5 Things I Discovered in My First Week as an Athenian
During my first week here in Greece, Athens has led me to make so many new discoveries about the place and its culture. CYA has done an amazing job in integrating us students with the rich Greek life around us in a short amount of seven days. After taking my camera along and adventuring, here are a list of things I have discovered:
1. It can get cold and wet in Greece
I’m not going to lie, when I thought of Greece prior to my trip, I thought of its island life and perfect sunny weather. But when I got here, I was met with a cold, wet city. I am in no way disappointed, however, because Athens has so much charm with endless amounts to explore in all its eclectic neighborhoods. But I definitely should have packed for colder weather!!
2. Food is amazing but can be deceiving
Athens has so much delicious food (the Spanakopita is my favorite so far) and lots of “orange trees.” I use quotation marks because they are in fact not oranges. My taxi driver informed me that they are called “Nerántzi” and are a type of bitter orange. He advised that I do not eat them straight from the tree, but that they make yummy candied fruit treats when prepared properly by his mother!
3. Your neighbors are cool
This is probably the coolest part of living here so far: I live next door to the Panathenaic Stadium, or Kallimarmaro. AKA where the original Greek Olympic games were held!! Not only is it amazingly preserved, but you can walk on its steps and track. While I am doing nowhere near the feats Ancient Greeks did there (I almost wiped out walking up the marble steps), it’s amazing that I can interact with the ancient monuments so closely! It’s also a short walk from the Arch of Hadrian, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and the Acropolis, all breathtaking ruins. Fun fact: it’s the world’s only all-white marble stadium!
4. Time might as well be in Greek
One very noticeable difference I’ve observed while being here is that the Greek daily routine and operation of time is very different from mine in the States. Greeks have siesta hours from 2-5pm where they close shops, go home from work, and rest. I was shocked when I went out to go shopping around 4pm (a fine hour for this in America) and none of the shops were open! We were even cautioned to remain quiet if out and about during these hours as it is a part of the Greek etiquette. Because of this siesta, Greeks also eat dinner relatively late. At home in the US, I’m usually having my dinner anywhere from 6pm-7:30pm. Here, it is not unusual to have dinner at 9 or 10pm! It’s quite the adjustment for an American!
5. I am more of a “coffee person” than I thought
ALL Greeks love coffee (or at least the vast majority). Walking down any street, you’re bound to pass a good 5 or so coffee shops in a span of 15 minutes. Here, coffee drinking is a social activity, a form of relaxation, a treat, and a jumpstart to the morning. I’ve come to realize that I love the cafe culture. Every cafe or bakery owner that I have met so far has been so welcoming and nice. These owners go out of their way to learn your name and ask questions to get to know you. It really made the transition to a new country so much easier. Thankfully, I live right next door to a great coffee shop (Stadium Cafe if you’re ever in Athens!) and bakery (Kekkos) and I love stopping in and chatting with the owners while picking up a delicious cup of their signature coffee or pastries.