I love where I am located in Istanbul. I am in the center of the city, it is called Beyoğlu. I live in a flat. Do you know what a flat is? It is similar to both an apartment and a house. It is tall like the size of an apartment and it has many floors like a large house. It used for short and long term stay. There are 11 people living my flat. Can you believe that? I share a room with one other person. My roommate is named Don’Neshia. She is a Gilman scholar too! We are both in the same major, architecture. We agreed to be roommates once we discovered we were going to Istanbul together.
My room is quite small too. It does not even have a closet. Luckily it has a dresser where I can store my clothes in. One adjustment is living in the same room with another person. One thing I love about having Don’Neshia as a roommate is going on new adventures together. It was early in the morning and Don’Neshia and I were shopping on Istiklal Street. Stores on Istiklal do not open until 9:00 AM. If you go any earlier, you can see the shop owners setting up their merchandise in front of their store. You will always see people on Istiklal Street. As we were walking inside a shopping mall, we asked “Where is the Grand Bazaar located?” The man kindly walked us to a cab and talked to the cab driver in Turkish. In a few minutes we were at the Grand Bazaar. Don’Neshia and I shopped all day and went home before the evening. It was a lovely adventure that we did not plan. I am glad we went together and shared that moment.
Another big adjustment is shopping at grocery stores. There are no Wal-Marts in Turkey. That means there are no 24 hours stores. Grocery stores open around 8:00AM and close around 11:00PM. Oh and did I mention everything is in Turkish! When I entered a grocery store in Istanbul I was confused. The products are not the same. I did not see a single product from the United States, except Coke and Pepsi soft drinks. One day I was looking for washing detergent. I bought a bottle that I thought was washing detergent. After translating the words on Google Translator, I found out it was fabric softener. Did I return it? Well I did not know how to say, “I would like to return this fabric softener” in Turkish!
Finally the biggest adjustment is living in a country that English is not the native language. Every sign, menu, newspaper and book is in Turkish. Of course the people speak Turkish. I did learn a little bit of Turkish before I came to Turkey, but it is not enough to fully communicate with Turkish people. Luckily we live in a touristy area so there are few English speakers and menus. Again, those English speakers do not know enough English to fully communicate to us. So I speak a mix of Turkish and English words to Turkish people. They usually understand me! Adjusting to a new country is hard but hey! I am adjusting slowly.