7 Myths about Turkey that are not true

Since I have made two posts about common myths in Germany and China, it’s now time to continue this with Myths about Turkey.
Some of you might know that I am of turkish heritage. My parents were both born in Turkey, but moved to Germany to work. Of course, they have built their life here, so there was no reason for them to go back to Turkey. Me and my siblings, we were all born and grew up here in Germany. Still, we always had to be confronted with misconceptions people had about Turkey and turkish people, according to what they were hearing and reading in media, which mostly is not true. I have chosen the most common misconceptions about Turkey and turkish people and its culture to debunk it once and for all.

  1. Everyone wears a headscarve

    Bildergebnis für kopftuchträger in der türkei
    tagesanzeiger.ch

    The headscarve or the hijab are, of course, a part of the turkish culture. Some wear it, most people do not. Nowadays, many people get the feeling that more and more women are being forced to wear the hijab, because they wrongly assume that the turkish president is forcing women to cover up. This is not true at all! The only difference he has done for hijabi women is giving them more rights. Before he was president, girls and women wearing a hijab were by law excluded from education and work life. This was sexism at its best, and Erdogan has changed it. He had given girls wearing a hijab the right to educate themselves. It is also a fact that many girls were forced by their parents to cover up. Giving them the right of education has prevented them from being forced to get married at a young age, and given them the independence of getting a job and deciding whether to wear the hijab or not.
    So please, do not discriminate a turkish or another muslim woman who wears the hijab out of belief. This does not mean that they are uneducated. Most of the time, hijabi women are even more educated than non-hijabi women, since education was not always a privilege for them.

  2. Vegetarians and Vegans have to stay hungry

    Bildergebnis für vegan turkish food
    Source: ashwinbahulkar.wordpress.com

    To all my vegetarian and vegan friends who plan to travel to Turkey: Do not worry at all! The most amazing dishes in Turkey are actually the vegan ones! So get ready to indulge in some of the most amazing food your palate will ever taste!
    Of course, Turkey has a lot of meaty, milky dishes and they use a lot of dairy products to accompany their non-dairy dishes (Yoghurt is life!), but the turkish cuisine is richer than you think. There are as many veg dishes as there are meaty dishes. Some of them are the most exquisite dishes ever! Including filled wine leaves (with rice and herbs), lentil balls, various, meat-free aubergine dishes, filled bell peppers (also with rice, herbs and tomatoes), various other lentil dishes, dishes including beans of all sorts, chickpeas and peas, vegetarian dumplings and turkish pizza, and many many more that I don’t even know about.

  3. The president will arrest every tourist

    Bildergebnis für erdogan
    Source: freiewelt.net

    The turkish president has probably been one of the most spoken about politicians in the last year, especially with the coup d’etat last July, the political environment in Turkey has taken yet another course in history. This was a reason for the president to arrest a lot of people who had high positions in the sections of military, law, police, media etc. Especially the amount of journalists that are sitting in turkish prisons has made foreign tourists spectical about travelling to Turkey. Also in Germany, the media kept on telling german people not to travel to Turkey, which is utter bullshit! So let me tell you this: You do not have to be afraid of travelling around Turkey. As long as you have not published a criticizing article about Erdogan or his party, you can roam around the country as you please. No one will hurt or arrest you if you respect the law.

  4. Turkey has a problem with Kurds

    Bildergebnis für Kurds in turkey
    Source: vocativ.com

    This is a very sensitive topic, and I am a little bit worried about writing this. But I do know some things about this issue. There is quite a high percentage of Kurds in Turkey who speak the language and also identify themselves as turkish citizens. Then there is the PKK, the Kurdish worker party, at least that’s how they are officially named. However, this party has caused a lot of tumult in Turkey over the last few decades. They are more commonly known as a terrorist group by now, who are fighting against Turkey and for a free Kurdistan (which does not exist on the map). So they basically want to split the eastern part of Turkey and make it their own country. And the PKK wants to reach this with violence. There have been hundreds of thousands people killed over the last 2 or 3 decades and still there does not seem to be a solution to this problem. What makes it worse is that a lot of western media outlets display the PKK as a righteous party that is being oppressed by the turkish government. All I can tell you is not to believe everything you hear on media and inform yourselves about any topic. Here is a link to a great article about this topic and other myths in Turkey.

