Things Greek professors say:
To really enjoy this post, you need to first picture a man with wild white hair and thick black eyebrows who wears suspenders and a bright orange shirt to class every day. Ta-da! You are picturing my Economics of the Greek Crisis professor!
“You need to take off your shoes and put them in someone else’s problem.”
“Depends the case.”
“Rice, you are great example this semester.”
“That was my first online flirt.” (Talking about online dating)
“What are you doing this weekend? Take some pictures of burning down the Athens?”
“There are too many channels about gardening.”
“Whatever is that.”
“Don’t go around the bush, just say it!”
“Initially I thought of being a porn star…”
“I believe in group work only in the army and in football.”
“You know, of course, that Italians are very sexy.”
“Today we have a guest, so please stop shouting and throwing knives as you normally do.”
“Hello, something happened to your hair.” (When someone came in with a haircut)
“My ideal woman is one who is provocatively sexy and also aristocratic.”
“Is this how you normally sneeze?”
Greek Lessons with Eight-Year-Olds
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.
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.
Who won the Greek elections?
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.
The Study Abroad List
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!
Study Abroad Resolution #4:
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.
Study Abroad Resolution #2:
You know when someone asks you if you want to go out at night to play Backgammon and you say “Eh, I might just chill out tonight.” No? Well, Greek people love Backgammon, so prepare for the invite. Or, when your friend from class says, “I’m going dancing until dawn in Psirri. Want to join me?” And you say, “I actually have to work on a paper, I’m sorry.”
Don’t do that. Unless someone is offering you drugs or telling you to steal something, say yes. When is the last time you said yes to every invitation you were offered? For me, the answer was never. The idea of going home and chilling out is so appealing to me that I feel comfortable turning down invitations. I made it my goal not to do that while I am abroad.
When you say “no,” you know where you’re going. When you say “yes,” you never know where you will end up! So far, saying “yes” has lead me to: a night of Greek dancing, watching the sunset as I come home from a night on the town, the best gyros I ever could have discovered, new Greek friends, and unexpected neighborhoods.
More & Less: Things to do while traveling