obviously mocking with me. I always tried to find a way to turn my deportation into something positive. And I did what first came to my mine with my passport: I flew to Beirut!

My Swedish boyfriend by then used to tell me how much I would like the city. But I’ve never paid attention and never credited a Nordic European having more information about a place that was only an hour distant to my hometown in Turkey.

But it was time for me to mock with life. And after two weeks in Turkey, I was on my way to Beirut, where I had nothing to do, and nobody I knew.

I have bought the only English paper I saw at the kiosk and sent an email to its editor asking for an internship, which was: The Daily Star Lebanon! Afterwards, I got it all… A title: Journalist… Residence: UK work permit valid for two years… And most important: The feeling of being the winner of the “break-up”… After being granted this work permit I spent a couple of months in London to see what I’ve missed and what I was going to miss…

But now, I’m working at one of the most reputable TV channel in Istanbul both known locally and internationally and I can easily call myself a journalist with quite a lot of publications all around the world…

I think my anger, and my frustration pushed me to journalism…

So at this stage of my life, I’m thankful to UK Home Office, definitely not for the work-permit I was granted to, but rather for the work-“not” permitted.



Filed under Drafts of my life, Lebanon, Turkey

4 responses to “How did I become a journalist?

  1. s-UC

    What a great piece. Excellent. It’s great that you saw that there can be a positive emerging from every negative. You can’t blame UK BA though. I know a number of people who work for them and they really are under a lot of pressure. Years of slack immigration laws has led to a complete crackdown on anyone outside the EU trying to enter the UK. It’s just the way it is. Even skilled US migrants are being turned away.

    Keep it up.


  2. Cagil M. Kasapoglu

    Thanks for the comment. I can imagine the pressure they are under in these circumstances…



  3. Rianne

    She moves in mysterious ways….She being either you, career planning in the form of revised no-plans plans, the UK home office and/or the interplay of all those factors combined. Im looking for my new destiny now,but its good to read how deportation orders( I remember another 😉 ) can make unexpected rocksolid friendships (would you have ended up in Beirut otherwise?), good stories and even more brilliant lives. Lots of love.

  4. Cagil M. Kasapoglu

    Definitely rocksolid friendships… It was amazing to see how much people from different countries have in common.. and Beirut, in this case indeed plays a significant role in helping to discover one’s life… Always wishing you the best Rianne…

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