Year 2 | A Week in Greece #6: NERDY FRIENDS, HD PHOTO SHOOT, and NEW ROOMMATE

Progress at the new offices continued to happen slower than expected, so we decided to have a “Program Lite” week at the house.  This worked out pretty well, since we have a new woman (from Nigeria, 8 months pregnant, our house is now FULL and we’ve already had to turn down someone who wanted to join the program, ack), and it gave her time to adjust.  But this meant coming up with plans last minute and never feeling quite settled, which makes me stressed.  Luckily, I had some really fun friend moments this week, and that helped me survive.

Nerdy Friends

One of the strangest and most wonderful things about my friends in Athens is that they usually share in one of my “shameful obsessions.”  I have cat friends here!  And video game fanatics!  And Korean drama enthusiasts!  The things that used to be “oh, Tricia is the cat/video game/anime friend” has now become “we like this thing.”  It’s so much fun to have people to share these obsessions with.

On Sunday, the Four Cat Ladies went to Danielle’s apartment after church for her birthday celebration choice: a cat movie marathon.  We ordered food and watched a documentary called The Lion in Your Living Room and exclaimed over the cute kittens and said things like, “Oh, that’s why Oscar/Louis/Pepperina/Hans Harrison” does that!”  Then we watched a movie called A Street Cat Named Bob, a true story about a stray cat that saved the life of a drug addict.  Cats are amazing, I truly don’t understand haters.

On Wednesday after 12 Steps, I went out for sushi with Luciana.  I’ve been having a bit of a faith crisis post-US-election, and I opened up to her about it all.  “You know what you need?” she asked.  “WHAT?” I asked desperately.  “Dessert!”  So we got dark chocolate mochi, then walked back to her apartment.  Giorgos was there, so the three of us played Zelda until 11:00 p.m.  It was true gaming joy, with agonizingly frustrating puzzles that had people screaming and then cheering when they finally succeeded.

And on Saturday, I went to Rosie’s apartment to watch Coffee Prince, a Korean comedy about a girl who is mistaken for a boy and winds up working at a coffee shop intentionally run by hot guys.  I LOVE these kinds of ridiculous shows, and found myself saying, “Oh, so he is going to fall in love with her knowing she’s a girl, and HE is going to fall in love with her thinking she’s a boy, right?”  Rosie would respond, “The plot is incredibly obvious, but it is so much fun to see it play out.”  That’s what I love so much about anime and Korean comedies.  The characters are stereotypes (the Arrogant Rich Guy, the Edgy Foreigner, the Dumb Sweet Guy, the Delicate Wallflower, the Guns Blazing Girl) the actions are repeated (“he did the thing where he puts his hand on the wall over her head!!!”) and the plots are incredibly familiar.  But there’s something so pleasing about knowing what’s going to happen and then laughing hysterically when yes, she DID have to hide in the men’s locker room while they were changing because she has to hide the fact that she’s actually a woman.

I realize this is a pretty specific media interest (in the Western world, I would fit right in in the East), which is exactly why it feels so amazing to have Rosie as a friend.  And Luciana and Giorgos as my video games partners.  And Kendra, Rosie, and Danielle as my fellow Cat Moms.  There are few things as comforting as finding people who like the same weird things you do.

HD Photo Shoot

We did a lot of random stuff this week with our participants, but my favorite was on Friday.  My friend Damaris came over to take professional pictures of each of the women.  I knew this was going to be a success when we went upstairs and saw each of the women in their best clothes, makeup on and hair done ON TIME.  We took photos on the roof and in the garden, and it was such a joy to see them open up and show off how amazing they are.

Maybe it seems silly to place value on taking someone’s picture, but these women so rarely get to dress up and feel beautiful while also being safe.  They were getting fancy for themselves.  Damaris is going to print the pictures and give them copies, and nothing is going to us to be used for promotional or fundraising purposes.  This is all for them.

