Baby Steps AKA: What sucks (initial months)

The full title of this post should be “Baby Steps AKA: What sucks about moving to a country that doesn’t speak your language (the initial three months experience)”, but I thought that would be way too bulky a title and clutter up my blog space.

I know I’ve been singing the praises of Turkey and showing all of the good times I’ve been having (the best that I can while remaining anonymous), but there are some difficulties to moving to a new country…particularly one where the main language is not your own (or close to it- but the alphabet is almost the same so I guess that’s a win).  I like to think of the “learning curve” I’ve been experiencing as baby steps…both, because you learn things slowly and in small pieces, and because I feel like I’m two years old.

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There are so many aspects of living in Turkey that I didn’t even think of that could become a hurdle for me to overcome.  Going from 25 years old and managing my own house (apartment…shack…cardboard box.) and holding down a job/academic career to being basically a child who can’t work or speak or really do much of anything without assistance is quite difficult.  No, it’s freaking hard. FRICKIN’ HARD (read with a southern accent).

These are a few things that I have been having to learn from the beginning. AGAIN.

Language

Honestly, this is a no brainer, and I was pretty prepared for it.  I knew that there was going to be a language barrier- especially when it comes to speaking culturally.  Even with the vocabulary and grammar understanding of a five year old, I’m managing alright.  The hardest part, really, is that some things don’t translate directly from English to Turkish.  For example-  you don’t take a picture, you pull a picture.  Yeah, I know it seems so weird- but if hubby can overcome these obstacles going from Turkish to English, I can too!

Cooking

If you have perused my recipe tag at all, you will know that I am no novice in the kitchen.  I’m not a supreme chef, but I can cook.  However, everything in Turkey is different.  I’m really struggling to adjust to propane ranges rather than electric.  When I first came, I was scared to even turn the things on.  I lean slightly towards being a pyrophobe- no thanks to the ubiquitous stories we are told as children of people burning their faces off with propane tanks/stoves, in an attempt to make us careful.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then I’m sorry, but your parents don’t love you.

Along with the methods of cooking, the spices, I swear, are different.  Is there an enhancer in American salt? I know I should know this already since I’m a food science major- but I focused more on microbiology than production.  Here, I have to use a pound of salt where I used to use a pinch (slightly hyperbolic, but it feels that way). Also, most of the spices Anne uses are freshly ground, so the taste is different.

I used to be able to cook up a breakfast, lunch, and dinner like a pro- but now…I poke around and help where I can.  And some people here are picky… Sometimes, I feel useless.

Laundry

Even the washing machines here were a conundrum to me! They are not the same!  If you are accustomed to a front loading washing machine with buttons for temp/cycles/ etc then you would be fine- but I’m a good ol’ southern gal who uses top loaders with a dial.  While I have now gotten the hang of the washing machine- it is still something Anne does most of the time, because I just don’t know what I’m doing…

And also, drying machines aren’t a thing.  I think this is the case for most of Europe though.  Did you know there is a technique to hanging clothes on a line? Yeah, I didn’t either.  I’m still trying to figure that out.

Those are just a few things for now.  Grocery shopping, hosting, and cleaning the house are a few others that I haven’t written here…maybe another post.  I often feel like a burden on the family- like a useless little girl that doesn’t know how to be an adult.  Especially since brides/daughters play a big role in the upkeep of the house. I really can’t explain how hard it is to go from a card carrying adult to a child.  I really can’t. It’s just something you have to experience.

Fortunately, I have a very patient mother-in-law who doesn’t hesitate to help me, and also accepts my poor attempts at assistance when I offer them.

#expat problems

It’s a process

Learning crutches
Learning crutches
The most stressful part of preparing to move to a new country is learning the language.  On one hand, you MUST learn as much as you can when you have the time, but on the other hand, you need to retain everything you are cramming into your brain.  Personally, I do my best to speak Turkish with my husband whenever I can.  This is a hindrance to him, though, because he needs to keep using his english in order to stay fluent.

Besides my limited grammar and stunted vocabulary, my biggest failing is my listening skill is horrendous.  I can understand my husband when he is speaking, and I can understand his father…but his mother sometimes speaks too fast and ALL TV shows worth watching (i.e. NOT sesame street!) are the same.  I’ve taken to listening to turkish pop in an attempt to grab some words and become accustomed to their pronunciation, besides by my own tongue. I have taken to the following:

  1. Tarkan
  2. Mustafa Sandal
  3. Maher Zain

I’m still exploring other musicians, but these are pretty easy to understand!