I had many opportunities to think, and the conclusion I drew is that I would have loved to be European! Or maybe us Turkish citizens experience a daunting realization when faced with how life should be. I am not writing to gain the pity of anyone but after observing my flatmates and seeing the potential for such relief in life, I cannot help but think “Why shouldn’t we deserve such a life?”
Apart from some sets of common behavior, I have observed that Europeans experience life in a chiller mood. No need to worry about some aunties’ unsolicited comments, no anxieties regarding what people would think, and an excessive amount of olive oil (rightfully so!). Even now, I will be skipping some topics, which I believe my flatmates would not have, to preserve some balances between myself and some potential readers, and will be focusing on three topics. Let’s begin.
Spontaneity is good.
I have come to this conclusion after our many discussions about traveling. If you wish to travel, the world we live in does not allow you to be “spontaneous.” Would you like a holiday abroad? You need some money for that first, the Euro hit twenty eigh-nine, oh no, by the time I finished this sentence, it hit thirty… There are plenty of countries you could visit without a visa but what if you want to attend the 2024 Olympics in Paris or would like to wander around Granada where Lorca was born? Now that’s a problem right there!
The myth we all hear: “The European youth travels wherever they want.” Well… it is true. Someone who works a minimum wage job is indeed able to travel to some extent. Now, I cannot speak for everyone, there are various other hardships many people face but when you compare the two populations, it is evident which side is heavy with disadvantages. It is a huge difference just knowing that if you could afford a holiday, you could very well walk into any country you wished to see. Whenever my flatmates said, “I’m planning a trip in a few weeks” or “We’re going to such and such place. You should come!” the cries of “But applications, but visas…” I uttered sounded like the buzz of a mosquito in my ears. Although they understood my struggle to some extent, the fact that they kept forgetting that I had to apply for a visa, once again showed how unimaginable it is that some of us need to get permission to travel, which sometimes results in rejection.
It is very fortunate that I was able to have these conversations with people in a different country than Turkey but that is my point exactly: It is quite baffling that I, as a human on Earth who did not choose under which circumstances I would be born, have to go through countless procedures to just be present in a different geography for a limited amount of time. That is why, although I am defending that spontaneity, which I touched upon in terms of travelling, is good, I must say that it is also a luxury.
Stop with the politics!
I have never seen anyone else who is more invested in politics than us. This became more and more clear to me during the election period. You don’t realize just how invested you are when everyone else around you is equally invested, but when you mention politics to Europeans once, twice, a third time you become a “model citizen.” Now how do you explain someone why you travelled to another city to vote, why you marked the ballot with extreme care as to not spread the ink, why you gathered to hear the results from various sources and why you all are smoking in a depressive mode?
For them, talking about politics is a choice but for us it is the main topic of conversation. It is more than normal when politics is onto us in every aspect of our lives. However, it is exhausting that all conversations have been infected by politics, at a point where I, myself, am tired of the words that fall out of my mouth. If possible I would like to take a break from uttering the word “Turkey”.
Let’s discuss, so what?
This third topic holds a special place in my heart. One thing I have realized after my conversations with my flatmates as well as the conversations they had amongst themselves is that they are not bothered by the rules of courtesy when expressing their opinions and it is refreshing.
I must admit that when voices rise and the conversation gets heated up so much that it turns into a language you can barely understand, you do end up a little lost at times. Sometimes you find the solution in walking on your tiptoes and sometimes you sit and wait for the verdict to be translated into English for you. However, this tone of arguing is inevitable in any sort of relationship that involves people. That is why it is quite reassuring knowing that if there were any disagreements you could easily open it up to a healthy discussion. Especially when you know that the discussion is going towards a solution on common ground.
If we were to split everything I wrote into two sections, it is evident that I have used the first section to express my complaints about our political disadvantage and the second section as an excuse to thank my friends who have created an environment where I could exist free of judgement, quite the opposite of the extremely toxic environment I had left behind. All jokes aside, although not dying to be European, I do wish that a time comes when in international settings I am unable to recognize Turkish citizens by their weary faces and tired eyes.