I’ve just spent the past 9 months living in a yurt, i.e. a Turkish dormitory and I have to say, I didn’t think I would make it. It hasn’t been a horrible experience but it hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns either. I’ve definitely learned a couple of things since I first moved here though.
1. It’s going to suck
…. But then it will suck less and less. I remember my very first day here. I had just spent about 27 hours on the ‘road’ trying to get from Mauritius to Ankara, including at 15 hours at Nairobi Airport sitting in uncomfortable chairs watching chick flicks and reading manga. I was tired and sleep-deprived – the only time I had slept was during my one hour flight from Istanbul to Ankara which was so brief that it hardly counts at all. And seeing where I would be staying the next three years just made want to spend the next 27 hours back on (more than) a plane back home. It’s old and cold – not just in the temperature sense – and it took a while to get used to the communal bathrooms and shared rooms. With the academic year over, my dorms will be closing for summer because of repairs so I’m having to move to a designated one until it opens again (hopefully) in September. It took months to finally get settled in and get a hang around everything, just the thought of leaving now is heart-breaking.
2. Minimalistic living is a must
I only just figured that one out. I share a room with three other girls – yup that’s right, there are four people in my room and I am entitled a 2 x 3 m2 area which comprise a single bed and half a wardrobe. So if you planned to pack your entire room, think again. I came to Ankara with a 40 kg suitcase, 10 kg hand luggage and I’m not really sure now but probably a backpack as well. It was a challenge to fit everything in my (half-)wardrobe but somehow I did manage to, more or less. Over the past 9 months, I’ve also indulged in a fair amount of shopping – partly because I was depressed (long story), partly because it was just exciting to go back to city life. I probably would have toned it down a lot had I known I would basically have to pack my whole life all over again and move, even if it’s just for a short while. I only just finished packing this morning and I have the two suitcases I came with which I left in storage here, two boxes full of random stuff which I left at my friends’ for storage again, 60L rucksack which has everything I will be using for the summer, a gym bag with other random stuff and a tennis racquet. I’m not really sure how I survived with only two pairs of trousers and three t-shirts during the 8 months before moving to Ankara, but one can say that things have gotten out of hands.
Okay not really but it sure feels like that. When you share such a small space with so many people, you have to get used to little privacy. There are arguments that break out sometimes or you even get/give silent treatment, but I’m lucky in the sort that my roommates are quite understanding even if one of them forgets that she shares with other people and goes on in Chinese for hours. I remember when I was going through my breakup – which took longer than it should have – I was literally tearing up every minute but crying myself to sleep wasn’t an option. I wasn’t quite keen on people seeing me crying and pitying me so instead I would go have a shower to help calm myself down. Definitely helped.
4. You’ll learn to compromise
Living with people isn’t the easiest thing to do. Especially when you’re an only child. But I seem to have definitely gotten better at it. Four years ago, you’d have wanted to murder me if you spent a few days with me. I remember that week spent in Morocco where I shared a room with a friend of mine – didn’t end well. Not everyone has the same rhythm and you have to get used to that. I usually wake up early except for the occasional lie ins, my roommate is more of the vampire time and only emerges at night. A bit freaky when you wake up during the night and see her face illuminated by the backlight of her phone. Creepier without glasses. But you’ll learn to accommodate each other’s schedules and habits. And food – STOP EATING MY FREAKING FOOD.
5. You’ll have a curfew
That’s right. If you think you can party all night and come back at 3 am, think again. Everyone has to be back by 10.30 pm on weekdays and 11 pm on weekends, for security reasons. If you will be staying out however or you’ll be away for a few days, you can take izin (permission) just by logging onto the computer terminal on the ground floor and entering details about your trip. Your every move is tracked (did that creep you out because it certainly creeps me out?). Also you cannot leave the dorms before 6 am which is when the metro starts working. So if you want an early start, it’ll have to be after 6 am or you have the option of spending the night somewhere else.
6. Canteen food isn’t that bad at all
Our canteen might not be a Michelin star restaurant but it does quite alright, on the scale of things. Recently they’ve been making their own poğoça (traditional Turkish bread similar to focaccia) rather than buying them from outside which means we get freshly baked soft poğoça in the morning along with assortments of cheese and olives along with the more mainstream (for me) things like butter and jam. We also have a pide (Turkish flatbread with toppings, like a pizza) chef which means we can have some just out-of-oven pide whenever we want, definitely a win. Whilst there are times you’ll get fed up with the lack of variety and want to skip dinner, it’s definite better than I expected.
7. You will meet a spectrum of people
On my floor only, there are 120 girls, of whom I’ve talked only to a handful probably (language barrier) but I’ve made many good friends here, including my current travel buddies. Whilst we don’t see each other every day and wouldn’t want to be roomies – we’ll just end up killing each other – I know I can depend on them in times of need. Like when I need my nails or eyebrows done. Also, to the little shits who’ve been stealing my cutlery or the ones who think the laundry line belongs to them only, screw you.