Surprising things in Turkey

Surprising things in Turkey

Prior to embarking on this new experience, I knew little, or better still, nothing about Turkey.

Erdogan, coffee, tea, Istanbul, Ankara, these are the words that immediately comes into an Italian’s mind while talking about this mysterious country. Not many, right? I’m fully aware of it.

It’s been slightly more than a week since I arrived here in Istanbul and I can tell you that I’m absolutely loving it. Before sharing with you my thoughts on this charming country, let me make something clear, these are my PERSONAL IMPRESSIONS. More precisely, I will mainly focus on the funny, surprising, and cultural aspects that struck me the most, without considering the fantastic tourist and culinary aspects. Let’s get started!

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk - When traveling in Turkey, one may be wondering who that man is since his image is ubiquitous all over the country. Hotels, museums, banks, schools, universities, shops, he is everywhere. One cannot begin to understand Turkish culture without learning about Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, whose ideas flow through the veins of Turkey’s past, present, and future.

Honking a car horn – Let’s face it, Turks are passionate people and they convey this passion in everything they do. On my 2nd day in Istanbul, I took a taxi and I honestly thought I was at war. Literally everybody was honking their car horn, but contrary to what one might think, drivers were used to it and seemed not to be bothered. I even asked the taxi driver: ‘Why do you always sound your horn?’

He didn’t reply and sounded it again with pride and a beaming smile.

Stray dogs – Never have I seen so many stray dogs in a city. Istanbul has many free-roaming dogs that wander around the city.  These well-behaved dogs are often neutered, vaccinated and ear-tagged for identification. As far as I’ve seen, they don’t pose any threats to the local population who seem to support them by leaving food and water by the side of roads.

Turkish Flags - Flag is a symbol of Turkish people’s independence and you can literally see them waving everywhere.  Turks are patriotic and proud of what their flag represents. It’s not just a flag, it’s the heart of their country.

Pacing oneself while eating -  Turks unconsciously calculate how many sips there are in a beverage and how much food is left. The main goal is to finish off your meal and your beverage at almost the same time. So, whenever the last bite is taken from the food, the beverage will always have a small amount in the cup. How amusing!

Driving a scooter without a helmet - Apparently, you can drive a moped without a helmet and you will only be stopped by the police only if he is bored or has nothing else to do. I also noticed that there are no rules in the streets.

Pedestrian crossings are merely decorativeMy dear tourist, Turkey is a safe country but bear in mind, streets are battlefields. Let me give you a piece of advice: do not cross the roads assuming that drivers will stop and let you pass, even if you are on a pedestrian crossing.  This is very unlikely to happen. So, forewarned is forearmed.

The Guest factor – Being a guest in Turkey is an absolute blessing. Turks are very welcoming people and as a foreign guest, you will be treated especially well. Let me give you one piece of advice: take your shoes off on the mat as you enter the house: in most households shoes are not allowed inside. You might be given a pair of comfortable house slippers.

Stay tuned, more to come!

Gian Mario Amabili - Volunteer at Istanbul Arel University Youth Center

Istanbul Arel Üniversitesi - Gençlik Çalışmaları Merkezi

About Author

Istanbul Arel University provides support to young and adult people’s education process since 2010. We aim to update standards in line with the developing world and constantly follow the changes in the world.

Within the Erasmus+ Programme o

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