Interview with a girl from Tunisia

Which country do you consider to be your country?

Actually, I can´t respond to that directly because I consider both, Tunisia and Turkey, to be my countries. I was born in Tunisia, but I lived in Turkey for two years and I know their culture very well. People would even consider me Turkish. I know all their jokes, all their problems, everything. I really like the Turkish culture and I could consider it my own. If I can get a nationality one day I would really love to get the Turkish one. But I can´t deny that Tunisia is also my country because I was born there, because Tunisians are the people I understand the most. So, I would say that I´m half half.

Do you feel more at home in Turkey or in Tunisia?

Right now in Turkey, because I live there. I know the places where I can have fun at, a lot of my friends are in Turkey – even though I have a lot of friends in Tunisia. But when I go to Tunisia it feels a bit more touristic, because I go there just once a year and it´s for fun and going to the beach. I don´t really feel at home there even though I have my own room and that. So Turkey is definitely my new home now.

Would Turkey also be the country you choose to live in for good?

Yes. I really want to work there. Every day when I wake up in the morning I would just smile and say I´m really happy to be there, you know? Right now, I´m living in Barcelona and when I wake up in the morning I´m like shit I´m still here.

What do you especially like about Turkey?

So – everything actually. The thing I like most is the language, because the language is a very rich one. There are a lot of things I didn´t find in any other language. I speak almost five languages and in all those languages there is nothing as warm and as close to the heart as in the Turkish language. And everything is easy there. Transportation, living there, communication with people – I mean, I´m in love with the country, so I would only say good things about it, even though one euro right now is 70 Turkish lira, so – we´re poor here in Europe.

Where do you live in Turkey?

I live in Istanbul.

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Instanbul, in the nord-west of Turkey

Have you already travelled around there?

Yes, every time I can, I try to travel around. I already visited 16 out to 81 cities. Which is not bad, but not even half of it. But Turkey is a really big country and 16 is already a big achievement for me, since I´ve lived there for 2 years and I´m studying at the same time. So, travelling is not really an option. But I try my best.

Could you tell me some general misconceptions people have about Turkey and Tunisia?

So first, I would start with Tunisia, because it´s the most obvious one. If I tell people I´m from Tunisia, they would think that we live in the desert and we don´t have any computers. When I went to Turkey people would look at me and ask “You have a computer? How did you get it?” And one day I was in the cafeteria of my university and people would ask me “Where did you learn how to use a fork and a knife?” And people sometimes ask, “Do you know how to ride a camel?” No – I don’t know how to ride a camel, we have cars and everything. It´s a normal country. But people always think that Africa is just about people riding camels and eating with their hands.

For Turkey, the thing I hear the most is that people always think that Turkish is the same as Arabic. So, as I am coming from an Arabic country they would think directly that I speak Turkish because it´s the same language. It´s not. Turkish is coming from Persian, Latin and Arabic, but it´s a mix of all the languages, so it´s a very rich one. If you only know Arabic, you wouldn´t understand anything in Turkish. What people also tend to think about Turkish people is that they are all Arabs. That´s not true. They are all mostly Muslims, but they are not Arabs, definitely not.

Where you also already confronted with prejudices about religion?

Yeah, of course. If you´re coming from Tunisia or from Turkey they would directly assume that you´re Muslim. No not necessarily, there is a lot of Jewish and Christian people in Tunisia, we even have an Island full of Jewish people, where there is no other religion. People from Jewish countries would come and visit it. It´s a very sacred place. And in Turkey everyone would consider that you are Muslim too. But there are a lot of atheist people as well that don´t really believe in good.

Do you think people would treat you differently if you would say you´re from Turkey or you´re from Tunisia?

It depends on which county I am in. If I’m in Turkey and if I say I´m Turkish in a shop they would be happier and the prices would be very different. But still, when I´m at university people know that I´m Tunisian. Here, it would be different because people would say: “Oh there´s a foreigner with us, but she speaks Turkish as a Turkish.” So they would be happier to have me there. Sometimes, being Tunisian has its advantages, sometimes being Turkish has it´s advantages. It always depends on the place. But there is one thing: When I´m in Turkey and I say I´m Turkish, everyone would believe it. But if I say I´m Turkish in Tunisia, no one would believe it. They know that I’m Tunisian from my face.

You´ve been living in Spain for a while now – what would you say is the biggest difference between Spain and Turkey and Spain and Tunisia?

The biggest difference is the value of entertainment here. Turkey is definitely a fun country, but no one would every pay 4 euros for a beer in Turkey – which would be 4 multiplied with 7 – so no one would ever pay that. But here people are like: “Ok, so let´s have fun, let´s pay all our money on beer.” Barcelona (since I´m living in Barcelona) is also really diverse city. We were sitting on the table before and everyone was from a different country. In Turkey that doesn’t happen that much. So I think in Spain, the biggest difference would be the diversity of people and how people just can have fun going to the beach. That doesn´t happen neither in Turkey nor in Tunisia. We would go to the beach once a month or twice a month. Here, it´s fun every day.

