A Collie and Her Herd of Sheep

By: Penelope Carter

For someone that has come back to their native land as an Expat, breaks all kinds of Expat rules. You sort of bounce between native and Expat cliché’s all the time. I was born here in Istanbul and moved to London at the tender of three, so in theory I talk the talk, I walk the walk but I am very far from being a native. A dilemma maybe for any bi-lingual/ bi-cultural individual is that you tend to bounce between cultures consistently, but realistically you are never a full native of anywhere. You’re destined to be an ethnic minority where ever you go, a bit poo really but for me Home is the United Kingdom and I just happen to know the rules and laws of the country I reside as a Native Expat. See, I just made up a very academic word.

No matter what the cliché or culture there is one thing though that still manages to surprise me, and that’s the element of surprise. Now, I speak Turkish fluently, I read fluently and I get most of the punch lines that only native speakers get, I am apart of them yet I am a part from them. You see, the audacity of the people here can still surprise me, I shouldn’t be surprised, I knew most of the clichés before I got here, my famıly had told me but maybe they just never seemed so real.

Of instance, the salesmen trying to sell me a phone as if it’s a necessity for survival, the gypsy on the street trying rip a few bob of me, then the over charging men in the local weekly market who never quits trying, the crazy and angry minibus drivers, the ram packed buses that that smell like and make you feel like a stuffed sardine, the obscene need to use and have European goods, the even more obscene to act and appear European, the extensive desire to own a designer bag, the 30+ mine digging women that are on a man hunt, the female wars in offices, the thousands of brand new cars in a such a ‘poor’ country, the thousands of cars on the roads, the hectic traffic and the laws broken in traffic, ditsy female drivers that super glue themselves to the steering wheel, the cupid looking but devilish taxi driver, and many many more things that seem to set me a part from the people here.

I’m here to talk about the culture shock, I know that but this is another level of culture shock. What I mean is, it’s worse when you can understand what the people here are saying. Well you hear them, you try to understand them however you struggle to place any kind of common sense or practicality behind anything they have said.

Don’t get me wrong I love the place but I love to hate it too, there is a mixture of different people here and no matter how different they are they all share similar thought patterns that make them all the same. Difference here means appearing like you believe in something different yet you can’t be different if you want to survive.

Aziz Nesin a well published, known and respected Turkish writer who died in 1995 once called the people of this nation ‘sheep’. He argued that we follow and mimic each other like sheep, he was right, I alone can prove him right many times over yet I alone fit his theory too.

All I can say is, I can moan and groan as much as I like about the people here and their mentality, their way of life and lack of common sense but I too have something in common with them. I guess this where the native in me pops out of the little clown box, I love it here. I enjoy the commotion and foolishness no matter how shocked I am it, I’m not going anywhere. I have learnt to live with it and enjoy all the manic people.

Then again, I guess ideally, I might just be a Border collie, hanging about among the sheep and growling at them when they all go running off into a manic tiff. May I add I would also be all black and white and pretty, be all English and independent too. I would know the direction the sheep want to go but never be apart of it. I would just lay on the green, green grass a part from them till its time to go home.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingPenelope Carter is a British expat living in Turkey. Blog description: For I am only a woman trying to find her feet on land so familiar yet so unknown... I left London in a frenzy to discover the beauties of the land my Parents told me I was from.
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Contest Comments » There are 6 comments

Penelope wrote 11 years ago:

Hey guys! Please Comment and share... helps let me know if can type and write!! Thank you! Panny

Zuhal wrote 11 years ago:

I love the way you describe being native in turkey. many points that you made are very correct.keep writing you are really good at it :))

GKN wrote 11 years ago:

A brilliant explanation of whats like here! Love, Love reading this blog...

Tess wrote 11 years ago:

Wow ...What a great blog Penelope .I have Istanbul on my bucket list ,it has just moved closer to the top .If this blog was published in an Australian travel brochure I am sure it would generate more tourists for Istanbul .Sounds so interesting.Looking forward to your next Blog .

Penelope wrote 11 years ago:

Thank you Tess, Zuhal, Gokhan!! Lovely to know you enjoyed the post! much appreciated comments! Love you all!

Omer wrote 11 years ago:

"Ditsy female drivers" that's perfect! :) you got totally the point to be native here. Congrats, and best of luck!

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