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Aaah, guys, I'm so worried now. I was supposed to leave for Turkey on the 30th but all of the sudden we've lost the original flight I wanted and had to settle for another one, a way longer one, so we decided for money reasons to push forward the date to the 26th because now my flight will take two days and then I'll have an extra day to get used to the time difference, etc.

BUT! Oh man, I'm not ready for this! I didn't speak any Turkish at all really until this summer when I really tried to study but I can hardly say anything at all correctly or pronounce it right and the worst thing is that I can't seem to memorize the most important phrases. Like the whole exchange you have when someone says hello. Of the title you add onto people's names when you first meet them. Or the right way of saying thank you, seriously why is sag olun so much easier to say and yet not the right one to use ubiquitously?

I'm getting really scared now. I want to be polite and be able to communicate with people, or at the very least say hello correctly and ask how they're doing. But even now I can't do that! And even more so, I'm getting really worried about being in Istanbul. I haven't really been in a big city, and Istanbul is not just big, it's humongous. I have only ever taken the bus at my College as any sort of public transportation and even that took me like three months to get used to so I'm terrified of getting on the wrong bus in Turkey and then not being able to find my way home! The good thing is that the home I'm staying at is only a half hour walk away from the school I'm attending, so I can go there by foot! (Though even that is terrifying because I've been reading that you need to be very careful crossing streets and I have to say living out in the middle of nowhere I don't have much experience with traffic on roads.)

But honestly the biggest thing I worry about is being rude! There's so many things I've been learning recently. Don't give complements to a baby. Don't turn your back on a person. How to say no when someone wants to stuff you full of food. All of these things are so tiny and I don't really know how to do them. The worst is when guidebooks tell you about something to avoid and then don't say exactly what you should do instead. For instance I've read that you shouldn't give a present directly to the recipient and that you should place it on a table or hallway or something, but is that after you've shown it to them or just in secrecy for them to find later? Posted Image

I can't stop worrying. I love languages and learning and cultures and I'm so very excited about this trip but I just can't stop all my negative thoughts. What if I insult someone? What if I get lost? What if no one likes me? Can you guys tell me about your first trip to Turkey, or any insight into not making a fool out of yourself? I'm so glad this site is here, I just keep reading the older topics about other people's travels and they make me laugh and get so excited! Posted Image

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Hi there Paks, relax, you are going to love it! It is normal that your're freaking out and worrying about it more as the day comes nearer. As I have already said to someone before, it would be really weird if you didn't have last minute panics!

But the best way to get the most out of your trip is to take it as it comes. Play it by ear and worry about things if you need to, if they happen.

One of the most striking things about Turkey compared with other countries that I have visited is the way that people, even in rural areas where they do not see foreigners often, do not expect that foreigners know the rules and culture thay have been brought up in. Forget the fuss the guidebooks make about soles of feet and turning your back and this and that. If you are a polite and considerate person - and you sound like one to me - you continue being polite and considerate as you would anywhere. Even in your home country you will have been to other people's homes where they don't do exactly the same things as your family. You watch what everyone else is doing and follow suite. In Turkey, even if you do do something that is not the "done thing" according to all the books, Turkish people usually put it down to to quaint/weird foreigners ways.

Don't worry about your Turkish, I've been here for nearly 5 years and still find myself in situations where I am just making sort of polite noises and only when I have left I remember the wonderfully polite phrase that you are supposed to say in those situations. It is not primordial to know the exact right phrase to say when someone is ill, it is Ok to make sympathetic noises and to show you care. A very useful word is haaa - said on different tones to express surprise, sympathy, I told-you-so, what a pity. Listen around you, you will pick up the words that people actually use, not the ones in the phrasebook which are gramatically correct but nobody uses.

Anyway I shan't say stop the negative thoughts because I have a theory that if you have thought about it first it can't happen. So when I'm in your situation I think of all the wildest possible things (what if there is a tidal wave in Istanbul, what if theyput the clocks back by 5 hours and nobody tells me and I'm the only one turning up for the courses etc. etc.) Once you've exhausted all the possible awful things that will never happen you'll be relaxed enough to really enjoy it.

On a more practical note, present-giving is rather surprising. When you give someone a gift, don't be surprised of offended if they don't open it or don't really hang off your neck with effusive thank yous. I have given birthday presents which I took time choosing and looked forward to seeing the person's face when he would see what it was. I gave my present to the person and he just put it on the table by the door as I was taking my shoes off and we didn't talk about it after that. I still don't know whether he opened it or liked it! On one occasion I made apple puffs to take round to the neighbour and timed it exactly so that they would be warm from the oven but not piping hot. When we arrived the apple puffs just disappeared into the kitchen without a word apart from the usual Hoşgeldiniz and we spent the evening drinking tea while the apple puffs stayed getting cold and de-puffed in the kitchen.

