Snippets of Wisdom

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 –

mersin

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.

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28 thoughts on “Snippets of Wisdom

  1. Just got back from a 2 week trip in Turkey (Istanbul, Kars, Mersin, Cappadocia) visiting my husband’s family. This article made me literally LOL. I think each point came into conversation between my husband and I while I was there at least once, especially the lack of personal space! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  2. I haven’t nodded my head in agreement at anything else more than this. I’ve gotten pretty good at predicting when things/people will get done/arrive here according to TP (Turkish People) time. One would think that I’m clairvoyant, but, no, I just live in Turkiye.

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  3. . . an early, burned-into-the-brain experience of this stuff was standing knee-deep in the sea at a quiet corner of the beach doing a spot of fishing with my brand, spanking new rod. Behind me there was a great splashing and thrashing from some bloody annoying bloke who I tried to ignore as he huffed and puffed his tobacco-ladened breath into my right ear and nostril. Suddenly, my new rod was snatched from my hand and, as I stood open-mouthed in a state of shock at such an intrusion, he set about doing a cast and in the process turned my shiny, new toy into a bunch of spaghetti on a stick! he thrust the mess back into my hands, ‘No fish here!’ he said as he splashed away. One of my first lessons that people, life and what is sacred are different here.

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  4. Reading your post was a great way to start my day. I laughed out loud. I particularly love the part on over-complicating things! You know you’ve lived in Turkey too long when the very special logic (not) of Turkish bureaucracy begins to make sense. And always having every identity number in your possession plus photocopies, whenever you go to any government department.

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  5. My ResiPer needs renewing in April – going to have a stab at applying for the newly brought in “Long Termer” deal – needless to say I’ve started a course of Tamazepam already!

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  6. Dead-on-balls accurate. I just wish you could have written this *before* my family visited. There’s nothing like schlepping a 6-pack of Americans around under the leadership of a very willful Turk. I can’t count the number of times they said (or thought, because I can read minds),”OMG why are we doing it this way?” Over-complicating things is especially true when it comes to saving money. They have yet to learn that time IS money and must be valued as such. *end rant*

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  7. Oh so true…the bit about personal space reminded me of being pregnant here, you would think pregnant women would be a bit more aware of personal space and protecting ones bump…..HELL NO!!!! These women used their elbows to shove your belly, your back and wherever else they happened to hit to make sure they got to that doctor’s door first…who cares if its a system that works by numbers, who cares if my number comes after your number my elbows tell a different story!!!!

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      • Thats brilliant. It was people staring that I found really hard when we first got here, kept thinking I was walking around with my trousers down or something! You really do have to forget you ever lived in a civilized western country when you move here as you will drive yourself potty!!! Also agree with the comment made about personal belongings – I have lost count at what things have disappeared my hubby loves ‘lending’ things to his family – always seems to be my stuff or things I use though……

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  8. All very true, but depends on which country you are comparing with. I find Turkey’s quirks refreshing after 20 years of France’s bureaucracy and insistence that everything is impossible. In Cappadocia, at least, however convoluted the system may be, there is always a solution found to every problem. Never does anyone shrug at you indifferently and say it is not possible.

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  9. The more I read your blog the more…I want to read it! Great stories. Have you ever seen Ay Lav Yu? Do yourself a favour and watch it on youtube with English subtitles. A personal fav – a comedy about an American girl marrying a Kurdish guy and the American family coming to visit the village he’s from. Gotta go – gotta read your next post 🙂

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  10. Here in Oman banks close at 2PM. Oh, and I tried to transfer money an hour BEFORE they closed. They told me to come back tomorrow morning because there wasn’t enough time and they were getting ready to close!

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