I have been putting this off. Largely because I was too busy sitting on the toilet. I figured this would probably skew my feelings on Turkey a bit.
So here I am, dysentery-free, and back in America now for 10 days. My first impression was that not much has changed. Certainly my workplace did not improve, my friends are still my friends, and my girlfriend still claims to love me. All is well.
I have had the same conversation with about 34 people now. It goes like this: “OH JOSH you are back from Turkey!!! How was it??” I smile, and say, “……it was good.” This is always very awkward and doesn’t really encourage conversation. But it’s typically a doomed affair attempting to talk to people about the vast differences when you are just passing by them on your way to the bathroom.
I do notice certain things that stand out as being different. People here are less hairy. And larger, by a good chunk. People drive between the lines. I eat healthier, and I certainly eat more. People are less self-confident.
The largest difference I notice however is the indifference of people when they hear I just got back from Turkey. It seems that many people either have no interest in Turkey, or they just dislike the region or perhaps even travel in general. Its very frustrating to me to come back from such an enlightening and once-in-a-lifetime experience and realize halfway through my third sentence that the person who asked me “How was Turkey?” really didn’t care about my response.
Several people have listened to me wax on about Turkey, and I am proud that I can easily answer most questions thrown at me regarding almost any topic about Turkey. This makes me feel like I accomplished something, and learned a good bit besides.
As of right now, I am inclined to say the Turkish experience was a slightly controlled disaster that led me to learn much more about myself, my habits, my culture and my views than I think anyone else on the trip was forced to deal with, and the result was that I gained a sense of perspective just outside of the American view. For instance, what Americans and American politics call “Patriotism”, many people in other countries view as “Nationalist”, a subtle distinction that implies a huge difference.
So I am back in the US, making money again and hanging out with all the friends I missed while I was gone. I do find myself missing the conversations with friends I made over in Turkey, as well as missing the free time and adana kebaps. I miss walking around Ankara and Beypazari and chatting over cay.
Even writing this last blog post doesn’t seem to finalize things for me. I feel a slight sense of disconnection with the American culture now, whereas previously it was just a sense of disgust. If there is anything I could wish to keep from my stay in Turkey it is this changed perspective, a distance felt from the culture I live in.
Thanks for following me on this adventure! I appreciate it.