I lived and worked in Istanbul for three months during one summer. I had no idea I was going to stay that long until I arrived and so many lovely Turks offered me help. One of the first things I learned, of course, was how to say thank you in Turkish. It’s best to learn this in any language, but since I was living and working here, it went a long way. If you learn just a few words in the native tongue of the country you are visiting, it really makes a difference in how locals treat you.
How to Say Thank You in Turkish
In Turkish, the words for ‘thank you’ are ‘teşekkür ederim,’ pronounced tesh-e-koor eh-deh-rem and a way to remember it is to say ‘tea, sugar, a dream.’ Many shop owners I met in the old town, Sultanahmet, told me this. Not only does it sort of sound like the phrase, it is also poigmant since having tea with a local in Turkey (or so many other parts of the world) is a way of connecting. It is the perfect way to think of ‘thank you’ and a great way really to think of the Turkish people who were overwhelmingly hospitable and friendly. At first, you may be overwhelmed (especially as a woman) with so many Turkish men and shop owners talking to you, trying to sell you rugs, and offer you tea, but once you get to know the Turks, they are extremely warm, generous, and giving.
How to Say No Thank You in Turkish
Also, it’s good to know the more informal “thanks” is teşekkürler, pronounced tesh-eh-koor-lehr. And, honestly just as important is now to say “no thank you” which is Hayir Sağol (hi-ear sa-owl). In Turkish there’s a slight difference between sağol and teşekkürler. Sağol has a deeper meaning to wish the person to live well and healthy.
Time to Leave Turkey
I just wanted to break out of the ‘writing mode’ for a second to thank everyone for their thoughtful responses to my last post on whether I should stay in Istanbul or move on and start traveling again. I was very touched by all the wonderful and heartfelt comments I received—some from old friends from ‘way back when’ and others from brand new friends that I’ve met recently during my travels. It is so amazing to me to be so far away and yet so many friends drop what they are doing to send me an email to give me honest advice. It brightened my spirits tremendously.
The most common thing I heard was how many were surprised that I hadn’t had these reflective moments sooner. I think I have had them here and there, but not this intensely simply because I’ve had a lot of time in Istanbul to get lost in my own brain—a sometimes scary, scary place! I am trying to NOT worry about ‘what I will do when I get home… or for the rest of my life’ now. It’s not always easy, but I do want to live in the moment and that is what I should be doing. I have really enjoyed this trip and have found myself smiling while I tell others about it—so I know it’s been amazing.
Instead of going for a ‘visa run’ after my three month tourist visa expires, I will most likely say goodbye to Turkey and head north to parts of Eastern Europe, starting in Romania. I do like Turkey and could easily stay here… but there are more places I want to see to feel like I’ve ‘completed’ my journey. I have stayed here longer than anywhere else I’ve stayed on my entire trip and I really do like Istanbul. It is chock full of some of the friendliest, most helpful people I’ve met anywhere in the world. And I will probably be in tears the first few days after I leavetoo… because I have really made a nice circle of good, kind friends here—who even dragged my ass out during my down in the dumps day and made me feel better too. It’s great to always have friends around me physically and in spirit, even when I’m this far away!
Tea, sugar, a dream.