Turkey 245: Your Guide to Snacks pt 1

Say what you will about Turkey, but their snack game is fierce. 

I wouldn’t consider myself too much of a junk foodie. I’m not so much into cookies and cakes, and only a few chips tickle my fancy. That is, until now! 

How is it possible that I love Turkish junk food so much? 

Anyway, check out my (long overdue) faves list below. Make sure to check the description for any American dupes! Cheap subs are not just for makeup anymore… 

Dude. These chips tho. Specifically Patos sweet chili pepper… Corn chips with a zing, this tastes just like cool ranch doritos for half the price! 

I’ve found this at bakals (corner stores) and Migros

Eti cin (et-E-jin) 

My, hands down, favorite cookie. It’s a shortbread cookie with a gummy orange center and sprinkles.  There are other flavors but orange is the real OG. This is special to Turkey and I need to bring some back with me! 

Found in  bakals and Migros 

Cerezza (cheese and onion) 

Think crunchy cheetohs… But sour cream and onion.  That’s cerezza  PEYNİR AND SOĞAN flavor.  This gets 5 stars from us,  as it’s our favorite junk food. 

Found in bakals and migros

(sorry the next pictures are upside down… I have no idea why…) 

 I’m not a stranger to haribo (in America the Turkish made haribo were the only gummies without pork gelatin that I could find).  The classics are delicious! But there’s also FIZZ haribo! A haribo with a lemon sour sugar coating that is ever so slightly effervescent.  The fizz worms are my favorite (not seen here). 

Found in bakals,  some A101, Kipa, and Migros

I’m not big on chocolate,  but these are really good.  Cookies with milk chocolate stars and white chocolate filling.  They’re a bit rich but perfect when you have a craving. They are my favorite chocolate cookie.   

Found in some bakals, Kipa, and migros

 Not your momma’s rice cakes.  These are a mix of corn and rice that look like standard rice cakes, but taste like lightly salted, no butter popcorn.  A good snack for those wanting something salty but low calorie. 

Found in migros. 

Most of these can probably be found in Kipa or any other large general store, but I never bothered to check for anything but the ones listed as “found in kipa”.  

I’ll probably have a few installments of this as I eat more and more junk :).  

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Turkey 710: How to Host

I’m way overdue for a Turkey lessons post…So I’ll bring out one of the most important topics any lady living in Turkey for any amount of time is going to need.

Especially if you’re married into a Turkish family.

And that’s how to host guests.

If you’ve been here for five minutes, you’ll know that Turks are all about socializing and having guests over to their homes. If you’ve been here for 20 minutes, you’ve probably been roped into helping clean and prepare for them. It is an event.

 Especially if you’re guests are Turkish (neighbors and distant relatives in particular!).

 Here are some guidelines for how to be a successful host by Turkish standards.  Show your mother in law what you’re made of!

Buyrun

  1. Have the cleanest house in the land: Your house has to appear as if a nuclear bomb of bleach and Pinesol went off in every room. If you don’t want someone in a room, close the door.  Even better, lock it.  There’s been more than one Teyze who “accidentally” wandered into a messy bedroom or kids room, just to tell everyone and the street dogs about it later.
  2. Buyrun, to the sitting room:  Coral your new guests into your nicest room, usually the sitting room.  Nothing is better than showing off all your nice things to your guests, so that they don’t talk about how poor of a home decorator you are when they leave.
  3. Kolonya, kolonya, kolonya: Don’t forget to offer a dime-sized drop of kolonya (cologne) to your guests after they have seated themselves. This is particularly important for guests who have come from a distance.
  4. All the tea, all the snacks: Be sure to have the tea going before your guests even arrive. But don’t be fooled into thinking tea is enough.  Even if they are coming to visit when it isn’t even almost a meal time, have the snacks at the ready.  Some borek, kisir, sarma, or potato salad is always welcome.  And you need- need- need to have some kind of sweets available. If it’s nearing a meal time, you best be ready to serve a full meal, with several options.
  5. Keep the sepas at the ready:  Don’t even dream of making your guests keep their plates or tea glasses in their lap!  Put out the sepa (the stackable, small tables) beside your guests before serving.  We aren’t barbarians!
  6. Empty plates are evil plates:  As soon as someone has an empty plate (or glass!) offer to fill it up for them again.  Don’t be shy to do it 100 times.  Even if you don’t get to eat yourself, that’s too damn bad.  They are guests, and you are a slave.
  7. Turkish coffee, anyone?:  After everyone has eaten their fill and talked a lot of gossip, offer them Turkish coffee (or if preferred, nescafe). Be prepared to make four different batches to please everyone’s palate (you can’t add sugar after making the coffee, so if someone wants sade/plain, someone else wants orta/middle, and someone wants very sweet, that means you make three different coffees).
  8. Never stop doing something: If you try to enjoy yourself for even a moment, you are a terrible host.  Get back to work!

