I could not have asked for a better group of people to share my study abroad experience with. We are all different but in a good way. All of our personalities mesh well together and we all get along very well. I am looking forward to getting close to them during the time I am here in Greece. Not only do I get to learn about the Greek culture, but I also get to learn about the cultures of different areas of the United States, Italy, England, and Namibia. I share an apartment with three other girls. My roommate and I are from the U.S. but from different areas. She is from the Midwest while I am from the Southeast. My other two apartment mates are from Italy and Namibia. One of the things I love about being in Greece is being able to experience other cultures first hand and being able to hear people talk in their native tongues.
I have been here about seven weeks and I am already beginning to feel like a local. I know how to use the public transportation to get from Aghia Paraskevi to various parts of Athens, such as Glyfada (a suburb of Athens) and the Center of Athens (aka Downtown Athens). We have made several mistakes along the way, but the journeys have provided us with a chance to get closer to one another.
We went on our first excursion organized by the study abroad program in mid-September to Hydra Island. It is one of the Saronic islands located about an hour and a half off the shore of Athens. One of the unique things about Hydra is that there are no cars. The only modes of transportation on the island are by foot or donkey. I actually rode my first donkey there with three of my friends. We started the excursion by having a tour of the island then we were allowed to explore the island on our own for a few hours. After we explored all the main touristy spots and of course the Aegean Sea, we all reunited and had lunch at one of the local taverns. It turned out to be a perfect day. We were able to form tighter friendships and immerse ourselves in a peaceful and tranquil environment.
I am definitely going to miss aspects of the Greek culture when I return home. Greeks have taught us how to stop constantly running around rushing and just enjoy life and live in the moment. I love meeting friends at Caffeine (a café located right outside the gates of Deree) and sitting there for hours while chatting and playing Backgammon. During these coffee outings, two of the girls are slowly teaching me some phrases in Greek that I can use for everyday situations, such as “Would you like to go for coffee?” which is “Thelies na pame yia kafe?”. Day by Day I am getting closer to my goal of being able to speak Greek.
My friends and I are embracing the Greek culture and trying to learn as much as possible about it. About a week ago, we had a Greek dance session where we learned some of the most famous traditional Greek dances. Before the class, I was somewhat familiar with the dances because I have seen and danced them at Greek festivals and Greek weddings in the United States. During the session, I was able to improve upon what I already knew and learn some new dances. My friends and I had a lot of fun learning the steps and actually dancing around the dance studio to Greek music. Now we cannot wait to go out in Greece and join the locals.