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.

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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!

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!