A Turkish Contradiction

In my opinion, being safe means to be with the ones you love. That’s why I went ahead with my trip to Istanbul last July, despite the recent Tunisia terrorist attacks.

While I was there, I visited the Blue Mosque, cruised down the Bosporus, and partied in Taksim – a town where, only two years ago, riots took place as part of the Gezi Park protests. Of course, being a sufferer of anxiety, I did have my worries. I felt the most important thing to remember was that this is our world. We can not lock ourselves away from experiences due to fear. If we allow that we will become consumed, locked in our houses and untrusting of our neighbours.

Orientalism, an essay by Edward Said, tells of the way the West looks at the East as culturally inferior, less civilised. The West ‘others’ the East. It is my belief that whoever judges the Orient as culturally inferior has had no real experience of the East. Sure, watching British news channels you can get a view of the poor Middle Easterns, but only by visiting the Middle East can you see that the Orient is rich in ways the British are poor. 

I couldn’t take enough photos of the Blue Mosque 

Turkish culture is giving. Tell a Turkish woman you like her ring, she gives you the ring. Tell an English woman you like her ring, she begins a speech about how her amazing boyfriend bought her the [insert expensive designer brand] ring for their anniversary. Another important difference is the work-life balance. In Britain, people in Britain live to work. In Turkey, they work to live. This means that they care less about material objects. Friends and family are more important than saving up for a new car.

The best photo I have ever taken

I don’t pretend to be an expert on Turkish culture, but my experience in Istanbul taught me a lot. I don’t pretend that, either, that I have experienced the hardships of the lower-class Turks. My boyfriend’s dad is an estate agent who lives on a brand new estate with a pool, and drives a shiny white car.

Took this near Ortaköy

The conflict I now face with myself is my safety vs my dream. I want to spend a year in Istanbul teaching English and getting to know the Turkish language and culture that I have fallen in love with. But, as I begin to contradict myself (welcome to my mind) I must put my safety first. This isn’t just for me: I am of the believe that the dead are the lucky ones: they have escaped. The victims are the living who suffer the loss. And that is something I could not risk putting my family through.

Teşekkür ederim.

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