Turkey Wrap Up 2012
I thought I would join the Weekly Writing Challenge for this one. Reflecting on the current year which is about to end seems like a good idea to get my thoughts sorted.
This is also an occasion to share some of my simple but joyful moments of 2012 with the world. And since 2012 has been mostly about Turkey for me, here are 10 of my most joyful Turkey moments so far:
1. Making my way from the airport to the dormitory.
I arrived in İzmir on a sunny September afternoon, knowing nothing but the name of the district where the dormitory I would stay at is located. I did not even bother looking up the address on Google Maps before leaving, simply because I was sure I would somehow find my way. And it worked. I managed to buy a metro ticket (in basic Turkish baby language), get on the right train, change trains once, get off at the wrong stop and ask 3 different groups of students for the way before a nice lady working at the chemistry faculty finally offered to take me by car. It was not that hard after all.
2. Eating mantı, iskender and tantuni for the first time.
The Turkish cuisine has so much to offer. The list of delicious dishes is long. Some of my favorites are the three mentioned above. Mantı is a kind of Turkish pasta filled with either meat or soya and served with a yoghurt sauce and a spoonful of red spicy paste. İskender are slices of kebab meat spread over pieces of warm white bread and served with a yoghurt sauce, tomatoes and spicy green peppers. Tantuni is a kind of wrap containing spicy mince and a special sauce. Perfect for this year’s wrap up.
3. Buying a towel that has the map of Turkey on it.
Initially I was looking for one with the Turkish flag on it, but then I learnt it was forbidden to cover any intimate parts with the Turkish flag or to sit on it. I then found this very nice colourful one picturing the map of Turkey and a friend helped me to bargain for it.
4. Getting my nails done by a friend who drew tiny nazars on them.
She did a kind of decent French manicure and the nazars on them were so fine they were hardly perceptible. For everyone wondering what a nazar is: They are decorations consisting of a black dot in a white circle in a blue circle protecting you from the evil eye. They are very popular in Turkey. Every house has them.
5. Climbing a giant penis rock in Kapadokya.
They are called fairy chimneys, actually. Still, this can be described as the climax of the current year. If you ever have the chance to visit this place, go for it! I have never before seen such rock formations in my life. They are incredible.
6. Getting my resident permit sorted.
Looking back, the procedure itself was not so complicated but it consumed quite some time and nerves to get everything arranged: From applying for a student visa to handing in my passport within the first month of arrival. This resident permit enables me to leave and enter the country as often as I want now (until June of next year, when I will have to renew it).
7. Walking around in a T-shirt in mid-November.
Yes, November. And I was not just being a rebel. It was really hot and there was a bright blue sky. First time this has happened to me. I love Turkish summers! Although it was already considered to be winter, since the temperature was only of about 20°C.
8. Having people say that I have a Turkish spirit.
This has been said by some Turkish friends to me recently when joking around in my pre-school Turkish speaking ability. And of course, as someone who wants to be integrated into this culture and understand its various layers of language and humor, this has been taken up as a compliment by me.
9. Finding out that they sell Milka-Oreo chocolate bars at Migros (the local super market).
This has been quite a recent discovery. Just when I was starting to feel a little homesick, I found it at a stand next to the cashier. No need to travel back to Germany then. It even had the same packaging, only provided with a small sticker at the back. But I must say that Turkish chocolate is worth trying as well. There are some nice creations. Maybe I should dedicate a separate post to them.
10. Moving in with two Turkish girls and a puppy.
This was an important step I decided to take in order to feel more integrated into the Turkish way of life. The dormitory was a cozy place to stay for the first few months but I was not in daily contact with Turkish people there, especially because I was spending a lot of time with other exchange students living there. Now I live in a cozy neighbourhood next to a weekly pazar (market) and my flat mates have taught me how to prepare Turkish coffee and how to read from its left-overs. They cook the most delicious dishes every evening and I am forced to speak Turkish with them, which is also an advantage for me.
By the way: Our puppy also poops around the flat. Its most witty target has been my flat mate’s computer.
In conclusion, it has been mostly the little things that have cheered me up this year. I am looking forward to more joyful surprises and aNadventures in 2013.