It’s been two years…
… since I first set foot on Turkish ground. I remember it was a Sunday. I’d been anxious for this day for months. Nervous and excited alike. My one and a half year study abroad adventure in Izmir started later, in September 2012, but I had signed up for a language course in Istanbul before that. So, on July 29th 2012, I first fell in love with Turkey. I remember arriving at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport, procuring myself a token for the metro and asking a woman whether the approaching train was going towards the station I needed to get off at. I remember being proud of myself for speaking in Turkish and her not immediately detecting I was a foreigner. She noticed a bit later as she started talking and saw my puzzled face. Yabancıyım, I said. “I’m foreign.” Fortunately, she was fluent in German and could help me out with my questions. That’s my first memory of Turkish hospitality.
I spent three weeks in Istanbul with an international group that would study all over Turkey. We were taught the basics of Turkish grammar and common local expressions in the mornings and explored the metropolis in the afternoons. It was a whole new world for all of us. So many new impressions. So many sights, sounds, smells and tastes to get used to. It was overwhelming.
The night of my arrival I heard the davulcu for the first time, the person that plays the drums during Ramazan, in order to remind people to have their meal before sun rise. I soon got used to the regular calls for prayer echoing from the hundreds of mosques all over the city that became a self-evident comforting background sound throughout my Turkey life.
Seeing the Bosporus for the first time was simply impressive. So was continent hopping between Europe and Asia. That summer I became addicted to ayran, a salty yoghurt drink. I had Turkish breakfast, ate mantı and spoiled my palate with many more traditional dishes for the very first time. It was my premiere at smoking nargile (waterpipe), at smoking in general. It was the first time someone poured kolonya over my hands as a welcoming act. I noticed the many street cats and dogs that are part of any Turkish city’s population. I spent entire afternoons drinking çay and playing tavla with my international friends. Soon I started feeling less foreign as I made my way through the chaos that is Istanbul. I was still struggling with the Turkish language though and it took me several more months until I became conversional.
Today, I’m celebrating my “Istanbul aNaversary” with a proper portion of chocolate after having completed my Ramazan Challenge Vol. 2. It’s been two years. Which seem like five. So much has happened since I first went to Turkey, so many adventures and exciting changes. My life is now completely different from what it used to be before my departure, at least to some extent. I’m thankful for every single experience and life lesson and am looking forward to many more aNadventures. In Turkey or elsewhere.