A Week in Greece #5: Level I Ends, Other Things Happen

I’m done with my Level I Greek class!  YEAH!  I’m going to celebrate this weekend by going to Sounio, which I will talk about in a separate blog post sometime in the next few days.

I need to celebrate the occasion, because on Monday, I’m going back to class to start Level II.  This time I’ll be taking a three-week course for FOUR hours every day.  I’m already exhausted just thinking about it.  But not nearly as much as I could be, because I’m really looking forward to continuing to hang out with Elvira and Emi (and maybe Stewart – he is undecided).  Plus, this week I had a decisive shift toward self-confidence that actually makes me excited to keep learning Greek.  It first happened at the grocery store when I handed the cashier €20 and said, “Oh, I think I have change, just a second.”  When the transaction was finished, I grabbed my bags and walked out the door and suddenly realized: I could have said that in Greek.  

“Ἐνα λεπτἀ, παρακαλὠ. Νομἰζω ὀτι ἐχω ψιλα.”
(One minute, please.  I think that I have change.)

There are practical, every day moments in which I can communicate fully in Greek.  THAT IS CRAZY.  I mean, I didn’t do it, but that’s okay, baby steps.  I’m still so proud of my brain!

However, I’m NOT feeling good about the end of our group.  On Wednesday we went out for drinks after class.  As we waited for everyone to gather their things, I whimpered, “I’m really going to miss everyone.”  Elvira said, “Oh, come on, don’t get sentimental.”  BUT I AM.  I really enjoy everyone in our class, and I’ve looked at our selfie a bunch of times just to feel all the feels.  These people were my first group of friends in Greece, and we’ve spent every day of the past month together, laughing and struggling and sharing our stories with each other.  I know what everyone drinks to stay awake, what sweaters they wear most often, what they prefer to snack on, and how they deal with getting an answer wrong.  I’m really fond of them, and I’ll miss them a lot!

(L to R:  Me, Nir, Stefania, Eleni, Elvira, Emi, Luigi, and Stewart)

Luckily, Elvira and Emi (and maybe Stewart) will be in Level II with me!  Elvira and I have fantastic conversations about the value of story, the morality of veganism, and the connection between erotic love and the Greek word for “question.”  Emi came with me to the center on Friday to play with kids, and she knows me well enough to say “I thought of you when I saw a woman with twenty cats following her.”  We three joke about dying our hair and start a girl band, so…what I’m saying is three weeks from now, I’m going to be even sadder when Level II is over.

What else is happening?  Sometimes I feel guilty about so much of my time and brain-space being taken up by Greek class and the people there, but!  Dina is wonderful at reminding me that she wants me in that class, and that anyway, I’m allowed to have a life.  And even though I’m not able to fully immerse myself in the Bible College or with House Damaris, I’m still getting little moments that keep me connected to those parts of my life.

I only saw Dina once this week.  On Friday morning she came to the school and we worked on emails and fundraising applications for HD for a couple hours.  I cannot stress how much I love doing this.  It is so cool to me that Dina has to write (in English) friendly, enthusiastic emails to people to update them on what’s going on in her life, and she is grateful that I “am willing” to do it!  She has this huge need in her life, and voila!  Passionate communication??  I thrive on that!  Yes, please, let me use my talents to meet your need!  We both feel so good after these sessions, and it helps me feel confident that I am necessary and useful during this phase of HD’s existence.

As for GrBC friends, twice this week I’ve unexpectedly found myself on a bus with someone.  Natasha and I rode downtown together on Thursday morning, and on Friday night Olympia got on my bus at Pallini.  We chatted about what we’d done that night in Greek, and she was so sweet and encouraging.  It’s nice to remember that I have friends in Pikermi too, and that when my Greek class ends I will not be totally alone.

BUT the real fun is still downtown.  After class on Friday, Emi and I walked to Neos Kosmos and found a lovely square.  We ate outside at an Italian restaurant where the chairs were loveseats.  I love Greek food, but it is the only thing I’ve had to eat for five weeks.  It was SO great to split a bottle of wine and eat pesto spaghetti.  It was also really lovely to chat, just the two of us, for hours and hours.

She wanted to hang out at the church center for Albanian kids with me, so we walked there and played Jungle Speed and fooseball.  That place often feels overwhelming to me, because it’s so loud and chaotic.  But getting to show it off to someone else, and introduce her to Liana and Erik and act as though I knew what I was doing….it made everything seem so much more controllable.  And it was super fun to hang out with her and be silly and decimate 8-year-olds playing games.

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