We often have preconceived notions of a place or people due to whatever outside opinions. I know that a previous preconceived notion I had was that to be able to visit place in Europe, you needed to have extensive money in your bank account. I now know that is not true. As long as you have a goal and passion, you can travel wherever you want to go. I had the privilege of talking to a man from Spain recently, who visited Athens for the first time. During our conversation I had the pleasure to see our different views on what we both thought Greece to be. It was interesting because I thought most europeans visited their neighboring countries all the time since they were in close proximity of each other. Just like us in the States, you visit other places when you have the chance and even I haven’t been to all fifty states just yet. But you have stereotypical views of a place.
The first thing the man told me was he thought of Greece as a “lesser” country. Which contradicted with my own opinion of Greece. I’ve always seen Greece as this mystical place that lovers and solo-backpackers go to. I never thought of it as a “lesser” country. I knew that it had its own financial troubles and some political conflict but that was the same to me in any other country. The man continued on to tell me how, Madrid, was much more advance than Greece. That once when he was in Athens Central Market, he saw a man start a car next to the meat and other products. He said that was beneath Madrid, and if that man was to attempt that in Spain, he would be fined and shut down for business. I understood but I believe that to be common for lots of places. He went on to say, that there are certain regulations and conducts that he believed all place should abide by. I respected his ideas but from my point of view, Greece was a new and exciting place and I was simply taking in all the sights.
Lastly he started to comment on the aesthetics of Athens. He said the city was much more dirty, small, and not as cultured as Spain. Having been to both Madrid and Athens, I can say both seem fairly cultured to me. If we want to compare more diverse restaurants than yes, Madrid has more but that does not constitue whether a place is more “cultured.” From what I’ve seen so far and the people that I’ve met Greece can stand just as tall as the rest of the countries. From my conversation with the man, I’ve come to learn it is better if we push away what we think is right. To understand cultural relativism more, and that there is no objective standard to compare one culture over another. If we don’t, we’re doomed to fall into the same judgemental patterns.