8 signs you’ve lived in Turkey too long

Stay calm and think of Turkey. Ark!

I’ve lived in Turkey for about ten years now, and have almost completely adapted to the way of life. I’m no longer surprised if I’m offered a piece of stinky cheese direct from a goat skin and can use even the most basic of squat toilets without needing to hold my nose. I’m so assimilated I sometimes forget there’s any other way of living, until I come back from a holiday abroad. That’s when I realise that …. you know you’ve lived in Turkey too long because rather than telling friends about what you saw, you recall with a kind of wonder that over there,

  1. people say sorry if they bump into you by accident.
  2. when drivers stop to let you cross the road at a pedestrian crossing, they aren’t simply stopping by chance before nearly running you over when they take off again without looking.
  3. commuters let you get off the bus/train/public transport before they try to get on.
  4. you don’t have to worry about death by asphyxiation when you catch a bus. They aren’t rank with the intense odour of unwashed bodies because all the windows are closed, winter or summer, for fear of catching a cold.
  5. when people ask guests in their home if they’d like a glass of water they don’t first check if the person wants it ılık (lukewarm), or soğuk (cold) from the refrigerator.
  6. if you’re a woman it’s not necessary to hide your underwear underneath another item of clothing when you hang it out to dry.
  7. no one has to run around the house closing all the windows in summer when the sound of the generator on the mosquito spray truck comes drifting inside.
  8. you can organise for a groups of friends to get together without the need to check that everyone is happy with absolutely every tiny detail of the arrangements. And no one cancels at the last minute by telling you their mother, cousin, aunt, in-laws, brother or best friend from their hometown has suddenly decided to land on their doorstep, unexpectedly, for a three week/month stay which means you won’t see them again until their guest has gone home.

Now I know this list isn’t comprehensive, so I’ve love you to tell me the things that surprise you when you come back to Turkey after being in another country. You can write them in the comments section below.

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About Goreme1990

I’m Lisa Morrow, the person behind www.insideoutinistanbul.com. I was born in Sydney, Australia and grew up a leafy middle class North Shore suburb. After finishing high school I went to Sydney University but failed to find my niche. After working as a public servant, cleaner, sales assistant, waitress, bar maid and car counter, I went overseas. Once there I hitchhiked through the UK, travelled in Europe and arrived in Turkey just as the Gulf War was starting. My three months stay in the small central Anatolian village of Göreme changed my life. On my return to Australia I earned a BA Honours Degree in Sociology from Macquarie University. An academic career beckoned but the call to travel was louder. After several false starts I moved to Turkey and lived there for ten years. In 2017 I moved to Lisbon, Portugal, but continue to travel regularly to Istanbul. In addition to my blog I've written a travel narrative memoir called "Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom: Adrift in Istanbul" and two collections of essays, "Inside Out In Istanbul: Making Sense of the City" and "Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries". I have a regular segment on San Francisco Turkish radio and in early 2017 I released an audio walking tour called "Stepping back through Chalcedon: Kadikoy Walk", through VoiceMap. In addition I write for various international and Australian magazines and websites, as well as for this blog. A full list of my published articles, with links, can be found on the Writing on Turkey and Writing Beyond Turkey pages.
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5 Responses to 8 signs you’ve lived in Turkey too long

  1. Kenna says:

    Thank you for this piece, I liked it! I would add:

    9. Mastering the art of understanding what I call Turkish Women’s Eye Language. I never realized such a thing existed until I found out colleagues in our open plan office were “talking” about me silently by looking at each other across the room. Allahallah!!

  2. BacktoBodrum says:

    I’m always just happy to be back – I miss being greeted by name in the streets when I’m abroad.

  3. santa jana says:

    Every time I come back to Turkey, I notice how many street dogs and cats are on the streets.. I wonder- what are they doing to street animals in my country? Do they kill them immediately?

  4. Dina Street says:

    When I leave Turkey, I have to remember not to cut into a supermarket check out line if I’m only buying a pack of cigarettes or a newspaper.

    I have to remind myself not to ask people how much they paid for their house, car, or kids’ private school.

    Being busy is not a badge of honor! Having too much leisure time is…

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