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Reverse culture shock

04/04/2014

I take a deep breath before boarding the plane. The sun caresses my face. I’m holding a plastic bag that contains my coat. I look around one last time: Lots of planes and the cozy terminal of Izmir’s Adnan Menderes Airport just a few hundred metres away. I’ve been in that building so many times in the course of the last one and a half years, either to pick up loved ones who came to visit me or on my travels to Germany and back. This time I’m leaving for good.

I make my way to seat number 9F. That’s at the window, yay! The seat right next to me remains empty. An amca (older man or uncle) with a belly is sitting at the third seat of the row. He gives me a friendly nod as I greet him.

Soon after take-off, I recognize several parts of the city such as Kordon where I used to take long walks, the harbor which reminds me of my internship and Bostanlı where they sell some delicious chicken dishes. I can’t take my eyes off the window and I’m amazed by the beautiful sunny day and the turquoise sea.

Turkish air space.

© aNadventures

Soon the amca starts pulling out some simits (typical circular breads with sesame seeds on them). He offers me one and I happily take it. I love Turks! They’re always willing to share their food.

After our snack, the amca shows me the diamond rings he got for his brides: The golden one for his favourite, the silver one for the other one. I don’t ask any details.

I’m still fascinated by the landscape. As there’s no single cloud out there, I can easily follow our trajectory. We should have left Greek airspace by now.

When I wake up from my nap, things have considerably changed. The pilot tells us we’re about to land at Berlin Tegel Airport. This is what I see:

German air space.

© aNadventures

After landing, it starts raining. I look at the amca and all he says is: “Thank God I’m just staying a week.” That’s the moment I start crying. This can’t be real.

I put on my scarf, my coat and follow the other passengers out of the plane and into the bus that will take us to the terminal. When I get in, the bus driver is already yelling at everyone because he wants the whole crowd to move towards the front part of the bus. I have to swallow. After the bus starts moving, a man shouts that he needs to get off to fetch his passport that he forgot in the plane. Everyone starts saying stop, stop in Turkish but the driver doesn’t understand. I want to speak up but I just can’t. I feel paralyzed. The bus finally stops and lets the man out. As soon as we’re back in motion, we all see a mother holding her baby and shielding it from the rain, trying to make it to the bus. “There’s a woman with a child, stop!”, they all shout out. The bus doesn’t stop. And again I’m in tears. Take me back to Turkey right now!

The man at the border entry control doesn’t say a word as I hand him my passport. No smile, no “Welcome back!”. I miss that nice Turkish guy who chatted with me for a few minutes before placing a stamp in my passport and wishing me a good flight, back when I was in paradise.

I wait for my luggage. When a German tourist sees me with those three suitcases, he smiles and says: “Looks like you were away for a while.” I nod and smile back: “One and a half years.” “That indeed is a long time. Welcome back!”, he says and I start feeling better.

I make my way to the exit, carefully pushing my suitcase pile. My dear friend is waiting in the first line, waving and smiling from ear to ear. That’s when I know everything will be just fine.

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11 Comments
  1. juliamkh permalink

    This post just makes me miss Turkey more, Izmir in particular! Oh and the transitions back home seemed to get harder and harder the more I got to know Turkey.

    • Izmir just makes it so easy to feel at home, doesn’t it? And I agree, the more we learn about the culture we live in, the more we feel as part of it.

  2. Oh aNa, I completely sympathise with you here. It’s so hard going back. I hope things get easier for you. Looking forward to hearing more from you soon. Abrazos!

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