At the end, we were all in the garden, and while one woman was posing extravagantly against a tree and the rest of us were giggling, I put my arm around one woman’s shoulders, and she put her arms around my waist.  It was such a touching moment, and it made me realize how every little moment is a healing opportunity – safe touch, laughter, freedom to choose how sexy or silly you want to pose – and I was overwhelmed by how much I love my job.

Bringing it down a bit, but that day was also a lesson in A Man Ruins Everything by Thinking He’s Funny but is Actually a Jerk.  While taking pictures on the roof, a guy from the building next door called from his balcony, “Which one is the prettiest?”  Luckily, the woman getting her picture taken only spoke Greek and didn’t understand, but I was ENRAGED.  This is patriarchal idiocy at it’s core: the idea that women being pretty and happy is for a man’s enjoyment.  He took a beautiful, fun thing and made it a dirty competition.  UGH.  Less of this in the world, please!!

New Roommate

On Friday, Ellen from Canada moved into my apartment!  She and Olga are sharing a room,  and so far, I think it’s going to be a good household.  I really like having people around, and I love seeing other people’s things filling spaces in the bathroom.  But this only works for me with certain people, and both Olga and Ellen are independent, friendly, introverted women.  I don’t feel the need to care of them (thank God), and I know I can peace out and go to my room and they will understand.

It’s nice to have another American in the house, though I’m very jealous that Justin Trudeau is her leader and not mine.  Already Ellen and I have had some great conversations about being outsiders in Greece (she lived here for a year a couple years ago), and she’s a life coach who is going to work with an anti-trafficking organization, so we will have plenty in common to talk about.

A Greek, a USian, a Canadian, and a cat share an apartment in Athens.  We could star in a sitcom, though it would mostly show us reading books and talking about how we want to change the world.

Year 2 | A Week in Greece #5: WORK WEIRDNESSES

After an exciting but restful weekend in Bucharest, I came back to a chaotic week in Athens.

On Monday, we tried to begin having Day Program classes at our new offices.  This meant starting with a couple hours of new rules and a lot of questions about the rules.  Mostly we talked about tardiness and absences, and this is still a topic I feel conflicted about.

Our program is meant to model a school or work environment, and we want to hold participants to similar standards so that when they seek employment elsewhere, they will be used to the routine of being on time for things.  But we have participants from diverse cultures, and I think this is at least partially responsible for the serial tardiness of some of the women.  I don’t know how much my desire to enforce timeliness is for their benefit or if it is for my own cultural comfort.

But other than that, it was really nice having classes in a new space!  Or at least, it was on Monday and Tuesday.  By the end of Tuesday, more and more workers were arriving to finish air conditioning installations, wall dividers, etc, and it was becoming increasingly ridiculous to try to be vulnerable or thoughtful with all the chaos around us.  We cancelled classes for the rest of the week, but planned a special event on Friday.

It was almost disastrous, and I was SO pissed, because I told the women a fake time to show up, knowing that they would be late.  Still, I wound up standing at the metro station for half an hour, at which point I decided to go on without them.  I met up with the two people who were meeting us downtown and found out that THEN, the women were leaving the house.  They met us one hour and fifteen minutes after our scheduled appointment time, and as I mentioned, I was PISSED.  I am generally a pretty laid back person, but apparently time issues have their claws sunk deep in me.

But then they showed up, and…they were all dressed up!  They’d done their hair and put on makeup.  They were wearing nice clothes and jewelry.  The baby was outfitted with everything he could possibly need.  And I realized – this was a really special event for them.  It was a chance to get out of the house, to explore the city while feeling safe, to be TOURISTS and just enjoy life for a while.  My annoyance drifted away as I became consumed with love for them, which is like, the whole point of everything.

We spent a couple hours at the Acropolis Museum.  Two of the women only speak Spanish, so we mostly pointed at statues and imitated their poses, laughed at each other, and then got told off by tour guides.  We had to stop a lot because two of the women are pregnant, and the new mother got increasingly terrified because she kept static shocking people and she thought she would hurt her baby.  A quick phone call to our Spanish interpreter prevented her from going home early, and I just kind of…loved my job?  The weird things that happen!  Never a dull moment!

