As part of my dual studies at MANN+HUMMEL, I spent my fifth theoretical semester in Turkey and the sixth in Canada. My first blog article covered Turkish life, Istanbul and my university, Istanbul Kültür University(IKU). In the second article, I would like you to join me in Turkish restaurants and on the roads, and tell you about some linguistic challenges.
As I said, I am living in a completely Turkish quarter here in Istanbul, which I consider a great privilege. However, hardly anyone speaks English; you have to be grateful if someone answers with ‘yes’ or ‘no’, even though English is taught in schools. I was told that many people do not have the confidence to speak English, in case they make a mistake. This must be the Turkish mentality. I did attend a crash course in Turkish when I was in Germany, but didn’t get much further than ‘Sorry, I don’t speak Turkish’. Unfortunately, my normal lecture times then clashed with the Turkish courses offered at the university. You can however manage quite well using signals and hand gestures, plus a few simple sentences and questions, the people here are very approachable and helpful. Overcoming language barriers promotes independence and helps to bring you out of your shell.
You can get a delicious dinner in a restaurant for a few euros. Turkish cuisine is great, I have enjoyed the food in 99% of the restaurants I have visited. Typical dishes include lamb or chicken doner kebabs, minced meat, dürüm (wraps), fish and baklava for dessert – a rich, sweet pastry filled with pistachio nuts. In our neighbourhood, there are around 15-20 bakers/ confectioners. Of course, you also have to have tea, which is served ‘on the house’ after every meal.
… is murderous! The extra-large metro buses do have their own lanes and run every 30 seconds in the rush hour, but the 30 km stretch from the university to the underground is nevertheless one huge traffic jam. When you get into a taxi, you have the feeling you have rally driver Colin McRae at the wheel. Basically, there are no rules of the road. The maxim is ‘braking late means holding your speed longer’. Overtake on the hard shoulder, extend the green phase, turn round at a main crossroads – this is quite the order of the day over here. It is total chaos, but it does work nevertheless and to date, I have not witnessed any serious accidents. I would however advise caution when travelling by taxi: at first, I paid 35 Lira to go home from Taksim Square (a distance of around 2.5 km). I can now give directions to the taxi drivers in Turkish and it only costs 8 Lira 🙂
A key point in my decision to work at MANN+HUMMEL was that it was made clear to me during the interview that I could spend both my theoretical and practical semesters abroad. Few companies offer such opportunities and support, and it would not necessarily have been available with other large automotive suppliers.
In my next blog article I will tell you something about my sixth theoretical semester in Canada.