Russian Blogger Learns Many Unique and Life-Changing Traditions in TurkeyBy Clair Chaytors
Svetlana is originally a native of Russia. She’s never been to the Middle East before and venturing into this journey of romance and new experiences was a new chapter in her book.
Little did she know that she’d be receiving the shock of her life when she finds her love far away from home. This young and beautiful woman’s story will surprise you and even encourage you to travel to Turkey to have your own adventures. Check out some of the interesting things to take note of when traveling to Turkey as well as some quirky practices.
Turkey’s Zero Tolerance Approach to Drugs
Like most countries who believe in Islam, drugs are usually prohibited everywhere. They have a zero-tolerance outlook towards people who partake in drugs in public and they also have harsh punishments for people who disobey the rules in Turkey.
Turkey offers no leniency when it comes to either selling or using in their country. When thinking about buying any kind of drug paraphernalia in Turkey make sure to think twice. People above 18 are free to drink and consume alcohol but nothing harder than that.
Gaining a Turkish Education
Education comes at a high cost. Turkish people want to ensure their children do as well as they can and are therefore prepared to pay more to achieve this. They’ll go above and beyond to give their children the best education and will work even harder to do so.
Yet, this means that often it’s the clever or wealthy people that come out on top here. Some people will even bring their kids to private schools with uniforms and a daily allowance and this is considered the norm in Turkey. Proper education means that the parents are ready to shell out enough money if the school has a good repertoire.
Turkey Can Be Quite the Culture Shock
Now a full-time blogger and permanent resident of this fantastic country, settling down in Turkey wasn’t the easiest of tasks. The first hurdle was to learn what was expected of a woman living in this Middle Eastern country.
Though falling in love and being accepted by her husband was instant, understanding the etiquette of her new home took a little longer. Luckily both families were on board, and her in-laws were more than happy to help her navigate. Understanding the culture is even better when your Turkish in-laws are as excited to share about the culture as you are to learn about it.
Turkish Women Dress to Suit Their Dwellings
A big culture shock was that of dress etiquette. Svetlana was used to a more relaxed style back in Russia where almost anything goes. Yet, in Turkey, there is a fusion of culture which equals a specific dress code in certain areas.
In rural communities, they favored old traditions and customs. Whereas in the cities, fashion was more cosmopolitan. This stark contrast in dressing up shows that traditions are more prominent in the outskirts and that in the main city of Istanbul, the people are into a more modernized way of dressing.
Understanding the Local Lingo Goes a Long Way
The local Turkish community is extremely welcoming when first visiting the country. Turkish people like to make foreigners feel at home and will even throw a few splashes of local lingo into the conversation for you to feel more at home.
In Turkey, many of the locals appreciate those outsiders who take time to learn a bit of the local language. Within no time, Svetlana found herself being invited to many Turkish coffee and tea sessions because of her new language skills. When foreigners show their excitement in learning the language, they’ll be more than welcome into the homes of locals.
Turkish People Love their Tea
Discovering that Turkish people do, in fact, love their tea was a winning factor for Svetlana! Many Turkish residents consume several cups of tea daily! If in the Czech Republic, beer is a staple drink in many dishes and in Germany too, then tea is a prominent staple in Turkey.
Store owners will often stop you as you shop and offer you a cup of tea! This certainly made her feel at home during those first few months of emigrating. There’s nothing like a cup of warm local tea to soothe the nervous senses when it’s your first time in the country.
How to Drink Tea Like a Local
Whether you’re born or bred in Turkey, or you move to the country later on in life, there are three ways to tell if you’re Turkish. The first two relate to tea! Turkish residents will drink at least three cups of strong tea each day. For some, this is their daily dose of caffeine.
They will then flip their first cup of the day upside down to tell their fortune. Finally, when you find yourself taking off your shoes before entering any building – you’ve become Turkish! These traditions are simply unique to Turkey and if you ever get the chance, don’t forget to order a dessert called baklava with your tea.
Turkish Greetings are More Personal
Turkish greetings are a stark contrast to typical International greetings. Whereas handshakes are the norm, in Turkey, you may even get a hug sometimes instead of a friendly handshake. Imagine the shock that some foreigners must feel to receive such a warm greeting!