Can't think of anything else except what we said before about shoes and toilets. Fire away if you have anything alse to ask.

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I agree with everything Vic has said, especially the part about forgetting what to say until after the event, I laughed when I read that bit because it happens to me too. One thing I forgot to say is if there are men in the house, do not be offended if they won't shake you hand and just give you a nod of their head and say hello. It's not that they don't like you, so don't be offended.

When you have had enough to eat put you knife and fork on the table, next to your plate. When you have drunk enough tea, either put the spoon in the glass or lay across the top of it. Don't eat anything with your left hand as it considered to be unclean.

The good thing is you will find is that Turkish people are very forgiving, so try not to worry about it too much and just go with the flow. Posted Image

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Just another thought. Useful tips from Abi and easy to remember and put into practice. But don't get too hung up on the things which must or must not be done - I don't mean abandon any idea of good manners but when I hear my Turkish friends talking about someone they always use old-fashioned notions with mildly religious overtones like "he is a Good person" or "she has a clean heart". I have never heard anyone say "he has excellent table manners".

Just don't try too hard and don't expect too much from people. They will give and show their feelings in their own way and their own time.

(But I'm sure they'll love you!)

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Vic and Abi have given you good things to think about, now think about them. Posted Image

You write that "I love languages and learning and cultures and I'm so very excited about this trip." Posted Image

If that is true then relax and enjoy learning the language and culture. If you are invited into a home, watch what everyone else does and do that. If you are living in Istanbul, you will probably be staying at or visiting homes with chairs, tables and silverware. If someone Turkish takes you to a village home, you may end up sitting on cushions on the floor eating out of common containers using thin bread to dip your food.

Eating with your left hand may be frowned upon (but usually overlooked) if you are using your hands for dipping and eating. Otherwise, when using silverware, the Turks I know all eat "European-style" with the fork in the left hand and a knife in the right to shovel the food on to the fork. Since you are from the US you may not know this.

You write "I'm terrified of getting on the wrong bus in Turkey and then not being able to find my way home! The good thing is that the home I'm staying at is only a half hour walk away from the school I'm attending, so I can go there by foot!"

During My first week in Istanbul visiting my future spouse, we both realized that I did not have her phone number nor her address written down anywhere on me. Had we gotten separated in the dense crowds around Taksim, I would not have had the foggiest idea how to contact her!! Posted Image First I made sure I had both her address and phone number in a small notebook that I carried around. Then we bought a phone card that I could use at a public pay phone. Later I bought a mobile phone. Do the same, write (type) the address and phone number down of your school, your friends, where you are staying and the names of anyone you know that you can contact and carry it with you. Also a good idea to pencil a local contact into your passport.


You also wrote "I've been reading that you need to be very careful crossing streets and I have to say living out in the middle of nowhere I don't have much experience with traffic on roads."

Learning to cross streets where the traffic is busy and fast-moving in Istanbul can be a difficult if not terrifying experience the first few times. At first, try to stay in areas where there are stop and pedestrian lights. Cross at those. Eventually you will become used to "Stamboul-awareness" as I called it where you can see a speeding vehicle coming at you out of the corner of both your eyes at the same time. NEVER cross any street without looking both ways first, people sometimes drive the wrong way on a one-way street. NEVER get off a bus at any bus stop without looking both ways. I have nearly been hit a couple of times by speeding motorcyclists too much in a hurry to wait for traffic to move. ALWAYS walk on the right side of wide sidewalks, motorcycle couriers sometimes use them because the streets are too clogged with traffic.

If you walk a lot, most of the time the traffic will be moving slower than you can walk so crossing the street in those conditions can be a lot easier.

Vic also wrote "They will give and show their feelings in their own way and their own time. (But I'm sure they'll love you!)" Just be VERY mindful of the young men, they may attempt to "love" you a bit more than you are prepared for.

Relax, take a chill-pill and enjoy the experience.

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Take a deep breath.

We've all been in the same boat. I came to Turkey initially for a two week period to find a job..go back and sort myself then come back over. I found a job on the second day I was here. Had to start the next Monday! No Turkish, no Ikamet and not enough pants!

