Turkey – the best adventure of our lives

Turkey – let’s gooo!!!!

Sunshine, traditional Turkish kebab, great atmosphere, but before we go into details, let’s start with a few words about the project thanks to which we managed to experience the adventure of a lifetime.

Erasmus+ is an EU programme enabling participation in international exchanges funded by the European Union. Our school is taking part in a project entitled „Before it’s too late”, which aims to develop an awareness of the environment and how to take care of our planet. The exchange is a collaboration of 6 schools from Poland, Romania, Croatia and Turkey. 

Our first meeting took place in sunny Turkey, in the town of Nazilli, where we tried to help our planet almost every day by debating with international climate protection experts about how to reduce our carbon footprint or protect the environment from global warming.

A couple of interesting facts – the 'residential culture’

Our project lasted only one week, however, even in such a short time we were able to experience a lot of differences, not only in terms of climate but also in terms of culture. First and foremost, we encountered a „residential culture”. This is the popularity of owning flats rather than detached houses, of which there are many in Poland. It is also worth mentioning that we always left our shoes at the front door, in the stairwell or before entering the house. However, this was not the end of the surprises. 

Kebabs, but not only…

Meals matter a lot in Turkey, as our stomachs discovered extremely quickly. First of all, the lunch break definitely lasts longer than 20 minutes and you don’t always have to settle for a cheese sandwich during this time, as there is a thriving school shop where you can buy anything your heart desires, from desserts to casseroles.

Another experience that enabled us to gain a deeper insight into Turkish culture was the opportunity to taste traditional Middle Eastern dishes. This allowed us to learn more not only about the country’s cuisine but also about the customs there. One of these was abstinence from pork and animal blood in any form.  

Our favourite dish turned out to be lahmacun. Even after the first bite, everyone unanimously agreed that this was the meal that would top the ranking. It is a kind of Turkish pizza consisting of thin dough lined with minced meat. It is usually served with a portion of vegetables and sauces on a separate plate. After putting them on top, the dough is wrapped and eaten like tortillas. 

What’s more, a very popular Turkish delicacy is the well-known baklava – layers of filo pastry layered with chopped nuts and, once baked, topped with syrup made from water sugar and lemon juice. Cut into rhomboids, triangles and squares, it is so sweet that it is difficult to eat more than two pieces. Despite this, it delights with its incredible flavour.

The Turkish definition of kebab was also quite a surprise. It does not look like the one sold in Poland and, interestingly, there are nine types of this dish. There is often a dürüm option on the menu of Turkish restaurants. This means that the kebab of our choice will be served as a takeaway version – wrapped in a thin scone. Typically, this type of kebab is quite different to the full dish served on a plate, which may additionally include various edible garnishes such as grilled vegetables.

After each delicious meal, whether in a restaurant or café, we were given wet wipes to disinfect our hands. Some places even took care of our fresh breath. However, it was not gums that were the saviours here, but… cloves!

Ancient cities and some limestone…

We also took part in two excursions outside Nazilli. The first trip was to the ancient city of Ephesus, and under the watchful eye of a guide, we walked through its ruins, learning about the history of this beautiful place. According to Greek legends, it was founded by the Amazons and its patroness was Artemis, often personified with them. Coins minted in Ephesus as early as the 4th century BC featured a bee as a symbol of the city and its goddess. The stadium, which has now been partially demolished, still hosts camel wrestling to this day. 

After leaving this magical place filled with history, we drove to Sirince. It is a small village of about 700 inhabitants, where Christians settled. The town filled with beautiful steep streets is full of stalls where you can buy souvenirs, handicrafts or olives, for which the place is famous.  

The day after, we visited Pamukkale and the ruins of the city of Hierapolis – places that are definitely on your must-visit list if you are going to Turkey. „The holy city” (from the Greek) has been destroyed many times due to seismic movements, yet to this day it has been preserved so well that we can feel as if we have stepped back in time a few thousand years. 

While in the area of Hierapolis, one cannot forget Pamukkale, which is famous for its naturally occurring thermal springs and the pool where, according to legend, Cleopatra herself bathed. What’s more, there are beautiful 'limestone terraces’, formed by the precipitation of calcium carbonate from the thermal water as it cools. It is thanks to this chemical reaction that we can admire the breathtaking limestone hills lined with small springs, which also have medicinal properties.

The disco, the match and the saddest thing of all, which is the time to say goodbye…

Trips, school, helping the planet, but what then…

This was the question we asked ourselves every day after classes ended. However, as our international group was already very well integrated from the very beginning, the answer was simple – Turkish coffee!!!!!

Every day after school we spent time together learning about Turkish culture, sampling delicacies and even playing sports. 

Team Erasmus faced Team Turkey, the competition was fierce and the fun was great. However, we will leave the outcome shrouded in mystery….

The following evening, we attended a ceremony to award certificates to the Erasmus participants. After the official part, the disco started. We danced the whole evening, and from the loudspeakers, we could hear the traditional dances of each of the participating countries. 

of the countries participating in the project.

Two days later it was time to say goodbye. None of us expected to get so close in just a week, but we came to the conclusion that this is what these projects are all about – international friendship.