Are Turkish people friendly?

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Absolutely.

Turkish people are known world-wide for their hospitality and warmth. In my experience, this is extremely well deserved. If you ask someone for help on the street, they will stop whatever they’re doing and try their best to communicate with you. In all likelihood, other people around you will gather and you’ll have a whole team figuring out where the closest public bathroom is!

At rug stores, sellers will offer you tea. Yes, this an attempt to make sure you walk away with a purchase, but it’s also simply an act of respect and kindness.

Grand Bazaar Store Haing Turkish Tea

Turkish people are extremely generous especially when it comes to food. They are known for inviting people into their homes for meals and one time, when a friend of mine found himself in a forest with no lunch, and two elderly men shared with him!

Here’s a personal story of mine to illustrate just how warm people in Turkey generally are:

I went to a cafe one morning to do work and catch up with a friend over Skype. The place itself was a bit drafty but that was completely made up for by the warmth of the owner. An elderly lady served me up a big smile when I entered and helped me pick out the right kind of herbal tea. (There are tons of different kinds in Turkey and I can never keep them straight). We chatted for a bit and she complimented my Turkish (which is a sure-fire way into my heart).

Okay so maybe that could have happened anywhere, but this couldn’t: I had wandered downstairs to use the facilities, and on my way back out the owner called out to me from the kitchen. I pulled back the curtain timidly- mostly because I wasn’t 100% I had understood her request correctly. That made her laugh and she beckoned me in further. She had just finished making grape leaves and spooned a few into a dish for me while assuring me they were “Fresh! Fresh! Very Fresh!”. They were so good I couldn’t wait for them to cool and burnt my tongue. I complemented her with a traditional, “health to your hands!” and she patted me calling me pet names in Turkish that are something like “my girl” and “my soul”.

That kind of honest and unassuming affection comes so quickly from people here. It was simple, but it really warmed me. I went on with the rest of my day feeling a little bit more loved.

At my home, in the US, why do we keep so much distance from each other? Protection? Shyness? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that gosh, I like it here.

(Disclaimer- generalizations aren’t super great and I don’t think they’re totally accurate etc. etc. etc. This is just simply a difference I think I feel)


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Erin West

Girls’ school graduate turned globe trotter, Erin is spending her gap year in Istanbul. She keeps busy learning Turkish and inhaling figs like nobody’s business. Check out some of her adventures on burghtobul.tumblr.com.

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