Week three in Thess has now concluded and I am still trying to wrap my head around all the wonderful things that have happened since September 10th. I have eaten way too many gyros, fallen in love with Bougatsa, visited Halkidiki, started my first college classes, discovered that Ouzo is not pleasant, watched sunsets on the board walk during my evening runs, made new friends, laughed until my stomach hurt, and now see Thessaloniki as my second home.
Thessaloniki is a warm, welcoming, and vibrant city that makes me smile every time I step out of my room. The locals have become some of my favorite people. Their kind, hospitable character makes us all feel like a part of their extended family. The culture has opened my eyes to the true important things in life. The Greeks have taught me the value of coffee, cuisine, olive oil, wine, pride in ones culture, positivity, and the vital importance of family. Each evening I sit on my balcony to study, and enjoy listening to the plates clatter, laughter, and the chatter of my neighbors at their nightly family meals, something that does not happen very often in America these days. I am so used to the fast pace of the US, the slower pace of Greece is refreshing and beautiful. I am reminded every day here to worry less, smile more, and enjoy the simple things in life. We have taken in some of the traits of the locals, one of my favorite being nightly family meals with my friends. After our long days at school we meet for dinner, take a deep breath, and enjoy each other’s company. Of course this only lasts for about an hour due to homework and program activities, but its the one of the best parts of my day.
I am currently in five classes- Greek, Microeconomics, Politics of the EU, Business Calc, and the Global experience. I am loving the all of them except math, but if you know me thats no surprise. With just two weeks of classes complete, I am becoming more confident in my decision to double major in Economics and International Relations. Math isn’t ideal, but I would have to say its the most interesting math class I have taken so far. My Greek is improving, I was able to have a conversation with a girl at my service learning. Service learning is required for all northeastern students here in Greece. I will be volunteering at an Nonprofit protecting children’s rights and could not be more excited to give back to the community that has already given me so much.
This past weekend was spent on the beautiful beaches of Halkidiki. We ate even more delicious gyros and admired the Aegean. Tomorrow we leave on a day trip to Phillippi and Kavala. Next weekend is husky hunt, and my two day Mount Olympus hike. Lastly the week after is a small weekend trip to the island of Crete with three of my friends. Its pretty clear I am constantly busy here, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. My days arent filled with normal college activities and football games, instead I’m traveling around Greece and enjoying the serenity of the boardwalk. My experience is definitely unique, but I am so lucky to have this opportunity.
“We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us.” ~anonymous