My Favorite Greek Hymn

One of my favorite parts of any worship service is the singing, and this is especially true in a country where the majority of my singing time (while driving) has been removed.  I still love singing in Greek, which is a little weird because I can pronounce things even if I don’t understand what I am singing.

There are a lot of translated American worship songs in the Greek churches, which is a shame, because I don’t particularly like American worship songs.  HOWEVER, there is this one song that I’m a huge fan of, mostly because it’s really powerful and kind of foreign-sounding.  As part of my Greek lesson, my teacher had me actually translate the words, so now I know that I am not accidentally blaspheming while singing.

They’re singing the song a bit too fast for my taste in this video, but you get the idea.  The minor key!!  I am a sucker for minor keys.

Ω, Θεέ αναρωτιέμαι (O God, I wonder)
πώς μπορούσα εγώ να ζήσω (how I could live)
δίχως την αγάπη Σου και τη φροντίδα Σου.  (without your love and your care)
Όμως τώρα Σε γνωρίζω (But now I know)
είμαι εγώ παιδί δικό Σου  (I am your child)
και ποτέ δε θα ‘μαι μόνος (θα είμαι μόνος) (and never will I be alone)
γιατί Εσύ θα ‘σαι κοντά μου. (θα είσαι κοντά μου) (because you will be close to me)
Δόξα, στον Πατέρα (Glory to the Father)

Δόξα και στον Υιό Του (and glory to His Son)

Δόξα στ’ Άγιο Πνεύμα παντοτινά! (Glory to the Holy Spirit always)

How Do You Overcome A Mental Block?

I have been slowly realizing that my lack of using Greek is something far deeper than, “Oh, I just don’t have time/don’t have as many opportunities to use it.”  It’s actually something far more along the lines of a psychological block.  I get incredibly nervous when I even THINK about using Greek, my brain mentally throws up when I try to formulate a sentence in my head, and I have reverted to only tentatively saying, “Ευχαριστὠ” and ‘Κἀλη μἐρα” on a VERY irregular basis.

What happened!?  You might remember that at one time, I was writing hilarious letters to fictional girlfriends in Greek.  Looking back, I can only conclude that taking the second level of Greek classes right after the first was a very dumb decision.  I was struggling that first month, and I just barely survived.  I needed a break, but after one short weekend, I was back in class, and everything immediately fell apart.   Continue reading

Things I’ve Learned in Greek Class

One of my favorite things about the seven weeks I spent learning Greek at The Athens Centre was how we learned both the language and the culture.  The Greek language is rich, and as I came to see, very logical!  Although it can be complicated, there are reasons for the grammatical rules that are often based in a decidedly Greek worldview.  I had so much fun learning from my teachers, Roza and Eleni, who instilled a little bit of Greece into my soul.


Below are some of my favorite facts and trivia that I learned while conjugating verbs and memorizing vocabulary.   Continue reading

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

A Week in Greece #7: Language Meltdown but Nice Classmates

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! 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!


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!


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 #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

First Day at Greek School

I have started my month-long intensive Greek lessons!  It’s in downtown Athens, which means it takes about 1.5 hours to get there.  There’s a bus very near the school where I’m staying, which takes about 40 minutes to get to the metro station.  I get on the blue line, and ride that for another 30 minutes or so to Syntagma Square.  I exit aboveground at the place where, eight years ago, I rang handbells for a crowd in front of the Parliament building.  From there, I walked through the National Gardens, exit near the Olympic Stadium, and walk up a sweat-producing hill (altogether about 25 minutes) to the Athens Centre.

The blue line is my walk from Syntagma to the Centre.  The red blobs are tourist destinations.

I arrived at the Centre with enough time to fill out a registration form and grab a cup of free coffee.  I wasn’t really nervous about the class, but I was…on edge? Ready to be nervous? But I think I’m finally experienced enough that I can walk into an unknown situation with new people and not immediately hyperventilate. Of course, it helped that the Centre is small, beautiful, and comfortable.  There’s a fun view of the Acropolis from the roof.   Continue reading