It’s officially been two weeks since my arrival in here in Greece for my fall semester abroad. While I am slowly starting to get used to living in Athens, I must say it has truly been a culturally immersive experience. My time thus far is Greece has been very different from my entire summer in France for an internship. The greatest challenge has been the language. Greek is certainly not an easy language. From the Greek alphabet to the specific accent, it takes effort to read common signs in the streets or communicate with locals, for instance. Nevertheless, since beginning at CYA, my study abroad program, I immediately began my Survival Greek classes and later my formal Modern Greek class, which has helped to.
Before coming to Greece, I did not even know how to say “Hello” or “How are you?” in Greek. However, after two weeks of being here and attending classes at CYA, I know far beyond those two common phrases. I am able to order coffee in Greek at the café down the street or casually greet locals on my way to class from my apartment in the surrounding area, for instance. That being said, allow me now further discuss an important aspect of Greek culture, of which I was previously unaware of.
Coffee. The Greeks take their coffee quite seriously. It is nearly impossible for a true Greek to go about his or her day without first having a Frappe, Cappuccino, or simple Greek coffee. After becoming known to this fact, I began to more carefully observe the locals and quickly realized it was true! It is very common to see any Greek person, including the professors at CYA, carry with them their “Freddo Cappuccino,” as they call it. What’s even more interesting though is that these specific drinks, Frappe or Cappuccino, are not what you would expect from an American’s perspective. When I first heard the word “Frappe,” I immediately imagined a typical Frappuccino one could get at Starbucks. Yet, that is not the case here in Greece. A Frappe, instead, is a drink made with instant coffee and with a great amount of foamed milk and some sugar, if preferred. There is no blender used in the process of making this drink, like how one would if making a typical Starbucks Frappuccino. Overall, Greek coffee is very good. It is definitely something I did not expect to be a big part of the culture.
Furthermore, it has also been interesting being in Greece during the great economic crisis. Although the country is going through a difficult time, it is truly not too apparent in the society. The majority of the Greeks appear as friendly and genuinely happy people, despite the crisis. The only thing I will say is that businesses in the country have surely gone downhill. Many shops have closed due to the crisis and store hours are not the usual. On a good note, however, groceries, clothes, and other commodities are very affordable!
I am eager to continue learning about Greek culture. In the next two weeks I hope to learn more Greek, continue learning about the crisis, and maybe even plan a trip up to the Acropolis!