My Greek is not very good. I speak a “lee-go” greek, meaning very little. But, I can tell I am improving by the age of the people I can talk to. At first, I could only talk to cats. I said “ya sou” to a lot of stray cats just to prove I could say “hi” in Greek. This was generally frowned upon by other people on the street, so I chose a new tactic— talking to babies. Babies are easy, because all they can say is “ya sou,” and that’s all I can say back anyway. But in the past couple weeks, my Greek vocabulary grew. I could feel myself preparing to move on to the next level of conversation, a level that was achieved a few nights ago as I stood next to the metro station late at night waiting for my friends.
There was a group of boys, probably elementary school age, playing soccer in the street. (Greek parents seem to let their kids stay out pretty late without supervision). They kicked the soccer ball around me, treating me like an inanimate obstacle that had been placed in the middle of their field. One bold child, who I estimate was eight years old, stepped out of the group, lunging one foot forward and throwing his hands up in the air. “CAN YOU UNDERSTAND ME?” he screamed.
That’s a pretty complex sentence of English for a small child. “NAI!” I screamed back. He was shocked. Did I really know Greek?
“Apo pou eisai?” he said (Where are you from?).
“Apo teen Ameriki,” I replied.
He giggled. “Pou? Pou?”
“Arizona,” I said.
“Oooh,” he said, shaking his hips and waving his arms up and down like a Flamenco dancer. “Ar-ee-zone-a!”
What kind of dance was that? What did he think of Arizona? That it involved belly dancing? Exotic people? Language barriers prevented me from asking. He ran off, kicking the soccer ball back into his group of friends. But I was satisfied, knowing I had graduated to the next level of Greek conversation.
Hi! Sadly I only have a month to go so I think I’ll stick to this blog :) Any other study abroaders out there who are interested? Check ‘em out!
Today I am working on my final paper. The prompt? “Solve the Greek economic crisis in 3000 words or less. Cite sources if you’d like.”
Easy stuff, you know.
Woohoo! I know this is a tiny accomplishment and all but thank you for following me. I am so happy when we get to talk and share travel tips, plans, or dreams! :)
Thanks! I still love Greece and I am enjoying it. This is definitely teaching me to grow a bit of a thicker skin about what people think of me. I usually care so much if someone doesn’t like me, but here, I just can’t. It doesn’t matter if some people don’t like me because of who I am. And I have met some very nice Greek people so I am just trying to focus on them instead! :)
Well, Greece, it seems our honeymoon-euphoric-I-love-this-country phase has ended. I knew it would eventually. Perhaps it happened the moment I learned enough Greek to realize when someone is making fun of me. Or the day I realized how humid and dirty Athens can be in the summer months. Or the day I sprained my ankle on a ferry and fell face first in front of about 80 Greek citizens.
Or Greece? Or life in general?
I am stuck in bed all week, please ask! :)
I fell on a step and
twisted sprained my ankle on the ferry ride back. I was thinking of pulling a McDonald’s drive thru customer “I didn’t know the coffee was hot” law suit, but I’m pretty sure Greece doesn’t work that way.
The Greek elections were on Sunday. It was an odd day, in terms of behavior. I got in a cab and the driver drove under the speed limit. I walked through the center of town and there was no one there. My bus driver stopped, and then sped away without letting any passengers on. It was like everyone was in a dream, floating to the ballot boxes without looking before they crossed the streets.
I did a lot of jet-setting this month, which was great, but I am so glad to be back in Athens, and I don’t want to leave for a long time.
I realize that I have made a home here.
It’s a really cool feeling.
I am half way through studying abroad, so you could say I’m having a mid-study abroad life crisis. Here is my list of things I wanted to do and things I still have to do!
__ Trick someone into thinking I am Greek
X Sea Kayak on Milos
__ Get off at every metro stop in Athens
__ Read a children’s book in Greek
__ Go to Greek soccer game
X Make 1 Greek friend
__ Go to an outdoor movie theater
X Haggle at the flea market
X Fight in the Galaxidi Flour War
__ Visit Meteora
__ Run the original Marathon route
__ Get a ride on a Vespa
X Stay up until the sun rises
__ Stay out all night on the beach in Glyfada
__ Visit the Valley of the Butterflies on Rhodes
X Pee. Somewhere in Athens. Outside.
X Visit Delphi
X Do some Greek dancing at a Bouzoukia
__ Visit a Rembetika (basically a Greek jazz club)
X Find and hang out with Greek hipsters
__ Find the best gyros in Athens
Phew! I have a lot of work to do!
Be a treasure box of happy memories.
This was a tip from Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project, that I think works very well for study abroad. Sometimes being miles away from home will get you down. You will think about how you went through all of Easter Sunday not knowing it was Easter and how chocolate bunnies cost $7 and how your parents didn’t email you and all your study abroad friends were out of town and on and on and on.
Stop the spiral. Buffer your life with happy memories to prevent sadness from shaking you up so much. Collect happy moments in any way you can- in your mind, in photographs, in quotes, in decorations on your wall. Finding a way to preserve those perfect moments that happen while traveling is so essential to me. If I don’t do it, I don’t really process or appreciate them. Documenting the happy stuff in pictures and writing helps me when I am sad, because I can reread the journal entries and look through the photographs.
Be your own treasure chest of happiness. It makes being homesick a little less sickening.
Anyone have any travel tips? :)
Seriously. I have never heard someone say “I wish I didn’t study abroad.” Have you?