Living in Turkey with Male Roommates
Now I’m living in Istanbul, Turkey the former Ottoman capital through an exchange program with Binghamton University and studying abroad at Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey. In an apartment that overlooks the ever so gorgeous Bogazici, I will be living with two Turkish guys who graduated from Bogazici University and a French girl who is also studying at Bogazici.
Living twelve kilometers away from the south campus live four people sharing an apartment together. I found this apartment through Craigslist so I was praying for the best that the two guys who I emailed and skyped with for about a month did not turn out to be Craigslist killers, men trying to pry foreign women to their beds, or weirdos.
My Turkish roommates generously opened their wonderful apartment to us, sharing their items, friends, and life with us. Turkish men care very much about the people they live with and their guests. It is part of their hospitable culture they let us use their items, they ask us about our days when they return home from work. From Facebooking us during the day asking if we received a package to reminding me to take my shoes off either outside of the apartment or right inside behind the door, they are not afraid to engage us.
Turks do not wear shoes in their homes and offering chai or coffee is a hospitality must. They like to have their friends over and are very open about their lives and are interested learning English and about American as well as French culture. They also like to keep their homes very warm and clean.
My roommates are not smokers, but only when we they are drinking or partying. This is very common among Turks as cigarettes are cheaper and smoking is widely accepted compared to in the United States even though it is now illegal in bars and restaurants.
We also live next to a mosque that also is a dormitory for seminary students so five times a day starting at 6:00am, the muezzin announces the azan, the call to prayer. It is quite loud, and the first two days of living here it woke me up. After a while everybody gets used to it, as my roommates told me, which is true.
During this time I have learned how to play backgammon, learned new Turkish words, tasted homemade Turkish cooking, and navigated Turkish bureaucracy. I have lived with my roommates for almost two weeks and they have taught us so much about Turkey and Turkish culture that I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for us in the next four months of living together. But a few tips for living with men either while vacationing or studying abroad.
• Skype with them before agreeing to be a flatmate.
• Google them.
• Be in constant contact with them.
• If they say something fishy or weird, it is most likely problematic.
• Assert yourself.
• Make sure one of the flat mates is female; it will always be
• Turkish men are like any other type of men in the world. But they
are respectful and hospitable to their friends and flatmates–from my
personal experiences so far.