Language Barriers: A Leap of Faith

Updated on March 29, 2020

The River

All that I have is a river

The river is always my home…

I reminisced the words of Johnny Flynn as I walked around the shores of Izmir. The waves thrashed upon the pathway. Trinkets of water caressed my cheeks, but nothing touched me as much as Johnny Flynn’s voice singing ‘water’. It resonated with the pain I felt as I walked by the shore. It made me realise that I only had a few months left in Izmir. Izmir, a city that felt more of a home than Pakistan ever did. A city that made me feel safe, thicker skinned, and most importantly, happy.

Coming from a country where locked doors were the only home I had, Turkey felt like a long dream instead of a semester exchange programme. I never realised how much independence changes a person. No longer did I need a man to tag along to do my groceries, pay my bills, or accompany me when I took a taxi home. Chivalry died and left a sweet taste of freedom in Izmir. The sweetness echoed through the coastal shores, hence, I was couldn’t help myself from smiling at the sea.

Leap of Faith

It started from taking a leap of faith. I applied for a funded semester exchange programme at Turkey without honestly realising what I signed up for. I entirely put my faith into a foreign journey that would serve as an escape from the closed doors of Pakistan.

As I walked out of the Izmir airport, nothing felt familiar. I searched for a voice that spoke English to me but everyone looked at me helplessly. It was a strange feeling; being stared at for being the odd one out. Back home, being stared was a part of life. Those judgemental and perverse stares lurked around me and fed upon my fear. But these stares were searching to find me an answer that I could comprehend. Sign language did not help either. This exhausted them and they decided to walk away.

I instantly doubted my leap of faith. Was it wise to come to a country where no one spoke the language that I could comprehend? How would I ask for help if I got lost? Most importantly, how will I find the driver sent by the University to pick me up? Panic entrapped my body and I shook with fear. I just realised that I had never even taken a taxi without someone accompanying me and now, I was suddenly all alone in a country far away from familiarity. As I felt the anxiety build up, I heard a frail old voice call my name. I turned around and sought the driver. A sigh of relief released some of my anxiety as I sat in the car. When the driver started talking to me in Turkish, I just shook my head. After several tries of making me understand what he was saying, he surrendered. His frustration was the only communication I understood and I instantly chuckled. He laughed and spoke in a much happier tone. Maybe it wasn’t so bad that I could not understand Turkish at all. I realised that I found happiness in the unknown.

As months passed by, the communication barrier grew stronger. However, my trust in this leap of faith grew stronger with it. I faced several instances where I couldn’t even order food or do my daily chores. I realised that there was no way to survive a country except to immerse yourself in it. I learnt a few essentials of Turkish to get me by. Turkey’s culture made me feel like I belonged there. The people, the tea, the trees, the dogs; everything made me feel loved. But only one thing made me love myself; a walk by the river. It was a taste of freedom that I wouldn’t have upon my return. I often walked at night and stayed up late to watch the sunset, thinking if this was the start of a dream or its end.

Water by Johnny Flynn

Now the land that I knew is a dream
And the line on the distance grows faint
So wide is my river
The horizon a sliver
The artist has run out of paint……

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • Zoya Dawar Agha profile imageAUTHOR

        Zoya Dawar 

        7 weeks ago from Pakistan

        Thank you!

      • Zoya Dawar Agha profile imageAUTHOR

        Zoya Dawar 

        7 weeks ago from Pakistan

        thank you so much!

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        8 weeks ago from UK

        Thanks for sharing your experiences. It's a moving story.

      • Ivana Divac profile image

        Ivana Divac 

        8 weeks ago from Serbia

        Such a lovely story. Very well-written, filled with emotion, and beautiful in every way. Thank you for sharing!


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)