At rejse er at leve;
   To travel is to live

5 month impressions of Turkey

What I’ve figured out about Turkey so far

The difference between living in a foreign country and just visiting it is that you get the chance to delve into the culture instead of just scratching the surface. When surrounded by so much that’s different, it’s only natural to try to figure it out and make yourself aware of the cultural differences. After being here 5 months, I feel like I’ve realized a lot of these differences, and in this post I’ll highlight some that I’ve noticed. Sidenote: I’ve exaggerated these for your enjoyment, so remember I say everything here with love and sarcasm


  • Turkish food itself is a good enough reason to come visit
  • Baklava is the sweetest dessert I’ve ever had and that is why I love it
  • Turkish yogurt isn’t just a snack, but also a drink, condiment, lifestyle, and topping for anything.
  • Turks put yogurt on everything – beans, meat, their newborn children, their cars, etc.
  • Turkish people drink an average of 7 cups of tea every day (Turkish çay is the best tea ever!)
  • Their spoons are bigger than my face – there’s nothing in between a tea spoon and soup spoon
  • I can get döner or kebab on the streets for about a dollar (And I haven’t gotten food poisoning!)
  • If you turn over your turkish coffee cup, you can have your fortune read from the leftovers! I’ve even learned how to read people’s fortunes and I think it’s really cool. One time they told me I’d find love in 3 months…it’s been 4 months and I’m still single…
  • Traditional Turkish food is incredible: Adana kebab, döner, mantı, pide….how have I not gained weight?


  • Everything is accessible by public transportation – it’s easy to use and super efficient*
  • Spending 2+ hours in traffic is completely normal.
  • Busses are completely full with people, so much that my bus sometimes gets stuck going uphill
    • (Sidenote: if you’ve ever wanted to see 50 aggressive animals push their way onto a bus, it’s called bus 48E during rush hour)
  • The only way to cross the street in cases is to J-walk. Imagine a real life “Crossy Road.”
  • If I had a dollar for every time I almost got hit by a car, I’d be able to pay for an American college education.
  • The busses are so crowded and hot that you could take off the majority of your clothes and nobody would notice (I have yet to test this theory)
  • Busses and metros are extremely cheap: around 60 cents usually. (Take that, Denmark!)
  • Metrobus is magical – these are busses that have their own lane and can drive fast through traffic; these can also can be built anywhere a metro track can’t be built. Brilliant, right? (I can only assume Mrs. Frizzle’s Magic School Bus is also a Metrobus)


  • There are 140 malls in Istanbul, many of which are 3-6 stories tall.
  • I actually live close to Europe’s largest mall, Cevahir. It’s the 9th largest in the world, and the Mall of America is the 39th largest.
  • If I showed my Turkish friends La Crosse’s “Valley View Mall” they would laugh all the way back to Istanbul.
  • I recently visited one of the “small” malls in Istanbul…it was still 10 floors tall.
  • You can get fake and cheap stuff at bazaars – watches, namebrand shoes, scarves, anything!
  • Koton is like a Turkish H&M and it’s my favorite store…3 dollar shirts? Yes please.


  • Everything is based off exams – no homework, just a lot of high-pressure exams
  • We have an hour long break to eat lunch, but they normally get done eating in 5 minutes
  • The amount of drama and gossip at my school makes Mean Girls seem like nothing. I’ve actually had scheduled gossip sessions with friends before, and I’ve had a fair share of rumors spread around the school about me
  • If a Turk goes abroad for college, they have to go to one of the top 500 schools worldwide. Therefore all my friends are aiming for Harvard, Parsons, etc.
  • You can buy toast “Karisik” at school. Take notes, Central High School


  • Turks always cancel, so if you want to make a plan, you have to do it 2 days beforehand…not any later or sooner.
  • If a turkish person is feeling too hot, instead of taking off their sweater they will open a window and make everyone else cold #Stopturks2k16
  • Turks are extremely warm people, even to strangers. They always want to make you feel at home and will feed you the amount an elephant would eat in a month to make sure you feel welcome.
  • The sellers in Grand Bazaar and on the streets are just annoying, I have to put in headphones to block out the buyurunbuyurunbuyurunbuyurun of the city
  • Everyone helps each other out on the busses/public transportation (IE. letting old people and children sit, holding bags for other people if there’s no room, etc.)


(You can basically wear whatever you want, so it’s hard for me to pin Turkish fashion)

Turkish men’s fashion comes in 3 different flavors:

  • European Fashion Model
  • Totally 2008 golfer ™
  • “I only wear tight sweatpants because they’re trendy now”


There you go, my observations of Turkish culture! Hopefully you enjoyed reading it.  Feel free to comment below if there’s any other things I’ve missed.

-Cameron  (Alternatively spelled Camayran but never Kamuran)

6 Responses to 5 month impressions of Turkey

  • So glad you are enjoying your Turkey experience! Thanks so much for sharing your adventure!

  • Very interesting. So glad you like Turkey. Stay safe and happy. You are in my prayers. Love from Great Aunt Lee

  • As usual Cameron, so fun to read. I’m forwarding this to Kim Neader, because I talked to her yesterday and said I would. Will be so glad to see you back in the USA safe and sound, but am glad you happy in Turkey. I love you.

    • This might be a repeat comment. Thanks again for sharing. Always love to read what you write. will be happy to have you back in the USA safe and sound. But am glad you are enjoying your Turkish experience. I love you

  • “Baklava is the sweetest dessert I’ve ever had and that is why I love it.” This is exactly what I feel, too!
    Take care and enjoy your life in Turkey!

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globe senior pic squareMerhaba, I'm Cameron Neader.

I'm an 18 year old going on Rotary Youth Exchange to Turkey and I was an exchange student in Denmark in 2013-14.

Click here to read more.