Yesterday I read Alan Maley’s wonderful article in ETP. The article called ‘Over the Wall...’ was about four novels discussing the issue of immigration to the
Contrary to thousands of Poles, I didn’t choose
to settle in. Yet the stories and plights of immigrants in the article sounded very familiar. England
Most of my close friends know that I came to
in 2007 with a credit waiting to be paid. I guess you might say I sort of escaped from Turkey leaving the credit behind. But I had to do it – the money was necessary for my first months in Poland . Istanbul
And then all the problems began.
- During my first week while eating lahmacun, my tooth broke and I had to visit a dentist (80YTL with the help of my Turkish friend whose uncle was a dentist).
- The Euro rate at that time was very low and I ended up having a lot less money than I expected. Having paid the deposit and rent for the apartment (plus an extra 500 YTL for the furniture) I was left with around 300 TL for a month and a half.
- As my turist visa was valid for month only I had to get myself a residence permit for which my school refused to pay. We ended up spending the whole day in the Aksaray Yabanci Şubesi in exactly one hundered queues not knowing how the whole process was going to end. Mind you, I didn’t have the 570 YTL to pay for my Ikamet or the 3000$ in my account which was required. To cut a long story short, the school was taking the 570 YTL from my salary in installments. How generous.
- I had to save as I wanted to pay off the credit by Christmas so I was eating lots during lunch at school so as not to spend money on food later. The result was even worse – I probably gained around 10 kg that year.
- Somehow, I expected
to be warm so I had taken mostly summer clothes from home. Obviously it wasn’t so I had to wear layers of T-shirts and tops in winter as it was, actually, pretty cold that year. Istanbul
- The food sold in stores was a lot different from home. It took me a few months and a lot of experimenting to find Turkish equivalents of what I was used to eat. After 2 years I can find bread similar to the one we have in
Poland but a) some other things are not sold here at all, b) the ones you manage to find are usually outrageously expensive.
- In the area where I lived hardly anyone spoke English – my Turkish friend had to accompany me to the hairdresser’s every time and, what a surprise, I always had a different haircut and hair colour that I wanted. Apparently Turkish hairdressers do it to everyone lol J
- I met some people during CELTA and ended up working with one but most of the time I felt extremely lonely. I didn’t have a laptop, there were no English books around and I did my share of sightseeing before. During a Christmas party my South African friend told me how to switch the language to original on the Digiturk remote control. That was awesome! I became a fan of Crime&Investigation Network as finally, there was something on TV that I could understand!
- So many times I got into the wrong bus in the morning and had to catch a taxi to be at school on time. If you have ever used
’s public transport in the morning, you know what I mean. Traffic, dolmuşes, minibuses, service buses, green buses and blues buses, taxis and people. LOOOts of people running to get on something that will take them to work. Istanbul
- I had the unfortunate chance of learning the word fortçuluk and that was not nice especially that the fortçuluk took place more than once. I guess it happens in many countries but it has never happened to me back home.
Yeah, immigration is tough and definitely not for the faint-hearted. Despite all my hardships here in
I haven never regretted my decision to work there. I’ve learned a lot about Istanbul , Turks and myself. Although I had to start everything from scratch again, it was worth all what I’d been through. Turkey
How about you expat teachers?
What was the most difficult thing for you to accept or deal with in your new countries?
Would love to hear your stories!