  5. It’s dangerous to go out at night

    Ähnliches Foto
    Source: famoushostels.com

    Many people who have never been to Turkey think that it is dangerous to go out at night in Turkey. They argue that the islamic mindset makes people very disapproving of clubs and parties. But this mindset might only be true in the eastern part of Turkey. In the major big cities and beach resort towns, nightlife is bustling and the streets usually start to fill up after 10pm. Public transport is efficient, taxis are cheap and locals are usually very nice and polite, so there is nothing to scared of. Still, in big cities like Istanbul, you should do your research about the neighbourhoods to avoid, because just like in any other major big city, there are shady, dangerous side streets as well. But as long as you do your research and take care, you do not have to worry.

  6. Turkish girls are not allowed to have a boyfriend

    Ähnliches Foto
    Source: pinterest.com

    This is a prejudice that I am confronted with quite often when I date. Guys usually assume that they can’t approach me because I am turkish. And if they found out about my turkish background later on, they will always ask the typical question: “Are you allowed to have a boyfriend?” This pisses me off extremely, and the reason why I have never had a serious relationship is not because of my parents, but because of the misconceptions of german/western guys.
    Especially nowadays, turkish people are more open to relationships which is also influenced a lot by turkish drama series where love is always the main topic (as you can see on the picture which is from a popular turkish TV show). PDA and sexual topics are still a taboo, but if you ever go to Turkey, you can see loads of young couples on dates.

  7. Marriages are arranged

    Ähnliches Foto
    In the past, the bride and groom saw each other for the first time when he lifted her veil at the wedding ceremony. Nowadays, arranged marriages are slowly disappearing, but it’s still happening, in cities, villages, towns and valleys, but in a more liberal way. Young people are usually being arranged at other people’s weddings where the cousin of the aunt of the mother knows some other far relative of a young, single woman and arranges them to meet and go on dates and so on. Still, a high percentage of young turks is meeting at school or at work, some even online or during parties. And as you could read unter the first point of this post, another big group of forced marriage is dwindling. Including child marriage, which is now against the law and can be punished with a prison penalty.

  8. Alcohol is prohibited

    Bildergebnis für raki sofrasi
    Source: youtube.com

    There are some new restrictions about buying and consuming alcohol in public, but Turkey is still a country that has its own national alcoholic beverage which is Raki. It is a spirit made out of Anis and grapes. It is one of the alcoholic beverages with the highest percentage of alcohol. That’s why it is typically mixed with water. People love to drink this while eating dish or a various selection of meze platters. If you ever happen to be in Turkey, do not miss out on this activity, ideally with some locals that you know and some live music.

  9. Turkish people are arabic

    Bildergebnis für arab turks
    Source: quora.com

    Many western people assume that turkish people are part of the arabic heritage which is not exactly true. Most arab countries like Egypt, UAE, Iran, Iraq etc are homogeneous which means that they didn’t have many influences from different cultures. Turkey, on the other hand is a country with a mixture of different ethnological backgrounds, from greeks, jews, arabs, mongols, uzbeks, various balkan countries, and even jews. Not all turks have dark hair and dark skin. There are many blond, blue-eyed turkish people living in Turkey, and the majority of turkish people are brunette with a wheat-coloured skin tone. The religion, and some dishes are the only things that arabs and turks have in common.

As you can see, this post has gotten rather long. Of course, the reason for this is that as a turkish person living in a western country, I haven been personally confronted with most of these misconceptions directly. Most of the time it is annoying, and I realize more and more how ignorant people are about foreign cultures. It also made me stronger and gave me a stronger identity of my turkish heritage that I am proud of.

What I can say to everyone reading this is: Do not believe in myths and misconceptions about any culture. Do your own research, read more articles, blog posts, talk to locals, and travel to these places, not as tourists but as adventurers. This is the best thing to prevent racism, intolerance and ignorance!

I hope you enjoyed this!

Thanks for reading! And see you next time!

Merveille.

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The real purpose of Christmas

Soon it is the 24th of December again. The feast of the Christians when they worry about christmas presents half a year before. As a former muslim, and newly atheist, I wonder if they really don’t notice the trick behind all this. Christmas has become merely a feast of capitalism, consumerism and materialism. When big shopping malls and stores already begin decorating and advertising in November, about the best present for your mom, your cousin or boyfriend, I wonder if they don’t notice that the love and individuality fades, and the manipulations of big concerns decide the perfect present.

