I Married a Turkish Man, and Now I’m Ready to Honestly Tell You About My Life in Istanbul

Svetlana is a Russian blogger who humorously calls herself “the wife of a Turkish Sultan.” She has been living in Istanbul for more than a year and used to live in Saint-Petersburg, Russia where she met her future husband who was on vacation there.

Together with Bright Side let’s find out what the life of a Russian woman in Turkey looks like. You’ll be surprised which American traditions the local people simply can’t stand.

I feel truly married.

I Married a Turkish Man, and Now I’m Ready to Honestly Tell You About My Life in Istanbul

Everyone tried to scare me, telling stories about the consequences of marrying Turkish guys. After a year of marriage, I started hearing even more inappropriate tips like, “Don’t have children, if you decide to get a divorce, you’ll never see them again.”

Now we have 2 kids. Has our relationship changed? Yes, it has. I truly realize that I’m married now. I used to work for 12 years (5 of them were without days off or holidays). Now I don’t have to work at all since my husband works and provides our family with everything we need. I genuinely feel his support and protection.

Children are called freaks and witches.

“Freak,” “donkey’s child,” “froggy” and other words like those are used to address to my child in the streets, and I treat it with smile. Why? It’s not the first time. My elderly daughter was usually called “ugly” or “witch.”

The thing is, people here don’t want to put a jinx on babies, so they don’t say any nice words to them.

I have to wear dresses and cook mutton.

My husband gets irritated when I wear just a long T-shirt at home (even if I don’t go onto our balcony!). He says that there are a lot of houses around and that someone could see me.

He also doesn’t like when I cook pork and give it to the children. He says that it’s not healthy at all and that it smells bad. To be honest, mutton sometimes smells much worse!

Turkish people know what good food is.

I Married a Turkish Man, and Now I’m Ready to Honestly Tell You About My Life in Istanbul

I don’t like the local breakfasts. I used to worry about this and think, how can I be a blogger from Turkey and not even like their breakfasts? But why on Earth do I have to eat sausages, olives, and jam in the morning… This is not breakfast food!

Speaking of food, almost all desserts in Turkey are covered with sugary syrups. Main courses are prepared using tomato paste and huge amounts of oil. And each street cafe sells something called shawarma (a Middle Eastern dish.) Turkish people call it döner, which means “rolling.” Thanks to an unusual meat roasting technique, all the fat drops off of the meat.

Walking around the house in shoes is almost a crime.

If you go to your friend’s house, you must take off your shoes even before you go in their entry hall. Turkish people don’t wear shoes at home at all. So it’s not surprising that Americans’ habits shock the locals.

It’s also a must to take off your shoes before entering a mosque: mosques are considered to be common homes.

Christmas gifts are often returned to stores.

Every 1st of January, my husband and I go to our local mall, with many other Turkish people, to exchange our New Year’s presents. The thing is, people often give clothes as presents because they’re cheap and made over here in Turkey.

This year, we bought our moms pullovers and they gave us sweaters. Not all of the presents fit us, but that wasn’t a problem: a person can exchange an item in any store belonging to the chain they were purchased from.

You’ll have to spend a lot of money to give your child a decent education.

Well, unfortunately, a good education in Turkey is either for clever or wealthy people. Your child will have a chance to go to a public kindergarten only after they turn 4 years old and only for 4 hours (from 8 AM to 12 PM.) If you want to leave your child for longer (like until 5 PM), there are additional groups that you’ll have to pay for.

In private schools, you have to pay for everything: food, school and sports uniforms, and your child, starting from the very first year of school, has to have an iPad to have an opportunity to do some tasks online. The total sum is usually around €3,000 per year.

C-sections are really common in local maternity hospitals.

I Married a Turkish Man, and Now I’m Ready to Honestly Tell You About My Life in Istanbul

Women give birth to children in private maternity hospitals. The prices vary from €150 to €3,000 and some of the expenses are partially covered by their obligatory insurance.

C-sections are a really common procedure here for a couple of reasons. It’s more convenient for the doctor, and many women are afraid of labor, so they ask for this surgery. You’re allowed to go home the next day after giving birth to a baby if everything’s fine. If you’ve had surgery, you have to stay at the hospital for 24 hours.

Some marriages aren’t based on love.

Today, there are many couples that don’t hide their relationships from their parents, travel together, and rent an apartment together (these are mostly students who’ve moved to another city).

But in some small towns, there are strict traditions that must be observed. In the Eastern part of the country, cousins even have to get married at their families discretion. By the way, they don’t even get to go out together before the wedding.

Medical tourism is developing really fast.

There’s one interesting fact about Turkish medicine: all the technology and equipment that exists in the best hospitals is as great as American and European ones, and the prices are 20-30% lower.

In most cases, people travel to Turkey to undergo plastic surgery: breast augmentations, body contouring, and nose or lip surgery. What’s more, you might spot men with bandages on their heads. This means they’ve recently undergone a hair transplant procedure.

Stomach Botox is another popular procedure here. It’s not a surgery, but injections that neutralize the work of certain muscles and, as a result, your appetite decreases.

Prices in Turkey

To plan your budget before a journey, you have to consider all of your major expenses. Let’s take Avcılar, a district of Istanbul, as an example.

Renting a villa costs around €1,000 a month. Renting an apartment costs approximately €200 a month. Renting a car costs around €31 a day and renting a bicycle is somewhere around €15 a day.

You’ll spend around €30 on food from a supermarket and enjoy it for a week. A cup of coffee costs 78 cents, a cup of tea is half the price of a cup of coffee. The average bill for dinner at a restaurant with a sea view costs €43. At a local pizzeria, you’ll spend around €6.

Don’t forget to visit a hammam. Most of them are historical monuments. For example, Galatasaray Hamamı (in the picture) was built in the 15th century by order of Sultan Bayezid II. This hammam was also visited by John Travolta who’s famous for tipping $100 there.

It’s convenient to travel between cities by train and the first and the last carriages are first class carriages. It’s better to buy seats there since they’re only around 50% more expensive. There are only 16 seats in these carriages, and there is free Wi-Fi, dinner, and free drinks every 30 minutes.

Be careful when you go to the market.

I Married a Turkish Man, and Now I’m Ready to Honestly Tell You About My Life in Istanbul

Turkish people say nice things, treat you with their goods, and give “huge” discounts, but they’re really, really sly. So you should always open and check thoroughly wrapped bags that vendors give to you. At the market, pick fruits and vegetables on your own: choose the best ones, it’s your right. Locals always pick fresh products and sometimes even throw rotten ones at the vendors.

The characteristics of a person from Turkey

I Married a Turkish Man, and Now I’m Ready to Honestly Tell You About My Life in Istanbul

You can consider yourself Turkish if:

  • after drinking your morning coffee, you turn your cup upside down to know what your destiny is preparing for you;
  • when uninvited guests come to you, you show them that you’re incredibly happy to see them, and you try to persuade them that you’ve cooked this delicious cake especially for them;
  • you’re never in a hurry and always late. Please, who needs these time frames?;
  • in a cafe, you don’t split the bill, you fight for the bill, trying to take it and prove why it’s you who should pay this time;
  • you like to honk the horn when you’re behind the wheel (you also do things like hang out of the car window and scream at pedestrians and other drivers);
  • yogurt isn’t a dessert for you, but an addition to any main course;
  • you kiss a person on their cheek, even if you’ve just met them for the first time.

Would you change your life completely and marry a person from a different country?

Preview photo credit svetlana_istanbul / instagram

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.