Thursday September 29, 2016

My Greece Experience

By Alexandria Erin

Expectations vs. Reality

 

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of what I was most “shocked” by coming to Greece was when we entered Piraeus and Athens, how dirty the buildings were and how much the vegetation was suffering. It was not like this everywhere, however, it was most prevalent in these two parts of the main land.  

Another thing I observed was lot of the houses looked started but not finished. When I asked about this I was told that a lot of Greek people don’t finish their houses because if they do they are taxed more so by not finishing them they were taxed less.

A positive reality was that I was very taken back by the beautiful green mountains as my tour group and I ventured outside of the city and up the mountain the a local Vineyard.

English

Another, more pleasant, surprise was how much English there was. Not just spoken but also on signs and in the restaurant. I was not expecting there to be signs with so many English translations.

Proximity

 The non-verbal communication was different than I expected as well.  I was expecting the Greek people to be more theatrical with their body language when they talked; however, my experience was not like this at all. The body movement when Greeks were talking with me was calm, however the proximity was very close. My perception of personal space no longer mattered in Greece. There was no such thing as “the bubble,” it’s as if I were wearing a sign that said: “I would love to be able to feel your breath on my cheek.” I only truly experienced this in the shops and restaurants.  The places I did not experience this were in the museums, when I would be working on my laptop in café’s and when I was in the grocery stores.

 

 

History vs. Modern Day

It was an amazing experience to be walking around Greece and seeing so many historical remains scattered through out the city. Not only in the structures but also in the traditions and food. Even as I walked to a coffee shop I went to almost every day, I would walk past historical ruins that were built around and preserved right there along the side walk in the middle of the city.

At The End Of The Day

 

One of the main themes I captured from the people in Greece is that, although there is this crisis, at the end of the day they just want to be happy and that is what they strive for. One man was talking about how it was difficult for the people of Greece to be too unhappy even with the economic downfall because at the end of the day they had food, they had family and beautiful views. This reminded me of how in life it’s not all about what you and your situation, it’s about how you handle it and how you choose weather or not to let things in life effect you in a negative way or look past it and find what you can be grateful for. This is how I was raised, so talking with Greek elders about what it means to be Greek and what it means to be Greek in an economic downfall and the way in which one must look past the bad and see the good reminded me of the conversations I have at home with my own grandparents and family members. I may not be Greek, but I understand where they are coming from due to my understanding of what it means to be human in an inhumane world filled with good and bad no matter where one is from.

Tips

 

-       Make sure to listen and not always be the one talking

-       Have open body language when engaging with someone whom you are trying to understand and is trying to understand you

-       Let them talk to you and ask you questions, people are just as interested in you as you are in them

-       When people of foreign cultures get close when they talk to you don’t dramatically back up or get scared, know that their boundaries as far as space are culturally different than what you may be used to

-       Take time to observe your surroundings and what is happening around you

-       Understand that their view may sound more dramatic but it’s their view vs. your own, so be open to other views from other people

-       Remember there is a reason for everything that is warned against when preparing to depart, be open to suggestions, rules or warnings

-       Learn a few Greek words. For example learn how to say thank you and don’t be afraid to use it

-       If you don’t want to buy something from someone selling on the street then don’t make eye contact

-       Keep anything and everything out of your back pocket (don’t get too comfortable thinking it is safe, it may be safe but just one time of thinking it’s ok could be the one time you run into someone who pick pockets)

-       You cannot always trust what we see and hear about other countries in America. Remember there are so many different perspectives and kinds of people not just in America but around the world

-       Make eye contact when talking to people even if you cannot understand them, this is not only respectful but also shows that you care even though there is a language barrier

-       Try new things and if you don’t like it don’t make a big deal out of not liking it

 

My Time In Greece

 

So there are some things about Greece that I learned and broadened my world knowledge!

-Alexandria Erin

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