October 4, 2021
It’s crazy to think that I’ve been in Greece for a little over a month at this point! I’ve fallen into a nice routine and feel comfortable in Agia Paraskevi, the suburb of Athens where my apartment is located, and Athens itself.
My roommate Abby and I discovered a local bakery on the walk to class that has the best espresso beverages and breakfast pastries. I’m still shocked by how cheap food is here — I can get a latte and a donut big enough to share for €4 ($4.62). The beauty of the area and the yummy food has almost made me a morning person! As we were running through our plans for the day, I realized that I started calling our apartment home. I’ve been fortunate to have such kind roommates who make this experience all the more enjoyable.
This past weekend, I went to the island of Santorini with my roommates Mary Grace and Darby (Abbby went to Milos with friends). The warm weather is slowly drawing to a close here so we’re trying to take advantage while we still can. As usual, the hospitality shown to us was overwhelming and much appreciated. We rode horses along the coast and had dinner with an amazing view in Oia. We met up with friends from our apartment complex and enjoyed a nice night out as we talked about future weekend travel plans potentially outside of Greece.
As our Greek language class progresses, I’ve been picking up on more and more of the everyday exchanges and phrases all around. It’s interesting that English is the default on the islands because in Agia Paraskevi, people almost exclusively lead with Greek. I assume this is due to places like Mykonos and Santorini being tourist destinations but I’ve been having conflicting feelings about language lately.
The university program advisors assured us that English would be widely spoken and that knowledge of Greek language would not be necessary to study here. I didn’t think much about it before arriving, honestly. But now that I’m engaging with so many new people, not being able to speak Greek feels disrespectful. In America, I feel like there’s very little tolerance for people who can’t speak English in places like supermarkets and restaurants. Even though I am a visitor and I am a foreigner, I rely upon other peoples’ ability to speak my language in these settings.
Maybe I’m being too hard on myself. Knowing what I know now though, I would have better prepared myself for basic interactions in Greek. Things as simple as hello and thank you go a long way. I think some of the pressure comes from being surrounded by people who speak multiple languages. Hearing others seamlessly switch between upwards of three to four languages has made me more interested in acquiring those kills myself. The best thing I can do going forward is study hard and practice out in public. I’m heading to Greek class now! Until next week :)