Turkey Blogs

  • Becoming an Expat in the 21st Century
    Making a new network of friends is always challenging.  Meeting them in a foreign country in a different language doesn’t make it any easier.  I definitely have had this problem, but with some time and continuous experience, I realized that whether I was in a foreign country or the US, there were people I bonded with no matter what language barrier existed.  How we choose our friends and social network can be truly unexplainable, but when you gain them, it’s priceless.  Coming to Turkey, this is one of the many benefits I’ve gained in a short amount of time living...

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  • The wheels on the bus go nowhere
    The heat is burning down onto the roof of the sickening hot bus, people are desperately trying to get closer to the few small windows that are open, their faces are squished against the glass, sweat running down their faces. That’s what public transportation in Istanbul often looks like especially during the warmer months between April and November. People from across the country are drawn to the megacity of Istanbul. Whatever side one turns, a construction site is never far away. Entire so-called sites with hundreds of apartments are being stamped out of the ground. Istanbul has supposedly tripled its...

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  • My Turkish Neighborhood
    We all know how magical Turkey can be.  With the endless Turkey tourism videos depicting its landscape of minarets, mountaintops, which encompass the sounds and smells of multiple restaurants and nightclubs, there’s no limit to showing the beauty of the land.  However, what is it like to actually live in Turkey?  What is a regular neighborhood like here? Well, surprisingly enough, not everyone lives next to the Haghia Sophia, nor does everyone eat kebabs and lahmacun at bustling outdoor restaurants everyday.  Turkey after all, can be as normal as McDonalds and mall outlets.  But, a real beauty happens to be...

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  • The Right Words
    If you are first grasping the basics of the Turkish language, whether you’re just passing through and getting by or you’re on a mission to become fluent, it is helpful to know its many ritualistic phrases. Many of them have no literal meaning that makes sense, but they are appropriate for occasions that often go unmarked in English. If you know when to say them and how to answer when people say these things to you, you will probably impress them and possibly even deceive them into thinking your Turkish is much better than it actually is. Even when you...

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  • Nargile: Lounging with the Sultans
    One of my favorite ways to relax is to have a good Turkish nargile while drinking endless glasses of Turkish tea.  Nargile, the famous tobacco waterpipe staple of the Middle East is finding a bigger craze than ever around the world, but there is a special feeling you get when lounging with it in Turkey.  When Izmir Bay is your view, and Aegean music is playing in the background, you couldn’t ask for a better way to relax and enjoy life. Many wonder where nargile comes from.  After doing a little research, I found out that nargile was invented in...

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  • A Night on the Town
    After the last call to prayer sings out from the thousands of mosques at sunset, the fifth and final one for the day, Istanbul starts to wake up. Volume knobs are turned up high as traditional Turkish music blasts alongside modern pop in competition to be heard on the streets. Noses are powdered, shoes are polished, as the youth get ready to party in some of the finest clubs in Europe. There’s no argument that Beyoglu is the main party area in Istanbul. Throw a stone in any direction, and you’re bound to hit a bar. With thousands of restaurants...

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  • Turkish Soap: Olive Oil isn’t only for eating
    To anyone who ever travels to Turkey and wants to get their loved ones from back home gifts other than the evil eye amulets, and still keep an affordable budget, Turkish soap is your best bet.  A 600 hundred year-old tradition in Turkey, soap goes hand in hand with the culture, which you can easily share with anyone who wants a sample of your travels.  And the greatest thing about it is you can find Turkish soap anywhere you go. Soap in itself has an interesting history.  It’s said to be invented roughly 5,000 years ago in Ancient Babylon.  Jump...

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  • Let Your Fingers Do the Talking
    “Suzanne, come!” My boss barked at me, holding out her arm and shaking her wrist  downward, like she was nodding her hand.  My brain froze, unable to decipher the seemingly contradictory commands.   She grabbed my hand and pulled me into a classroom to hide me me from students she had told I was ill in order to free up my afternoon.  She placed her arms against the the door before raising a finger to her lips. “Shh,” she whispered.  “Be quiet.”  But there was no need, this was a gesture I understood. To my American eyes, when she had wanted...

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  • The Men and Their Beads
    When coming to Turkey for the first time, it was quick to notice many of the men walking with a string of beads in their hands.  Some were long, while others were very short, but always noticeable.  Some beads are simple, plain white or black, while others hold a more lavish gleaming stone version from the more expensive markets.  Many wonder what it is exactly they are holding.  Is it religious?  Or just something to hold on to pass the time? The name of the beads is called tesbih, and they hold a few different meanings.  The first meaning holds...

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  • The wonders of Turkish wine
    When I first came to Turkey, I didn’t know a lot about Turkish wine. In fact, I think it’s safe to say I wasn’t even aware that Turkish wine existed. It doesn’t get a lot of press outside Turkey, which I think is completely unfair given what I know about it now. I came to experiment with Turkish wine in the way that most foreigners here do – by discovering that imported alcohol is taxed so heavily, you have to use the booze you bought to drown your sorrows over how much you paid for it. As soon as I...

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