With less then two weeks (13 days to be exact) left in Greece I have began to think..not about my memories but about my perspective. I entered this completely foreign country 4 months ago unsure if I was going to like it let alone be able to live in it for a whole semester. I wanted to go where I knew no one (patterns repeat themselves). Yet, when I got here I was unsure if I would bond with the people in my program.
As life in Athens has become less foreign and more like 'home' these worries and concerns have faded. I have made some great friends, people I will keep in touch with for the rest of my life. We have this amazing shared experience that no one else really quite gets. When I recount my trips and my weekends exploring around Greece it is these people I will recall. It is strange to think that 4 months ago Leslie and I sat next to each other on a plane knowing nothing about each other and now we are great friends. Life is funny like that.
The people of Greece have been wonderful. They are a very proud people with a very storied past. Their perceptions of outsiders is somewhat understandable when you learn their history of being conquered numerous times. My encounters have been nothing but positive. A lot of that can be attributed to the fact that I'm a student. They respect that you are in their country, learning their history. It means a lot to them.
What I'll miss.. the people we have met along the way. There are to many characters to mention (Anthony, Rony, Old Irish, Tom, Maria, Alexo, the Professor, the Marines, Eddie & co, little man, etc). Each one of them has impacted my time here in Greece all for the better. Some have opened my eyes to parts of Greek life I would have never known existed without them. For that, I am forever grateful. I'll miss everyone's hilarious anecdotes on their cultural mishaps. Understanding that older Greek men have no qualms about urinating on a side street is just part accepting the culture right? I'll miss being talked about in front of in a language I still do not fully understand. I always wonder what they are saying...
I'm going to miss a lot of it. It is the first time I have ever lived in a major metropolitan city. Public transportation in winter park is non existent. I've enjoyed my first city experience but I'm not sure if its for me. Their is always something going on and something to do and see but space is limited..sometimes its nice to not be pressed so close to the stranger next to you on the bus that you can see their pores. Eh just a thought..
Most of all I'm going to miss the traveling. I saw so much of Greece, which was nice because you do not get the "beautiful" impression from living in Athens. Santorini is magical, everyone should go once in their life. The Peloponnese is just this lush mountainous area where the air is clear and the streets are quite. It is the polar opposite of Athens. Crete is one of coolest places I have ever been too.. hiking down a gorge while the sun beats on your back and the rocks make you feel the size of an ant..just amazing. Egypt was shocking on so many levels. As a woman it was a real interesting experience. Not being accompanied by a man was wrong, which is still an idea I can not wrap my head around. Historically it is so rich. So, it was worth the awkward cultural exchanges. Istanbul was my favorite, hands down. I would go back in a heart beat. I feel in love with Italy when I was in Rome. It is a country that I will be back too numerous times.
All of these places I have gone and people I have met seem so vast when I look back on it. With each trip there is another story. Within those there are a dozen that stick out. It is strange how you enter a new stage in life unsure of what to expect and when that chapter comes to a close you look back and wonder when it is you actually adapted and stopped seeing this new chapter as new. I am not sure when that exactly happened to me but it definitly did. I feel at home here. Greece is a place I will visit again. Hopefully come and stay for an extended holiday and just enjoy all that this European / eastern / ancient country has to offer.