Unlike in the US, guests will not try and make your life easier.  It is ok for them to make you miserable and make your life hard as anything.  Like a boy scout, be prepared.

And put on your war paint.

Because hosting is a hard core job, but someone has to do it (and if you are a gelin, its gonna be you!)

Turkey 402: Tips from a Turkish Kitchen 

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these Turkey lessons posts… So I thought I’d bring yall some tips and tricks that I’ve picked up since I’ve gotten here that you can use in the kitchen.  The kitchen is my second home, and often where I feel most comfortable.  Making the transition from the US to Turkey was actually really hard for me when it came to cooking, as you probably saw in past posts.  The salt wasn’t as salty.  Propane heats differently than electric.  Spices here taste a bit different.

But with the struggles came little “hacks” that can be used internationally!

I wish I knew these when I was still in the US…

Olive oil as an air-tight lid

Did you know that a thin layer of olive oil can make your pastes and cheeses (like ricotta) stretch for very near eternity? Since oil seals out air, it can keep mold and spoilage bacteria from growing at refrigerator temperatures.  However, that doesn’t mean you can leave a layer on and let it sit in your fridge untouched for a millenia.  Anaerobic (not needing air) organisms can still grow, meaning it’s important to still use your product and break that seal every now and again.

For example, I buy huge cans of tomato paste (that’s just how they come here… And they also have no salt here either!!) and it’ll grow mold in a few weeks.  Yeah,  I use it every two or three days, but there’s like 5 cups in that can and I use max 1tbsp at a time.  Using oil as a seal is great in this case.  Lor is another place I use this trick (check out my Turkish cheese post for details).

Putting spices and garlic last

Whenever I look at recipes I usually see people sautéing onion and garlic together at the beginning of a recipe.  But did you know if you throw in that garlic last, you get a much stronger flavor? The punch of garlic can cook out of your food, so what I’ve seen (and do) is to grate your garlic (or mash in a mortar) directly into the pan, turn off the heat,  and cover.  The residual heat will make the garlic cook to softness without losing the flavor.  Also add your spices towards the end so they keep their strength!

Sugar and tomatoes

Where you have tomatoes (particularly konserve or canned tomstoes), you have a bit of sourness.  Add a sprinkle of sugar to cut it down.  Also, as my mother in law says, wherever you see tomatoes and olive oil cooked together (without meat), and some sugar to bring the dish to the next level.

Dry your lemon rind.

Squeezed the hell out of your lemon? Wait,  don’t toss the rind! Leave it in the refrigerator or a cool dry place to let it dry out.  The beauty (and medicinal properties ) of a lemon is in the oil trapped in the rind.  Dried lemon is great to add to tea. If you don’t want to dry it, you can also use the leftover rind to shine your pots and remove those multi colored water stains.

Olive oil+lemon+garlic= God’s dressing

When you’re staring down the barrel of dinner and you have no idea what to do- you can boil/steam (or sometimes fry) ANY VEGETABLE and dress it with this combo and have a successful dish. Cauliflower? Yes.  Broccoli? Yes.  Celery? Yes. Whatever börülce is in English? Yes.  Squash? Fried, but still yes.  Potatoes? Yes.  Accommodate  your resident vegan/vegetarian when they show up for a visit (yes, you. You know who you are! ).  Plus, garlic.  Do you even need a reason?!

