Hello! I just got back from the Greek Consulate in LA. It was an interesting experience to say the least, and I think I learned a lot about Greek culture just from the visit. The lady behind the counter greeted me by shoving a clipboard in my face and telling me to sign in. “Do you have an appointment?”
"Yes," I said. She eyed me. I figured it was Cynthia, the woman who had been ignoring my phone calls on-and-off for the last 2 months. She was wearing a purple tracksuit with sequins down the side and very high leopard print heels. I have included a visual, I guessed that taking a picture of the ensemble was rude. I signed in and sat to wait.
The woman next to me must have heard me. “First time visiting?” she said.
"Yes, I am studying abroad."
"Oh, where?" (I am getting used to these questions…) We spoke about my trip and she told me that she had dual citizenship and spent summers in Athens. I could tell, because her wrinkly skin was bright orange from tanning. She was wearing fancy leather sandals, which I have decided I would like a pair of when I get there.
I was called back to the window. Cynthia sat down behind the slot in the glass and told me to give her my documents one by one. I slipped my passport through the glass and she inspected it. I started pushing different pieces of paper through the slot, they fell onto the counter, she would grab them and peer at them over her tiny glasses.
"This one," she said, looking at my affadavit of financial security (a fancy form saying I will not go broke and become a hobo in the country of Greece), "has to be notarized."
"No it doesn’t," I said (oh my god, how was I saying this? This woman controlled my visa decision!). "The checklist didn’t say that." I handed her the checklist that the consulate had provided on the website.
"Fine. I will ask." She sent me back to my chair and took my application through the back of the office.
Meanwhile, the woman with dual citizenship started talking to me. She was full of practical advice, which I loved. She told me to buy a cell phone in the U.S. and get a sim card for it later, that I should stockpile sunblock and cosmetics before I go, and that no, I could not “go for a jog,” because if I wore running shorts the Greek men would chase me. I couldn’t tell if she was joking or not, but probably not, because she added that I would be wise to invest in a stun gun.
"You mean a taser?"
"Yes," she said, completely casual, "I have one disguised as a cell phone. I hold it in my hand when I’m on the metro."
Good to know.