I have listed below some tidbits of the lighter side of culture shock.
The Turks seem to loooooove lighting their trees with green lights. Thereis one particular street (it’s a very steep hill that I hate walking up) that in English, we refer to as the Greenway. Its trees are lit from top to bottom with green lights. Sometimes an entire block is lit, other times it is a single tree.
Americans say “Bon Appetit” – sometimes. If you go to a Turkish restaurant, you will hear the Turkish equivalent “Afiyet Olsun” a minimum of three times. Once I kept count and got up to ten times I was wished “Afiyet Olsun.” They say it when you order, when you get your food, when they take the empty dishes. Other, less frequent, times are when you are seated, when you have the cay (Turkish tea) after the meal or if they bring you new silverware.
I know some people in the United States have this same habit, but here, the offering is ubiquitous. With your French fries (patates), you will be offered ketchup and mayonnaise. Mustard is a hard find. Even places like McDonald’s only offer ketchup and mayonnaise. As a mayo-hater, I’m not a fan of this.
People have asked us what Christmas is like in Turkey. The truth is, people don’t celebrate it. In America, everyone celebrates it, Christian or not. In a Muslim-majority country, I thought Christmas would barely register. Imagine my surprise when I saw Santa at the mall! Turns out… It’s the New Years Santa, not a Christmas Santa. Think about all the decorations you put up for Christmas, and chances are, I have seen them here in Turkey – only it’s for New Years, not Christmas. Trees, lights, Santa, gives, fake snow – it’s all here.
This last picture is interesting to me because not once have I seen a hint of recycling here. Either Ankamall has declared 2010 as the ‘Year of Recycling’ or they didn’t have any zeros and had to recycle other symbols to make it so – Ironic Recycling!