One of the biggest differences for me living in Turkey as an American, is the sense of hospitality that embodies this culture. Recovering from jet lag the first week, I would wake up to elaborate breakfast spreads of black and green olives, jam, goat cheese, eggs, and sausage patiently waiting for me as my internal clock struggled to reset. But it goes beyond just making sure I was well-fed.
A strong sense of family and community is very important in Turkish culture, with names like “amca” or “teyze” (uncle and aunt) commonly used for family friends by younger children. It is also not uncommon for neighbors to drop by unannounced, and be invited in for a cup of çay or four.
It’s not that this level of hospitality doesn’t exist in the US, but it definitely feels different from where I’m from. I mentioned this cultural adjustment to a Turk, and he said that people in large cities trusted their neighbors much less, compared to a small village. This made sense, but in my American mind, I struggled to grasp with the thought of urban Turkish hospitality magnified, and decided it was best that I had not moved to a small village.
Back home I led a pretty solitary lifestyle, so this communal mentality took a bit of getting use to at first, but slowly I’m beginning to embrace it, and be grateful for the new family that has so graciously taken me in.