We got coffee and sat around in the sun together for awhile before heading home.  On the metro, I was acutely aware of the fact that I, a white person, was hanging out with three black women.  There aren’t a lot of black people in Athens, and I wondered how people saw me, and then I thought, oh God, this is only a tiny taste of what they must think and feel at all times.  How exhausting to be a minority, always conscious of being “other” and wondering if that will cause you trouble or harm.

That was a lot of work stuff, but I did manage to have some fun this week too.  I went out with Olga and Haley (an American who works with Samaritan’s Purse) to Little Kook on Monday.  Olga and I had some prime roommate bonding, such as one Complaining Night and another Wine and Cheese and Jane Austen Movie Night.  And on Friday, three women from the Bible School came over for, well, another Wine and Cheese Night.  Today is Saturday, and I’ve been lazy while waiting for laundry to finish.  Tonight I’m going out to an Iranian restaurant for Danielle’s birthday, and the celebrations will continue tomorrow after church when we all watch a bunch of cat movies to celebrate the thing that bonds us all together (besides being ex-pats in Greece).

Year 2 | A Week in Greece #4: MOVING OFFICES AND BUCHAREST

This week was FULL.

Moving Offices

When I arrived at work on Monday, I discovered that we had received a new participant over the weekend, bringing our total number up to six (in a three bedroom house)!  It was now clearer than ever that we needed to move our offices into our new rented building so that we could convert our current office space into two new bedrooms.  We’re also building a dividing wall in the living room to create a third bedroom.

All of this means that the week was chaos.  We packed up everything and moved it to our new space.  But because we’re moving so quickly, the phone lines aren’t working yet in the new office.  That means that our desks are in one space and our wifi is in another (a 25 minute walk between them, too, so the commute is not simple).  Only the Day Program (that’s me and the two other facilitators) will be working out of the new space next week, and we tried to plan ahead for everything we might need that would require Internet access.

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Speaking of the Day Program, this week felt like I really came into my new role as the coordinator.  I did the intake forms with our newest participant, in which she shares her story (we only ask our participants to relive their trauma once – after the initial forms, they can share or not share the details of what they have gone through at their own discretion).  I also had to do a re-entry interview with a participant who returned to us last week.  And there are several fiscal year reports to do and program rules that I am responsible for creating and enforcing, and ah!  It feels like a lot!

I didn’t quite realize the difference between being a facilitator and being the program coordinator.  Last year, when I had a concern or an idea, I could tell the coordinator and let her decide what to do and when to do it.  Now I’m that person, and while I quite like the position, I feel very drained at the end of a busy day.

Bucharest, Romania

Luckily, there is travel!  Olga and Luciana and I went to Bucharest this weekend.  All of us like to explore new places, but more than that, we share a NEED for travel.  For whatever reason, there is a direct link between my physical and mental presences.  When I am in Athens, I feel responsible for work-related things, past and future.  But when I physically leave, I am able to leave the mental worries behind too.

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So we went to Bucharest for €40 roundtrip, stayed in a cute little hostel downtown, and explored!  The three of us have wonderfully similar travel philosophies (heavy on the coffee shops, bookstores, and silly pictures), which made for a really fun weekend.  It was an especially amazing time to visit Bucharest, because there were hundreds of thousands of protesters flooding the city.  The Romanian government tried to pass a law that would make government corruption legal, but after four days of peaceful protests, it looks like the law won’t be passed!  It feels really cool to have witnessed a historic event like that.

We returned already planning our next trip, so I think that solidifies our weekend as a success.  I feel rested, excited, and ready to go back to work.  I love this life of working hard at something that feels important, and then playing hard by visiting new countries and experiencing new cultures.

Year 2 | A Week in Greece #3: BACK TO GREEK and a VISITING TEAM

Greek Lessons Part 2

fullsizerenderI re-started my Greek lessons this week!  It turns out that taking five weeks off from all things Greek (by returning to the United States) was very necessary for my brain.  And amazingly, I don’t think I lost any of my vocabulary or grammar!  I’m really grateful for Evangelia – she’s giving me lessons for free twice a week as her way of supporting HD.  And this year, HD paid for my textbook, so I have my own to write in (previously we were all sharing a book and had to write answers in a notebook, which just…didn’t work in my brain very well?).

