As an expat from sunny, organised Sydney I grew up very entitled to way things should be done. Since moving to the melting pot of crazy that is Mersin I have had to learn, and sometimes the hard way, that shit just don’t happen the way it is ought to. If you are making plans to move to Mersin or in fact to any city in Turkiye my earnest advice to you is this –
Nothing ever happens according to schedule
The Turkish way of life may seem crazy and hectic but on closer inspection it very much operates on a slower pace than most. Time management is obviously a course not taught here in Turkey. Just take it as a given that things don’t happen according to schedule and embrace the chaos. Save your sanity. You are going to need it.
The Turks love overcomplicating things
Speaking of schedules if it can be done quickly and efficiently then it is being done wrong and should be thrown out the window. Who doesn’t love a little red tape with their morning kahve? Me that’s who! I have spent more time in notaries, the Emniyet, the Nufus, Polis and any other Government department you can name having papers stamped then running to the other side of the city to pay a lodgement fee (why you cannot pay your lodgement fee at the time of lodgement is completely beyond my pea sized brain’s understanding). If by chance you are in the right place at the right time then you are dealing with a worker who will no doubt tell you that you do you need additional documents, or additional photos or even additional stamps, to sort out whatever it is that you’re trying to get done.
Don’t forget that everything shuts at lunchtime. I know! The idea of going to the bank on your lunch break just doesn’t exist here. Instead you spend that break standing at the door of whichever bank, post office or Government department in the hope of being the first through when it re-opens an hour later.
Bonus advice –passport sized photos. Get them. You have them already? Pfftt! Get more. You are going to need them.
Queuing is not a thing
Ahh how I miss the simplicity of the queue. Particularly in places like the Emniyet where you may step up to the counter in the Foreigner’s Office only to be inundated by a crowd of sweaty men (generally it is always men) who will yell over you to get their point across. My advice? Don’t stand there patiently waiting your turn while the crowd drifts along. Use your elbow and throw out a curse word in your native tongue on occasion. It may not help but you will definitely feel better. Learn to do as they do or you will never see the light of day again.
Personal space is but a pipedream
Remember that scene from Dirty Dancing “This is your dance space, this is my dance space”? Yep it doesn’t exist here. Everything is their dance space. Your dance space just doesn’t exist. Sure come and sit next to me. No don’t be silly, of course a little closer is fine. Stare at me intently. Who doesn’t appreciate that?
Family comes first (and sometimes second and third as well)
This is the most important point to learn if you wish to survive here in Mersin (or Turkiye). If you are fortunate enough (or unfortunate enough depending on how you feel at the time) to be married or living with a Turkish man (or woman I don’t discriminate) remember that their family will become part of your existence. The love of their family, the strength of this bond is one of the most intense emotions I have ever witnessed. They idolise their mothers. She can do no wrong. Learn to embrace that now or pack up and move back to your point of origin. Expect them to be on your doorstep at the crack of dawn, to tell you how you should clean your home, how you should cook your meals and how you should raise your child. Oh and buy yourself a couch that opens to a bed – you are going to need it.
Is there anything you think I have missed? Let me know below.
Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like me, are easily discombobulated – oh and you love Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.