Home Greece The Power of Language: Reflecting on Communicating in Athens

The Power of Language: Reflecting on Communicating in Athens

by Carrigan Cleveringa
group of aifs students in athens, greece

Language is incredible. A smile is universal.

If you could have one super power, what would it be? Most people would reply with speed or strength, or the ability to fly. After two weeks here in Greece, I learned I only want one thing: to be able to speak every language in the world. It astounds me how you grow up learning a set of words and sounds to learn how to communicate, while somebody else is growing up across the world learning a different set of sounds to describe the same objects you are. There are so many different systems of communication in this world, and I am saddened that I grew up only knowing one. The Greek language is a hard one to pick up, but with a few weeks under my belt, I have caught on to a few of the most commonly used words. There are times when I have been hesitant to use those words, feeling like I’ll make myself look even more American than I already do. But I say them anyway and realize the Greeks appreciate when you try to communicate in their language. I’m sure they also get a little giggle out of my horrible pronunciation; I do too. Whether the right words come out of your mouth or not, people around the world will always appreciate someone trying to speak their language.

Graffiti: The "modern day art" of Greece
Graffiti: The “modern day art” of Greece

I am beyond thankful, though, that you don’t need words to share a smile with someone. Actions speak louder than words. A smile spreads happiness and comfort no matter whom you are talking to. We have come across multiple situations where, when talking to a Greek citizen, they apologize, saying “sorry for my English.” We all quickly remark back, “No, we’re sorry we only speak one language!” In America it’s crazy how we think it’s so hard to learn a new language, while these people do it everyday. Being bilingual is incredible, and yet they all apologize to us because their English isn’t perfect.

With only one week left, I can’t believe how fast time has gone by. It feels like I just arrived yesterday. These last few weeks have already been unimaginable. It has been everything I hoped it would be and more. The new language has sparked a new inspiration in me and I am so grateful. The unbelievable history and lifestyle of this stunning country has taught me so much, and will only lead to a continuous craving for more learning and more travel.

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