Five tips everyone should know before moving to Turkey
Learn to haggleComing from a western country, you may find it odd and even a bit offensive to start bargaining away as soon as a price is mentioned, but this is a traditional custom in Turkey, like many other places east of Europe. Haggling is part of the dialogue of trade, so don’t be scared to try it out.
It’s a good idea to get a little practice in first by scouting out some other shops and gauging prices. Once you feel confident, ask how much the item is (don’t offer up your price first - always go second).
If you have looked around enough, you should have an idea of how much you are willing to pay for your tourist treasure (or piece of furniture, item of clothing, hotel room etc) but haggle lower than that. The seller will always start high, and you should meet somewhere in the middle. Keep your bargaining respectful though - if you are too cheeky, they are unlikely to sell you anything else.
Occasionally, your foreign appearance may stick out like a sore thumb, and be aware you could be taken for a ride. If it seems like they are being unreasonable, remember you can always walk away. Appearing unconcerned will work in your favour, and if they think they won’t get your custom, they will probably fight for it.
Learn the languageIt seems a simple thing to suggest, and obviously you may not become fluent at the click of your fingers, but it is surprising how much just a little lingo will do for your experience. Language is not just a way of communicating, but a way of integrating yourself into the culture, the environment, and the people.
Learning Turkish will stimulate your brain, and immersing yourself in a country where it is all around will keep you thinking about it all day, every day. The more you keep yourself open to letting Turkish in, the faster you will find it just slips into your head. Before you know it, you will be having those ‘aha!’ moments where everything clicks into place.
Being understood in a foreign language is an amazing feeling, which will not only encourage you to learn more, but really make a good impression on other Turks. Trying hard to express yourself in their language is something people will really appreciate.
Get to know the localsNow that you have thrown yourself into learning Turkish (hopefully), be brave and put yourself out there. Try it out with your neighbours, your local store owner, or a colleague. Turkish people have a very friendly nature, and being on good terms with your neighbours is invaluable. You will most likely find that your Turkish friends have fantastic knowledge of hidden gems all around your city; from quirky restaurants and cafes, to gorgeous places to visit that you won’t find in guidebooks or on the net.
Befriending the locals has numerous benefits. You can learn much about the history, culture, the ‘real Turkey,’ and not to mention your Turkish friends’ own personal background and lives.
Pack sparinglyPacking for more than a few months is difficult, and you have to be brutal. If there is one piece of advice people who have lived in Turkey will give, it’s to not overpack. Bringing boxes of surplus luggage could result in hefty import tax, so think carefully about what you need, as you will find you can buy most things in Turkey at a cheap price.
Wherever you move, you attain things, and Turkey is no different. Try to think ahead about things you may be bringing back with you. Remember that Turkey is a modern country, and will have pretty much everything you need. If Turkey doesn’t have it, you probably don’t need it.
Be prepared for homesicknessHomesickness is almost inevitable, and can make you feel less than favourable towards the foreign land you are in. It’s hard to predict when it will happen, and to curb the irrational anger towards your new home. However, knowing it’s a temporary dip that will pass does help.
Getting frustrated at the language barrier, missing friends and family, and becoming tired of the food are all common factors that build up over time. Make sure you keep in contact with people back home on a regular basis, but also have a solid circle of people you can rely on in Turkey.
If there are other expats living in your area, they are sure to know what you are feeling. Organising get-togethers with other expats helps give you enough of a taste of home to get you through your homesickness.
Just remember, Turkey is a different country entirely. Comparing it to your home country in what it does well, and what it doesn’t isn’t making the most of your adventure. Accept and enjoy Turkey for what it is, that’s why you are there.