Finding your limits

Vapur4

Starting to live here for a short-term period after 15 years of not-being-a-resident was not as easy as I had thought. Getting used to the daily life, the intensity of people or doing business in an environment where everyone says “It is easy bro, no worries” but does not give you any solid promise, coupled with the fact that it is a much more polarized country than I had left behind 15 years ago. When I read Lisa Morrow’s book, many topics felt so familiar, I have decided to review it as a node to my own dealing with Turkish culture after being outside of Turkey for years.

BookLisa

 Source: Amazon 

Lisa moved to Turkey in 1990 to travel for three months and it looks like Turkish culture has drawn her in more and more, finally she moved to Turkey. She taught English in a conservative Anatolian city, Kayseri  and has been living in Istanbul. This book is about the typical main points on Turkish culture and how she dealt with them.

“Living in Turkey rather than just visiting, trying to become a resident and not a tourist, brings you face to face with the complexities and contradictions inherent to the Turkish way of life.”

This sentence sums it up. The culture and the people who feeds it always have you question your usual ways and the way of life in Turkey. Do you let go of your ways and embrace this land’s rules, or hold onto how you lived so far and fight against the culture every single day? I did not realize how much I adapted to the US way of living, dealing with people, doing business and having a rule of law that you could follow (and most of the time you can trust)  if you are demanding your rights.

Vapur5

 

Vapur1a

The things she talks about in this book really sheds a light to a daily life, mostly in the inner Anatolia around a conservative small town setting. However, there are a lot of things that are valid for the majority of Turkey, such as religious holidays, dinners at Turkish families, people giving directions even when they don’t know where it is, having many small business owners to get your daily shopping done instead of one big supermarket or mall, arranged marriages, red taping and navigating the bureaucracy and many more.

She says, at one point, about her frustrations to get paperwork done in government offices “Experience tells me, this being Turkey, there is bound to be some logic behind all this, somewhere. I think.”

There is a lot to be  frustrated for in Turkey – if you let it get to you.  And coming from a rule-oriented, structured places, many expats  suffer from the vague structure, toucy-feely and overbearing people, “go away today – come back tomorrow” mentality in government offices that is aimed at showing you who is in charge, lack of customer service, a business mentality that prefers handshaking over a signature. While some of the business-savy (!) Turks try to take advantage of the situation, of you, of the laws and rules, there is always a sunny part and someone takes care of something you greatly need for even free as a way to show hospitality.

If you want to learn about the little tidbits on Turkish culture which you would not be able to learn from tourist guide books, get a better glimpse of daily life in Turkey from a foreigner’s perspective, reading the book is time well-spent.

Living in a culture you are not used to will definitely teach you your deep core values, your willingness to blend in or stand out and your flexibility limits which you might not have known before.

“I now realise I originally traveled to foreign lands not to explore but escape myself. Ironically after deciding to live in Turkey, my biggest discovery has been exactly that. Me.”

At a crossroad again, I am rediscovering who I was, who I have become and how now these two will stand together. Always a journey albeit a necessary and  pretty good one!

Vapur3

 

Vapur2a

 

 

 

4 Comments:

  1. by Pinar
    2:57 pm
    Oct 30, 2014

    Welcome back! We are trying to adapt,too, since June. It’s not easy… Good luck :)

  2. by Ilke
    1:29 am
    Oct 31, 2014

    For some reason, I thought it was going to be as easy as slipping into an old tshirt: familiar, comfortable etc etc etc :)

  3. by rebecca
    11:36 am
    Nov 8, 2014

    is your hubby with you?

  4. by Ilke
    7:07 am
    Nov 17, 2014

    Yes he is, Rebecca! It has been great to have him here with me through this internship

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