When in doubt, stew it out.

You saw this on my last recipe post.  Before I learned the great secret of sulu (stewed) everything, I would struggle to plan for dinner.  What do I need to buy? Oh no I forgot something! I don’t have time for that… Never fear.  Stewing suits all veggies and you have only a few ingredients.  Onions, peppers, oil, tomato paste, your veg and spices of choice.  I like a little tomato and carrot too, but if you’re hurting you don’t even have to do that.  Eggplant? Stew it.  Potatoes? Stew it.  Peas? Stew it.  Green beans? Stew it.  Okra? Do you even have to ask?… And if you are feeling fancy, add a little meat.  Never worry about dinner again.

Don’t dump the water!

Noodle water, dolma water, hell, even whey from making cheese or yogurt can ALL be used to make soup.  Never waste cups of water/juice again! You get the benefits from starch, oil, and/or flavorings (depending on what you’re using) to make a soup that recycles every bit of waste from your kitchen. And it tastes even better than using plain water in your soup recipe! While you are at it, recycle that leftover rice that no one is eating in soup as well!

Do you have any kitchen tips/tricks/hacks that you want to share? Leave them in the comments below!

Turkey 270: bereket

Sorry it took me a little longer to write this than I had anticipated… We went on a surprise trip to the beach this weekend, so I’m a little behind.

Anyway, I had posted a picture on Instagram of the bereket bottles that Anne and I had made.  Some of you may be wondering what exactly they are.

Well, bereket is a term referring to abundance, fertility, plenty, and the like.  You’ve seen this word before in phrases like kesene bereket and Allah bereket versin.  In both cases an abundance of food or wealth is being wished on the person.

Anyway, there are many charms related to bereket. For example,  the god of bereket (which is a little vulgar if you know what I’m refering too hahaha) which has carried over from pre Islamic (hitite?) turkic traditions.  Also there is bereket torbası,  which is what we made! Yeah I know,  torba technically means bag, but these charms can be made in satchets or in bottles. All you need is a few dried goods and creativity.

First, you find yourself a container, or several! Fill them with dried goods such as lentils, chickpeas, beans, corn, or seeds. 

Next, decorate your container! You can use cloth cut outs, yarn,  ribbon, boncuk (charms) of the nazar or plain bead variety, etc.  It’s good to have at least one nazar bead on there.

Finally, display them somewhere in your home!

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While I’m not certain exactly what these bereket bottles are for… Whether they are simply a tradition or actually believed to bring bereket, I find them rather cute.  For me, they serve as a reminder that even if you think you have nothing,  you still have a little bereket.  Even if it’s just what’s in the bottles.

Allah bereket versin 🙂

Turkey 315: Olur vs Olsun

Welcome to the third installment of Turkish Cultural Sayings, a subset of my other “Turkey Lessons” (available under said category).

Today we will address a pair of words that still confuse me sometimes.  I even had to ask hubby just now, to make sure my explanation was correct.  I’m talking about

olur vs olsun

Both words come from the root verb olmak, meaning “to be”.  But the variation in the endings give them a slightly different meaning.  Both words are used very frequently (daily…maybe even hourly), making understanding them critical to a successful Turkish conversation.

 Olur:  “it is”

Olsun:  “it shall be”

 So how does one use this, culturally?

 In the most general sense, olur is typically applied to something definite.  As in, it is this way, or no way.  On the contrary, olsun is usually said when you are compromising, or it isn’t really ideal, but can be as it is.

That wasn’t very clear was it…let’s use an example!

  At the pazar, you collect a bag of oranges.  You give it to the vendor, saying you want 2 kilos.  The bag comes to 2.5kg, to which you say olsun, and pay for the 2.5 kg.

 In the same pazar, you make a stop at a sweater stand.  You hold one up to you, and it is perfect!  Your companion looks to you, and asks if it’ll work (olur mu?) to which you respond, olur! Someone is going home with a new sweater!

While this is a hard and fast rule for olur vs olsun, they can commonly be interchanged, depending on the situation.  Different people in different cities may utilize these two terms with different levels of severity.