Before you said Turkey doesn´t attract that many foreigners – why do you think that is that way?

Actually it does. We have tourists everywhere. Only the Asian side of Istanbul – we don´t have that many tourists, because it´s more the Turkish people living there. But on the European side you have a lot of tourists. If you go there, everybody speaks Arabic or some other language. So, it attracts a lot of people, but most people are also afraid to go to Turkey, because they think there are a lot of terrorists, bombs and that. So they would be like: maybe let´s look for a safer destination.

What could you tell those people who are afraid of going to Turkey?

I think everywhere it´s dangerous. If you´re afraid of terror or whatever, it can happen to your country, it can happen basically everywhere. So, just visit the world. Its not about Turkey or about Tunisia, it´s not about any specific country. Just travelling around, discovering new cultures is amazing, so just travel.

As a last statement, would you like to clarify some prejudices you were already confronted with?

africa-political-map-bigger-size

The beautiful diversity of Africa

I really want people to go more to Africa. To go to Europe as the most wanted destination shouldn´t be a thing. Most countries look alike here. In Africa, most countries don´t look alike. If you want to compare Tunisia to Senegal or South Africa, it doesn´t have to do anything with those countries. So Africa is really a diverse continent. Each country is different. Ok let´s say north Africa pretty much looks alike, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco are pretty much the same, but the other ones are really different. And I really want people to discover different destinations. I mean people would like to go to France, but they would not go to Africa. But come on, in Tunisia we even speak English, we speak French we speak a lot of languages. So just travel, try to know different cultures except the popular ones. That would be my eternal thoughts and my advice to people.

 

 

This interview was particular interesting, as I had the amazing opportunity to interview this girl about two different cultures at the same time. It showed me once again that your nationality, your passport doesn´t entirely define who you are. You can choose your culture on your own. Your culture will be the one you feel at home. For me, that´s an amazing shift to people becoming citizens of the world, not only citizens of one single country. We can start getting to know different nationalities on a different level, embrace them until they become our own. Of course, it is hard to completely forget about nationality as we are brought up in a certain environment that has undeniable influence on us. But having a broader sense of what nationality means for you is a really beautiful message.

 

 

 

 

Sources of Images: Google

8 Comments on ““What? You have a computer?”

  1. We appreciate your active participation in helping to make the group a continuing success, and share your great posts Your wonderful images are most welcome in our Bloggers and Travelers FB group and G+ community :-))

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  3. This is an interesting interview, indeed. I wonder why the Tunesian girl is refusing her origin / nationality and chose to be Turkish instead? I wish you would have tred to get to the bottom of this issue.
    In my view, it`s strange. Frankly speaking, I don´t think you can peel off your identity & culture so easily. I am traveling worldwide for 30 years now. I spend years abroad and regarded myself as a world citizen or at least European. Surprisingly, this changed the older I became.
    Today, I feel German to the bones. Passports are just documents. It`s more an issue of culture, tradion, value system, historical memory, emotions, perceptions, loyalty and feeling familiar with people, rules and way of living.
    The underlying basic trust & predictability ref. the society and institutions is very important.
    From my experience, it is not possible at all to get to know the complexe culture of another country within only 2 years – even 5 yrs or life time won´t be sufficient.
    There are a lot of migrants from Tunisia around – in particular in Europe because they want to have a better life. I understand this but why is she denying her native home and everything that`s linked to it?
    Finally, I have to contradict her. Europe is an extremely diverse, colorful region with a rich history. In no other region you have the opportunity to experience so many different cultures, languages, landscape, traditions, arts, architecture, music, food, mentalities and differnt ways of living on such a limited space. Thanks to the great infrastructure, excellent safety and open borders you are able to enjoy country hopping easily without long traveling distances.
    To say European countries are alike allows the assumption that the Tunesian Girl is…let`s say: Very young.
    In my view, it is more interesting, what was not mentioned or questioned in the course of the interview.
    PS: Of Course, prices in Barcelona (Spain = EU member) are different compared to Turkish (= no EU member) pricing. Currency, income levels, living cost & purchsing power are different too.

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    • Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this!
      I think the feeling of nationality depends on the person though – it’s a feeling of where you really belong to. For me, for example, it’s quite easy to shake off the Austrian culture. I don’t deny that I’m from there but I don’t feel Austrian. Right now I feel more European than Austrian, because Europe reflects the environment I’ve been brought up in and the way I think in general. What she meant was, as well, not denying her culture but to embracing a culture she is fascinated with a culture she identifies with.

      But I think this feeling is different for everyone as they are deeply personal. Who you are as a person reflects on were you feel comfortable and which people you consider to be your people.

      I find it very interesting that that feeling of culture changed for you once you became older. But I’m not sure if I would say my traditions define me. In a certain way, yes, but in many ways I feel strongly alienated from these traditions as well as I like to experience a lot of different cultures and traditions and then decide for myself which I consider to be my own.

