21 signs you've been in Turkey too long

Culture clash: it affects everyone from wide-eyed newbies to seasoned expats. In Turkey, people quickly discover the way of life that's a little different to that back home. But eventually, you might find a few habits from your new country creeping in to your psyche. How many of these Turkish customs have become a part of your life?

1. You take your shoes off without thinking whenever you enter a house.

You might even bring your own slippers with you. Turks don't tend to wear shoes indoors, and most homes will have a basket of slippers or indoor shoes for you to wear when you enter.

Turkish shopkeeper

2. You know the names of every shopkeeper in your local area.

… and they know everything about you, including your shoe size and your children’s birthdays. Turks love to chat, and as a foreigner you might be an object of curiosity. Just embrace the friendliness, and soon you'll be invited round for lunch, dinner, and weddings of people you've never met. 

serenity in traffic

3. The honking of horns is no longer an irritant.

Now, it’s simply background noise. Turks aren't the most patient of drivers, and they like to make their displeasure at queues and traffic infringements known. 

4. You’ve stopped looking at the clock

No one else pays attention to the time here, why should you? Being late is a part of Turkish culture many newcomers find annoying and difficult to get used to. But eventually, when you realise that no one will ever be on time, you might begin to embrace the laissez-faire attitude to clocks. 

Ataturk portrait

5. You are no longer surprised to see portraits of Ataturk wherever you go

In fact, you’ll only notice when you don’t see one in someone’s home. The founder of modern Turkey - who revolutionised society, improving the lives of ordinary Turks - is revered and honoured in just about every workplace, public building and home.

tripe soup iskembe corbasi

6. When hungover, you eschew a fry up in favour of tripe soup.

What?! Iskembe Corbasi really seems to do the trick. Some say it's disgusting, some can't get enough of the soup made from the boiled stomach of a lamb or calf and thickened with flour, egg yolk, yogurt, and lemon juice.

7. You ask for a discount when buying just about anything.

Anything from electrical goods to fruit. Haggling feels strange at first, but most come to enjoy it. Take a deep breath, relax, and try and get into the spirit of the time-honoured tradition. And soon, you'll be haggling like a local

8. You have at least one evil eye in your home

Everyone knows the nazar boncugu wards off bad luck. Even the most modern of Turks who don't believe in its evil-beating properties will invariably have one hanging in their house.

9. You’re addicted to cay (tea).

If you have less than three cups a day you start to feel a little funny. It's the drink that is present in every part of Turkish society: after dinner, as part of a shopping experience, at work or at home, cay is a social lubricant.

10 ...and you drink it when it’s 30 degrees outside.

Drinking hot drinks to stay cool is just common sense, right?

11. You’re no longer scared to cross the street, insane traffic or not.

Waiting for the lights to change is for tourists. Turkish drivers are insane, but you'll have to cross the road at some point. 

Queuing in Turkey

12. You queue jump like a pro, and don’t complain about others who do the same.

Waiting at the back of the queue is also for tourists. There's a bit of an art to making your way to the front: look confident, never apologise and never explain.

13. You’ve stopped hearing the call to prayer

The ezan is the Islamic call to prayer, recited by the muezzin at prescribed times of the day. The haunting, beautiful sound often stops newcomers in its tracks, but you'll soon find that like car horns, it'll become background noise.

14. You kiss absolutely everyone.

Men, women, old people, young people, the bank teller. 

Turkish yogurt

15. You accept certain truths about food:

Soup for breakfast, yogurt with absolutely everything, and of course, cheese and olives for breakfast. Once you start eating the Turkish way, you'll never go back.

moustache turkey

16. You’ve grown an unironic moustache.

And if you haven’t, you’re thinking about cultivating one. Turkish facial hair is a sight to behold. And believe it or not, men come travel to Turkey from all over the Middle East for facial hair transplants to make them look more like moustachioed Turkish soap stars. 

Turkish elders

17. You’ve started calling older people “aunt” and “uncle”.

...and they’ve started to call you cocugum. It's a sign of respect and affection.

wet hamburger turkey

18. You grab a wet hamburger (islak) on your way home from a night out.

The most satisfying 2 Lira meal ever, the islak is made up of a meat patty (usually beef) on a soft white bun that's liberally smothered with a garlicky, tomato sauce. 

19. You turn a blind eye to traffic driving on the wrong side of the road.

Or motorcyclists without a helmet, or drivers with children balanced on their laps.

20. You say “Allah, Allah” when exasperated.

And you’ve learned a host of other strange expressions, too. The Turkish language is gloriously expressive, we recommend you learn a few phrases to entertain your new Turkish friends.

Rise of Empires, Turkey

21. You're addicted to Turkish television.

Murder, mystery and intrigue - what's not to like? Turkish television is taking over the world, and it's little surprise: beautifully shot, with crazy storylines that make Breaking Bad seem dull, the riveting historical dramas coming out of Turkey are just superb.


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