Indiana University Overseas Study

Yup. I took this with my phone.

I hope this photo can show how unimaginably beautiful this little piece of paradise is—if a smartphone can take a photo that looks this beautiful, lord knows what it looks like in reality.

I can tell you, this is only a picture; it can’t show you the smells, the sounds, the cold, refreshing water, or the friendly locals that you will find here. And I have my Turkish skills to thank for all of this. Of course it may have been discovered without any knowledge of Turkish, but it would have been highly unlikely.

So let’s go back to the beginning of this story:

My friends and I wanted to go to the beach for the day a few Sundays ago, and we asked our CIEE director if she knew of any nearby beaches that were nice. She told us to go to this place called Kilyos, which was about an hour away by dolmuş. She said it should be free but she hadn’t been in a year or two so she couldn’t make us promises. No problem! We were certain we could find a free place to chill for the day, so off we went to Kilyos, just our bathing suits backpacks to sustain us through the day.

We finally reached Kilyos, but we weren’t sure where the beach was. So I decided to ask this shop-owner if he could give directions. Thank god I knew Turkish, because he knew absolutely no English. I got the directions and off we were to the beach. There was only one problem—the cost of entrance to the beach was 20 TL and it was GATED off. Knowing how life is as a college student, you must be assured we weren’t ready to spend $10 just to lay in the sun. So, we went back to the little restaurant-lined street and looked for someone to tell us where we could find a free beach. No one knew English, except for a few greetings and basic words. Once again, knowing the local language proved to be quite useful!

I found a nice shopkeeper selling towels and trinkets and asked her if there were any free beaches around. She chuckled a bit and told me that she knew of a place where all of the locals went, but it wasn’t really a beach. Although I was a bit confused by her statement I knew that everyone was desperate to lay down and get into the water, so I asked her the name and directions. She called the place kayalıklar (this basically means “place(s) with/having rocks” or something along those lines, sometimes direct translations are impossible!) and gave me what ended up being fairly complex (or vague, rather) directions to the “not-really-a-beach”. Of course I still was a little confused, since I myself am still no expert in Turkish, and with the combined reckoning of the group and my general understanding of where to go, we found our way down to the beach.

I think that the picture can help explain the rest. Let’s just say that it ended up being a great day and we didn’t have to spend a dime for the real-estate (which I personally would prefer to a golden-sand beach anyway!).

The main point of this post is not to be fluent in a language before studying in a country where it is spoken. Rather, it is to show you that very good things can come from being interested in the language and trying to learn at least some basics before going abroad. Also, even if you’re only just starting to learn the language, locals will be EXTREMELY happy to see a foreigner trying to learn their language. They will also be more inclined to actually help you as well.

Then, you will hopefully find your own slice of paradise, with a new sense of self-confidence and some bonus friend-points with you new-found peers.

So here are some helpful words for this situation:

  • Bedava (beh-dah-vah) – free (of charge)
  • Nerede? (neh-reh-deh) – where (is it)?
  • Sağ(a) (sah) – (to the) right
  • Sol(a) (sole-[ah]) – (to the) left
  • Düz (dewz, in French spelling maybe duse) – straight (forward)

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