I had SUCH a fun week!
Jenna came to visit me on Sunday. She’s my friend Mallory’s roommate, and we met for the first time when I visited Mallory in Memphis last October. “Can I visit you when you live in Greece?” Jenna asked as we binge-watched Jane the Virgin. “OF COURSE!” I agreed, and five months later, here we are.
Jenna’s visit gave me a chance to be a tourist and enjoy the city in which I’m living with idiotic abandon. I was both the expert, getting us around and suggesting foods, and the enthusiast, filming dumb videos of us “racing” in the 1896 Olympic Stadium.
I especially appreciated Jenna’s visit because she’s familiar with Mediterranean cultures (she’s been to Turkey twice) but not with Greece specifically. Her comments made me love my new home even more. For instance, she was surprised by how clean and European Greece is (which, okay, Athens is NOT clean compared to the rest of Europe, but it’s not all that bad either!). She also said that one day when she bumped into a guy she didn’t feel like she’d crossed a cultural line. In Turkey and other more conservative places, girls get a LOT of warnings about avoiding eye contact and especially bodily contact with men. In Greece, it’s no big deal. I hadn’t really appreciated the difference until she pointed it out.
Jenna was a fantastic guest, and in the next couple days I’ll post the daily videos we made of our adventures. The last thing I want to mention here is how, while eating at a restaurant overlooking the sea on the island of Aegina, Jenna said, “You seem really comfortable here. You get around well, and you really love the culture, and you seem at home. I don’t think that’s for nothing.” I’ve had Greeks tell me I’m meant to stay longer than the year to which I’m committed, but Jenna was the first American to confirm the Greece-ness of my heart. Eight weeks in is too early to make any decisions, but….
The other side of this week is: my last week of Greek classes! I skipped class on Monday and Wednesday to hang out with Jenna. I think it was a WONDERFUL decision, because I am limping to the finish line. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. Taking those breaks, and having dumb, silly fun has rejuvenated my brain. It’s given me the energy to actually listen and understand more of the Greek conversations as well as given me the confidence to say, “I don’t understand, please repeat yourself again. And again.” It’s made the class fun again, and learning Greek an adventure. However, I am so aware that this last burst of energy is not sustainable. I need a break. And now, I have one! I’ve finished Level I and II of Greek, which leaves me vaguely competent and able to communicate extremely slowly! Woo hoo!
Of course, my life revolving around Greek classes also means that my life has revolved around my amazing classmates. I love Emi and Elvira, and I really like Timon’s addition this level (not only because he always brings treats to share during our mid-class break). Roza is a wonderful teacher, and we all have grown really close. After this week, everyone is separating, but I hope we will stay in touch in some way, shape, or form. If not, well…we went out with a bang!
Today is Emi’s birthday, so to celebrate both that and our finishing Level II, we had a little party at the center yesterday. Emi and Elvira made a ton of food, and Roza and our class sat around talking and eating and drinking for two and a half hours. Roza had to leave then, but she told me I should join her in the summer volunteering on the mountain, watching out for fires. It felt very Lord of the Rings, so why not?
We four students then went out to eat at a fairy tale themed restaurant! It was amazingly cute and weirdly delightful, and I fell all over myself in fangirling about it all. It was really nice to be my nerdy self, and to be with friends who I feel safe enough to be so weird with. Emi’s boyfriend Nikos joined us, and then Stephannea and Luigi from our Level I class showed up too! It was a lovely night, and a great way to say (a hopefully temporary) goodbye to some of my favorite people in Athens.
I would be sadder about all of this, but today I’m headed to Berlin for a weekend with Kaitlyn, and when I get back to Athens, the Pamurthys are visiting me! What a feast of friendships and adventures!