The heart of the land of Turkey is not Turkey’s heart


As an EVS volunteer, I had an opportunity to visit the capital of this country, Ankara (if you still think the capital is Istanbul, please, leave this blog) for our On Arrival Training and Midterm Meeting, where we were very well treated by the National Agency of Turkey, and where we had a chance to learn more about our rights and obligations, and even talk to the Agency’s officials about possible problems.

Now, as my fellow Macarena was writing before, Ankara might not be such a pleasant place to live. I refused to believe that and was persistent that a person should experience the city more before making such judgments.

And I did! And I was, at the same time, positively surprised, as well as disappointed. Why? It’s a complicated story of a capital that was not born to be one, about a political and not cultural center of the country, of people who aren’t as kind as in Izmir, of refugee children playing drums on buckets in the cold, of unpreserved castle in the old town looking down to trash, poverty and the downhill that Turkey has been rolling on for a while.

On the other hand, I was surprised by a small but cute ‘going out’ center, with plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars, with nice staff and urban culture.  The prices are lower than Izmir, and I would definetely be well-off there.

But something was troubling me the whole time. There was something in the air, something unpleasant and poking me on the ribs, making me feel uncomfortable. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I kept feeling something was wrong. I felt the people were different, that they look at me and talk to me differently, they even looked different than Izmir or Istanbul folk.

And I am not the only one who has noticed it, so I guess it’s safe to say that I could not picture myself living there, even though, Ankara turned out to be much better than I had expected (especially after 31.3. and I am so glad, I am so glad as if I was a Turk!).


Beypazarı, on the other hand, is a story for itself. During our sightseeing, we took a stroll in the old town, seeing history intertwined with today, old Ottoman architecture and habits, combined with a bit of modernity.

The old town looks stunning, but it was funny (by funny read ‘scary’) that the only folk we saw in the streets were MEN MEN MEN, and elder women, covered in scarves. We saw only two or three young girls outside, and only one of them had her hair uncovered.

Do I have to explan how unsettling this was?

But alright, it is the culture (strongly connected to religion) and I am not here to judge. When I see men looking at me, I am here to look away, when I see an elder woman washing her feet in the restaurant sink preparing for the mosque, I am here to look away. I don’t want to criticize a culture, no matter how fundamentally I disagree with it.


To see a bit more of picturesque town, check this video, and at the same time realize you should take up EVS. 🙂

Back home

So what did we learn from this ‘highly educational’ article? We learned once again that Turkey cannot be defined according to one city, or one area. There are huge differences between East, center and West. Even though center makes it the heart of Turkish land, the most heartly people aren’t there.

The capital of Turkey might be Ankara on paper, but it isn’t what Turkey truly is. I found my real Turkey on the Eagean coast, where Turks have same beliefs as me, and that are a pillar that keeps it the way Ataturk worked to have it. As you can see, I am a Turkish patriot – come for a while in Izmir, you’ll become one too! 😀

About Valentina Botica

I am a 25 year-old girl from Rijeka, Croatia, a lover of Turkey who is an EVS volunteer in Izmir's Pi Youth Association. Graduated journalist with an overall enthusiasm for media. Both dog and cat person, trying to teach people what is 'teal' - my favorite color, similar to the color of Bosporus. I am a part of Erasmus Student Network and a strong believer that 'Mobility is a Lifestyle'. More about my experience in Turkey can be found on my Instagram @velntajn.

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