Turkish Culture Shock

Turkish culture shock

Turkish culture shock for foreigners that come to visit or to live in Turkey:

  • Walking on the street you see two men walking hand in hand or hugged. Then they stop and they meet another man and they kisses each other in the face. These men are not homosexuals. Friends walk through the street hand in hand or hugged. This is very common all over Turkey. Greeting with kisses are also common among the men!

  • If you rent a car in Turkey, drive carefully. Pedestrians cross the streets while cars are passing. Drivers have to be very careful with pedestrians. In busier Istanbul districts the situation can be chaotic. The famous "zebra cross" does not work in Turkey.

  • Don't get scared if you wake up with in the middle of the night with a speaker. Muslims call for prayer 5 times a day and one of them is at sunrise!

  • Money in Turkey is called "Turkish Lira" and it has a lot of zeros... in a small shop one coca-cola coast a million turkish lira... a house would cost some trillions of turkish lira... we are all millionaires!!

  • In some turkish religious neighborhoods you can see women all dressed in black. In Istanbul you can also see women with colorful handkerchiefs covering their head and also modern women that dress as Europeans. The garment is part of the women's religiosity, therefore the more religious a person is, the more rigorous the garment. With men it is harder to notice the religiosity through clothes. You can see a man that seams to you totally normal, but he can be a religious man. If a man has beard or it is using a cap (white) or a turban (white, green or black) that means that he is religious. In some mosques they give a cloth for the women to cover their legs (if they are using shorts) and also to cover their arms if they are using short sleeves. They give the men the same cloth to cover themselves if they are using shorts.

  • There is a public transport in Turkey that is called "dolmus". It is like a small bus, they stop in any point to leave or to take passengers. You pay the price from the place you get into the dolmus until your destiny. The prices is different for each person, depending on where they took the dolmus. The payment is made directly to the driver. When sitting in a dolmus, sit at the back seat otherwise you will have to pass the money and repeat the destiny of the other passengers to the driver.

  • Street vendors are very common in Turkey, they usually sell cheap products. Sometimes we see some street vendors running from the police, in this case they don't have authorization to sell at the street. The authorization is given by the city hall when requested.

  • Turks love to do picnic. I would say that it is the "national sport". At the weekends you can see whole families in parks and squares. They bring everything for a barbecue, from a rug or cloth to cover the ground to a barbecue grill and little stove for the tea.

  • This can be a reason to get a flu for many the Turks: to take wind (to be close to a open window with wind), to go to the street after taking a bath and washed the head with wet hair (even in the summer! in winter I think just a crazy one would go to the street with wet hair at zero degrees Celsius...), to have barefoot (at home stepping in ceramic or even in the wood), to sweat and later to take a wind...

  • Popular Turkish believes: you should not eat fish with yogurt... you can get poisoned...

  • Another Popular Turkish belief: a person should not give a knife directly to another person. The knife should be put over the table and the other person should get the knife. If by chance the person forgets and she gives the knife directly for the other person, the person that receives the knife should spit over the knife. This "spit over the knife" protects against a discord among themselves.

  • Restaurants usually expose their food. That is great for the foreigners so that they can see and choose what to eat! The foods are usually seasoned, with a lot of vegetables and not much meat. Turks eat a lot of fruits and sweets in Turkey.

Click here to read more articles:

Turkish Cultural Habits
Turkish Proverbs
Body language in Turkey

Date: August 23rd, 2003
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