Sooo Turkish. Posted on February 8th, 2011 by

The morning of Saturday, February 5th I had my second dramatic airport goodbye with my boyfriend, this time in the Dusseldorf airport, and in the evening of Saturday, February 5th I was sitting in an empty dorm building in Istanbul a state of mild panic. I am a little more settled now, and can finally post something.

My time in the Netherlands was AMAZING. To describe the Dutch in one word: adaptable. They became a world power in the 17th century by adapting to their below-sea-level chunk of land, using wind mills and canals to mitigate all the water and a strong navy to conquer the far reaches of the world. They adapted to the world language being English by establishing English education throughout the school system as well as undubbed English television and movies. They even adapt to bad habits by providing an outlet for those with sexual fetishes (red light district) and regulations and support for those with drug habits. My boyfriend has proved his Dutch-ness by adapting quicky (again) to scheduled Skype sessions rather than actual face time.

As for Turkey, its one word would be chaos. I remember when I was applying for my visa, getting a hold of the Turkish Embassy was a hassle you wouldn’t believe. I only needed two simple pieces of information which were not specifically stated on the website. I called the number at the Chicago embassy, and listened to an entire recording in Turkish. I called another number, and was told to check the website. When I explained that the website didn’t actually answer the question, I was given another number. I got this woman’s voicemail, which informed me that she was on vacation and would be for the next two weeks. And the process began anew. It took my probably an hour to find out how much my visa would cost ($58) and whether I could send the application by mail (yes). One hour. For six syllables in a Turkish accent. 

When I told my Turkophile friend Marta, she informed me that that process was “soo Turkish.” Now, I finally know what she means.

Traffic in Sariyer

Traffic rules here are non-existent. If you are a pedestrian, your chances of dying are high. Lanes mean nothing, and honking is as common as blinker usage in America. In the same vein, public transportation is wild. They are hardly ever on time, and many stop where they want rather than where they are scheduled.

Everything takes forever. We set up bank accounts at the university, and when we asked our student mentor if we would be able to use them the same day, she retorted, “Are you kidding? This is Turkey. You’ll wait at least a week.”

Lines in places of business are more like large crowds. The pushiest, tallest, or most determined get to the head of the line first.

I spent a large part of this evening exploring the city with two Istanbul natives. Even then, everything was convoluted. Our plans were constantly changing and meeting up with others took much longer than expected. If you are punctual, you’ll hate Turkey.

Koç University, where I will spend the semester.

Bita! Translation: tiny hamburgers wrapped in tortillas, smothered in cheese, and served with a scoop of Mexican rice and Greek yogurt.

Tonight, I met up with Marta and Sam (whom I graduated high school with) and Omer (whom I worked with this summer while he was in Minnesota on an exchange program), Omer’s friend Muhammed, and Marta’s former exchange student and current roommate, Baran. Pictures (and more stories!) will come soon.


One Comment

  1. Jill Fischer, CICE says:

    thanks for sharing… the food looks great! hoping you will eventually adjust to all that is ‘turkish’ :)