Of course, it is a nice feeling receiving a present from your loved ones, but why are love proofs always associated with presents? Do we really have to spend a lot of money on things just to prove our love for someone? And most of the Christmas presents end up in a trade off, or on the counter of the shop it was bought, in order to return it. Is the measurement for love really the Christmas present that you like or dislike?

Of course, when it comes to food, I can understand the enthusiasm about Christmas. But this is of course just a part of the whole feast. I think the presents would be tolerable if the people would also do something for the poor, hungry, disabled, sick, and old ones. I have seen in movies and series that they invited beggars from the streets tomdine with them. Just give them a feeling of belonging to a family for one day. I think that’s something beautiful. Butnof course, very few families do that. In some Christian cultures, this even belongs to the Christmas tradition, which I think is something very nice. Then the people could also allow themselves to give gifts to each other. But very seldom, this happens I think. Then, sometimes, just like the Black Eyed Peas sang about 10 years ago: Where is the love?

Maybe the reason for my negative opinion on this holiday is because I never had experienced Christmas in my family. My parents and relatives are muslims, so we don’t celebrate Christmas. But growing up in Germany, a christian country, I realize everything what is going on, also when I was a child. Back then, I was a bit confused why we don’t celebrate that. It was like a fairytale story for me as a child: Snow, Decorated trees, Santa Claus and his reindeers, christmas songs, presents, chocolate, biscuits, a d gingerbread. As a kid, I liked it. My parents also bought us chocolate on Santa Day on the 6th of December. We also got an advent calendar (but me and my sister opened all the doors at once and ate the whole chocolate in the calendar on one day :’D). Maybe I just think like this because I am pissed off we haven’t celebrated it, and I never completely experienced something magical that almost every kid around me has.

Of course that could be, but to be honest, I am already too grown to feel like that. And after thinking about that and comparing it with other religions like Islam, I come to the conclusion that the latter is doing more for the poor, and spending more love to the minority. Of course, they also have a holiday, in which they give money or sweets to the children, but a few weeks later tbey have the victim feast in which they sacrifice a lamb to share the meat with the poor. Although I am sometimes disgusted by the mass slaughter of the animals, I still think that it doesn’t goe to waste in the end.

Well, all in all, I think that every religious holiday somehow doesn’t make sense to me. The world will never get peaceful no matter if we decorate trees, or slaughter lambs.

I hope I haven’t ruined your Christmas mood with this entry. At least, I can be happy about all the yummy food and beautiful decorations that come out during winter time, and the 3 days of holidays in which you can stay in your warm house without feeling guilty of moving too less.

With that, I wish all of you a happy Pre-Christmas time.

NaNoWriMo vs. University stress

Yesterday, I have come across a blog post from the WordPress News. It was about the National Novel Writing Month, starting this friday, on the 1st November and continuing until the end of November. I got interested again, and since I have heard about it last year from an australian prof at my written communication seminar at university, I remembered and decided that it would actually be a good idea now, since I have far less hours this semester than I had last November in my 3rd semester. So I signed up yesterday evening and read through the forum, created a profile and thougth about which story to write about. I chose a story I thought about for a few months now. Here, you can read more about it and myself :)

But more important, or crucial to be able to participate at NaNoWriMo, is a device on which I can write. Since my laptop is useless now, and my sister’s laptop doesn’t have any word, or open office or the like, it is important for me to get a good laptop, notebook, or better, a tablet with a usb-keyboard. Not only for the novel writing month this november, but also for my studies, especially my written communication seminar in which I have to write a lot, also creative stories that I will also try to post here on my blog. 

So today, my day began with a visit to the dentist’s again, in order to get my threads out. After that, I went to the doc to get a prescription and then look for the new Samsung note 10.1. It really looked quite handy and everything. And has the newest gadgets that other tablets don’t have, like multitasking (opening 2-3 pages at the same time), marking text parts on pdf with the S-Pen (very useful for my studies, since I have to read pdf data a lot and mark a lot), copying parts of the internet into the scrapbook (things you don’t want to forget, like planning trips), and more and more stuff which you can all watch here.

Of course, everything looks nice and smooth in this commercial, but I have also saw in other videos that the software has some mistakes and is a little bit slow, for example when you want to crop something in your scrapbook. And everything looks so easy in this video, but I think one has to get used to all those new functions and gadgets, and of course the pen. So I think, even if the program is slow, it will still take a bit until I get flexible in using them all. And after all, it can’t be slower than my old Laptop. Here is also a video with some Tips and Tricks :) really amazing what that device is able to do. 