      Europe is extremely diverse, of course. And no doubt travelling through Europe is an amazing experience as this continente has a very old rich history to offer. But I agree with her that we don’t know enough about Africa. If we watch the news we are usually not informed about anything that goes on there, we don’t know anything about this beautiful and large continent!

      But again thank you so much for your comment I really appreciate your sharing your thoughts on it!

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      • Yes, it was a completely unexpected subtle development. I`ve spend my professional life on all continents admittedly with a preference for Asia, as you can take from Blog. One of the most exciting aspects was and still is that you discover your origin, identity, personality and preferences over time.
        I guess your interview partners are at the beginning of this journey – and finally it´s the journey that counts and not the destination.
        I guess, my self perception change was triggered by a learning process. Living in other countries/ cultures is not just observing and learning from them, it also includes frequent self reflection…literally. It is like looking into a mirror.
        A very simple example: Brimful garbage boxes in public – or missing ones. Why do I notice this tiny detail? Why do I assign importance to this detail? Why do I feel disgusted and a ittle bit anoyed?..while others don`t care at all.
        Why am I disappointed and hurt if a promise is broken? And why am I careful & uneasy with making promises? …while others make promises easily and are Pretty relaxed if they don`t keep it.
        Or changing perspectives, why do thers think Germans are suffering from a lack of Humor? What Kind of Humor do we enjoy and what makes others laugh? And why ( I think of Japanese humor especially)?
        Why do others think Germans are impolite / a bit too much straightforward? If so, is it sth. bad -or should there be compromise?
        What`s about our atmosphere of constructive debate in contrast to e.g. consensus-focused societies(like Switzerland)? From my experience the Underlying Problem is the fact that other cultures are not used to differentiate between yourself as individual and the mere subject / Topic. Any criticism is perceived as a personal offense. Germans are able to enjoy and celebrate Arguments (like game, as I learnt as a child from my Father)…even if it becomes louder & emotional. If the dispute is finished, we continue to appreciate each other without eeling insulted. We are also able to agree to disagree.
        The best lesson is to experience disappointment due to unfulfilled expectations. Why do I feel disappointed? What did I expect and why?
        There are thousands of examples and conclusions. Actually, I got know my own culture, history, arts, musics, Food …. quite late….while traveling.
        And when I was in my 20ties it was hip to distance oneself from the own nationality – in particular if you are blessed with an unpopular one, like being German.
        Of Course, you can chose preferences in behavior Patterns, traditions (e.g. I am in Zen) etc. but identity is no self Service Supermarket. From my experience everybody has got a core and foundation on which he Building his house.
        Finally, you Gather experience, perceive and assess your Environment in the context of this Background….like in a Kind of benchmark process. Every perception is selective. Every evaluation & preference subjective bcs you´re not starting from scratch. In fact, everybody creating his own reality by doing so.
        My roots, my foundation and my background is German / Northern European, no doubt. Deep inside, I am German for the good and bad. Secondly, I am an European.
        And that´s fine with me. It would be a big loss if this kind diversity disppaears due to the concept (or illusion?) of so called global citizens. To be honest, sometimes I´ve got the suspicion that this Concept is also a litle bit elitist and vain…
        However, I like your idea of a series of interviews excellent.
        Thank youfor sharing your insights.
        Ganbatte Kusadai! Weiter so, gebe dein Bestes!

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      • Of course, I can imagine my self-perception changing a lot. Your right, all people I am interviewing are at the beginning of their journey – as I am myself. It is a process, of course. I find it very interesting, that you chose Asia for yourself, for example. As I said, I´m still learning, still at the beginning of my journey and really excited what is yet to come.
        I can only agree with you that a lot of people take it personal when they are confronted with a prejudice against their culture. But these images are just pre-made in peoples´ heads and can easily be re-shaped during a explanatory, calm discussions.
        I understand your problem with promisses as I have been brought up in a similar environment where we tend to take promisses very seriously. So it´s hard to tell yourself not to take it too personal if someone does not keep what he promissed.
        Living abroad we have to constantly ask ourselves how we deal with a different culture if it is very different from our own. But for me, that´s the beauty in it. In my own ocuntry I would never have learned so much as I did in a few moths of living abroad. I think it is really beautiful how you can create your life like this.
        I have to say I like the concept of citizens of the world as a unity of respect. As people who can all exists next to each other, who have experienced various different cultural backgrouds and who live together in harmony. I know that´s a very futuristic concept, but that´s something I´d really love seeing some day.
        Thank you! You too ❤

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  4. Yes, the concept of global citizens is tempting. Finally, we `re sitting in the same boat called “earth” – and we have to jointly resolve issues of vital importance, like climat change, pollution, peace, decreasing natural resurces etc.

    On the other hand from an identity and cultural perspective, it would be a loss to equalize or level ourselves. I enjoy diversity a lot. In order to live together with others smoothly, it is quite helpful to get to know yourself well. As already highlighted, it`s not possible to ignore your own roots in a long run. That`s at least the lesson I learnt. Looking forward to your next interveiw!

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