Initially infatuated with Turkey's natural beauty, a Ukrainian woman also fell in love there with the man who would later become her husband.
"I felt very happy when I first came to Turkey," Alesya Savchenko told Anadolu Agency (AA). "Turkey is a wonderful country. I am so lucky to live here."
Savchenko's first visit to Turkey was in 2004 to perform with her dance company in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya. She met Suat Deniz during her next visit in 2007, but neither could speak each other's language.
In the early days of their relationship, Savchenko said she and Deniz communicated using Turkish and Russian dictionaries and body gestures. She said textbooks in Russian and Turkish also sped up her learning process. Savchenko and Deniz got married in 2010 in a ceremony that reflected both the Turkish and Russian cultures. The couple, who have two sons, are eagerly awaiting their third child. "My hometown is Turkey," Savchenko said. "I have a different culture and language from my husband, but we overcame the differences through love and respect." Deniz, who works in the health tourism sector, said they have a happy, fulfilled family. "Language, religion and race do not matter. Mutual understanding, respect and love are what really matters," he added.