I think with a bluetooth keyboard I will quite well be able to produce text documents. I think it would be quite a problem if I would be restrained in my actions with the tablet. And it is not the cheapest device. About 529€. I am still thinking about. When I see the videos, everything speaks for it, but when I think about not having a laptop, it kind of feels strange and scary. I actually need a laptop or tablet at once, but I am so confused right now because of that modern technology we have nowadays. Sometimes I think, life would be easier if everyone would write with typewriters. Then there would be no internet platforms or formats in which you would have to save them for your teacher or prof. On the other hand, there would a lot of useless usage of paper which would harm the environment a lot. So yes, it is kind of a tricky decision, but I think it is still better than an apple Ipad :D

The rest of the day was rather entertaining. I met my friend Merve again, and she also introduced me to another Erasmus student from Italy, named Maria. She is from Milano and was a very cute girl. Only if it was for 1.30 hours, we had fun and yummy cakes. On the way to the cafe, I was interviewed by three little girls about religion :’D They were really cute, and I will be on radio tomorrow afternoon :’D But I am not sure if I will even listen to it :’D

After that, I had to go class. I had my oral communication seminar today and was lucky to get in despite of missing the course last week because of my teeth. The seminar was quite funny and entertaining, although the topic seemed rather dry. But the the teacher had a casual way of teaching and wanted us to join a lot as well. That way, a lot of discussion occured :) I like lessons like that. 

After that, I had my chinese course. This was normal like always. We wrote a short test, and I hope it went well. 

For tonight, I will do more research on the newest technology for now and finally decide on something. I will also look for other tablets. Let’s see, maybe I will find a cheaper one. 

Wish me luck in that overly complicated task ;)

 

Final spurt: Last month of semester vacation

In less than one month university begins again. I will be in my 5th semester now. I can’t believe it. Time passes so fast. And I should actually be in the US now. Everything came different, nothing as expected, but not in a positive sense. There were also only a few seminars that I enjoyed. Some were quite interesting though, and I am sure that economic students are bored more than I am.

For my next semester, I am only registered for 3 courses. One of them a main seminar about family bonds, especially about mothers and daughters. Our theories that we will apply on the novels will be from the Gender Studies and from family bonds theories. I have to read 4 novels for this seminar. I still have to buy them, so I will post here, what they are about and my expectations about the books:

1. “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov:

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Awe and exhilaration—along with heartbreak and mordant wit—abound in Lolita, Nabokov’s most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America. Most of all, it is a meditation on love—love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.

[378 pages, first published 1955]

Probably the most awaiting book on this seminar list. I have always wanted to read Lolita, and developed a huge interest in Nabokov and Russian Literature (although Nabokov’s works are not considered to belong to the Russian Realism, but to English Literature, I tend to call Nabokov a Russian writer) since I had lectures and seminars about it in my minor (International Literatures). I know that it’s about rape in this novel, something I can hardly bare, but I have already read a few books about rape, and I think I can handle this. I don’t know if it will be a term paper or an exam I will have to write for this seminar, but if it should be a term paper, I will probably tend to write one based on “Lolita”.

2. “Pride and Prejudice” – Jane Austen:

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“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s witty comedy of manners–one of the most popular novels of all time–that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. Renowned literary critic and historian George Saintsbury in 1894 declared it the “most perfect, the most characteristic, the most eminently quintessential of its author’s works,” and Eudora Welty in the twntieth century described it as “irresistible and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be.”

[279 pages, first published 1813]

To be honest, I am a bit scared of this one. I consider Jane Austen to be a critical work for university, because profs always tend to interpret a lot into books, and this one offers more than a lot I guess. Since the seminar will be held by two professors, one from the english studies departmend, the other from the slavistics department, it will be quite diverse and interesting, despite of the Gender-based topic which I am not so fond of since I had boring experiences last year with a seminar that was rather based on Gender-bending. This one however, might probably be more interesting and coherent for me since it deals with texts spanned from over 2 centuries. Besides, I chose this seminar because of the prof from the Slavistic department. I love her, she is one of my favorite profs. She gave me a 2,3 last semester in the oral exam, and apologized that it was so bad, but I was happy, because I hardly studied for it :’D So I really hope that it will turn out to be good seminar. At least I chose it because I kind of liked the subject, the novels we had to read for the seminar, and the profs, although it was only my second choice after the hip-hop seminar in which I didn’t come in. Now I will have to try my best with this seminar.

