Airports are ambiguous places: vacuous and impersonal yet teeming with emotions. It is familiar to me; I have departed from them many times, but this departure was different. I knew how to handle leaving the people closest to me. That part was routine; I say my goodbyes, cry a little, then once I pass security I grab hold of my ticket, wipe the remnants of the tears from my cheeks, and move on. Yes, I am one of those emotional types who cries over pretty much anything, and I’ve learned how to deal with it, but moving to Turkey was different. I wasn’t sure if I was quite ready. The whole thing happened so fast, I didn’t feel prepared. How would I handle this new situation on my own? Would they treat me right? Would I fit in? Did I forget anything? The next thing I knew, I was looking out of the airplane window. squished between two passengers, thinking to myself: There’s no turning back now.
I arrived on Turkish soil with the utmost enthusiasm. I had finally made it. Fifteen hours of journeying and I was where I was suppose to be. I knew it would all run smoothly until… I realized I needed a visa just to get into the country. Not to worry, according to my contract, my visa would be taken care of. I figured it was already in the system and they just needed to look it up online. After waiting about 30 minutes in line at the official front desk, and another 15 minutes for an English-speaking officer, I was told that there was no visa in the system and I had to go purchase one. Luckily, a temporary visa was only 30 dollars so I figured the club would just reimburse me. But when I got to the Visa desk, after arriving with my complete wallet transformed into Turkish Lira, the manager told me that they only accepted American Dollars. Confused, I told myself, Ok, I’ll just go find some dollars. I went to a special cash point and drew out 50 of the 80 dollars left in my bank account, and then returned to the visa desk where I finally received my 90 day visa. Trying to maintain my positive attitude, I walked through security and baggage claim, and was hoping to see my name printed on a piece of paper with a friendly driver eagerly awaiting my arrival. I came out, searching for my name amongst the 30 plus drivers but, couldn’t see anything close to mine. I stood there, flustered and a little disappointed, but waiting on someone to pick me up. After a few minutes I moved to the closest cafe where I could plug into the wifi. I was sitting at the airport for 2 hours before they picked me up. 2 damn hours!! Pissed . . . waiting . . . waiting . . . not speaking any Turkish . . . waiting . . . hoping that someone would walk by with a sign. . . .any sign . . . please?
Long after all my enthusiasm for arriving in Istanbul had faded, a man walked up.”Are you Savanah?” he asked, I nodded, and said that he didn’t recognize me with my hair? I thought I looked pretty similar to any picture he could have pulled from the internet but oh well, I was happy to finally get moving to my apartment. I tried to use a bit of the Turkish I knew, “Merhaba” I said. He didn’t really respond but we exchanged laughs after realizing both of us didn’t understand one another. It's a funny thing when you are ‘lost in translation’ as they put it, hoping one of you will somehow piece together the broken language the other is speaking. Traveling through the city, passing the lights of the skyscrapers made me feel comforted that I had made the right decision. We stopped at a grocery store so that I could pick whatever food I wanted, then we stopped for a local chicken fajita, and finally we arrived at my new apartment. At a first glance it was perfect: a 'two bedroom' apartment for one, with two bathrooms and a relatively large living room. There was a decent sized TV and the internet was already working so I felt secure. I said my goodbyes to the driver and then quickly hooked up my computer and cellphone to the wifi. I was content, although the desolate house felt quite lonely.
The next morning I woke up rather late and went straight to the fridge to grab milk for my cereal. I reached for one of the dishes that was left in the sink. Thinking to myself, why are there plates in the sink? I washed it, but then turned around and realized the place hadn’t been cleaned. It was as if I had walked into someones home and was using all of their stuff. Attempting to maintain a positive outlook, I washed the dishes and disposed of all the trash to make the place feel more homey. I was greeted by the Physio who enthusiastically took me to have a medical exam.
Another 2 hours of waiting around and doing various medical checkups like blood tests, urine tests, orthopedic tests, and cardiovascular tests. And when all was completed, I went home for a few hours and then was picked up again to go to practice. The Physio told me to bring my running shoes. I wasn’t sure why; I definitely didn’t think I would be playing the first day I got here, still trying to orientate myself from the jet lag. They had a friendly match against one of the local second division teams. As I arrived, the players told me to get ready. I thought it was a bit weird to prepare to play volleyball before having met any of the staff, but I refrained from asking questions and got dressed, met a few of the girls who were very friendly, and walked out onto the court. I didn’t even know who the coach was, but then a man introduced himself and told me I was playing. Surprised, I began to jog in place, smiling to save my ass from pouting. I was drained and dizzy and ready to drop. I was hoping for a day to recover, but that wasn’t the case. Oh well, I wanted to impress them so I decided to suck up any hesitation I had, and give it my all. I could be that young, eager, determined player that everyone is excited to have on their team.
"Life has no limitations, except the ones you make." ~ Les Brown