Being a Guest in Turkey
When you visit a country for the first time, the question which will probably come up in your mind is: How do the people treat foreigners? And that is exactly something don’t have to worry about when you visit Turkey. The sense of being accepted is shown in such a way that, as a foreigner, you will feel as free as a bird. Turks see their visitors as Tanri misafiri, literally “God’s visitor”. Therefore they will do their best to welcome you, especially by being very friendly. Because of their perfectionism, Turks like to have everything perfectly completed, and definitely will not accept any incompleteness. Another quote which describes the importance of guests is Bir fincan kahvenin kirk yil hatiri vardir, meaning that if one has been offered a small cup of coffee, he/she will be obliged for 40 years to the one who offered the coffee. This quote explains how important it is to remember what someone has done for you and, probably, one day you could do the same in return, maybe in a different way, but the main idea is that you will remember the politeness shown to you in your heart.
During a business trip to Turkey you will experience the same hospitality. Most of the time you will be invited for a dinner at the home of your host. By inviting visitors, Turks are likely to show how friendly they are and what they have to offer. Offering good and well-prepared food is very essential, because that gives them a chance to show how important the visitor is for the host. The preparing of the food is an elaborate and intense affair where all the women in the family participate in creating the most fabulous delicious Turkish dishes.
During your visit to your host’s home you will need to take some aspects into account. Punctuality is not considered very important, so arriving 10 to 20 minutes late is acceptable, but if you arrive earlier than planned that could be inconvenient for the host, because Turks are likely to use their time till the last second. If you plan to give a gift to the host, offer something which really comes from the very depth of your heart, because they will appreciate everything but especially the things that are given spontaneously.
When you enter a home it is required to take off your shoes, but in most cases the host/hostess will offer you a pair of slippers. Since Turkish people are generally clean they don’t want dirt from outside inside their home. Therefore they will ask you to enter the home without your shoes. On the other hand, most modern people are used to it so they won’t even ask you to take off your shoes. It depends on who you are dealing with.
It is remarkable that when a visitor enters the house everyone present will stand up and wait until the visitor takes a seat. Before you are invited to the table, they will offer you a drink, together with a delicious delicacy which is usually homemade. Some hosts will propose a toast, but bear in mind that some citizens do not consume alcohol because of Islamic rules. During the meal, follow your own rules, so feel comfortable and don’t show any embarrassment. The dinner is followed by a cup of tea, again, with a delicacy along with a nice and enjoyable conversation. Turks are likely to talk about everything and actually have no rules! So during your visit you will not only not feel like a foreigner, but you will even feel as if you were at home. And that is why the Turks are so well known for their hospitality.