 Go out and give your new vocabulary a try!

aka, reason to go to the pazar

Are there any cultural phrases/words you struggle with?

Turkey 250: Intro to Turkish Cheeses

If you are a self proclaimed cheese-aholic like myself, Turkey can be a wonderful but also intimidating place.  As cheese and yogurt are staples in Turkish cuisine, the natives have found many different ways of expressing their fondness of this dairy delight.

While there are many different types of cheeses in many cultures,  the Turkish varieties may be harder for expats to decipher because most of them aren’t popular in the West (at least not where I was shopping).

In order to make it easier,  I’ve compiled a list of Turkish peynirler (cheeses) that I have personally tried, and when I know it,  comparisons to American equivalents.

Not to be confused with Indian paneer… Peynir just means cheese.

Also,  it is important to know that every peynirci (cheese maker) can produce a slightly different tasting cheese… And even different batches can vary! For example, I prefer the tulum from the beach peynirci more so than the city one. Make sure to get a taste before you buy! They don’t mind handing out samples.

So without further ado,  and in no particular order…

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Turkish cheeses

Beyaz peynir : the ubiquitous cheese Turkey is known for (and the one I could actually find in specialty stores in the states).  Salty and briney,  this is a more moist version of feta.

Tulum: prepared similarly to cheddar (kept in a press and aged), this cheese is moderately dry and crumbly, ranging in flavor from a mozzarella+cheddar baby to a taste I can only compare to cow skin.  This can be aged in skin (deri) or a standard press. If you get the opportunity,  go for the izmir tulum.

Ezine: Ezine is a softer, very moist cheese that can be made from goat (my fave) or cow milk. It can be slightly sweeter than others,  and is great at kahvaltı with bread.

Kaşar: tbh, it’s kind of Turkish mozzarella.  A stretched, fresh cheese with all the mozzarella properties you crave.

Lor: Turkish ricotta, the cheese curds that are forced out of the whey remaining from bacterial fermented cheeses.  Should be eaten in handfuls (or not. But that’s my personal recommendation). Tulum lor and kaşar lor are delicious.

Çökelek: not to be confused with lor,  it is a bit drier and comes from ayran (watered down yogurt )  rather than whey.

Labneh: Turkish cream cheese… Which I have not eaten or tried to cook with (yet), but I see it all the time at the store.

Süzme peynir: the most moist and spreadable cheese I’ve found to date.  The flavor is similar to cream cheese, but it is slightly firmer and you can pick it up without getting a mess on your fingers.

Küflü peynir: Turkish blue cheese.  Just do it!

One thing that is very important to consider when buying cheese (from a peynirci), is that they don’t have preservatives. Well, at least not a lot if they do at all. That means that the cheese you buy at the pazar won’t taste the same a week or two later (depending on the type, the change can happen slow or fast). This is because of a little thing called oxidation. Oxidation causes fats in cheese to break down, making the flavors we love/hate. As time progresses (especially if your cheese has a lot of surface area) oxygen will act on the exposed parts of the cheese, changing the flavor! Like I said before… You may love it or hate it. For example: 2 week old tulum tastes like how a cow’s skin smells… And I hate it! That doesn’t mean the cheese is spoiled, it’s just aged!

To limit oxidation:
1. Don’t cut up your cheese until you are about to eat it
2. Store it in whey/brine
3. Cover it in a film of oil (good for lor and çökelek, which can be pressed into a box)
4. Eat it quickly!

While this list is in no way all inclusive,  it does cover your basics.  While the time I spend in Turkey increases, I hope to come back to this post and add more!

Turkey 315: Cultural sayings, session 2

It was my husband’s idea to continue this segment of Turkey Lessons indefinitely, and I will probably make a new sub-category for it. This idea arose when I was listening to the song Bangır Bangır by Gülşen.  Fair warning- great song, crap video IMO.  If I wanted to watch scantily clad ladies twerking, I’d watch an American video.  But that’s just me 😉

Anyway, I listened to the song, filled in the lyrics, and found a few things I didn’t understand the translation of.  That’s when hubby said that I should put such things on my blog, that many other (american) English speakers may run into these cultural differences as well.  Here are three that he had to explain to me (two are from the song- do you hear them?)

