Foreigner married to a Turk, lived there for 3 years, moving back in 3 months.
I love the communal nature of social life, everyone is connected and its okay to up and start a conversation with strangers. People are much friendlier and open to each other than in the West. I find every-day life ‘richer’ than in the West, its less boring – butchers, street vendors, shopkeepers having coffee with customers and chatting…I love it. The amount of ancient civilization just lying around your country is mind-boggling, its like a toddler that just left their legos discarded around and people build houses around them like in Mersin. The food, the climate.
Turkish women are amazing, I think Turkish men are really spoiled and take them for granted. They are very motherly, take care of everyone around them, and are devoted to family and their husband. I married one.
Things I don’t like:
The egocentrism. Turks don’t seem to really think how their actions effect others around them – I’m talking about in public spaces. Nobody forms lines, are in a rush to get ahead of each other, cars speed up to beat me as I am trying to cross the street. Even trying to get off a train in Adana was hell as just as the train stopped people on the platform started to rush to cram on and were screaming angrily as I was forced to push past them just to get off. I find this infuriating. I remember being in the bank talking to a banker for 10 minutes, and three times a man came up yelling about something and slamming their papers on the desk between me and the banker. Extremely rude.
Connected to the above, lack of public trust and corruption. There’s a lot of this. It seems everybody is trying to cheat and steal what they can without being caught. This seems to occur on all levels of society. It doesn’t really pay to be honest in Turkey. I think a lot of Turkey’s potential is held back by this behavior. I find it really hard to trust others in Turkey.
Lack of responsibility. Nobody seems to care about the potential consequences of their negligent behavior. Like driving recklessly without seatbelts, replacing tiles on a roof over a busy street, stuff like that. I almost died a few times in Turkey from idiots not taking the right precautions. Its also weird how Turks often don’t think about preventing accidents in the future – like why does the electricity cut out every single time it rains? Don’t you think by now you would have found a proactive solution to preventing that from happening?
My wife, who is an education specialist, says most Turks are really that psychologically-morally underdeveloped, not progressing beyond the point of egocentric “whats bad is what gets me in trouble or hurt,” and many just superficially follow the public morals.The internalization of morality where one follows what one thinks is right according to one’s conscience doesn’t seem that strong in Turkish society. Again, its not everybody, and probably much better in the developed regions, but its pretty prevalent where I lived. This is probably what leads to this egocentric behavior and endemic corruption.
The gossip and evilness. I don’t know what it is, but a lot of Turks seem to get envious and hateful of each other over even the pettiest of reasons. Many are extremely obsessed with status and appearance and are eager to ‘look down’ on others. When people get into positions of power or responsibility, they immediately become a dick to those below them as if they have to prove something about their status. A lot of this is being fueled by materialism and the influx of wealth in Turkey.
There’s also this weird cultural thing in Turkey where its like you have to be friends with everyone around you, even if you hate them. This leads to a lot of gossip, backstabbing, false friendships, and fake behavior. It makes it hard to trust others. Turks also seem to be really nosy and act like they have the right to walk into your personal life and ask all sorts of questions about it. This makes me feel really uncomfortable. I guess this goes hand-in-hand with the communal aspect of Turkish life.
The taboos and religious influence on social life. I’m not religious, and this concept of not belonging to a religion or label was really hard to a lot of Turks to comprehend. Ataturk founded a secular republic, but many Turks haven’t really developed a secular mentality yet. Things like morality, social appropriateness, and behavior is still very strongly dictated by external authority – like religion. Yet there is all sorts of weird perverted shit going on everywhere. A lot of Turkish men are real animals when it comes to women and sex, yet women feel all the pressure to be good, innocent virgins. In general, I think Turkey still has a very authoritarian culture – even in your democratic practice where political parties are like little kingdoms that demand absolute loyalty instead of listening to their constituents.
Lack of accountability of public office to their constituents. Mayors and other public officials seem to treat their office like a title of pasha or nobility which they have to be worshipped for instead of an office of public service to make the lives better for the people. It also seems that people don’t really have this mentality either and let public officials get away with all sorts of corrupt shit like turning off the water and selling it to private organizations or repaving the same fucking road 10 times and its still shit.
Rampant misogyny, intolerance to minorities, chauvinistic nationalism, and outright fascism seems pretty common in Turkey. Which is a pity because you have such a beautiful country full of so many different cultures and peoples which truly makes it rich in its heritage. Why not embrace the ancient past of Anatolia and take pride in all the old civilizations, cultures, and peoples that make up your country?
ALOT of the new architecture. Good god, who did you hire to build miles and miles of ugly buildings in your cities? Some of it tried be edgy and innovative but just turned out horrifically ugly like orange triangle guard-posts. They’re not going anywhere and they are terrible. Turkey suffers from a lack of good aesthetic – which is odd because there is a lot of good Ottoman, French colonial, Greek, and Byzantine influences that could be used as an inspiration.
The trash. This boils my blood. Turks just throw their shit everywhere without a second thought. I’ve seen Turks in beautiful, scenic places comment how beautiful it is before throwing their trash into it without a hint of irony. Nobody seems to care at all about the public environment and ruin a lot of scenic places and natural paradises. I don’t know where this mentality comes from. It seems people don’t care if they are living in a trash dump as long as they clean their hands and feet instead.
EDIT – Wow, thanks for the gold, first time I ever got one!