All this is really great, because I’m using my Greek more to talk with the Greek-speaking participants at HD.  I stayed late with two of them on Friday, and the three of us managed to communicate for over an hour.  Not in anything resembling an intelligent conversation, but we got along and laughed and knew well enough what the other was trying to say.  I know I will eventually reach another plateau of “UGH GREEK,” but I plan to enjoy this period as long as possible.

Visiting Team

img_5276We had a team from the States come to HD for the week to teach us how to knit.  I spent the first day doing it wrong and hating it, and then the second day realizing my mistake and thinking “THIS IS SO EASY (compared to what I was doing).”  I love our Celebration Weeks when we get to hang out with the participants on equal footing – M and D latched onto knitting quickly and left me in the dust, which I think is a valuable thing for them to experience (and me, too).

I was thinking a lot about the nature of the teams that come to us, though.  Our participants are becoming more diverse – three different countries, three different languages, two different races, two different age levels – but our staff and volunteers are pretty universally white, educated, middle- or upper-class women.  I wonder how helpful it is for our women to see privilege, privilege, privilege all the time.

But then…how else is someone going to come volunteer with us if they aren’t privileged?  Not everyone can take a week off of work and afford to fly to Greece.  I don’t think there is an easy answer here, but it’s something I want to keep thinking about.

Friends

I didn’t do a lot socially this week – I worked late a couple nights, and I was especially drained from being Happy and Hospitable for our team.  Rosie came over one night, and we discovered a mutual interest in anime and Korean dramas.  She said she wanted to read something fluffy, and I hesitantly offered, “Have you tried…fanfiction?” and she said, “Oh, yes, of course,” and I leaped for joy.  Nerdy kindred spirits.

Speaking of nerdy kindred spirits, I went over to Luciana and Giorgos’s another evening to play Zelda: Twilight Princess.  We passed the controller between us, all taking turns and pointing out suggestions to each other, and it was so fun!

This will come into play more next week, but…I’m going to Romania!  Luciana and I were trying to go to Bredvoort (Netherlands) but tickets were too expensive.  I half-heartedly checked Ryanair for cheap tickets to anywhere and noticed €20 tickets (each way) to Bucharest.  “Do you want to go?” I asked Luciana and Olga.  They immediately wrote back yes, and I bought our tickets.  Within 30 minutes, I’d made weekend plans to visit Romania with two friends!  This is exactly the sort of European lifestyle I want.

Year 2 | A Week in Greece #2: CANCELLED DUE TO SICKNESS

I had such good intentions for this first full week in Greece.  I was headed back to work, and I had something planned for every night!  And then I caught this weird flu/cold bug that’s been going around Athens.

I spent all day Sunday and Monday in bed.  This illness was especially untimely because of jet lag.  I couldn’t sleep at night, and I found it all too easy to sleep until 5:00 p.m.  Nightmare.

By Tuesday I felt well enough to go to work, both because I wanted to and because I knew I had to break my sleep cycle.  It was WONDERFUL.  I got to meet our newest participants, I got caught up on everything from the past month, and I got to go to a bunch of meetings.  I love meetings, is that odd?

After work, I met Kendra for coffee to catch up.  She’s leaving Greece permanently-ish (the -ish is mostly wishful thinking) in August, so I was able to give her “how to take care of yourself while adjusting to the States” advice.  Then I bragged about how with DayQuil and NyQuil I had conquered my sickness in two days, and oh how sad that you are still sick with yours two weeks later.

On Wednesday I woke up feeling like death again.  I did go to work, where I talked so much that I lost my voice.  I did not go to Bible study that night, and slept all evening instead.

