How Turkish Culture Forced Me to Relax
In college I was the self-proclaimed-and-proud-of-it workaholic. Everyday would be a new mountain of tasks that I had to get done. And I was addicted to it. I wanted it all–the stress, the sweat, the hardships. I didn’t realize what it was doing to me, well until I moved away from it all.
I’ve been in Turkey for a little over a year now, teaching English. I moved here a few months after finishing university, a moment when I was at the peak of my addiction to stress. It was getting to a point where my family members were having discussions behind my back about it- and wondering if they should stage interventions and such (which I, of course, found out much later).
In college I was the self-proclaimed-and-proud-of-it workaholic. Everyday would be a new mountain of tasks that I had to get done. And I was addicted to it.
When I moved abroad, I was quickly immersed into the completely laid back Turkish culture. Turkey is a place where there is an actual time shift to all activities, priorities, and time scales. In the States, if I had an appointment, I would arrive at least 15 minutes early, just in case anything happened. However, “Turkey time” means that arriving at least one hour late is required–anything earlier was almost rude.
This drove me insane at first. I couldn’t understand why this whole society could not correctly use a watch. In fact, I couldn’t understand why no one shared the same values on time as I did. Slowly my thoughts and character began to change. I still scheduled too many activities, work, or anything I could. I would still stress out over the smallest changes of details. However, when I went home to visit my family in the States for the first time, almost immediately after being picked up, I was confronted with non-stop remarks and comments about how much calmer and relaxed I had become.
I honestly had not noticed it until I returned. It was as if the reverse culture shock that I was expecting wasn’t the culture in itself, but the shock of how much I personally had changed.
“Turkey time” means that arriving at least one hour late is required–anything earlier was almost rude.
When I first made the decision to move abroad, many friends confronted me with the concern that I would make major changes in my life, lose friendships, or just not ever come home. While the last option sounds quite tempting, I hadn’t believed any of their concerns. It was amazing to realize that it had happened without planning it, without scheduling it, and almost without even noticing it.
Even with the stress of traveling, moving and working abroad, and figuring out all the small details of visas, passports, and documents, it was quite fascinating to realize the stress that I had struggled and lived for in the States was almost completely self-made and not necessary in the least.
Where before I had to have every minute of the day planned, weekly goals for finishing projects, and multiple organizations to be involved with, now it seems the only thing that is important is to finish the required work (not everyone else in the offices’ work) and spend the rest of my time relaxing with friends.
Turkish Time: How Turkish Culture Forced Me to Relax Related Reading
Have you traveled to Turkey? Have you experienced Turkish time? What were your impressions? Email us at [email protected] for information about sharing your experience of Turkish culture us. We can’t wait to hear from you.
Turkish Time: How Turkish Culture Forced Me to Relax photo credits: Haley Larkin and Unsplash