Ahhh, this was the week I felt like I moved from “I know cool people in Athens!” to “I have friends in Athens!” And it was the week I had a mental breakdown, but you know what? You can’t have everything.
On Sunday, I met up with Tonya and her friend Janet. If those names sound unfamiliar, it’s because they are pretty new me too! Tonya was in Level 4 at the Athens Centre, and during one break when our classes were both out, we discovered we had some mutual friends because she’s from Seattle working in Athens with a ministry to refugees. She’s been here for three years, so she took me to an Irish pub restaurant for fish and chips, then we ate gelato at an ice cream/waffle sweet shop.
When I got back to the school, I met up with Ioanna and Olympia to go out for wine at a hipster restaurant near the school. There was a cat wandering around, and HE LET ME PET HIM, and it was the first time I’ve pet a cat since I left Rory seven weeks ago. I guess it was also fun to talk with friends. Hahaha, no really, it WAS fun, because Ioanna pushed me to use Greek, and when I got overwhelmed, Olympia said, “Hey, it’s okay, we’ll speak in English now.” They’re a good pair to have around.
Speaking of Greek! I am mad at it – the entire language. I already posted about my Language Learning Meltdown, and while I don’t quite feel on the verge of tears throughout the entire class anymore, I’m definitely not enjoying the lessons anymore. I don’t know if the teachers are speaking more Greek more quickly, or if my brain is dumber, or if I’ve simply hit my learning wall, but every day from Tuesday to Friday, I started out “YEAH, I can do this!” and within an hour was sinking into my chair, thinking “Oh God, there’s THREE more hours of unintelligible sounds that I have to try to decipher.”
The day after my biggest meltdown, I did everything I could think of to psych myself up. I…
- listened to Hamilton on the way to class (“Hey yo, I’m just like my country, I’m young scrappy and hungry, and I’m not throwing away my shot!”)
- started reading Exuberance, a psychological book about the power of…being exuberant
- brought oranges (Vitamin C!) and hot chocolate (comfort drink!) to class
- whined to my classmates
Roza, my teacher, was extra nice to me. Like, almost condescendingly nice, so that whenever I did anything right, she enthused, “Ωραἱα, Tricia μου! θαὐμα!” But my self-confidence was so low that I lapped up every compliment until I was able to kind of limp through the lessons. HOWEVER, I am SO glad that I only have one more week left. I definitely need time off to give my brain a break, and then I need to edge back into practicing the language with safe people.
But the bad thing about class ending is that, more than ever, I really love the friends I’ve made there! On Wednesday night, we stayed after class to watch Never on Sundays, an old movie about a logical American traveling to Athens and trying to “cure” Greek passion by fixing a Greek prostitute who loves life!! It was as simplistic as it sounds, and a totally unreal depiction of prostitution, BUT, I really loved seeing the beauty in how Greeks value simple pleasures in life, like dancing, eating, drinking, and loving.
On Thursday, Emi and I went out to dinner at a Spanish restaurant and split a bunch of paella. On Friday, Elivra and Timon joined the two of us, and we all ate out at an Indian restaurant. After six weeks together, we have become really close! When class ends, I’ll be in Pikermi, Elvira goes to Euboea, and Emi leaves for Switzerland. But I think this just means that I now have a good reason to go to Euboea and Switzerland!
Today I had breakfast with Natasha, and now I’m cleaning my room, doing laundry, and buying groceries. I’ve got Greek homework I’m avoiding, and I’ve filled out several grant requests for HD. It’s a work day from the peaceful safety of my room, which is very nice. Especially because it’s all in preparation for tomorrow, when my first visitor arrives!! But you’ll have to wait to read more about that in A Week in Greece #8!