Saturday, August 28, 2010
This is what I am calling my current strange mix of Turkish, English and copious amounts of pantomime. As I stated previously, in this country you must learn the language if you are to survive well and be independent, but I am not quite there yet. I've been here for just over 2 weeks and I can read most things (even if I have NO CLUE what it means) and I've got some vocabulary and basic phrases that I can use when need be. However, it doesn't quite cover what I need just yet, so I am using Turk-lish to get it done. Here are two examples:
The other day, I needed to purchase a power adapter from 220-110 volt so a few of the rechargeable items I brought with me could be charged. I had no idea how to ask for what I needed so I texted my lovely friend Merve (Mar-vey is more how it is pronounced) for the word for power converter. She dutifully sent me a text back and I bravely approached the customer service guy at the hardware store near me. He read the text and called around to get me what I wanted. After leading me to converters from 110-220 volt instead of the other way around, I had to rely on my limited Turkish and pantomime to explain that I wanted the opposite kind of conversion. The man was patient and we both laughed as we sorted out what I wanted and he led me to it in the store. The kicker? It's called an adaptor in Turkish (there should be two dots over the o to be spelled right, I think). *sigh* So easy, but my lack of understanding made it more complex, although entertaining... and the joke was on me, especially when the man looks at me and said keep the paper from the cashier, it has a two year guarantee! hahaha
Yesterday (Friday here) was delivery day for bottled water in our building. I was told to put out my empty (just emptied on Thursday night, how's that for timing?!?!) with about 5 TL on Friday morning and a new one and any change would be in it's place by the time I got home from school. So I followed directions and was eager to see if it all worked out when I got home from work on Friday afternoon... but alas, there was no water there. *sigh* This meant I had to make the dreaded phone call to the water company to request a bottle... now, I do know my apartment address in Turkish, so that's a plus. I know the word for bottle and water as well, but for this conversation, that was all I had going for me. So when I called (and yes, I still pantomimed even though he obviously couldn't see me), I said "hello (this way, he'd know a dumb foreigner was on the line). I need a sise (sheeshay) of su (sooo), lutfen (two dots above the u to make it loot-fen, which means please)." He sounded a little confused but then said yes, where and I gave my address in Turkish. He said yes and thank you and then hung up. No dates, no times, no anyway to know if I'd succeeded. Until today, that is... Today my doorbell rang and there was a fresh bottle of water and change in the envelope!! SUCCESS!!
So the lesson in all of this for the international person is work hard to learn the language but don't be afraid to take risks and try with your limited abilities...people will help you and appreciate your efforts.