Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Culture Shock! Turkey

After declaring on Monday that one can never really understand a nation or culture by reading a guidebook, I picked up Culture Shock! Turkey: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette.

I enjoy the Culture Shock! series because it tends to be humorous, entertaining, and sometimes downright rude. Whether or not the information is actually accurate is another question.

Arin Bayraktaroglu is a Turkish expat who writes about business, social, and family customs. Here are a few of my favorite nuggets (though, once again, I can’t attest to their accuracy):

  • Turks are incredibly romantic and tend to fall in love easily. Proposals on the second date are not uncommon. I don’t know if this is true, but I suspect anyone who falls in “love” so quickly will likely fall out of love equally as quickly. I don’t plan on any international romances.
  • Hospitality is an essential part of Turkish culture, and the food is particularly delicious. Mmm, I love food. Hopefully, I’ll get a lot of walking in to counteract all the eating I plan on doing. Turkish delight, I’m on my way.
  • Turks believe in the “evil eye.” People with blue eyes are particularly suspicious. I’m not exactly sure what the evil eye is or does, but I do know that I have very blue eyes. I guess I better start practicing my innocent look.

After reading this guide, I won’t claim that I really know anything about the Turkish culture. But at least I now know that nodding my head “yes” actually means “no,” and shaking my head “no” actually means “I don’t know.”

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