Posted by: Scotty | December 30, 2009

My Big Fat Greek Semester

The flight home was long but mostly a good trip back. In total I spent 20 hours traveling from Greece to Rome to Amsterdam to Minneapolis. I could not believe how that guy flying to Detroit was even able to get on the plane. Security was very tight in Amsterdam, inside the terminal before we were allowed to board the plane we had to go through security again, and were each asked about 20 questions.

On the Flight back to the U.S. we had really great food, including gourmet chicken, pizza and the best part… chocolate ice cream! Each seat got to watch their own movies too, so I watched about four. The guy next to me must have taken a few sleeping pills because I accidently spilt my dinner all over him as it was being served to me. He never woke up, so the Flight Attendant just brushed the food off of him and luckily they had extra food …soooo funny!

Jetlaggggg-a-rammmahhh again! I don’t remember it being this bad on my way over to Greece; after a few days back in the U.S., 6pm here still feels like 2am Greece time, and I’ve been struggling to stay awake later than 9pm.

Going out and about around town I can’t help but compare a few things different from Europe to America. The way Americans drive is so much more orderly. Regular grocery stores here are like two or three mega stores in Greece, the selection in America is unreal. Also, the selection of television and media outlets are much greater.

Here’s just a few…

Things I missed about America while abroad…

-Home–family, friends the dogs and cat.

-Snow.

-Channel surfing on cable specifically local news broadcasts, national news, Comedy Central, The Food Network and MTV.

-Cheesy infomercials, (love laughing at those).

-Being able to read everything at the grocery stores.

-Food and drink specials.

-Hearing oooo, yahhh, you betchya!!

Things I won’t miss about America…

-Certain people who don’t care about anyone but themselves and are ungrateful about their pitiable lives.

Things I won’t miss about Greece…

-Not being able to fully communicate with people or understand what’s going on.

-Stray animals everywhere—a very sad sight to see everyday.

-The tap water, it’s not as clean as the U.S.

-Washers and dryers. They didn’t have a dryer in our building and we only had one washer that was split with the 30 of us, it took two hours for one load.

-Having to keep an eye out for aggressive drivers.

-Walking everywhere and not being able to find a certain item.

-Street signs, they don’t have any, it would be nice to know where I’m at sometimes.

Things I already miss about Greece…

-Seeing everyone in the Bissell Library.

-ACT: My classes, Teachers who were very student oriented; Greek, Serbian, and American students with our in-class discussions.

-Hanging out with friends in Panepistimiou.

-Drivers parking and driving wherever they wish.

-Walking to the corner store or kiosks.

-Catching the city bus.

-Discovering a new taverna to eat at.

-Sunsets from my balcony and the boardwalk.

Things learned…

-Getting over my fears of communicating in a foreign country. It’s difficult at times to reveal you aren’t a citizen or proficient in a countries language, you almost loose your dignity or feel like you’re ignorant. You come to the realization of who you really are, where you come from, and what you stand for, and at the end of the day everything is always ok.

-Prior to traveling I had more of a “US” view on everything, and now I think on a global scale. I keep catching myself in comparing things in the US to the way things are in Europe: people, politics, culture–all the way down to the different electrical outlets.

-People at times can seem so different; but I discovered we are all very much the same, we just do things in a different way. Such as socializing, celebrating, births, deaths, illnesses etc…

-The importance of networking with strangers is so important. Being able to get out of your comfort zone and meeting new people proves to be very helpful when not knowing much about the in’s and out’s in visiting a new country. Every country I went we met new friends who helped us find our way around.

-Every country or group of people, assess their values differently. Such as family, religion, sex and drugs.

-How to budget and plan a trip (although I am still learning), traveling can be expensive!

-Greek and other countries traditions. Like many European countries, quiet hours or their “siesta” is from 3-5pm, many stores will close and re-open.

-Acceptable mannerisms. Students in Greece are taught at a young age if they are late to class, to knock on the door prior to entering. Many Greek students also interrupted teachers in mid-sentence, apologizing for being late.

-People are very passionate about their country.

-Learning about others and myself. How we dealt with culture shock again, again, and again.

“The more you look at the world, the more you recognize what really matters to people.”

My biggest fear when preparing to study abroad was not being able to communicate overseas. After overcoming my fears, I’ve become much more confident and transformed from a tourist to an experienced traveler. My experience in Greece was all that a University of North Dakota student could hope for. Warm sunny skies, beaches, islands, sailing, train rides, traveling, ancient ruins, learning experiences, memories and friends for a lifetime. I never imagined I would be doing so much traveling (no overweening intended); Amsterdam, Athens, Delphi, Santorini, Thessaloniki, Pilea, Kalamaria, Chalkadiki, Munich, Belgrade and Istanbul.

I’ve truly enjoyed writing, it’s been great being able to share my experiences once a week, I hope you have enjoyed tracking my progress… going to miss all of this. I am truly grateful for this once in a lifetime opportunity! I would recommend studying abroad to any student who would like to make the most of their college experience. A BIG FAT GREEK THANK YOU to the University of North Dakota Office of International Programs and the American College of Thessaloniki.

Efcaristo poli (thank you very much) for reading, Happy New Year!

-Scotty out!

p.s. Check out my Big Fat Greek Semester slide show on YouTube.


Responses

  1. Thank you for your great blogging!

    I too am enjoying the selection in the stores, the cable choices, the cars who stop when I cross the road, but am definitely missing Greece, Thessaloniki and all of the great study abroad students I met while I was there.

    Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and experiences. It really will make your experience that much more significant to have “documented” and “analyzed” your experience through a specific lens.

    All the best to you as you prepare for the future!

    Kate


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