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Ayça sets the facts straight about Turkey. (And turkeys)

“I was asked if girls went to school in Turkey! 200 years ago they didn’t, but I doubt they did that in other countries. And I was asked why I don't wear a hijab. That’s my personal choice, I just don’t wear it. But I have relatives and friends who wear it, and I think Turkey is one of the few countries where you can see both, which I think is nice. Turkey is predominantly Muslim even though in the law it doesn’t state it’s an islamic country. It is not ruled by Sharia law.”

Wasn’t Turkey one of the first countries to give women the vote?
“Yes, 1930 if I am not mistaken. After Mustafa Kemal Atatürk founded the Republic of Turkey. He wanted women and men to have equal rights. First, women could vote in smaller elections, like mayors of villages and cities, then they could vote for the president and prime minister, then they could run for presidency. Which is really nice.”

Any other misconceptions about Turkey you want to straighten out?
“People also think Istanbul is still the capital. I’ve even heard someone calling Turkey the Ottoman Empire which is one of the most bizarre things I’ve heard.”

Really!? How old was that person?
“My age. I think they were very keen on playing historical video games. 1923 I think is when the Empire officially ended.”

Other questions you get a lot?
“One of them is if we eat turkey, which is crazy, because obviously we do. The word for Turkey is Türkiye, the land of the Turks, and the bird is actually ‘hindi’, which is the word for people from India. The second is if we ride camels in Turkey, which is incorrect. There aren’t even deserts in Turkey.”

What do you particularly like about Turkey?
“I think the women voting rights is a really nice thing! And Istanbul is the only city that’s located on two continents. And the food! Turkish cuisine was influenced by the Greeks, Arabs, Armenians, everyone kind of added their own twist to the food, so it's very rich. There are seven regions in Turkey, each with its own food: In the South, you’ll taste spicy food and heavier desserts, in the West, it’s more influenced by the Greeks, so you'll have more olive oil and less meat.”

Anything you miss?
“In Turkey, we have these bazaars where once a week people will come and sell their things like new produce, clothes, etc. When they sell it, they scream, like ‘two for one’, and I miss that nice chaotic environment. I miss the food a lot. And the language. And the weather.”