Culture Shock

Yesterday, my Turkish holiday cohort and I were discussing the quake in Eastern Turkey and how through this devastating event and our upcoming holiday we're becoming more and more conscious of this far away land that we hadn't really devoted much thought to in the past. She said something that I think is becoming more and more profound to me, as I think about it more:
"[Turkey has] such a distinct and rich history that it's making us travel in such a diff[erent] way."

It's so true. The type of research I've been doing for this trip is way different from what's usual for me. Of course I still looked up what the weather would be like and how to get from the airport to the city center but I've also been looking up what fashion is appropriate, proper behavior in mosques, and how to react to the call to prayer (which happens six times a day). And I've been reading up on the history of the city. All I knew about Istanbul when all of this started was that it was the bridge between the continents of Asia and Europe and it used to be called Constantinople. The (free) Triposo Istanbul Guide app that I got has been quite the educational read.
A few key points I've learned so far:
  • dressing too sexy in Istanbul will give people the impression that you are a prostitute (apparently men are so ballsy - and horny, I guess - that they'll just approach you and grab you)
  • avoid visiting mosques at prayer time (give or take half an hour after the ezan a.k.a. call to prayer)
  • no shoes in mosques or homes
  • don't drink tap water
Americans seem to have a notorious reputation for being inconsiderate and I think that comes from a combination of apathy, ignorance, and lack of manners. When visiting somewhere foreign to you, it's so important to observe the local customs because it's rude not to. It's a cliche example, but imagine someone coming to your home and behaving like an ape.

And on a more fun note: take a look at a few common hand signals that mean something completely different in other countries.



  1. I am so curious who your mysterious istanbul cohort is! Veryyyy good point about diff[erent] kind of travel research. (haha) I'm always hyper-conscious about how I should plan on behaving so not to be obnoxious or offensive or otherwise shunned hahaha. But makes me realize I am pretty ignorant about the culture in turkey, I might do some research myself! (I also never realized how ignorant I am about Australia until I had three Aussie broads in my hostel room last month!) I was embarrassed! I'm going to do some reading... Lol

  2. I wasn't intending to seem so mysterious but I guess it came off that way; I just thought it sounded more "poetic," haha. My Istanbul cohort is my former college roommate and best friend. She's an artist so we always have philosophical-y discussions.

    Yeah, my researching used to stem from a fear of getting arrested in a foreign country for doing something mundane, haha. But I'm realizing more and more how much value there is in knowing the culture and history behind the city you're visiting. I feel like it gives my holidays much more purpose and oomph!


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