Ok, this is stating the obvious – but if we’re going to live in Turkey, we need to make an effort to get to grips with the language.
Actually, I say it’s obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many ex-pats go overseas and think they can stick with the usual Brit approach of speaking very slowly, in English, and simply repeating themselves at an ever-increasing volume when they’re not understood.
Because we’re going to a tourist area and one which does have a lot of English people living there, the move to Fethiye might not be as difficult as it could be, Most of the locals seem to have a pretty good grasp of our language (and certainly much better than ours on Turkish).
But there’s a difference between being somewhere as a temporary visitor and living there permanently. Not only that, but we want to be part of the community. It’s not a case of simply transporting our life in the UK to somewhere warmer and staying in our ivory tower – we want the culture, the way of life. We want to integrate. There’s a chance we could end up living in one of the villages or outlying areas, in which case just knowing a few key phrases – “Where is the toilet?” “May I have two beers?” – won’t cut it.
So, with this in mind, we got together with two dear friends who are also making the move. Yes, we began with the basics – greetings, numbers, that kind of thing. And we had a fun evening – some food, some wine, lots of laughs – and did learn a few words. But we also realised how much we don’t know, and that we probably need some expert – native – help if we’re to really progress.
I’ve always liked languages and been quite good at them, but it’s true what they say – it’s a lot harder when you’re older. We’ve got a couple of ideas to find someone who can help, and in the meantime I guess I’ll revert to my school days and try and learn a few words and phrases parrot-fashion.
The next time I get the opportunity, I also need to make sure I actually use what I’ve learned. It’s like anything – you can study it, understand the principles and, in theory, be quite good. But if you don’t put it into practice you’ll never improve and never really get to grips with it.
Some of that will come once we’re our there and speaking Turkish on a daily basis, I’m sure. For now, it’s back to the phrase book.
Wish us luck. Until next time – güle güle!