Overcoming a Language Meltdown

Last week, six weeks of daily Greek lessons finally caught up to me and melted my brain.  It was the weirdest sensation – I could “see” all the information I’d learned, but everything was behind a mental glass wall.  No matter how hard I tried to break through, the wall remained.  I am happy to report that yesterday, everything came rushing back, and I’m actually enjoying learning Greek again.  How did this happen?  Well, I can identify three possible causes:

  1. I did no homework and spoke no Greek on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.
  2. I skipped class.
  3. I repeated, “I don’t care about Greek, I don’t care if I sit there and say, ‘Δεν ξἐρω’ over and over again, I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care.”

Many, many people told me to “stop trying so hard,” and I finally understand why.  It feels counter-productive to stop doing something in order to get better at it, but….at least this time, that is exactly what worked!   Continue reading

Language Learning Meltdown

An hour and a half into our Greek class today, I excused myself to the restroom, stared at my face in the mirror, and allowed myself a couple silent sobs before drying my eyes and returning to the classroom.

I don’t know what happened!  Last week we started Level II, and I was feeling pretty confident!  I knew a lot of vocabulary, I was translating for myself into Greek as I went about my day, and I was trying out conversations with strangers on the bus.  But yesterday, something broke in me.  Absolutely nothing was making sense, to the point that our teacher asked me the Greek equivalent of “a or the” and I thought she was talking about a verb.  That is like, day 2 information.

But I left school yesterday determined to catch up.  I copied everything into my Official Grammar and Vocabulary notebook.  I spent four hours on homework last night, and I read through my lists of irregular verbs on the way to class this morning.  The class started, and again….nothing.  My brain could not process anything that anyone was saying.  Hence the bathroom breakdown.   Continue reading

Greek Homework

Our teacher told us, “Oh, just finish your exercise book this weekend,” like it was no big deal on top of four pages from our official workbook, creating questions and answers and stories for two dialogues, finishing eight pages in our second exercise book, AND transcribing an audio dialogue.  It will come as no surprise that yesterday, I did laundry and homework.  The end.  Happy Saturday!

That little “finish your exercise book” is still to be done today, but I found a fun way to make it bearable:  ignore the instructions and write whatever I want!

For one exercise, we had to read a letter from Sophia talking about how she will go to Hydra after she finishes her class to hang out with her friends Eleni and Alexandros.  We were supposed to write back about what we, her fictional boyfriend Kostas, would do while she was on the island.  This is what I wrote instead:

Σοφἱα μου,

Εἱμαι ευχαριστημἑνος για εσἑνα αλλἁ ανησυχὡ.  Γιατἱ θα εἱναι ο Αλἑχανδρος στην ᾽Υδρα με εσἑνα;  Σου αρἑσει ο Αλἑχανδρος;  Τον ΑΓΑΠΑΣ;;; Εἱναι ψηλὁς και ἑξυπνος και πλοὑσιος…καταλαβαἱνω.  Εμεἱς τελεἱωσε.  Λυπἁμαι αλλἁ θα εἱμαι καλἁ.  Σε θυμἁμαι πἁντα.

Καλὁ ταξἱδι!

Κὠστα

Translated, this means:

My Sophia,

I am pleased for you but I am worried.  Why will Alexandros be in Hydra with you?  Do you like Alexandros?  Do you LOVE him???  He is tall and intelligent and rich…I understand.  We are finished.  I am sad but I will be okay.  I remember you always.

Have a nice trip!

Kostas

Who knew channeling my inner jealous boyfriend would make Greek so much more fun?  (Everyone knew.)

Okay, on to the next exercise!

A Week in Greece #6: Beginning Level II

This week has been great!  Last Saturday I went to Sounio, which was a much-needed mini-adventure to somewhere new, beautiful, and fun.  It really rejuvenated me and gave me the energy to jump back into life in Athens.

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On Sunday, after church, Argyris and Dina took me to a lunch for a group of church planters. I was not excited about it, because church always drains me. There is so much Greek to listen to and so many introductions and opportunities to forget even the most basic of Greek phrases. But I went to the lunch, and I’m so glad that I did!  There were a bunch of people there that I already knew, which was nice. I got to reconnect with Joy, an American woman who has worked in Athens as a counselor for about four years.  And I met Sarah, a woman from Illinois who married an awesome Greek guy (Leonidas) last year and moved to Greece. She’s 33, and she told me to wait until I’m 33 (like she did) before I get married so that I can take advantage of being single in my 20s.  It was the best thing someone could tell me on Valentine’s Day (which, wonderfully, is not really celebrated much in Greece).  Her husband translated the mini-lecture at the lunch for us, and I like them both so much!  Continue reading

Sounio Vlog!

I created a YouTube channel, creatively named ItIsTrish | inGreece, to post videos and vlogs about my adventures in Greece!

Last Saturday, Anthi and I went to Sounio to explore beaches and see the Temple of Poseidon.  It was SO good to get outside of Athens and be surrounded by nature.  And it was fun to get a little creative and tell my story with video rather than the written word.  I hope you enjoy this peek into my life in Greece!

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.   Continue reading

A Week in Greece #4: One Month Anniversary, Feeling Homesick

It’s been a month!  I’ve officially stayed in Greece longer than anywhere other than Senegal (this week I passed the Mongolia mark).  I’m happy with this milestone – although I’m missing my homes in the United States, there’s nothing about Greece that I actively dislike.  It’s a really nice place to live.

As always, my life continues to revolve around my Greek class.  I was planning on saying, “Only one more week!” in this post, but on Thursday I talked with Dina and Argyris and we decided I should go ahead and take the Intensive Level II course.  It starts immediately after this one ends, and it will be FOUR hours a day, but for only three weeks.  I’m already exhausted just thinking about it.

However, if I’m going to continue studying Greek, this is definitely the best option.  1)  I will continue to study with Elvira and Emi, and I really like my new friends.  2)  It will be taught by Rosa (my teacher the first two weeks) and she is fantastic.  3)  I used to think I needed a break to let my knowledge settle, but when I gave myself last weekend off, I wound up forgetting a million things.  It’s better, I think, to keep going.  4)  I will be done on March 4, which will be when House Damaris renovations will be winding down and furnishings/planning will be winding up!   Continue reading