Language Barrier

The buses in Turkey do not think when they move. Upon entry, passengers secure a seat, hang on to the poles, or hit the floor. Those young would always waive their seats to the elderly. I don’t remember a time when I sat down during a bus ride. I enjoyed them anyway. Standing for 20 minutes on a wildly moving bus was compensated for by the people watching I could do from my position clinging to the not-so-sexy pole.

My fifth month-long visit to Turkey was when I was granted a seat… next to an elementary school teacher who taught Turkish. She began a conversation with me asking where I studied (of course). Clinging to the bottoms of the seat, I said I studied in the United States to which she did not flinch. What was my favorite subject? English, I said, to which she smiled. This question-answer format in Turkish continued for the next five minutes until the bus stopped at her stop. On the way out she told me, grinning, “You have a beautiful English accent when you speak Turkish.”

As the bus jolted to a start, I sat up from my seat and grabbed the metal pole, which seemed sexier than before.

— Su Ertekin-Taner, ‘22