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6 weeks in Turkey? Safe?

I'm planning on doing a 6 week homestay next summer and I'm considering Turkey, however my parents seem to think that would not be safe. I'd be living with a Turkish family that had been interviewed by the program I'm going through and I'm sure there would be no issues, but my parents think that me, a blond American boy of 15 years, would be unsafe there. Keep in mind, it took me a few days to convince my mom that Poland was safe, she's still has the mindset of somebody living in the 1970's and 80's about eastern Bloc Countries.


Posted by
990 posts

Turkey is safe as can be, assuming that your homestay is not in southeast Turkey in the Kurdish region. Then there is a tiny chance you could be caught up in anti-govenment violence. (And I do mean a tiny chance--I've traveled there as a single woman and had no problems whatsoever.) I would guess that your homestay is somewhere in Western Turkey, far from any Kurdish unrest.

I wouldn't worry about altercations between you and other Turkish youths as one might in Germany. There are tensions in Germany because Turks perceive that they are discriminated against in Germany and many Germans are overtly hostile to their presence. That's a recipe for unpleasant interactions. But that situation does not exist in the slightest in Turkey itself.

If I were your parent, I would worry much less about your safety in Turkey than in most other European cities where crime, drug use, and heavy alcohol-fueled partying is more common.

Posted by
253 posts

Well, Peter, I might mention something. We were in Istanbul two years ago, (off a ship) and took in the sights there on our own. We went to the Grand Bazaar while there. Inside, after walking around for some time, we decided to stop for a drink. A nice couple beckoned us to join them in the crowded little cafe. We thought that was friendly and we iniitially thought the dark haired fellow and his very blonde and blue eyed girlfriend were Turkish and northern European respectively. Turned out, he was French and she was a blonde haired, blue eyed Turk, born and raised.

May not mean anything during a six week stay, but just goes to show you that you might not stand out all that much after all.

Posted by
881 posts

In Western Turkey, blonds don't stand out that much. My Turkish friend's entire family is dirty blond.

It's funny Peter, Americans are so very afraid of sending their children to other countries. Yet statistically, we are the most violent Western nation with an average of 30k gun deaths per year. Not to mention 50k motor vehicle deaths per year.
Statistically speaking, you're probably safer in Western Turkey, than in Portland.

I think the best thing to do is maybe rent some videos (Ricks?) and books on Turkey, and educate them. Most US folks don't realize Western Turkey is pretty much European. Take some time to let them know! Anyhoo, hope all that helps.

PS - Our local library had tonnes of books and DVD's. Check yours out!

Posted by
881 posts

PS - Echoing Jer on the German/Turks thing. I think that is pretty much a regional thing. Germany imports Turks for cheap labor. Turks eventually get mad about being paid less, yada, yada. Pretty much a regional thing. You don't find it in other coutnries, more or less so than you would with any other immigrant minority group.