Gül gibi- like a rose

Turkish meaning: something that is nice/enjoyable/lovely.  For example, if hubby is watching a movie and I come in and bother him, he may say to me “Babe, I was watching this movie gül gibi…why are you bothering me?”

American meaning:  Like a rose also means lovely, but usually we refer only to women in that way. You can’t perform an action that is “like a rose” in (american) english, unless you are being quite directly figurative.  E.g. She pricked me, like a rose.  Meaning, the girl is likely both beautiful and also “thorny” in her actions.  Turkish isn’t limited to such direct meanings.

Havalanmak- to hover

Turkish meaning: Besides actual hovering, figuratively hovering means to have an elevated sense of self worth. Be stuck up/ full of one’s self.

American meaning: Again, besides the literal meaning, hovering usually means to stick close to someone.  A lot of times this is used to intimate that the hovering person either doesn’t trust the person who they are hovering over (in romantic relationships), or they are very controlling/worrying (parents).

Güven vermek- to give trust

This one is particularly confusing for me, because the use of this verb is opposite in American English and Turkish. For the sake of the explanation, let’s refer to the person who is actively trusting as the truster, and the person who is being trusted is the trustee (because objects, direct objects, etc are just no fun).

Turkish meaning:  In Turkish, the trustee “gives trust” to the truster.  Effectively meaning that giving trust, in Turkish, means doing something that indicates trusting the trustee is a good idea. E.g. I  give trust to my manager when I give them a full write up of the project.

American meaning:  In American English, however, it is the truster who gives trust to the trustee. Normally in English you can get away with simply saying they “trust” rather than “give trust”, but you can say “give” to make the sentiment stronger. E.g. Your friend must give you a lot of trusttrust you a lot if she co-signs your apartment with you.

So,  hopefully, I will have many sessions of Turkey 315: cultural sayings in the future.  Let me know if you like this idea!  As I said before, figuring out how to speak culturally rather than directly translating is one of the key (and hardest) parts of becoming fluent in a language.  Drop a comment below if you have a few cultural sayings you’ve figured out that you want to include!

Turkey 350: Driving in Turkey

Before getting into the nitty gritty of driving in Turkey, let me share with you the one golden rule I’ve gleaned for (particularly) Americans who are preparing themselves for navigating the roads of Turkey.

Don’t

Just don’t

Find another way.  Any other way than driving yourself.  It is just…it’s not okay.  My American heart cannot handle being a passenger in Turkey, let alone a driver.  I have navigated the nonstop traffic of Atlanta, GA., drove from SC to Washington DC, and I have never seen madness like driving in Turkey.  If you want to have the experience for yourself…here are some tips that have for you.

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Traffic Lights

One of the things I actually do like about the roads in Turkey are the traffic lights. In America we are familiar with the (usually overhead) lights that show up as green for go, changes to yellow as a warning, then red for stop.  In Turkey, however, things are a bit different.  Here, you get yellow on both changes.  For example, the light will be green.  That green will then begin to blink when it is about to change.  That blinking green will then hold and the yellow light will light up simultaneously. Both will turn off when red lights up.  When the red is about to change, it will also light up yellow simultaneously then go to green.  I actually really like this system because I have a phobia of traffic lights.  I can never be sure of my “point of no return”, and sometimes I will end up hard breaking at a yellow or running a red.  So this idea of dual, long warnings is really quite pleasant.

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Stop Signs

Do not be confused.  The red hexagonal signs that say “DUR” do not mean “Do whatever you like”.  They actually mean stop.  However, these road signs are predominantly used for decoration and you can feel free to ignore them.  Everyone else does.

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Lanes

The pretty white lines on the pavement are also for decoration.  These do not signify lane rules, per se, more like lane suggestions.  If you want to drive down the center of the road- straddling the nice white line- feel free to do so.  The traffic police won’t stop you.  In fact, if you want the full Turkish driving experience, I strongly suggest you do so.