It happens to the best of us. You're not alone. We've all made Turkish mistakes. Just the very fact that you've ATTEMPTED Turkish will endear you to people, they don't care if you greet a cat formally and your boss informally. Take it on the chin.

Breathe easy, pack your bags with a smile and bring enough pants.

*pants = knickers, underwear, negligee, smalls...

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One thing that is a big no no is blowing your nose in company. Don't do it. Nobody had warned me and I was taking a class and had given them an exercise talking to each other so, as I had a cold, I thought I'd take the opportunity to clear my nose, which, unfortunately coincided with a break in the conversations and 14 pairs of eyes swivelled towards me in shock!

Take note of Hobbit's warning about the young men who are likely to be declaring undying love for you after being with you for a couple of hours. Posted Image It would be a good idea to read the 'Romantic Relationship' threads before you come.

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Posted Image I think other guys have provided enough information for you to digest, Paks, so I will not say much.

But there is NO NEED to worry. First of all, people do not get offended that easily because they know you are a foreigner and you have different habits, especially when you are in big cities like Istanbul. If you are being polite to them, smiling to them and talking to them softly, you don't really have to act in their ways (though by doing so, you will be more popularPosted Image ).

Before I came to Turkey, I had been reading tourist guide books about manners, traditions, and courtesies. When I actually got here two months ago, I found that the "facts" I read on these books were exaggerated! People here are pretty easy-going. Posted Image

About the transportation thing, I suggest you do some work before you come to Turkey. Make a good study of its main transportation lines and familiarize yourself with its symbolic buildings. And use Google Earth for navigation!

I don't speak Turkish either. Even English is not my first language. But I'm living so well in Turkey now. It won't be a problem for you. In tourist cities and big cities, English is very widely used.

Anyway, relax, Paks. Don't think too much. Posted Image

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Thank you so much you guys!

I will do my best to relax. I'm very prone to worrying which is something I need to work on, so this is a great opportunity to do so!

Vic: I have that thought process too, that worrying prepares you, but no one else agrees with me because they say there's a good way to worry and a bad way and I evidently only do the bad one. :lol:

Abi: Okay, thank you! I think this whole trip will be a lesson in going with the flow! :)

Hobbit: Oh thanks for bringing up writing things down! I've been given a few contacts from my friends and family who have been to Turkey before for various work reasons and so I actually have a few phone numbers for emergencies and the host family I am staying with seem extremely nice so it is definitely smart to have their phone number on hand! Plus addresses, I mean worse case scenario I can show an address to someone if I get very lost. And okay, I'm going to be extra careful with streets but I'm glad to know that crosswalks are used in Turkey. (On a crosswalk does the pedestrian have the right of way?)

Clinky: Hehehe, okay! I actually decided that maybe, just maybe, I should invest in those hot weather "pants". :D

Ken: I hope so, that kind of happens to me a lot. I get very stressed out and then a few months later I'm doing wonderfully at whatever I attempted and telling everyone else how awesome it is. Or at least that happened this year with my first year of College! Thank you for your confidence!

Sunny: Okay, I wouldn't worry though. I don't date or anything so I won't be falling in love with anyone in Turkey. And blowing your nose, that's been said twice so I'll make double sure to remember that. (Do people just excuse themselves from the room when they're sick?)

Conan: I've been studying google earth a lot, though it terrifies me somewhat because honestly I live in rural Maine which means that the nearest "city" is twenty minutes away and there is nothing even similar to side roads or sidewalks or anything like that here! I will have to get a map I think, and a really big bag to carry all this stuff in!

Thank you guys for all your advice and confidence!!! I really appreciate it! :worshippy:

This has made a few more questions for me though about common sense things. (I often don't have much common sense because I over-think everything. Are you supposed to carry your passport with you for any reason? I would think it'd be much safer leaving it at home, but is there an identity reason for carrying it with you? I have an ISIC card for identity purposes and insurance, is that enough to have on me? Also, money wise, is it true that you can use Visa or MasterCard with the ATMs? That is what I heard before, but it might be outdated information. If so, that's awesome, I will just have to find a nearby ATM and thus avoid all the issues of foreign banks and money changing. Do you all have any advice on an amount of money to carry with you? Like an emergency amount? I don't plan on spending money all that often except for lunch every day, but are there things I should budget for in case of emergency?

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Do people just excuse themselves from the room when they're sick?

Don't use 'sick' use ill instead as sik in T means F*** and also avoid peach(pic) as that in T means bastard.

Yes. it's OK to excuse yourself and leave the room to do the necessary. Turks usually sniff!