3. “Belinda” by Maria Edgeworth:

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The lively comedy of this novel in which a young woman comes of age amid the distractions and temptations of London high society belies the challenges it poses to the conventions of courtship, the dependence of women, and the limitations of domesticity. Contending with the perils and the varied cast of characters of the marriage market, Belinda strides resolutely toward independence. Admired by her contemporary, Jane Austen, and later by Thackeray and Turgenev, Edgeworth tackles issues of gender and race in a manner at once comic and thought-provoking. The 1802 text used in this edition also confronts the difficult and fascinating issues of racism and mixed marriage, which Edgeworth toned down in later editions.

[544 pages, first published 1801]

To be honest, I haven’t heard of this novel before, so I can’t say what to expect. After reading the description however, I get the feeling that it is a bit like “Pride and Prejudice” with race studies included. And the fact that it has so many pages scares me a bit. Don’t get a wrong impression, I like fat books, but it is another thing when it comes to classics. The thicker they are, the harder it is to keep at them. I enjoy thinner classics more. You spend less time on each but learn a lot. So you also have the possibility to read more classics because they are so thin and fast to read :) That’s how I think at least.

4. “A simple story” – Elizabeth Inchbald

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When Miss Milner announces her passion for her guardian, a Catholic priest, she breaks through the double barrier of his religious vocation and 18th-century British society’s standards of proper womanly behavior. Like other women writers of her time, Elizabeth Inchbald concentrates on the question of a woman’s “proper education,” and her sureness of touch and subtlety of characterization prefigure Jane Austen’s work.

[384 pages, first published 1791]

When reading the description, it sounds quite interesting, yet I fear that it could be a bit boring since it is based on a religious background and the role of women in that background. This is also a novel I haven’t hear from before, so it will be quite new.

In general, I hope that the books won’t be a hard read.

Book review: Life of Pi – Yann Martel

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Finally, I have finished this miraculous book. Like I have mentioned here, my friend has bought his as a birthday gift for me. On this picture, I am at university, before the course began. That day my friend gave me that book. Then, I have started reading it some time in the middle of July. And I just finished this book a few days ago. It was so beautiful. Similar to the movie. I can’t decide which was better. The book had more information, and the movie had these magical special effects that beats any imagination.

Still, this should concentrate on the book. What I liked about this book was that it was “everything at once”: Funny, informative, heart-warming, sad, dramatic, full of miracles, religious, but also darwinistic and anthropological.

For the funny part, the first thing that comes to my mind is Pi’s conversation with the two Japanes reporters. I had to laugh several times, because I had to think about the Japanese etiquette of politeness. The two Japanese reporters always offered food to the sick boy, and they never questioned anything about his behaviour, not even the fact that Pi was eating their lunch away although he had food stored under his bed. The two of them always spoke in Japanese to each other when they didn’t understand anything, and then asked each other if the one understood what he meant, or why they were laughing :’D I loved this part of the book! Maybe it was because I am so fascinated about the Japanese culture, and like their people. They always seem so serious, but in fact they are a quite humorous folk :D I was enthused about how Martel succeeded in displaying the peculiarities of the Japanese :)

Then, the informative part of course. Like mentioned here, I enjoyed reading about the zoological aspect of keeping animals in cages. I, too, was never a big fan of that, but I have also been ‘backstage’ at the zoo once, with class, and it was quite interesting. So you can imagine that I liked that part at the beginning of the book. After reading that, I just wanted to go visit a zoo as soon as possible.

The religious side of the book also is in relation to miracles and the heart-warming part. It gives hope to everyone reading this, that there is a chance for everyone, no matter in what peculiar or dangerous situation you are in. As an atheist, I can say that his really warmed my heart. Maybe it is not god I believe in, but I can say that I believe there is some bigger force out there which doesn’t have to do anything with restrictions and oppressions. The anthropological side of the book was contrasted to the religious, like the father of Pi who didn’t waste any thought on religion. But i think they both complete each other. Without his knowledge about the way animals think, without anthropological knowledge he would have never been able to manage to live together with a tiger on a boat. I think that they belong together. Just like anything else in this book, or else, it wouldn’t be as good.

Final rating 9/10: This book already belongs to my favorites. Despite of the part I didn’t understand, the one with the french cook who was blind and wanted to eat a boot, I enjoyed every single page and word.

Here are my favorite covers of the book. I don’t like my cover, somehow…

Life of Pilife-of-pi