On Thursday I felt better!  Wow, it’s like there is a direct correlation between sleeping for massive amounts of time and feeling healthier.  I went to work and taught my favorite class, Self-Esteem.  We talked about the different categories of negative people in life.  Our newest participant said that she has a lot of Two-Faced people in her life, people who seem nice and friendly but who actually want to use her.  I pointed out that it must be hard to be at HD, because hey, we’re all acting nice and friendly, but why should she trust us?  She looked away, smiled, and said yes.  It is overwhelming, sometimes, to realize how much we ask of these women, and how easily it is to hurt them again.  They are so much stronger and more resilient than I will ever be, and I hope so much that my dumb selfishnesses will not hurt them more than my shaky love might heal them.

Since I was riding high, I went to book club with my friends.  We planned it back in December when a bunch of us went to a bazaar to buy cheap books and realized we all wanted to be in a book club.  Of course, because it is Greece, it took an hour for everyone to arrive (including one person getting lost, one rescue mission, and one car stalling in the middle of the road blocking twenty angry motorists).  Then we ordered food, spilled wine on a white tablecloth, Googled how to get it out with salt, and anyway it was 10:00 p.m. before we got to the actual book (Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton) part of the book club.

Surprise, surprise, my late night cost me big!  When I showed up to work on Friday, one of the participants told me in Greek, “You look horrible!”  It was both encouraging and discouraging that I understood her.  Luckily my coworker came to my rescue and volunteered to take my period later in the day, so I went home early and slept all day after cancelling my plans to see Rogue One (I am never going to see Rogue One, apparently).

On Saturday, Olga made me – oh wait.  I haven’t talked about Olga, my roommate!  She’s awesome.  For instance, she made me soup on Saturday for lunch, and when she came to tell me it was ready and found me asleep at 2:00 p.m., she waited another 45 minutes so she could eat with me.  She’d set up an adorable table setting and everything, it was so wonderful.

I cancelled more plans for Saturday night, but then Tatiana and Natasha (former roommates) came over.  We all talked for a couple hours, and when it got to be 10 I kicked them out because I was sleepy, but then Olga and I sat on the kitchen floor and discussed the theology of animal souls (my favorite topic, I cannot resist it!).  I have decided that this is a good friendship test:  if you have fun sitting on cold linoleum with them, probably they are a pretty good sort of person.

That was my week: high expectations rarely met.  But I’m so glad to be back, and I hope next week involves fewer sore throats and less sleeping.

Year 2 | A Week in Greece #1: I’M BACK

Technically I haven’t been in Greece for a full week; just 48 hours.  But it already feels worth documenting, so here we go.

After three flights and nearly 24 hours of traveling, I arrived in Athens at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday.  Anthi picked me up, and as she drove me home, she filled me in on some more HD news.  Cool fact:  our newest participant is Muslim, so she doesn’t eat pork.  As mentioned in my last post, I’ve decided to give up pork this year!  Hopefully we can bond over this and find some food solidarity.

As I was unpacking, Anthi offered to pick up some groceries for me.  I requested cereal and milk for the moment, and she came back with that plus eggs “because I know you love eggs.”

My newest roommate Olga moved in on January 3rd, but she was at a friend’s house when I got home.  I was asleep by the time she came home, and now she’s spending the weekend at the Bible College, so I have yet to actually see her.  I’m excited to be housemates, but it was nice to have the house to myself for my first weekend back.

On Friday, I was SO PRODUCTIVE.  I did all the things I hate most:  paid a bill at the post office, walked down to Cosmote to ask about wifi plans, started a Word document of all the Greek vocabulary I learned last year, and…huh.  I promise it felt like a lot.

I went over to Rosie’s that afternoon to meet up with her, Kendra, and Danielle.  I felt closest to them during my time away, because we are all part of a “Parents of Furry Kids” Viber chat where we shared pictures of our cats for the last six weeks.  I also was reunited with Hans Harrison, who is SO massive compared to Rory.

Luciana and Giorgos came to pick up me and HH (so good to see them again!), and once again we dream-teamed the cat trapping.  Unfortunately, Hans Harrison seems to have associated Giorgos’s voice with trauma, because he hides whenever they’re around.  They stayed at my house for a while so we could all catch up.  They were hugely understanding of all my many feelings, and when I told them that due to visa issues I would be staying until at least April 2018, Luciana suggested, “So you’ve decided to live here long term?”

