From my elementary school classes, I remember wondering why Turkey had chosen its capital to be Ankara, when it had a city like Istanbul. So when I was told that I would spend my last trainee rotation in Ankara, I decided it was time to find out.
Statkraft currently has two ongoing hydropower construction projects in Turkey. I was set to work for one of them, Kargi, taking part in the Asset Management team in Ankara. Kargi is a 102 MW plant currently in its final phase of construction. Read more about Kargi here:
During these 6 months, I have worked with the part of the project in the transition from construction phase to operation phase. That is – ensuring that everything is in place when the valves of the power station are opened for the first time. This entails working across various domains; with O&M who will run the power station once it’s commissioned, with Market and IT to ensure that we are able to sell the power, and with the Asset Manager, whose main task is to optimize the long term value of the power station. After 6 months I am only starting to get an overview of all the things that need to be in place for a power station to run properly, as they are not few.
From my experience living abroad, the unexpected experiences you have out in the field are the ones you tend to look back on with the most excitement. Here are a few:
My second day in Turkey:
At a site visit to Kargi, we went with our CSR manager to a local village close by. We had Turkish tea with the head of the local village (muhtar), while discussing the issues related to the growing population of wild pigs in the area. As I didn’t understand what was being said, I focused on drinking tea, observing and smiling 🙂 (see image below),
The tunnel breakthrough in Kargi! The tunnel boring machine (TBM) bored its way through the final piece of rock, and finalized the 11.8km long tunnel. This was during Bayram (Ramadan), so it was impressing that the workers were even able to accomplish their work in the 40 degrees heat. As the breakthrough happened a few days earlier than expected, I missed the actual happening. But check out a video of it here – if you put it on full screen it you can almost feel like you were actually there…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBftR9GCtz8
Turkey is located where some of the most ancient civilizations emerged thousands of years ago. Kapadokya is an ancient city located only 3.5 hours from Ankara. In this area you can find underground villages that are believed to be 4000 years old, and houses located in caves inside the rock. At sunset, tourists can wake up to catch a balloon to watch the breathtaking landscape. And so did I.
I also worked with the Cakit hydropower plant, an operational 20 MW run-of-river plant located in the southern province of Adana. My last visit on site coincided with the visit of 85 10-year olds from a local school who were invited to learn about global warming and hydropower. We joined the barbeque lunch with them and with their already impressive English knowledge, and my somewhat limited Turkish vocabulary, we were able to have some fun conversations.
Read more about Cakit here: http://www.statkraft.no/Statkraft/Documents/Faktaark%20Cakit%20ENG%20FINAL%2020101006_tcm10-11957.pdf’
When moving abroad, as a trainee or as an expat, it is my impression that the further away one is from home, the more the understanding of local culture is important to be able to actually do a good job. At the same time though, I think that if entering a new role with a positive attitude and a smile, one can get away with most cultural blunders.
From the moment I arrived in Turkey I have been stunned by the friendliness and helpfulness of my colleagues and the people I have met. I have learnt that it was Atatürk, the founder of Modern Turkey, who made Ankara the capital of Turkey. I have experienced the challenges with working in a country far away from home, but also the beauty of seeing life from a different perspective and learning to think differently about things.
With its friendly people, great food, cultural experiences, ancient history and beautiful nature, I think I might be in love with Turkey. I hope to come back, both for work and holidays.