Well, I’ve passed close to a month and a half studying abroad in Greece and I think it’s safe to say that at this point, the honeymoon period is over. Not to say I don’t love Athens and the experience I’m having here, I think I’ve just gained a more realistic understanding of the city in quite a few different ways. For example, today I had one of the most unpleasant encounters yet. For some background, I absolutely love cooking. It de-stresses me, I love the artistry of combining flavors, and I enjoy feeding people. So when I went to the grocery store today and saw that fresh blue crabs cost 4.50 euro per kilo, I had to buy some. Unlike in the U.S. though, here in Greece they only sell them alive, without rubber bands on their claws. So, when I got up to the cash register I set a thin plastic bag of clawing crabs on the counter in such a way that the cashier wouldn’t have to touch the crabs. Unfortunately for her and I both, she picked the bag up anyway. A crab grabbed her finger, and when she started speaking rapid Greek I couldn’t figure out what was happening until I realized she was bleeding and the guy behind me in line had to unclench the claw from her hand. I was thoroughly mortified, and felt absolutely terrible for the cashier (she was close to tears at this point) whose day I had undoubtedly ruined. The entire store was staring at me and I all but ran out the door as soon as I had paid. The victim was okay, but needless to say I didn’t feel bad when I turned her attackers into a topping over fettuccine.
Beyond that, the language barrier has been giving me trouble, since for some reason after I say a few words in Greek the people here get very excited and quickly continue the conversation far beyond what my limited vocabulary can grasp. I guess these experiences are what everyone meant when they warned me of culture shock.
It’s not all bad though, not by any means. Recently College Year in Athens (CYA) took us on our first school wide field trip to Peloponnese, and it was absolutely beautiful. We spent five days traveling through Nafplio, Sparta, and Olympia. Nafplio was my favorite. Surrounded by ocean on three sides, the views were gorgeous. I’m an ocean girl at heart so this was paradise in a scholarly setting.
In Nafplio we were able to see an incredible cave people once inhabited from the Bronze Age as well as elaborate Mycenaean graves.
In Olympia we saw some of the greatest altars built for the gods, an incredible museum with statues of Zeus and the Olympians in action, and the site of the original Olympic games. All along the entrance of the Olympic stadium were small statues built by athletes in the Olympics who had cheated- an ancient wall of shame, if you will.
So at this point it seems that I’m beginning to really settle into life here, taking the good with the bad just like anywhere else.
Until next time,