since i started this blog and lived in turkey for nearly a year, i am proud to announce that i have learned far more than how to say “merhaba, köfte” [hello, meatballs]. it took countless hours of studying turkish, incorrectly buying groceries, heading the wrong direction on trams and buses, and generally making a fool out of myself, but i can conjugate verbs like a pro. just ask me to get a waiter’s attention in a restaurant – there is a whole protocol dialogue and tone of voice that i have mastered for this task!
i’ve learned how to live in a foreign country, with foreign standards and systems that constantly challenged my daily life. i woke up to the 4am morning ezan (actually really comforting to hear), forgot to wear the appropriate attire out of the house (many stares for those times), ran out of potable water and lost my bank ‘your turn’ ticket. i have made a million terrible dinners with messed up translated recipes, but i learned to buy local fruits and veggies, and to never let things spoil! i have more patience for when things go awry, take extremely long or just completely change in front of your eyes.
but man, have we celebrated! i have made many friends along the way who supported me through a whole slew of craziness this year, in ankara and istanbul. everyone here has been so kind and generous – from the man in kars who sold us 3 kilos of honey and helped us find a dolmuş, the water delivery guy down the street, my simitçi [simit-seller] in sultanahmet, the crew of the terrace guest house, the door man at the four seasons, my landlady, the mavi jeans employees…i could go on for days. while i haven’t celebrated like this guy (google ‘sunnet ceremony’), i’ve been to a turkish wedding, kurban bayrams, republic / independence days and of course the everyday joy of living in istanbul.
so now, i have just a few hours before i board my plane back to the united states. this idea is surreal to me – i don’t fully comprehend how much this year will impact my life, but i know that i will never be the same after such amazing experiences. i have loved this place for all of its insanity, confusion, layering and unending beauty. i don’t know what will happen when i don’t have a bosphorus view at my desk next year, but i know that this country will always have a huge place in my heart.