“I’m open to another two years or something.”

“No, like, long term.  Forever!”

“Hahahahhaa, commitment scares me, please stop.”

They left late, and I fell asleep not long after.  Unfortunately, I woke up at 5 am (jet lag!!), which caused Hans Harrison to run around, thinking I was getting up.  He tried to chew on his new collar and got his lower jaw stuck in the thing, causing me major panic as I tried to reach him under the bed and unsnap it as he gagged.  When I got it off of him, he practically burrowed himself into my skin as thanks, reminding me of that Aesop’s fable about a lion with a thorn in its paw.

I couldn’t go back to sleep for ages, and when I did, my alarm went off not long after.  I hit snooze for TWO HOURS and finally got up at 10:30 am.  I really hate jet lag.  Luckily, I did all the boring errands and all the fun friend-seeing yesterday, so I’m going to be as lazy as necessary today!

It’s really good to be back.  It’s really good to feel like I’m returning home – to my own apartment and to people who already know and love me.  What a difference this is compared to last year!

A Week in France #48: DEBRIEF IN LILLE

I put this off, because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do “A Week in” review if I spent it in a country other than Greece.  But last week I spent five days in Lille, France for a debriefing time with my sending organization, and I think it’s significant enough to talk about publicly.

It immediately reminded me of one of the things traveling does for me, an anxious person:  throw me into a worst-case scenario and then help me realize that there are solutions even for the things I fear most.  So on Monday, I flew into Paris.  The airport shut down for 20 minutes because of an unattended bag, and instead of making me feel nervous, it made me more confident in an airport’s dedication to keeping people safe.  But that’s not the worst-case scenario.   Continue reading

A Week in Greece #47: MY LAST WEEK THIS YEAR

It’s crazy to think that this might have been my last week in Athens, full stop.  I’m so glad I decided to stay another year – I’m happy to postpone this depressing possibility for later!

I actually tried to give myself a lot of downtime this week, knowing that I would be mentally exhausted.  Work went much better than I assumed; we had a lot of meetings to prepare for the next month (and we’ve already scheduled three meetings for the first week I return) but the day to day work wasn’t overwhelming.  It was actually pretty fun!  On Thursday, we went to Jumbo to buy Christmas decorations, and on Friday, we put up HD’s first Christmas tree!  We all wore silly Christmas hats, sang to American and Greek Christmas songs, and ate a lot of cookies as we put up ornaments and lights.  One woman had been sick all week, but she came in specially on Friday to say goodbye to me, which was very sweet! 

Outside of work, I mostly did things on Wednesday (the ceremony for the texts of terror in the Bible, described in an earlier post) and the Revelation Bible study that this week went until midnight.  Then I had a massively busy weekend!
It started on Friday, when Olga called and asked if she could stop by.  When she got to my apartment, she asked if she could spend the night and had a bag already packed, hahaha.  We stayed up talking and catching up, and then on Saturday morning we both left.  I went to meet up with Dina and Argyris for brunch at a super fancy restaurant in Kiffisia.  They ordered way too much food and forced me to eat more than I could handle, and they showered me with compliments and made me feel really great about coming back to HD next year.

They dropped me off at my house at 2:00 p.m., half an hour before Luciana and Giorgos came over to transport Hans Harrison to his holiday destination.  Unfortunately, HH remembered the trauma of the cat carrier, and he mauled my arm in desperation.  As soon as I would stop shoving him at the case, he would curl up in my lap in trust, which was a very effective way to make me want to stop forcing him in.  Luckily, Giorgos and I teamed up and wrapped him in a blanket to stop his legs flailing and got him in the carrier.

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Because they transported HH, they got to meet Rosie, and my plan to start combining my friend groups began (just before I leave, perfect)!  They left, and then Rosie and I met up with Kendra and headed to Mercy’s Christmas party.  There was an enormous amount of sweets and drinks and games, and I was super grateful that I got to do a Christmas party in Athens before leaving.

