Time for an update.
I am finally starting to feel contented with my level in Turkish.
We are currently on long Eid al-Fitr (or Ramazan) vacations, and it's time for visiting friends and relatives (or in my case only friends). I do a lot of visits, and wherever I go I can easily become a center of everyone's attention, because everyone likes to listen to foreigner's stories about his country, and his perspectives about the differences with Turkey. I've become totally comfortable with engaging in this kind of conversations. I have a few funny stories up my sleeve which I start with. For example the story that all the barber's shops have transparent windows here, which is unheard of in my country, and how it makes me uncomfortable to get a shave while everyone outside stares. Then the conversation goes in all kinds of different directions: religion, politics, economics, Erdoğan, refugees, terrorists, education, food, etc etc. There may be words I don't know but I can easily guess them from the context. Also I've learnt to understand a variety of different accents, the ones I'm most comfortable with are the Eastern Turkish accents (given that a half of my friends are Kurdish and they speak with this kind of accents). All in all, I'm pretty happy with my level.
I finished my Kurdish course with 97/100 for the final exam, and now I'm a certified B1 Kurdish speaker.
What does it mean in practice? There were a few times when I had long-ish (15-20 minutes) conversations completely in Kurdish. One of them was especially rewarding since it was with a Syrian Kurd, who cannot speak Turkish very well. I can get the gist of conversations when I eavesdrop to people's talking around me (and I get to hear Kurdish a lot, it's everywhere I go in Istanbul). Getting used to idiosyncracies of a specific person matters a lot. For example, I understand nearly everything what my flatmate says when he speaks to his relatives, as I get to listen to him and have smalltalks in Kurdish with him everyday.
There are a few things that don't let me progress as fast as I'd like to:
1) Dialect variations. The Kurdish I learnt at the course is quite different from the Kurdish(es) people really speak. My flatmate and his family use different words for "to speak", "to take", "to close", "to put" than the standard. (Honestly I have never yet heard anyone using the "standard" words appart from the academia). These differences cannot be found in books and can be learnt only from talking to people.
2) Every Kurmanji Kurdish speaker also knows Turkish. Many older people (in their 60-70) can only speak to some extent and they struggle looking for words when they try to express themselves in Turkish, but they still understand fine. Younger people obviously speak Turkish as their native language.
My MSA develops very slowly and in a purely read-only mode. Once in a while I read small texts in Arabic, news and the Quran. I have to use the dictionary extensively but as for the grammar I usually understand all the morphology and syntax in a sentence. I defninitely need to give my studies a boost if I want to get anywhere further with MSA.
A few times I had conversations in MSA with Syrians, and one time with a guy from Iraq. They were basic smalltalks (where are you from, what's your job etc), and as soon as we deviated from the beginners topics, it started being more of a gesture and language body talk. Still, these were nice and rewarding experiences, and they make me want improve my conversational abilities in MSA.