What did I know about Turkey before I had the opportunity to travel to this country last year? To be honest not much. I knew that it was a mixture of traditional beliefs and modern attitudes, depending on the geographical location and the individual. I had met a few Turkish people in Poland and the U.S. and found them to be extremely friendly and proud of their heritage.
The image of Muslims in the U.S. after 9/11 has not always been a positive one, due mostly to a lack of knowledge about the religion, and sweeping generalizations that people take for face value. In the days leading up to my departure, some people asked me questions ranging from “will you be treated poorly as a women” to “is it safe to be in a Muslim country.” In such a progressive nation as the U.S. it saddens me that such a distorted image still exists.
Most Muslims believe in leading a non-violent lifestyle. There are women who are doctors, and engineers, not just housewives. Of course there still exists in small villages a more traditional lifestyle, which may seem outdated, but this situation is present in every country in the world to some extent.
I’m feel honored to have the privilege to once again return to Turkey, and continue to explore it rich cultural landscape. I will not be merely a visitor, but a resident now, that will hopefully allow me to understand in more detail the intricacies of a country that I have only begun to educate myself about.