Getting acquainted with Athens and Greek culture in general over the past four days has been a whirlwind of incredible fun and intrigue!
Lets journey back to the first day where we fully explored Athens. First of all, our resident director Tassos is amazing. He is so kind, warm, and friendly! All of us AIFS kids would be totally lost without him and we are so grateful to have a guide who also serves as great entertainment. His hugs are amazing and it brightens my day every time I receive one. All of the staff here are so helpful and welcoming, making our transition into a different way of life stress-free.
Here’s a quick photo journal of what we have done so far!
On Friday morning, we woke up and headed over to the American College of Athens to meet other students from around the globe, take a tour of the school (which is awesome!), and resolve any remaining issues such as class schedules, school IDs, etc.
Later in the afternoon we went out in Northern Athens where we are staying to go grocery shopping and then learn to use the public transportation to get around and into downtown Athens. Their fashion is so unique! It was also so great to see the Acropolis from afar as well as some ancient churches and other traditional buildings. When we were returning, down in the subway we viewed an incredible excavation site called Monastiraki Square, where various settlements from the 8th century BC to the 19th century AD.
One of my favorite parts so far, as a huge cheese fanatic, is the feta! It is literally the size of my hand. In general, the food is fresh and delicious! Olives are another favorite of mine, so eating real kalamata olives is wonderful!
On Sunday we were able to sleep in and figure out our class schedules. Then we went to hang out at a local lounge to taste traditional Greek coffee. I have made some incredible friends so far and we have already started planning trips. Luckily, most of them go to school near me down in North Carolina, so it will be easy to travel to them! Later we went downtown again Athens for a sunset walk up to the rock near the Acropolis. It was so beautiful and a wonderful part of town.
The coolest thing so far was certainly walking downstairs in the restaurant and discovering that it was built on top of the shops of ancient Agora!
There are some very interesting cultural differences I have noticed so far during my time in Greece.
- Time: Everyone is very laid back, unlike us in that we are on a strict, timely schedule. People hang out at cafes and lounges for long periods of time just relaxing in silence – must be nice!
- Personal space: There is no such thing here! It was sort of odd but hilarious that I was sitting on the metro and a woman stood right next to me and put her arms on either side, so I was basically trapped in my seat! But everyone is very friendly and smiles.
- Restaurant service: First of all, Greek is very difficult to decipher and I now understand where the phrase “It’s all Greek to me” truly comes from. Tip is not expected over here (as in most European countries) and as a result the waiters and waitresses do not check in on you frequently.