There are so many reasons why learning the local language is helpful. Not only does it allow us to build friendships and just open up good will with shopkeepers and our neighbors, but it really does help lower our daily stress levels the more we can communicate! Case in point…


About three weeks after we moved here, I (Amber) went to the Pazar. The weekly Pazar is a fun, albeit somewhat stressful experience when you don’t know what people are yelling all around you. Add to that the current mask situation and it makes it that much harder to understand people speaking a new language.

On this particular trip, I was hoping to find some spices. I knew that their version of a smoky paprika (tatlı biber) went into a lot of local dishes. So I thought I’d get some. Language skills were… limited at this point. I pointed to what I wanted and tried to explain how much. Well… I now have a better sense of how to ask for a half or quarter of something. And a better sense of how much a kilo of something looks like…

Do you know how much a kilo of spices is?

Well, I do now. And I also know how to ask for 250 grams of a spice instead of the normal “kilo.” I also know how to change when I see them handing me a bag of spices the size of a pillow. “No thank you, I would like half of that amount.” I can say that now. It’s valuable stuff.

This was nearly 4 months ago and it’s hard to imagine not knowing that. But as I sheepishly walked away with a giant amount of spice that I have been giving away as funny “christmas gifts” with a laugh… I think about how thankful I am to feel more comfortable in my own skin here. And how much knowing a little bit more language helps in these everyday interactions at the pazar.

Today, I know the Pazar guys a little better. They are starting to know my regular orders of a block of fresh cheese and homemade thick yogurt. The family who sells dried fruits and nuts always have new variations for me to taste when I come by. And slowly, I hope we can build friendship. My language is still limited. But every time I try and communicate one more little bit, it breaks down a little barrier between my “otherness” and our neighbors. And that, that’s a real gift.


  1. skhonegger

    This is too funny! I cringed thinking how difficult it would be for me to be in your shoes. So very glad that you have conquered this challenge and in the meantime been able to make new connections. Not that part, is a “praise God”. Blessings on you in this new year!

    Sharlene & Ken


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