What are the Turks? There is a lot of untrue information in Poland about them. After my personal experience with the Turkish Erasmus and then while a very nice trip to Istanbul (where I could have a direct contact with Turkish culture), I decided to explain a few things.
Turks love guests
First of all, all the Turks whom I met at Erasmus and then in Istanbul were very cordial, warm and cheerful people. I’ve never been in a country where I would feel more welcome, better greeted than in Turkey. How did it happen that I went to Istanbul?
It’s no coincidence that I returned from every Erasmus with a new friend / friend from Turkey. In Madrid, I met Faruk, in Florence Bezya.
In my opinion, we have a lot in common with the Turks. One of the common features is a sense of humor. I noticed that we are having fun with similar things, despite different cultures, we similarly get and comment our reality (from my subjective experiences). There are few people with whom I’m having fun as much as with my Turkish friends!
I’ve always dreamed about a trip to Istanbul, but I didn’t expect that I could complete this plan so quickly. For a long time I’d planned a vacation for October. I didn’t know, however, if I would find some traveling companion (because work, lack of free time, adult life!).
That’s why one day, I talked to my Turkish friend about her plans during my holidays. She asked what exactly I was talking about, and as I mentioned that I was thinking about coming to Istanbul… I had no choice! She was so happy with my arrival that I couldn’t recall it anymore.
In the end, my boyfriend also decided to go on this trip. Beyza lives with her sister, so I thought that our coming could be a bit problematic, because we were supposed to come for almost a week. She assured me that everything is all right and we can stay as long as we want. Till this time, I didn’t know that.
Turkish hospitality knows no borders
Already a few weeks before our arrival, my friend Faruk assured me that he would come by car to the airport. I said that there is no need, because we plan to get to the center by bus, besides I know that it is very far to the arrival hall. He assured us that it’s not a problem, we don’t have to worry, he will come to pick up us (he couldn’t, because he had an important family meeting, which he had to show up and he was so sorrowful because of that).
So we got on the bus and after 40 minutes we showed up at the bus stop indicated by Beyza. Although it was 6.30 in the morning, and she had a very difficult day, the 6-hour exam, she was extremely happy and crisp, greeted us at the agreed place.
Then after a hard day full of challenges, she had to be very tired, but completely without showing this, she took us for a few-hour tour of the city and an all-night party (to prove something, but read about it below).
When I asked about the nearest supermarket, she suspiciously asked why I want to go there. It was obvious for us that if we were almost a week at her home, we should do shopping – buy cheese, toasted bread, vegetables, fruit.
Beyza first grabbed her head and then laughed. She said she would never let us go shopping. Then she told friends about our crazy idea and they all joked about it. They were of the same opinion – there’s no way that guests would buy anything at home.
It’s not over. Every morning, Beyza got up earlier just to prepare us a big, delicious, real Turkish breakfast! I will write a separate article about it.
We thought that we would repay my Turkish friends in a different way – for example by paying for them at a restaurant. And it’s just started here! We were stupid and naive, thinking that we could do it. Turkish hospitality doesn’t end at home. She goes beyond the threshold of the apartment, reaches us everywhere, at every step!
At the first supper, before we knew it, everything was already paid. There was no way to discuss, we decided to pay the next day. Good joke! We could only dream about it. All bills were instantly adjusted. On the third evening, after they realized that we are totally desperate to pay, they gave us this opportunity. I proudly pulled out the card and … It turned out that there was only 4 zlotys to pay – for water!
It was a real madness. We really didn’t know what to do, we felt very badly about the situation, and finally we managed to forestall them at the last evening. My friend realized what was happening, so he started to shout to the waiter to not take any money from us. I had to cover his face with my hand… It wasn’t nice, but that was the only way, the only chance to pay this small bill and feel a little better before leaving Turkey.
Besides, Beyza and Faruk met each other before our come for a “small conference” and talked heatedly about what we should see in Istanbul, where to eat, and every evening I got a whole sightseeing plan for the next day on WhatsApp! In the meantime, they called me a few times a day and asked if everything was fine and we don’t have any problems sometimes.
Turkish drink alcohol
Once in Florence, Beyza invited me to her house for wine. The first thing that surprised me right after entering her home was a bottle standing on the table, and more precisely her capacity. It turned out that Beyza searched the entire supermarket, just to find the biggest wine possible! Because I’m from Poland, so I have to have a strong head, and she wants to welcome me well. That’s why she bought 1.5 liters of wine.
Of course, she prepared a whole plate of appetizers, peanuts, cheese, sliced apple, banana… Ambrosia! Already at that time I realized that she was exceptionally hospitable.
We talked a lot about their culture, customs… I remembered what she was telling me, but before coming to Istanbul, I asked her another question: would I be able to drink alcohol, or rather it’s not available in Turkey. She was shocked that I was asking her about it and she said that I would convince myself and remember what the right answer is when I will came to her.
That’s why the first evening we went to the party – and yes, wherever we were we could drink alcohol. So Turks also drink high percentage drinks, but it all depends on how much they are believers and traditional. Istanbul is very liberal and I have the impression that everyone do what they want. The girl in short skirt goes hand in hand with a girl with a scarf on her head. It’s normal.
Alcohol prices are much higher than, for example, in Poland, and in most restaurants you won’t find beer or wine on the menu. However, in bars, discos and other such places – no problem.
Not all Turkish women wear the headscarf
I always wondered how it’s in Turkey. In the end, 98% of the dominant religion is Islam… Does my friend wear a head scarf at home? No. It all depends on the family’s religiousness and whether a person comes from a big city or, for example, from a village. A great role is also played by the region from which it originates.
If a woman is a believer – she will probably wear a headscarf. If not, she won’t be different from the European one. This is the individual decision of each woman. Besides, did you know that Turkish women got the right to vote in 1930, which means that they had w rights faster than French, Portuguese, Italian or Spanish?
It is also worth noting that Turkey is one of those Muslim countries where secular law is fully applicable.
Turkies are not Arabs and don’t speak Arabic
Another thing that surprised me was that Turks are not Arabs. They come from the Grand Steppe in central Asia and are ethnically closer to the Tartars or Uzbeks than to the Arabs. This means that Turks don’t speak or write in Arabic. Turkish doesn’t even sound similar to Arabic and belongs to the Altay language family.
And what do you think about Turks and Turkish culture? In the near future I’ll describe you my stay in Istanbul – what surprised me, delighted and what to eat and see.
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