When meeting someone for the first time, most Turkish people also respond with a simple handshake. Yet, once they get to know you, Turkish people are more affectionate. So instead of being hugged the first few times, don’t be surprised when someone approaches you to even kiss you on the cheek. Twice! Just let them know when you feel uncomfortable.
Public Displays of Affection Aren’t Favored
Even though Turkish people are an affectionate bunch there’s simply a line that you cannot cross since it can be considered disrespectful. You see, though Turkish people are affectionate with their greetings, with couples, it’s a different story.
Therefore, learning these basic social cues is key to living a normal life in Turkey. When traveling with your beau or loved one, make sure to avoid kissing aggressively in public as this can cause people to turn their heads, and not in a positive way.
Street Cats and Street Dogs Are a Part of Normality in Turkey
Though many tourists believe street cats and street dogs are just confined to rural areas, that simply isn’t true. Don’t be surprised when you see a cat grazing on a newsstand or a dog taking a few zz’s on a park bench. That’s completely fine!
So far, since getting married, Svetlana has found these animals in places such as majors cities, luxurious beaches, and on her own doorstep. Yet, they remain the friendliest of Turkey residents! When you travel to Turkey you might find some of them to be some of the most adorable animals out there.
You Should Always Carry Cash
No longer reliant on contactless payments and credit cards, you’ll quickly learn that most establishments in Turkey prefer cash over credit cards and this usually is a cultural thing. They’ll also take credit cards but they much prefer to get cash.
Though some of the major Turkey cities do indeed accept credit cards, the rest of the country prefers cash. This is especially so in those smaller and rural towns that Svetlana resides in. So, she now uses cash all the time, especially when taking taxis, tipping waiters, and using public restrooms. This took some getting used to but she managed to get by!
Old-School Toilets Still Exist
Speaking of restrooms, when going on hiking trips outside of the country, you may come across traditional toilets. Known locally as squat toilets, these are the old school toilets that some Turkish residents still use, even when modern-day toilets rest alongside them.
Locals will tell you that these toilets still remain the most hygienic – provided they are continually kept clean! In fact, these are lifesavers if you’re caught short in the middle of nowhere! They’re not as dirty and primitive as they seem, they’re regularly cleaned!
Turkish Tap Water is Debatable
Despite many perfectly good running taps, most locals shy away from drinking their own tap water. Upon further inspection, she discovered that though filtrations systems do exist in those bigger Turkish cities, most residents still refuse to drink the water.
People use tap water to cook with, to boil tea, and even to make soups. A lot of people swear by the tap water being sanitary enough to drink and cook with. It isn’t that bad and many locals prefer it to bottled water since it’s more natural and convenient.
Turkish Food Offers Increased Variety
While the Turkish culture incorporates a lot of meat-based dishes there are options for vegetarians as well. Shawarma and kebabs are very popular dishes in this middle eastern country albeit they also have dishes with tofu if you ask (not in all places but some do).
Many restaurants display menus that are heavily laden with vegetables and drizzled with olive oil. Several boasts of various meat-free dishes on their lists also! Svetlana now loves being able to alternate between the two, especially when feeding her own family. Cig Kofte (Raw Meatballs) is an alternative for meat-eaters. It used to be served with meat but now there’s a spicy vegetarian option that uses bulgur wheat and is found on many street corners in Turkey especially in the Southern areas.
Traveling to Turkey Is Quite Easy
Obtaining a tourist visa before entering Turkey is a must for all foreigners before entering. But lo and behold, it’s very convenient and almost anyone can come and visit with ease. There are various visa types including a working visa, student visa, tourist visa, and even an official visa for specific jobs.
These visa types allow you to visit and stay for up to 90 days out of 180. The way to do this is via the official government website. You’ll also need to check your passport expiry date beforehand. But other than that, it shouldn’t be an issue to enter Turkey at all!
Exploration and History
Svetlana now recommends the country of Turkey to all her blog visitors and, indeed, to all ages of tourists. Having become a resident herself she believes everyone can gain something by making the county their next travel destination.
