Turkey’s rich history and culture make it an adored location for tourists from around the world. One of the most talked-about aspects of Turkish culture is the food. The fresh Mediterranean vegetables are often served raw with a dressing. In a conversation with a student who did an internship in Turkey last summer, I learned far more about the delicious food-consumption traditions than I did about the student’s actual internship experience. In addition to the healthy, wholesome meals, Turkish food is well known for the desserts as well. Baklava is a sugary-buttery dessert that is a local specialty (though consumed in many surrounding countries) and bülbül yuvası is a clotted-cream, pistachio filled pastry eaten while it is very hot. As is common in this regions of the world, tea is an integral aspect of daily life. Families drink tea at least three times a day and it is usually the first beverage offered to guests in homes as a sign of hospitality. Typically served while it is burning-hot, individuals often add sugar but no milk.
Another famous aspect of Turkish customs is exuberant hospitality. They view every guest as ‘God’s Guest’ so they treat you in that manner. When eating a meal Turks will repeatedly offer you multiple servings, not wanting you to leave their houses hungry. This was another key point the intern I talked to emphasized about his trip to Turkey.
Historically, Turkey has been home to Julius Ceasar, the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire and many nomads. This historical longevity has resulted in beautiful, ancient architecture, providing aesthetically appealing architecture throughout the country. Its location adjoining two continents has resulted in it playing a central role in the Silk Road and trade throughout the region.
Turkey is 99.8% Muslim according to the CIA World Facts book so warning to all travelers, women must dress fairly modest and conservative. Women continue to fight in a struggle for equality and representation in the work force. As for cultural norms and interpretations, women do not smile at everyone they see because some men take a smile to mean an intention of being more than friends. Women have to be aggressively formal to make clear those are not their intentions.
Overall Turkey is a beautiful place with a rich history and culture that almost every tourist loves. I hope someday I get the opportunity to visit the country!