Turkey is one of the countries that’s profiled in the Global Coach Center Academy within the course “Living and Working in Turkey”. In this post we interview one of the course’s co-trainers on some of the most interesting tidbits on Turkey.
Lale Gerger in her own words: “My mother is American and my father is Turkish and I was truly brought up with both cultures. I lived in Turkey during my elementary school years but then relocated back to Turkey in my 20s and stayed for another 11 years. I was the first single person to ever adopt in Turkey and had to change legislation during the 5 year process. Aside from living in both Turkey and the United States, I’ve also had the opportunity to live in Kuwait, England and Mexico.”
Global Coach Center Blog (GCC Blog): What would be 1 to 3 tips you would give to someone who is moving to Turkey?
1. Turks are very friendly – take advantage of that and try to get to know the locals.
2. Be patient; things can become bureaucratic in every day situations such as at a bank or even the post office! Don’t forget that relationships are key in Turkey so try to befriend someone at places you visit often, it will make your life easier.
3. Be open and realistic; as with living in any country – there will be challenges and adjustments needed – as long as you can remain open to new experiences, you will have a wonderful time!
GCC Blog: What was the funniest cultural misunderstanding you’ve experienced in Turkey?
Lale: I was fairly lucky in that since I’m half Turkish and I spoke Turkish when I relocated to Turkey in my 20s. After graduating from UCLA’s Theatre department, I relocated to Turkey and was fortunate enough to land a faculty member position at Hacettepe University’s Theatre Dept. One day, as I was trying to be friendly and making small talk with the head of the department, I asked, “So what have you done in the Theatre?” In Turkish there is a formal and informal ways to say “you” – I, of course, mistakenly used the informal manner and to top it off, it turns out that he was not only the head of the theatre department but was one of the most famous actors in Turkey. I, essentially, asked the Turkish Laurence Olivier what he did and in an informal manner at that! Once I realized my mistake, I tried to apologize & use the more formal manner with him but he would not allow it; I think it was probably refreshing for him…
GCC Blog: What’s the most popular proverb and why?
Lale: Proverbs are used consistently in every day life. One of the more popular ones is: Bir kahvenin kırk yıl hatırı vardır.
Literal Translation: A cup of coffee commits to forty years of friendship.
Meaning: Used to remind that friendships should not be taken lightly. It also is quite telling of how the culture values relationships.
GCC Blog: What do you love about that country?
GCC Blog: What do you dislike about that country?
Lale: Daily life is much more difficult – doing every day chores can become a real chore due to lack of well-developed systems.
The full course on “Living and Working in Turkey”, co-authored by Lale is available 24/7 at the online Expatriate and Cross-Cultural Academy for self- or assisted study. Download it here.