Sunday, April 21, 2013

You Know You've been in Turkey a Long Time When...

How to know when you have passed the point of no return and 'gone native.'

You actually feel more comfortable with slippers than without

You find 'animals in the home' a surprising concept

You get mad if people ask "are you from Russia?" rather than "where are you from?"

You keep un-opened milk in the cupboard not the refrigerator.

On holidays abroad, the colour and size of courgettes and cucumbers are so different from what you are used to you struggle to be sure if they are labelled correctly.

You still wear a sweater when it's 25 degrees celsius  (80f)

Chickens wandering around in urban areas no longer surprise you.

Just the word bacon is exciting, as are packet spice mixes, and cadbury chocolate.

You plan sentences in your head before you say them.

You think minced meat (ground beef) is "ready food."

You automatically remove your shoes when entering a home.

You start to view cars as a luxury item.

You notice people who do not have Mediterranean colouring.

You return to your country of origin and have to remind yourself to make eye contact with the opposite sex.

An unknown man saying good morning to you on the street is confusing, mildly threatening, something to think about.

You find "tourist clothes" both culturally and weather inappropriate.

The words "son fiyat" fill you with excitement.

You know what to do with pekmez.

You can find a passable substitute for just about any unobtainable ingredient in any Western recipe.

Squat toilets make you groan but not run.

When you visit family, you find the price of everything unbelievably expensive.

You stop buying chocolate in green wrappers and expecting it to be minty.

On trips abroad you are surprised how few people smoke.

If someone brings you a plate of food, you never return the plate empty.

As a parent, you are thrown into confusion on holidays because the kid shouting "Mummy!" is not yours.

You are surprised when people understand you on the first time of asking.

You cook 'Turklish' food.

When in a foreign supermarket you are weirded out a) because the fruit department has no smell, b) because none of the available fruit is in season, c) because pork is not in a special section labelled with giant warning signs / very very very expensive.

You stop thinking men holding hands is an indication of their sexuality.

You don't hear the mosque-man singing any more.

If you go to a restaurant and order fish, you are surprised if it turns up and doesn't actually look like a fish.

The people abroad you feel closest to are those who update their status on facebook most frequently.

You think the supplements in a Sunday newspaper are the best bit.

You stop being surprised when people consider yogurt a condiment.

Two men fighting in the middle of the main road? maneouver around them and keep on driving. Don't bother looking back.

If you live in the south - sunny weather and hot water become inextricably linked in your mind.

When new arrivals complain about Turkey you a) can give them a positive for each of their negatives, b) wish they would go back to where they came from.

When the adverts come on TV the remote is already in your hand to turn the volume down.

You have stopped wondering why people keep a small chair in their shower.

Pasta served with a basket of bread? why not!

You are unsurprised when it takes twenty forms and visits to five different government departments to do anything official. You have a stash of at least twenty passport photos.

Lawns are something remarkable.

Whether from a builder, a doctor, or a dentist you never trust the first diagnoses.

You accept dust balls appearing one day after vacuuming as a fact of life.

You are deeply shocked if you see underwear in full view on a washing line.

You realise that not being able to understand loud speaker announcements from the village intercom and from passing vans is in no way a reflection on your ability to speak Turkish. The locals can't understand them either.

You tell new Turkish friends you are "waiting for them" to come over. You know you will never see them again.

The idea of mixing water, salt, and yogurt to make a bubbly drink, no longer seems unfathomably weird.

You stop calling somewhere other than where you live 'home.'

If you really thought about it, you'd describe yourself as an immigrant not an expat.

Note: I wrote an article in a similar vein a few years back for the newspaper Today's Zaman. If you want to read it, click here.


  1. 30 out of 52 - After 32 years. I'l get back to you in 10 more years.

  2. Absolutely brilliant:)..Coming from the UK. Last year I returned home and visited my sister. I asked where my seventeen year old niece was her reply of "She is in her room with her boyfriend" sent shock waves through me . "ALONE?" I asked. I am not to sure who was more shocked at my reaction me or my Sister!

    1. Ha ha, funny how it creeps up on you!

  3. Funny list! :) There are a few of those we can definitely relate to - we're not parents so we'll skip out on the kids shouting mum. ;)

    1. Thanks! You'd be surprised how much of my holiday I spend spinning around trying to spot "my" child (usually holding my hand)

  4. Forgot to say on my earlier comment what a great blog.

  5. Oh so true! Took my shoes off the other day to walk in lovely grass. Then I worried about who may have seen me!

    1. At the park we used to go to in Ankara there were security guards who would berrate you if you sat on the grass, I dread to think what they would have done if anyone went bare foot!