Turkey’s culture is rich with diversity. The country is situated partially in Asia and eastern Europe. The culture is shaped by its Middle Eastern roots, but also incorporates Western characteristics into its traditions and society. Similar to other cultures, Turkish teens go to school, hang out with their friends and spend time with their families.
The Youth for Understanding intercultural exchange program provides details about a typical teenager's school experience in Turkey. The school day for teenagers in Turkey typically starts at 8 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. In a handbook for host families of Turkish participants, the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program suggests that kids focus on their education and do not have jobs while they are in school. Also, students do not choose their class schedule in Turkey. The schools choose the subjects that are taught in the classrooms. During the school day, students will stay in the same classroom while the teachers rotate from room to room. Tests make up the majority of a student’s grade. Daily assignments and homework have very little effect -- if any -- on grades in secondary school.
The family, including the extended family, is vitally important in Turkey. According to the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program, parents are involved with decisions about friends, relationships, education and how their children spend their free time. The elderly are highly respected and grandparents are very involved in their grandkids' lives. Retirement homes are uncommon, so it is common for grandparents to live in the same household. Dinner is used as a time to catch up and talk. Families typically dine together at 7 or 8 p.m. Teenagers spend time with their families eating, dining out, going to movies, watching television at home or visiting extended family members and neighbors. Parents -- especially mothers -- are very interested in their teenager's life and want to know what is happening on a daily basis. Parents also expect to know where their child is at all times.
Teenagers get together outside of school and hang out at each other’s houses. The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program points out that other popular activities for teenagers include going to the movies, concerts, discos, museums or a variety of other cultural activities. Close girl friends often hold hands while boys will often link arms with their close male friends. Public displays of affection are frowned upon. Some teenagers participate in extracurricular activities such as sports or theater. Typically, teenagers focus on one activity and practice it all year. Soccer -- known as football -- is the most popular sport in Turkey. Other sports Turkish teens enjoy include swimming, volleyball and tennis.
Turkey prides itself on its religious freedom, and most teenagers in Turkey follow Islam. Information from AFS Intercultural Programs suggests that religion influences a variety of aspects of a teen’s life including food and holidays. Muslims do not eat pork, so the majority of Turkish teenagers do not eat this type of meat. According to AllAboutTurkey.com, Ramadan is a month-long celebration that takes place in the ninth month of the Islam calendar. This religious observance is a time for prayer and fasting. Practicing Muslims, including teenagers, fast from sun up to sun down during Ramadan.