Yabancı (n.: foreigner, stranger, unknown, unfamiliar)

While yabancı could be a reference to my not blogging lately, it is not.  I’ll get to the real point of this post in a moment, but first a bit of explanation of my absence.  I will start by saying it is not because I’m pregnant.  I refuse to be one of those people that blames my having a baby for everything I let slip in my life (at least for now).  I have friends who tell me that they’d love to keep up on this or that but can’t because they have a baby and I won’t understand until I do, but it will happen.  I refuse.  I think it’s an issue of prioritizing and nothing more.  Sure, prioritizing your child over other things is a good thing… just stop blaming your child for your inability to read more books, go to the spa, do yoga, write blog posts, etc.  The blunt reason I haven’t blogged is because I haven’t prioritized it plain and simple.  Though the good excuse version is that Mr. Awesome and I took a vacation back to the States for a few weeks.  Could I have blogged about it?  Sure.  But it wouldn’t really be part of our adventures in Turkish, now would it?

So yabancı. It is a word used quite often in Turkey.  Maybe because it also means stranger and unfamiliar and unknown… maybe because there isn’t always a bad connotation to the word foreigner.  In fact, why do I think there’s a bad connotation?  Is it my American sensitivity that makes me think it’s rude to call someone a foreigner?  Is it because it makes me feel like an outsider to be called a foreigner?  Or is it my backpacking experience which made me equate people knowing I’m a foreigner with ripping me off/trying to swipe my passport and credit card (which is also sort of a strange American thought process by the way)?  Whatever the reason, I always think being called a “foreigner” is a bad thing.  And it happens a lot here.  A lot.  A LOT.

Whether it’s after ordering my coffee in perfect Turkish with no questions about my nationality until I specify that I want a “venti” sized coffee or when I mispronounce a word slightly (‘vanilya’ vs. ‘vanilla’ was once my nemesis), I get called a yabancı at least three times a week.  And ironically, it’s never to my face… it’s always to the other barista or someone near by as though I won’t understand it or notice despite our having just had a three minute conversation in Turkish.  It is often also used as a way to say, “she’s not very bright… she’s a yabancı” or “she won’t understand, she’s a yabancı” or “I’d rather not be the one to file her paperwork, she’s a yabancı”.  Or at least that’s how I take it: as a condescending rebuke.  And it drives me mad!

Is it just me?  Am I reading too much into a simple noun or is it as insulting as I think it is?

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