There are moments of true uncomfortableness when moving to a new country. The journey itself can be challenging. I can’t think of anyone who enjoys long lines at passport control or waiting by the baggage carousal hoping their bags pop out after about 20 hours of travel.
So when I woke up early the other morning, I was a tad disoriented when I realized the electricity was off. Who should I call? How does the phone work? How long do I wait? Is this normal or should I be worried? Where do I go if there is an emergency? Why didn’t I charge my computer last night? Where do I buy milk? Why can’t I fall back asleep?
Although I was unable to fall asleep again, it was with great relief when the lights did turn back on about 45 minutes later. I flipped on the fan and air conditioner and started roaming around my new place. At the moment, it feels like I am staying in someone else’s apartment, or a hotel, although all of my stuff is strewn about. I am positively shocked by the amount of toiletries I have. No wonder my bags were so heavy!
I compare living or visiting a new city to dropping a pebble in water and what I call the rings of familiarity. The rock is your house and the first ring is what is initially comfortable and familiar. So for instance, yesterday I went out in my new city and I found this cute café with zero English about one block away. Again, first ringer but it felt good to be out and about. Then walking around, I stumbled upon a grocery store, big success for me although still first ring. You see, within my neighborhood, the roads aren’t on a grid. The streets here are narrow and cobblestone, with no real rhyme or reason that I can discern at the moment. Instead of turn left, it is more like, loop around this corner and then make your way right, up some stairs. For a girl with a developing sense of direction, this can be intimidating.
Also, the other factor is that I don’t like to look lost. I mean I don’t want to look like a tourist for many reasons. Some legitimate, some all ego. But you see, the men hang out in front of their shops so there is a lot of ‘people watching’ happening. The idea of doubling back, having to pass these people again works against my independent nature. Plus, I really can’t tell if they are talking to me or not; I don’t understand Turkish so headphones are a must.
However today I met some fellow teachers and we set up our banks accounts (just don’t ask me what I signed) and we walked around Taksim Square-second ring action. It is literally up the road from my new place. Tomorrow is Istanbul Modern to become a member. However, there is a part of me that is really afraid that I won’t be able to find my way back home. It sounds kind of silly, but I don’t even know how to say my street name so if I get lost, I am really on my own. I know I can do it but it’s easier to claim jet lag then be adventurous sometimes. However, I heard there is a great coffee house down that same road, so I am motivated. Actually, if I find that, I will consider that a big success – third ringer for sure!
I have to say that so far, Istanbul is truly amazing. This afternoon, we finished eating lunch and when we walked out, I realized that I was in Istanbul. Sounds weird but it was awesome.