The following is an excerpt from the student blog, Travels through Turkey. Its author, Kathryn, is a recipient of the Kennedy-Luger Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Abroad scholarship, funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
April 23, 2015 – I came to Turkey 7 months ago today. And after living in this amazing place for 212 days, I’ve noticed that somewhere along the way, “life in Turkey” became just “life.” The things that made me feel impossibly far from home when I first got here are now just everyday occurrences. Here are 7 things that helped me realize this:
1. I’m not sure what’s “different” anymore.
I was talking to a friend recently and she asked me what are some different things in the culture here. I spent all day thinking about it before I replied, “If you came here, I’m sure you would think everything was so different, but it’s all so normal to me now.”
2. Public transportation is now my favorite way to get places.
As opposed to right after I arrived, when the public buses seemed impossibly complex and scary.
3. I crave Turkish food.
It literally went from being something I ate because it was put in front of me to something I crave.
4. I don’t even hear the call to prayer anymore.
It came on the other day while I was Skyping with my family, and when they asked about it, I realized that I hadn’t even registered it. My first morning with my host family, I literally jumped out of my bed when the call to prayer went off at 5:45 in the morning! But now, it’s the soundtrack to my life.
5. I’m up on Turkish pop culture.
I can now sing Turkish pop music, and I have my own favorite Turkish TV shows.
6. I can speak the language!
At some point, speaking Turkish went from being a chore to something I love to do.
7. My days aren’t full of surprises.
I don’t get that, “What the heck!” look on my face anymore. Well, not as much…
Looking at this list makes me wonder – when and how did it all become so familiar? I guess I can’t say exactly. I didn’t suddenly become Turkish one day and completely understand their culture. But at some point in the last 7 months, this life became my new normal.
I have 3 more months in Turkey – less than half of the time that I’ve already spent here, and that’s really not very long. I’ve begun to realize just how much I will miss living in this beautiful country. Every time I think of leaving, I start to get emotional because Turkey has claimed my heart.
But for now, I plan to thoroughly enjoy the time I have left. I can’t wait to enjoy the next 3 months of my new (normal) life!