Becoming Legal.

On the first day of October it was time to get my residency permit. I was scared, we were all scared; all of us Erasmus students who, by virtue of having gone through the correct procedure in getting a student visa, were obliged to pay 135 Lira to spend the day in the police station trying to make ourselves understood in our eager attempts to be legally allowed to stay in the country.

I was actually thoroughly annoyed to discover that I probably didn’t need to go through the painful student visa process and could have waltzed in on a tourist visa (providing I left the country every 3 months). What’s more the fee for this visa in the UK is considerably higher than seemingly all countries save the Netherlands, owing to who knows what diplomatic wrangling. So don’t do it seems to be the optimum advice for any would be Erasmus’ers in Turkey.

But anyway I had to go so I trooped down to the station, identifiable as most government buildings are by a Turkish flag the size of a house directly outside (I have yet to mention the Turkish penchant for their flag but if you happen to be outside with your eyes open undoubtedly you will see one in some guise). You could have staged a wonderful production of The Trial in the Police HQ, it certainly had a nice dystopian ambience going for it, again heightened by the fact I don’t speak any useful Turkish, so I was bracing myself for a soul destroying day. In actual fact it was reasonably painless if not a very dull way to spend 3 hours. Nevertheless I have written off any more beaurocracy for the rest of the month and am thus functioning without a bank account or phone because I can’t quite be bothered to sort them out. Supposedly it’s simple to get a bank account but I am currently dealing exclusively in wodges of cash which I stash about my flat like a criminal might.
Any concept I had of what things ought to cost has completely gone out my head so I end up treating myself all the time, subsequently I then have to live of 10 Liras a day when I relaise how much I am actually spending. Luckily with 10 Lira I can eat 10 Simits (the local street bread) a day if I want, so I won’t go hungry but will possibly get scurvy.

The lessons here are still novel and therefore sort of fun. If I’m honest then I don’t think they are as challenging as 3rd year would be at Edinburgh but that isn’t upsetting me too much. It’s very interesting to be studying with people from other countries, especially when you’re covering stuff about nation states and national identity etc. I had to give a presentation about Greek Identity to a class full of Greeks which unsurprisingly ended in a heated “discussion”. Greeks are the bolshiest people I have ever met! (In a good way)
I’m glad I’m here for a year as time is going quickly and, being a lazy person, I think it will take me a year to do much interesting stuff., especially as I now have to do actual work, which I think we had all rather forgotten was the point of being here.

Categories: Istanbul, Turkey

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