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Don't use 'sick' use ill instead as sik in T means F*** and also avoid peach(pic) as that in T means bastard.

Yes. it's OK to excuse yourself and leave the room to do the necessary. Turks usually sniff!

Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image No wonder last time I spoke to a Turkish people, saying that my friend is sick, he gave me that strange look...

American English uses "sick" a lot...Posted ImagePosted Image

About the passport, Paks, you better take it with you wherever you go. If you got a residence permit, you can put your passport home but always take the RP. Some officers may stop you and ask you to show your passport or RP. If you cannot show to them, you will be arrested. But remember, there might be some fake police officers who try to blackmail you because you are a foreigner. Before you show your passport, ask them to show their credentials to you first.

You can, of course, use a VISA card or MasterCard. But I think the commission fee might be a little bit high, considering that these are international transactions. Before you use your card, consult that bank about the commission fee. Posted Image

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When I am travelling I always feel safer carrying my passport with me rather than leaving it somewhere else. But in any case, take a photocopy of your passport with you. Either you carry that and leave your passport at home or you take your passport with you and leave the photocopy at home. Either way if anything happened to your passport and you lost it, it makes declaring the loss of your passport simpler since you don't have to memorise your passport number.

Conan gives good advice about international transaction fees from ATMs, check with your bank first. And do make sure that before you leave the US, you inform your bank that you will be travelling and will be using your bank card abroad. Some banks especially US ones will block your card as soon as they see a transaction on it from a foreign country as they consider that suspicious activity and want to protect you from fraud.

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If you are going to use a crosswalk, or pedestrian crossing as we call them in the UK, you should proceed with caution and don't expect anyone to stop for you. Even if you cross at the traffic lights and it has a green/red man you need to be careful as well as because some Turks ignore red lights and even if they do stop for them, some drivers have a habit of driving off before the lights turn green. :)

If you use an ATM make sure someone you know goes with you until you are sure how to use it. If possible use an AMT that is outside/inside a bank which is open in case of a problem. Some ATM's offer a choice of different languages. If you are alone and someone offers you help, walk away.

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Never assume a pedestrian has the right of way under any circumstances and you will suffer fewer accidents and injuries. Remember what you learned in kindergarden, ALWAYS look BOTH ways no matter whether there is a crosswalk or a one-way street, traffic may come from either direction...

ATM TRANSACTIONS:

Think about an ATM card from your bank, that might save you some money. I use an ATM for my US bank at Yapi Kredi. Yapi Kredi told me, and I confirmed, that the sending bank (my US bank) determines the exchange rate and fees, Yapi Kredi charges me nothing for the transaction. My sending bank is the drug-money laundering UK bank HSBC and they charge a flat fee for every transaction plus they said MasterCard International determines the exchange rate at the time of the transaction. (After all they have to get back the fine they paid for their money laundering don't they?)

IF you need foreign currency in Turkey, there are SOME ATM's which give you a choice of currency. I found them in Sultanahmet in Istanbul. None of the local banks in Kaş give foreign currency at an ATM that I know of...

Conan: how does a person who does not speak English ask a cop to see his ID?

I never carried my passport nor my residence permit unless I was leaving the city. However I am married to a Turkish woman and expected her to come bail me out of jail if it ever happened, it never did. An American friend who is Black was routinely stopped by Istanbul police because they thought he was African, when they found out he was from the States and he spoke Turkish they laughed, had a few friendly words, and let him move on.

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Conan: how does a person who does not speak English ask a cop to see his ID?

I never carried my passport nor my residence permit unless I was leaving the city. However I am married to a Turkish woman and expected her to come bail me out of jail if it ever happened, it never did. An American friend who is Black was routinely stopped by Istanbul police because they thought he was African, when they found out he was from the States and he spoke Turkish they laughed, had a few friendly words, and let him move.

Posted Image I never thought about that, Hobbit. If someone does not speak English or Turkish, he/she better always take the passport with him/her?

Anyway, how would he/she be able to understand what a cop is asking for?Posted Image

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Conan, if a person speaks neither English nor Turkish, they would be well advised to have their passport with them as well as a phrasebook!

Posted Image I never thought about that, Hobbit. If someone does not speak English or Turkish, he/she better always take the passport with him/her?

