Must. Learn. Turkish

When living abroad its the little things that you take for granted at home that really matter. Getting on the bus, buying fruit and veg at the local shop, getting a bank account (yet to try but know thats going to be a great experience!), going out on your own-especially when you have travelled over here as a couple, having time alone IS mandatory, but venturing out on your own can be a little daunting at first. So says the fiercely independent woman who don’t want no help from no man. It’s the little things that make living abroad such an experience, that make it more than a holiday, something that I think could benefit most people.

As a native English speaker I fall victim of my own ignorance. Going into a shop with a shockingly minimal knowledge of Turkish and speaking at them in English and half expecting them to understand. Don’t get me wrong I am making an effort to learn Turkish, perhaps not as much as I should, but I am trying. I find the language baffling, its so different to anything I have heard. Ever.

Everyday it is starting to make more and more sense, but I still have a long way to go…

The experience that comes to mind whilst writing this post relates to the acqusition of a sim card for my brand spanking new (probably fake), archaic 45 lira Nokia phone (THE must have accessory for any self respecting foreign teacher).

My search for a sim card began at Beylicum Mall, Beylikduzu. Destination Turkcell. I tentatively entered (I always feel insecure when entering shops here because of my terrible Turkish), walked up to the desk and repeated ‘sim card’, believing this to be the universal term for said item. I was not far off the mark with that one, sim kart being the Turkish, but my Brummie accent often betrays me. I was eventually understood, the sales assistant took my passport (don’t ask me why they need your passport) and proceeded to speak to her colleague.  I hear the word Yabanci thrown around and it becomes clear that she is trying to figure out what to do with me, or more likely, how to get rid of me.

She eventually turned to me and made gestures along with words I wished so much to understand, signifying in a not so friendly way  that I could not get a sim card, pointing at my passport. Of course I tried to explain to her in my most simplified English that you in fact can purchase a sim card as a foreigner, why all the other teachers have managed it! Try getting that message across with hand gestures! Yabanci yok, Yabanci yok (literal translation, foreigner no) was all it took to get me out of her hair. In that moment I felt frustrated and slightly worthless, annoyed at my inability to communicate.

Needless to say, in the end I got a sim card. I was lucky to find vendors that could speak enough English for us to understand each other . A bit. The moral of the story is  of course to learn Turkish.

Easier said than done. Heres to trying….


9 thoughts on “Must. Learn. Turkish

  1. You can do this. Learning vocab and watching Turkish soap operas will help with the day to day. Verb conjugations are consistent, so after you learn those, you can plug in new verbs rather quickly. Promise. Once your mouth gets used to the ManySoundsPushedTogether. Now I love the way it sounds when I speak, and I’m still not even close to fluent.

    I tried to get a phone in Izmir–my Austrian phone wouldn’t work there–and while I managed it in Turkish, I also got completely ripped off. When a brought along a translator from my hotel to help, it made the situation worse. However, I learned that it was better to go back and try to deal with them in my half-Turkish than to go for back-up. 🙂

    İyi şanslar!

    • Wow how long did it take you to learn?? I feel myself getting more accustomed to it as time goes by… Things are starting to make sense and I feel I can do basic things like order food… slowly but surely!! Just today though at the checkout in my local shop the woman at the till short changed me (an accident I am sure!?) I gave her 50 liras and she gave me the change for 20. I really couldn’t remember the word for 50, only 40 so I kept saying 50 over and over again in English like a right idiot. Luckily she was nice and pointed to different notes until there was a resolution and I got my change in the end!!! I am thankful for some people’s patience!!!

      Its amazing that you can speak Turkish enough to do that!! I was so thrilled when I could order achma from the street vendor- bir achma… hahaha!! Being able to string together a sentence, a paragraph!

    • Great article, relieved that it’s not just me. It can be so frustrating sometimes!! I’m sure we will get there… I do have to wonder at myself though!!! Sometimes I think the method we use for teaching kindergarten English is the best for my brain, lots of annoying repetitive songs, the only things I really remember properly in Turkish (excepting the hello how are you’s) are through the songs the kids sing in bilingual lessons with the Turkish teachers, very basic stuff!!

  2. Turkish soaps!- best way

    I want to learn Turkish as well. I did a bit already, but really need to improve it. It’s a bit easier for me because there are loads of similarities between my language and Turkish; but I am sure if you want it, you can do it. Maybe we’ll have a conversation in Turkish one day:)

    • It is a work in progress!! I hear it is impossible to learn Turkish without learning the grammar first. Which feels impossible!! One day hopefully even if can just answer how are you with something other than iyim!

  3. Hey, I just moved to Istanbul and I’m desperately looking for Turkish classes … Have u found one ?

    BTW I live in Esenyurt 🙂

    Take care

    • Hi Khalifa!

      The ITI (Istanbul Traning Institute) is a good place for Turkish classes, and they are reasonably priced or so I have heard!! They are in Levent though, so far for us, but maybe worth it?!

      Its good to hear of somebody else living all the way out here… so many friends live in Taksim!

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