Thankfully, I live near enough my university that I can walk there every day. It only takes about fifteen minutes. I can also walk into the city center, though this takes at least thirty minutes. I can also take a dolmuş, or a minibus, to get there. This is probably the most common method of transportation in Turkey. When I ride this anywhere in town, I pay 1.25 TL, which is about sixty cents. The dolmuş takes me to the mall, city center, or the bus station, and leaves right from my neighborhood.
When I am traveling on the weekends, I might take a dolmuş – or a big bus – depending on where I am headed. There are all different types of dolmuş, and they usually have character, meaning they often have unique decorations. There is a man driving (always a man, never a woman) and also a helper. Sometimes this helper is a young boy, maybe twelve years old. This person takes everyone’s money once they are on, and also calls out the destination in order to attract more passengers. It is really a practical idea that might be nice to try in the United States. The dolmuş has a main route, and people just call out for it to stop whenever they want off
For me, riding on the dolmuş generally means practicing my Turkish. People have their own seats, but once it gets crowded, the helper adds stools between the seats and really packs the people in. So, you can’t really help but get to know your neighbor. After all, you might be riding right next to them for an hour or two (usually if I am traveling for much longer than this, I take a big bus).
If there are children on board, everyone interacts with them. Turkish people seem to love children. As opposed to the US, where people are more hands-off when it comes to children they don’t know, people here are hands on. It is perfectly acceptable for strangers to ruffle a child’s hair or hold someone else’s baby. Sometimes everyone in the dolmuş, which could be up to twenty or so people, will pass a baby around and participate in getting the baby to quit crying. It generally works. So, riding the dolmuş is a good way to get to know the people of Turkey.
Most students at the university, even though they are old enough, do not drive cars. In Turkey, one can get their driver’s license when they are eighteen, but it is more expensive than in the US. Driving here is also much more dangerous. People do not obey traffic rules at all. I have never seen anyone pulled over for speeding, even though there are speed limits. People do not always stop at stop signs, and sometimes they drive on the wrong side of the road—even on the highway! There are also a lot of pedestrians, and they do not always look out for cars very well. Some people are also riding bikes precariously, partly because the roads are so bumpy. I have witnessed many car wrecks. Basically, driving is pretty crazy.
There are trains in some places, but unlike Europe, they take a long time. They are not always on time, and there is more freight train traffic than passenger car traffic, so trains carrying people get last priority. I have taken the train to Adana before, but it is quicker to take a big bus or a dolmuş.