Tea Cafes vs Pubs
In Turkey I feel like there are so much more socialising options for people and their families. In Ireland the main social location is the pub or for younger people clubs. Alcohol is at the centre of Irish culture and therefore as an individual who doesn’t drink alcohol I find it difficult to go out at night without being in a setting surrounded by alcohol and drunks. Although when I first went to Turkey I was shocked that children were out so late I admire that Turks spend evenings with their children outside. We have a culture in Ireland where the parents go out at night and the children are left with the babysitter. While people also create culture I feel the lack of family cafes are the reason for this in Ireland. I like that I can go out in Turkey at 9pm to a tea café by the seaside and don’t feel like the odd one out not ordering alcohol.
Tea drinking is also popular in Ireland (although I myself am not a big tea drinker) yet it is interesting how it has not created the type of tea gardens as we see in Turkey. Yet I noticed in many parts of the Mediterranean such as Greece and Spain you see similar tea gardens or cafes where families go late at night and their children are present. Children aren’t seen outdoors in Ireland at night because they are not allowed in pubs after a certain time for obvious reasons. Yet now I wonder why children are not included in social gatherings at night with their families outdoors. I wish that we did have the tea gardens which we see in Turkey in Ireland not because I am anti-pubs or anti-alcohol but because I see the connection Turkish families have with their children and I think we can improve our relationship with our children. Why is it that we have big problems with teenagers getting involved in anti-social behaviour in Ireland and drinking alcohol as young as 12 or 13? I think it is really important to have a strong bond with our children so that if they do face such situations they will listen to us. Tea gardens are a social model which I believe would be a great idea here as I see the positive effects they have on society in Turkey.
For anyone who studied Sociology or Cultural Studies at university they may have come across the Iceberg Model. I think it is a great model to help understand a culture. When you get involved in a relationship with a Turkish person for many it begins on a holiday. Yet what do you get to know about a culture in 2 weeks?
What you see above the sea is just the tip of the iceberg and that is exactly what you get when you visit Turkey for the first time. Yet if you actually look at some of the points on top not even all them are present in the Turkish holiday resorts. My first trip to Turkey was to Kusadasi (Kuşadası) and I was surprised at how ‘irish’ it was. I didn’t experience even some of the things on top of the iceberg because you have irish restaurants which sell food that we eat in Ireland, you have Irish bars which look like the ones in Ireland and you have Irish/English music which we listen to at home. Even the people who work at the resort that have never been to Ireland speak with an Irish accent. So when people go to such a resort and fall in love with Turkey/Turk, what are they really falling in love with? Because how can you really fall in love with something/someone that is not in their full representation. For me I learnt bottom of the iceberg much quicker because I spent a lot of time in Istanbul after Kuşadası and therefore I was not in the bubble of a tourist resort. Yet for many foreigners they spend quite a lot of time visiting the same tourist city and when they go to their partners home city they often come back in shock at how different the culture is. They find it difficult to accept that their partner is anything like their families or you will hear them say well his family is conservative but he isn’t.
Holiday romances are easy to find in tourist resorts and if you want one you will get one. Yet for those who contemplate a long term relationship they need to consider seriously the implications this will have on their personal development and future decisions. Life is not a holiday forever no matter how much we want it to be that way. It is not going to be about going to the bars and sunbathing by the pool. There are going to be challenges involved because of cultural differences. So it is best to know about these before rather than learning about them later where you may find it difficult to cope with the expectations of Turkish culture. There is a cultural adaptation curve which is taught at university which is really useful for those who intend to live in Turkey because you will face culture shock yet a lot of people don’t know that they will have this experience. Knowing about it makes it much easier to deal with it.
When the honeymoon period is over you will begin to feel the differences and question how you are going to deal with those differences. There are ways to adapt yet how we adapt differs from person to person. Some people don’t adapt and their holiday romance doesn’t last. Some people try for a long time to adapt but in the end the hill becomes to hard to climb. Some people adapt over a long period of time and they become really assimilated into Turkish culture. This all can depend on a variety of factors such as where in Turkey you live, what your partner is like, what their family are like etc. Yet most importantly the biggest factor is about you and how well you cope in new situations.
In my next posts I hope to deal with the points on the iceberg, both top and bottom. After five years of experience with Turkish culture, I am still learning new differences yet I hope to share my experiences to help those wanting to learn more about Turkish culture.
I decided to create this blog for two reasons. Firstly for myself I wanted to write about my experiences so that I can look back on them in the future in an easily accessible place. Secondly I wanted to share my experiences so that anyone in a similar situation can get more information. A lot of foreigners involved with a Turk in Turkey tend to be located around the holiday resorts on the west coast however my experiences are primarily in Istanbul. Although the cultural experiences on other blogs will be similar I hope to help the minority who locate in Istanbul.
I intend to write mainly about cultural differences. There are a lot of obvious on the surface differences between my own culture (Irish) and Turkish culture yet it is not until you live in a place for a period of time where you begin to learn the cultural differences under the surface. This ranges from body language to the way people clean. However I also intend to discuss some more practical issues such as visas and studying in Turkey because I have experience with those situations. I also may share some Turkish recipes from time to time 🙂
Another hobby of mine is quilting, sewing and crocheting – my crafty hobbies certainly compliment my gelin desires lol. I love the handmade crafts of Turkey and I have been inspired a lot by them.