Anyway, how would he/she be able to understand what a cop is asking for?Posted Image

Passport in English is pasaport in Turkish, it sounds close enough that if someone with a rough stubble, a long dark moustache, hair growing out from under his collar, and a deep voice says "pasaport," the command would be quite clear. If that same person was in a police blue uniform then the command would be unmistakable. However, if the person asking to see your "pasaport" is not in uniform what to do? To ask such a person to produce an appropriate badge or ID could be difficult, especially for one not well practiced with the language nor the streets of Istanbul. A phrasebook probably would not be of much help under stress. I would recommend that a Turkish "newbie" practice a few phrases with the help of a Turkish friend until they can say them with some clarity and ALSO write them down.

For example:

May I see your police identification please? would be translated as Polis kimliğinizi görebilir miyim lütfen? For any non-native Turkish speaker, that is a difficult phrase to speak, practice would be best, or at least have it typed out and carry it in the passport or residence permit. Carrying the originals around is OK as long as you store copies in some safe places. I just carried the color photocopies and left the originals in a safe place. Not exactly "legal" but would probably allow you to move on.

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Hi Paks,

You are worrying toooooo much.

Turks are generally very tolerant and being a foreigner you will be given a lot of leeway.

Don't believe everything you read in guidebooks because they could refer to different parts of the country, just be yourself and everything will work out fine.

Just enjoy the moment

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All this of course is hypothetical since we know that Paks does speak English.

Thank you Vic, I am duly ashamed and realize that I made a serious typing error. Posted Image

I wrote

"how does a person who does not speak English ask a cop to see his ID?"

but I meant to write

"how does a person who does not speak Turkish ask a cop to see his ID?"

Aplogies to Paks and Vic and everyone else for not catching my error in time. I got my tongue wrapped around my eye teeth and could not see what I was saying...

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Hehe, don't worry! It was an interesting conversation because I now have the Turkish phrase to write down and practice.

Aw man guys, I'm starting to get terrifically excited! And it turns out, somehow with only a week or so to go I'm learning more Turkish now than before! I'll still have to carry around a note card with me for a while with the basic phrases, but maybe I can pull out a few from memory too if I'm lucky!

So, two more tourist questions. Are these ideas smart or uninformed:

1. To get from the airport IST I am rather terrified of taking a taxi or the shuttle because I don't really know what to look for in my stop and I also don't speak enough Turkish to get by so I had heard about an airport transfer service called Efendi Travel. It costs a little more than a taxi supposedly but takes you directly to where you need to go, the driver follows road laws and doesn't smoke, and supposedly it's just a much safer and less hectic travel option.

2. With the new clarification on phone rules, am I right in thinking that if I bring in an international phone, a cellphone that has a SIM card that is not Turkish and that I pay a certain rate to for each call, text, etc. that I do not have to pay the special tax or have the chance of getting my phone blocked because I won't have a Turkish SIM card? I think I've found one of these international cell phones with a cheaper rate than international roaming on my own U.

S. phone.

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Oh my. Reading this don't dos and dos, I realized I have technically done everything wrong in Turkey, and if Turkish defined people by small things well then in their opinion I would be the rudest person in a world. Yet, everyone has always liked me and my boyfriend never told me I would have done something super rude or disturbing - and trust me, he would tell me if I actually did, because he's very careful about manners. So I don't think you Paks need to worry at all!

And I don't think you really have to know Turkish to survive there. It's not like Turks wouldn't have heard a word in English before ;)

To your question 2:

If you are not using Turkish sim card, you don't need to registered phone to Turkey. But this registration costs only about 20liras so if you wanna text, call etc to your friends in Turkey, then it would make sense to have Turkish sim card as well. Otherwise it might be super expensive to you! I was in Turkey for 2,5 months and I used my Finnish phone for some calls and ended up paying 1100 euros phone bill.

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I'm not really sure how international phones work, but somehow their SIM card uses the phone networks of the country you're in but you only pay a certain price for it. For example, the one I'm looking at costs .29 cents a minute to call from Turkey to the U.

S. with a .35 cent fee for making the phone call. It's slightly more expensive to call within Turkey to another Turkish phone but only by a few cents.

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Hi Paks,

Google maps will show the address where you want to go - print the directions/map - show it to a taxi driver and he will take you there - re safety ALL taxis are registered and have specific numbers - take a note of the number when you get in - ask for a receipt for the amount you pay - if you think you are overcharged there are places you as a tourist can complain.

Re phone calls - I am sure you have a computer and internet - use SKYPE for calls it is efficient and cheap - I use it to call my family and friends in Turkey, Far East and the UK from Germany.

When you want to communicate sign goes a long way without speaking the language - e.g. if you want an egg flap your arms and make a noise like a chicken - they will laugh with you but will understand.

Good luck

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