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One way/ multi way roads

There are one way roads in Turkey, as there are in most places.  However, these one way roads used to be two way roads, until people decided to park along both sides of it.  Now it is a one way road, and that way is whichever way the bigger car is going at the time.  Feel like playing chicken with a truck? Be my guest!  There are also one way roads that are indicated as such by signs…Im still not sure if those are decoration or not.  Also, feel free to stop on the side of a busy street for no good reason.  That also seems to be ok.  Just drive over the line decoration in the middle of the road to get around them at your leisure.

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Sidewalks

Sidewalks are differently paved roads for both cars and pedestrians.  Speaking of which…

Pedestrians

Pedestrians simultaneously have the right of way all of the time, and none of the time.  If you try to cross the street, people will try and run you over- regardless of if you have the walk sign or not.  If you are trying to drive down a four lane road- someone is going to try to walk in front of you.

Speed Limits

Finally, something similar to the US.  Speed limits, similarly, are treated as speed suggestions.  However, it appears that the traffic police are okay with that in some places.  We’ve even sped around the traffic police themselves and were not stopped.

So that is Turkish Traffic School as I know it.  There are no rules, basically, just do whatever you feel like.  Honestly, in America we follow most traffic rules very strictly and they are also very much enforced.  In Turkey, it seems, that no rules are followed and no one cares.   There must be a middle ground somewhere…maybe Switzerland.

Good luck!

Turkey 315: Cultural Phrases and Sayings

Every language has its “cultural” sayings.  Things that don’t necessarily make sense when taken literally upon translation.  An example of an English (particularly American) cultural saying is- “get a kick out of that”, meaning something is funny.  Turkish has a LOT of cultural sayings.  They make perfect sense when you have adjusted your ears and mind to Turkish, but when first getting off the plane…you may get a little lost.  I have listed several sayings that I hear frequently, that I had trouble with, and that are just plain fun to say!

Much like in America, religion has a bit of an influence on cultural sayings.  However, even atheists can use some of the more “religious” sayings and not feel out of place.  Even if you aren’t Muslim or necessarily religious, feel free to use all of these!

And just to make pronunciation easier, if you don’t already know them…these are the Turkish letters you will see, and their sounds

Ş- sh (as in shoot)

Ç-ch (as in change)

Ü- ew (with a Cartman sound from south park)(no real translation to an english sound, but close enough)

Ğ- eh (as if swallowing)

ö- oo (as in spook)

You know, this really hard to explain by typing… maybe you should go with a good old youtube search.

In Good Times, and In Bad

Hayırlı olsun- congratulations, but in a slightly religious/ blessed way. –

You got the job? Hayirlı olsun! 🙂

Hayırlısı olsun- that’s unfortunate, It’s up to God

You didn’t get the job? Hayirlısı olsun…:(

Allah (çok) şukur- Thank God (very much)

You made it home safely, allah şukur!

Aferin- good job

You made a 100 on your test? Aferin!

Coming and Going

Hoş geldin- welcome (you came nice)

*when opening the door to guests* Hoş geldin!

Hoş bulduk- the response to hoş geldin (we found you nice)

*cheek kisses are exchanged* hoş bulduk!

Görüşürüz- see you later! For friends/relatives

*upon leaving* Görüşürüz!

Hoşça kal- Good bye (stay nicely), more formal

*upon leaving* Hoşça kal!

In Sickness and In Health

(Gelmiş) Geçmiş olsun- a wish for a sick person to get well, or for someone who is struggling with something to get through it (translates to: (it came), let it pass)

I heard you have a cold, geçmiş olsun

You have been going through a hard time lately, geçmiş olsun

Sıhatlar olsun- say after someone has taken a shower/ got a haircut/ cut their nails, etc. More popular amongst the older generation (a wish for good health)

Sıhatlar olsun! That haircut looks nice on you.

Şıfa olsun- another wish for health, usually associated with eating something healthy or taking medicine

Drink this tea, şıfa olsun!

Food and Gifts

Eline/ellerine/elinize/ellerinize sağlık- Wishing health to the hands of a person.  Complimenting a chef or artist/worker (e.g. delicious food, a beautiful painting, a well-designed door, etc). The reason this one has many / options is due to pluralizing and formalizing, which is a grammar thing I won’t get into unless asked 😉

This food is delicious, eline sağlık!

