Posted by: Scotty | September 19, 2009

Thessaloniki, the hippest city in Greece!

Moved in! Thessaloniki is a beautiful city on a hill overlooking the harbor. An enormous white tower on the waterfront boardwalk stands as one of the cultural center points. Our apartments are great; complete with a kitchen, bathroom and balcony-in a very nice neighborhood over looking the city (just a short walk or taxi ride from everything). My roommates are from all over the U.S. and a lot of fun. We all get along great and do many things in groups like: getting groceries at the supermarket, grabbing a bite to eat and going out at night. I think one of my favorite things is just roaming around town, getting lost and then discovering new and exciting places. Thessaloniki is also a very safe city.

The school has done a great job in welcoming everyone, moving us all in and transitioning into Greek life. This week was orientation. We were encouraged to get out, step outside our comfort zones and do as much as we could, (even if you feel afraid or embarrassed because of things your not accustomed to). We learned many tips about studying/living in Greece, the signs of culture shock and how to deal with it. I can definitely tell I’m feeling the “shock,” but it’s comforting knowing all my friends here are experiencing it too!

Little tasks like going to the grocery store, or getting a bite to eat in the states is definitely much easier. Here, it’s a pretty big task, we walk everywhere, and the nearest grocery store is about a half-mile walk there and back. On top of the walk, everything is written in Greek, so it’s a bit of a challenge knowing if the items you have bought are what you think (but it’s really not so bad). The people here are very nice and helpful, if you don’t speak Greek (or they don’t speak English), Thessalonikians will help as much as they can or find someone who can. The Greeks do appreciate it very much if you attempt to speak Greek, and you will find you may have better luck with your task if you do so.

Yesterday the school took us all to Ikea!!! It is seriously what we were talking about all week, because we’re lacking so many things (you can only pack so much in a suit case). We even dedicated a song to Ikea in the theme of the Backstreet boys, “I want it that way” to, “I want Ikea!” We were given two hours to shop and took the whole time. Our apartment is feeling more like home now. I cannot believe how living in a different country for a short amount of time so far has given me such a different perspective of the world.

Here’s 14 interesting things I have found about living in Greece so far…

1. Guys come around selling watermelons and fish on trucks about 10am with megaphones letting you know they are in your neighborhood.

2. Night life is very popular; hundreds of clubs line the boardwalk. I found it interesting there are some American restaurant chains here too; Applebee’s, Ruby Tuesday, Pizza Hut, Starbucks and those golden arches, McDonald’s.

3. Everything is much smaller in size, including elevators, bathrooms and stairwells.

4. Food is relatively cheap! Outside marketplaces are common, I bought a few pounds of fruit for just under two Euro. However, watch your wallet on beverages in the market and clubs as they can get a bit spendy.

5. City wide quite hours are from 3-5pm and 11:30-7am, many of the shops will close in the afternoon and then reopen.

6. Dryers are not used, clothing lines on balconies are. The one washer we have in our building takes about 2 hours for one load. Lol.

7. Religion is very important, there are hundreds of small churches around town, with praying areas along the street. You can hear all the church bells ringing Sunday morning.

8. Graffiti is everywhere.

9. The boardwalk is a great place for a walk, run, or just a time to get away and relax.

10. Fashion is very prominent. Thousands of small shops line the streets and everyone is dressed extremely well. You can find great deals on clothes, shoes and accessories. Guys: The ladies here look like super models. Ladies: You can bet the same for the guys.

11. There are stray cats and dogs everywhere.

12. My friend was right… toilet paper does not go in the toilet! I couldn’t believe this one either. Since the plumbing here is very old, toilet paper goes in a little trash bin with a lid on it next to your toilet.

13. Parking is a free-for-all. Cars park on the sidewalks and medians in every which way (very interesting to see how one parks).

14. COFFEE, COFFEE, COFFEE!!! Everywhere, every shop has great coffee.

I can’t wait to start classes next week!  Next weekend I’m heading to Munich, Germany to visit a friend from UND, it’s also Oktoberfest!

Until next time…

-Scotty out!

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