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.
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?
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