Afiyet olsun- the Turkish version of bon apetit (enjoy it), also used as a response to elini sagolik.

This food is delicious, eline sağolik!

Afiyet olsun.

Güle güle kullan- Said to someone who received a new…thing…for using. Anything but clothes, really. (Use it well!)

*gives a new power tool* güle güle kullan!

Güle güle gi- said to someone who received new clothes (Wear it well!)

I love your new jacket, güle güle gi!

Of course, this list is nowhere near complete! To be honest, I probably haven’t even heard all of the different cultural sayings that Turks use.  While this is the hardest part of learning a new language/ being an expat, it is also the part that makes you feel most connected to your new home- once you start to learn it.

Drop a comment below with more sayings, or instances where you used one of these correctly/ wrong!

Until next time, Görüşürüz!

Turkey 650: Turkish Family Residency Permit-How To!

Today, after weeks of preparation, we finally went to the immigration office in Izmir to turn in my documents for my residency permit.  Alhamdulillah and Allah cok sukur, we got it right the first try!  Let me tell you right now, so many people/websites/officials told us different things- that I was very concerned about succeeding in this endeavor.  Several friends told me about their struggles of getting a work permit for Turkey, and that really had me wondering if I would be ok.  Well, here I am, with a successfully completed Family Residency Permit!  It appears as though being married to a Turk makes a huuuuuge difference when it comes to the residency permit process.

I really wish someone would have told me straight how the process went…so now I am going to tell you!

Keep in mind that every situation is different- and these are a few of the things that made our situation unique:

  1. I am American, my husband is Turkish
  2. We have been married 2.5 years, so citizenship eligibility is right around the corner
  3. Hubby is awaiting assignment to his job by the government- he isn’t just jobless
  4. We went EVERYWHERE for these things together, and with his dad.  I feel like having a “team” helps the process
  5. We applied and completed everything in Izmir
  6. I have no criminal record

If I were a Cuban male, married for five minutes, and applying in Kayseri by myself- would things be different? I have NO idea.  That’s why I want to really impress upon you that what I did and what worked for me may not work for you.  But this is how it went….

 What you need:

4 photographs of you, within the last 6 months, BIOMETRIC (Biometrik)

1 photo of your spouse, BIOMETRIC

Your passport, and a photo copy

Your spouse’s Turkish ID and photo copy

Proof of 24k TL from the bank, in your spouse’s name (from the day of your application)

Proof of Turkish insurance

Your Turkish marriage licence

Proof of Turkish residency for your spouse

Your vergi (tax) number

Your entry visa

$145 (in TL, at the exchange rate of the day) and 55TL

What is a family residency permit?

The family residency permit is intended for allowing the spouse (and children) of a Turkish citizen to remain in the country for 2 years.  The 2 years is kind of pre-determined.  Whether or not you can make it less, I am not sure.  However, I am pretty sure that you can’t make it more than 2 years on the first application.  This is my understanding.  I went for the 2 years permit even though I am eligible for citizenship in a few months, because that citizenship process takes forever- and it is better to be safe than sorry.  A friend of mine recently applied for citizenship based on bloodline, around 3 months ago, and she is still waiting for approval.

The good side is that it seems like the easiest/ cheapest permit to obtain. On the bad side, you don’t have the right to work.

Biometric photos

We obtained our biometric photos from a “foto kent”. Biometric is basically just a face close up with a white background.  I was scarved and also wore some makeup- but nothing crazy (a bit of blusher, eyeliner, light eye shadow, and filled in eyebrows). If you look like someone else, they may not accept it.  No problem with being covered though. Ask for a digital copy- it will make filling out your online application form a lot easier.

Passport/ Turkish ID

I think this is pretty straight forward.  Make sure you copy the page with your info and picture on it.  Turkish IDs need both sides copied.