Turkey is a hot destination for those looking for sand and sea, sparkling blue water, spectacular fish food, ancient ruins, and unique landscapes. Better still, if it’s breathtaking natural wonders you’re looking for, Turkey is your number one choice.
Turkey and Religion
Though you may well find many religious denominations in Turkey, the most popular is that of Islam. Many families in Turkey believe in Islam and strongly abide by it. Albeit this, they welcome many people regardless of your religious outlook towards life.
When walking through Turkey, you can’t miss the spectacular mosques situated throughout the country. Most of these are considered a common home for many Turkish residents. They are also some of the most breathtaking architectural displays worldwide.
Turkey Isn’t All About Istanbul
As much as Istanbul is a stunning place to visit, one must not overlook the outskirts of Turkey as well. You can easily take a train to the outskirts of Ankara and maybe try your knack at fishing even if you don’t like fishing this might be a good time to ask a local to help you out!
Some boast of beautiful beaches and nature as well as cascading mountainsides in Cappadocia, Lycia, the Black Sea, and Van Golu. Don’t limit yourself to staying in the city, explore the great outdoors as well you might even find a hidden gem!
Turkey Is A Safe Place to Live and Raise a Family
As a result of strong regulation and laws, Turkey, for many, is a safe country to live in. In fact, since Svetlana has made the country her home, she’s been fortunate to never have encountered anything negative about the place. Every country has its own pros and cons and Turkey has a lot of pros in it.
The incredible hospitality of the locals in Turkey is unmatched and the people are incredibly accommodating and kind. Learn the lingo, try the wine and you’re sure to fall in love with this place.
Turkish people often have big families, with lavish dinners sprinkled with salads, meat dishes, and bottles of wine. Don’t be surprised when you see massive houses around, these houses are chock full of happy kids running around and you might even see a pool in some of them.
Turkish people love the finer things in life and they also like to spoil their family members with nice gifts. Even strangers, they like to show how much they care sometimes through material belongings, so don’t be surprised when you stay with a family and they shower you with gifts!
Child Birth the Turkish Way
On the subject of families, Turkish women prefer those private maternity hospitals. Because they’re mostly intimate and less strict and old-fashioned like hospitals. Furthermore, Turkish women chose C-Sections over natural childbirth.
The concept is that it’s a more convenient choice. It also allows the mother and baby to return home the next day, meaning reduced costs. C-sections are quicker and don’t require the mom to go into labor for hours or end. Since it’s a quick snip, some Turkish women find it to be less of a hassle.
Turkish Streets Can Often Be a Nightmare
Talking of streets, a sure-fire way of realizing you’re in Turkey for many is the congested streets. For people who are coming from more developed countries where organized transportation is the norm, you’re in for a big shock when visiting Turkey.
Notorious in many areas for cars, pedestrians can also find themselves struggling to cross on some of the Turkish streets. Even some of the pedestrian crossings are ignored. You may have to learn the hard way but after you get through this first hurdle, you’ll know all the cool tricks to get a ride at the most convenient times.
Could You Make Turkey Your New Home?
Venturing into a new country is always a slippery slope. There are traditions you need to get used to, local lingo to learn, and sometimes it isn’t easy. Often times, you’ll encounter struggles culturally but when you stick to your gut and toughen up for the first few days, you’ll truly feel like a local.
Do some research about Turkey and which places you’d like to visit. Cappadocia is chock full of homemade wine and beautiful rock formations that’ll make you want to hitch a tent and camp outside. Join tour groups or even walking day tours to integrate into the culture more while learning a thing or two about their history.
It Worked for Svetlana
If Svetlana can adapt to the culture and start a new life there, visiting Turkey for a few days or even a week should be a breeze! Visiting the Middle East might sound exotic at first but it isn’t all that strange and foreign. Many people speak English in Turkey and it isn’t that hard to traverse through it.
Living in Turkey has made Svetlana feel like a true local and she has integrated after living there for many years. If you’re looking for a new advengture, Turkey might be the best place for you to begin your newfound journey. Good luck!