Jack, Josh and Eleni – A peek into a homestay family
Jack and Josh are two CYA Spring 2018 semester students who have spent their time abroad living in a homestay in an outer suburb of Athens, Psychiko. Their host mom, Eleni, warmly welcomed us into her home to have a coffee and chat about the experience.
Upon entering the home we were struck by a magnificent sprawling view of Athens beneath us. For both of them, getting to see this view on a daily basis, summed up their experience of living in Athens.
Josh: The house is unlike anything I've been in before, that view is just like you’re on top of the world! Jack: Terracotta tiles, solar water heaters, the mountain, this view was all new to us. the neighborhood is also considered one of the safest in Athens.
Jack and Josh would regularly take public transport to and from CYA’s Academic Center in central Athens. They learned a few survival skills from their experiences.
Jack: Traveling on public transport has stopped feeling like a difficult thing to do, we refuse to talk in English in public transport. Josh: You get used to being on a packed bus, and dealing with grumpy drivers!
Eleni has spent a lot of time getting to know the boys and has been immersing them in all aspects of a cultured Athenian lifestyle.
Jack: I saw so much of Eleni the first couple of weeks, the three of us went out to enjoy and experience Athens. Eleni: I believe that modern Greece has a lot to offer, that’s what I’m trying to contribute. We’ve been listening to music, reading poetry, we see the culture. We’ve been to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and once to the Megaron Mousikis for a concert. Jack: ...and that was all in the first three weeks! Josh: We went to see a piano concert, for me that was a first.
Jack: Eleni plays vinyl, wonderful music. I love listening to Hatzidakis, I had no idea. Eleni lists names not only of Greek musicians, but also famous films from Europe, and I haven’t heard of any of them. Josh: It's so interesting for us, Eleni’s interested in good cinema. Not only have we not heard of most of them, I don’t think we’d have been able to find them in the US a lot of the time.
We asked the two host brothers what they think of the homestay experience compared to that of shared student apartments.
Josh: From all things that I could do in dorms in Pangrati I don’t think it' s as different an experience from going to college, so my feeling is that if you're going to do all the effort of staying abroad and you have the opportunity of living in a house, at the very least you get to experience Greek food. Maybe even make some! Jack: I recommend it, 150 percent. Every night Eleni has made us something. At the moment we’re kind of fasting through her! We eat SO much. This living really appeals to us, because I feel like we’re not at all part of the drinking culture.
As we tour the house, the boys point to the dining room, where you can smell cooked food. The bathroom has a LOT of sea glass Eleni has proudly collected from Greek beaches. Jack and Josh’s bedrooms share a long balcony. ‘House-ish cats’ are stretched out in the sun on the balcony. It feels like home.