Proof of money

The proof of money was also a lot simpler than I though it would be!  You simply go to the bank and ask for the proof from your Turkish citizen spouse’s account. It will be signed by the bank worker on duty.  If you have your account in dollars rather than TL, ask the bank associate to include a statement of what the value of the dollars would be that day, in TL.  That worked for us- but if someone at the immigration office is having a bad day, they may not accept it.  Fair warning.  ***IT IS CRITICAL THAT YOU OBTAIN THIS FORM THE DAY OF YOUR APPOINTMENT

You can spend it all after you’re done 😉

Proof of insurance

Ok, this is where the situation becomes uniquely married.  That is, I am covered under my husband’s SGK- national health coverage.  If you just got here, you will have to pay a fee for it (unless it is after the elections on Nov 1, 2015 when you read this- then I have no idea).  There is a form to obtain from the SGK office, and something to print off from online to prove you are covered.  Bring it all.  Heck, we even got a special form from the SGK office with my name on it saying I am covered too, just to be safe.

No need to buy private insurance when you are married ;).

The first lady we saw at the SGK office told us that we had to get all of these forms to prove that we just arrived in Turkey and had been in the US previously.  What a headache.  We asked someone else, and they said a stamped passport was enough.  This is a GREAT example of how things in Turkey sometimes depend on the person you talk to.

Turkish marriage license

If you got married outside of Turkey as we did, you would have to file your marriage with the Turkish consulate.  You will receive the aile cuzdani (marriage license).  We did this the week after we married. YOU NEED THIS. If you haven’t done it yet- do it now!

Spousal residency

Again, as we just arrived, we had to go to some building that said nufus on it…don’t ask, this was when we just got here about 2 months ago, and have hubbys father sign a paper saying that hubby was living in Turkey again.  You are going to need that form.

Vergi/tax number

When you are a non-citizen who wants to have a bank account or do something financial with the Turkish government, you need a tax number.  You will be able to get this with your passport at your local Vergi Dairesi.  It takes a few days for the system to register you, so do this early.  You need this number to pay your fee.

Entry visa

THIS is something that took me FOREVER and a lot of STRESS to find out.  If you are coming into Turkey and intend to get a family residency permit.. you can enter on an E-VISA/tourist with no problems!  Everywhere I looked it said E-VISAs can only be used for short term residency permits.  Well, that was a big fat lie.  You can get your visa for entry into Turkey as simple as click, click on the internet!  Bring a copy of the print out when you go to the appointment.

$145/ 55TL fee

This is where we hit our snag today.  The fee for a 2 year family permit is pretty low compared to others, that I have heard.  Is this because Im American or because it is a family permit? I have no idea. But that was the fee.  PLEASE note, so you don’t make our mistake, the $145 should be paid in TURKISH LIRA according to the exchange rate of THAT DAY.  You will pay at the vergi daire that is closest to your immigration office.  Bring two photocopies of your receipt!

The application form

The application form is pretty standard and easy to answer.  YOUR permanent address should be the one in your home country.  You only have to answer the questions in red.  The area that was confusing for us was the “supporter’s work/income” section.  Because we had the proof of funds, we simply put 1000TL for the income, because you are basically showing 2 years of minimum wage when you show the 24K TL in the bank.  I don’t know if this could be a problem for someone who is NOT waiting for a gov’t job. As hubby understood it, if you have the cash in the bank- the income is not important. Either way, it worked out.  Also, I filled out and sent in this form the day before the appointment (because that’s all we had open).  I heard that if your visa runs out while you await your permit appointment that it’s ok…but I don’t like pushing the limits.

I want to stress- very much stress- HIGHLIGHT, UNDERLINE, and BOLD:

everyone and everywhere is different

It is unfortunate that, as I have come to realize, everything can be made more difficult when someone is in a mood.  If the bank teller doesn’t like you, they may not give you a form stating turkish lira and dollars. If the vergi daire person doesn’t like you, your form could take longer to process.  If the immigration office person thinks your hair needs work, they can say your insurance proof is insufficient and you need more documentation. That is Turkey.  Sure, if you complain you can probably get around all that nonsense- but it is a head ache none the less.

If you have any other insights for different countries/ cities/ situations, please send me a message or drop a comment below to help out the others in your situation!

 GOOD LUCK!