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I spent the night at Rosie’s, both because of the convenience of staying downtown, and because Hans Harrison was there and I wanted to be with him as long as possible.  In the morning, we met up with a bunch of friends to skip church and go to the Anglican Bazaar, which had loads of really nice used books for 50 cents each.  It was cutthroat, with little old ladies elbowing us out of the way, and me using my long arms to snatch books from over people’s shoulders.  I came away with eleven books for 5.50 euro, though, so it was totally worth it!

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We headed to 2nd Church for the women’s meeting where Kendra was speaking.  There was a massive lunch first, and she spoke about Leah, the unwanted sister, and how in both secular and church cultures, women are so often made to feel less-than.  She did an amazing job, and women opened up about their stories a bit, and it was just very lovely.

After that, we went back to Rosie’s to hang out for a bit.  I cuddled with Hans Harrison one last time, and then I came back to my house at 6:00 p.m. to clean and pack.  I’m mostly done with that now, so I’ve just got to wait until about 10:00 when Luciana is going to come over and say goodbye, go to sleep, and then wake up early to head to France!

Five days in France for debriefing, then I’m back in the States for a month!  Honestly, right now I’m not excited.  I’ve been having so much fun here, both at work and socially, and I feel like I’m finally starting to find that group of friends that I can call to do anything/everything.  It sucks to leave all of that!  But I know that when I get home I’ll remember all the amazing people there and it’ll be okay.

A Week in Greece #45: FRIENDS, MOVIES, and CATS

Unlike last week, a lot happened in the past seven days!

I work the longest on Mondays, so I try to keep that evening free for lots of TV viewing.  Last week was no exception.

I realize this is not a great way to start a “my week was so busy!” blog, but I promise that from Tuesday it got a lot more interesting.  I went to Pikermi after work on Tuesday to pay the remainder of my student visa costs to the school where I used to live.  I always get kind of anxious going back there, because I was not in a good mental state when I was living there (hence why I moved).  But I met up with Tatiana and Natasha (old roommates), Olympia (old friend), and Manon (new friend) for coffee while I was there.  It happened to be the day Obama was in Athens, and it was really nice to hear how much Greeks and Europeans in general love him.  It feels better to mourn with people than to suffer alone.

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On Wednesday, I went to Luciana’s apartment after work.  They moved recently and are stuck in “I guess these boxes will be here forever” mode, so I came in as an outsider and helped her clear things out, organize, and clean.  We were 3/4 of the way through putting together their IKEA couch when Continue reading

A Week in Greece #44: MALL OUTING AND THE ATHENS MARATHON

I’m late writing about last week, but until yesterday there was very little to write about.  I was in full post-friend-visit mode, which means I spent almost all of the time I wasn’t working watching Battlestar Galactica with my cat.  It was me at my sad introvert best.  There are really only two things worth mentioning, but they are two pretty great things!

On Tuesday, we were supposed to go out on a boat with all the HD staff and participants.  But weather was bad, so we went to the mall instead.  I honestly think this turned out to be a better idea!  We went bowling together, and it was really fun to be silly and competitive and supportive.  Everyone but four of us left after that, at which point we all got lunch together.  Then we went to a sweet shop and bought a bunch of different kinds of things to share.  We wandered the mall and shopped together.

I spent most of my time with our Greek-speaking participant, because neither of us are hugely into shopping.  Using our broken language communication, I held her stuff and gave her feedback as she tried things on.  It was really fun, and a good opportunity to struggle through communication instead of relying on a translator.

It was also a great experience because this particular participant struggles with anxiety.  She doesn’t go out shopping a lot, and things like going to the register alone stressed her out.  I found this out later, because our broken communication is not that nuanced.  But that turned out to be great!  Since the only two staff there spoke mostly English, she had to kind of suck it up and do things on her own….and she did!  Non-consumerist therapy at the mall, who knew.

The other noteworthy event was on Sunday.  Kendra ran in the Athens Marathon Continue reading