Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 12

There are a few very important things I have learned in class so far:
 1) Nobody likes Athens except Athenians. Everyone I have talked to talks about Athens as if they were      talking about something disgusting and unmentionable. According to the locals here in Thessaloniki that I have talked to, Athens believes itself to be better than other Greeks because of the rich history, just as the Ancient Athenians believed they were superior.
 2) Christianity ruined everything. Artifacts, buildings, ideas, practices, lifestyles. Bottom line, Christianity destroyed Greece.
 3) And lastly, Greeks really did start everything. Art, language, architecture... ask any Greek and they can tell you about its Greek origin. This isn't really impressive until you take courses that shows you proof of the Greek origin.

After school I went to the market to get a few groceries. I found what I needed which was really cool because I could read the containers, not that I understood them. I got in line after this older woman who was obviously on her own time clock. She had bought her groceries, and by the time I bought mine and the woman behind me bought hers, she still hadn't finished bagging. In Greece, you bag your own stuff at the register, and the counter is very small so you need to work fast so your stuff isn't in the way for the next person's food. (The cashier will continue with their order even if your stuff is still sitting there.) SO this woman didn't finish bagging until the woman after me paid, so I as stuck awkwardly between the two, waiting to have room to bag my groceries. Everyone was staring, which I am used to since I am quite obviously an American. Long story short,  awkward moment in the grocery store.

We went to Pulp again tonight. It was a lot of fun, and is definitely my favorite place to hang out. Tomorrow Kostos is taking me to get my phone. This should be interesting... I am riding the bus from school all the way downtown to meet him. He told me the stop to get off at, but from prior experience I have come to realize that Greeks do not give very detail instructions, which can make this confusing super quickly. Hopefully I make it!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day 11

This morning we decided to get up super early to go to the open air market down the street from us. I ended up with 4 hours of sleep and we walked all the way down there to find out that "open at 7" doesn't mean the market is open at 7.. It means the vendors get there at 7 and are not ready to sell anything until after 7:30. Since I had to be back to get ready for class, I didn't actually get to shop, but it was really cool to see the set up. 

I am starting to understand the time table of Thessaloniki and am loosening up. I am so used to being punctual back in the States, so living in a city where time isn't much of a factor has been a huge challenge for me. The stores open and close as they please, and the city is dead from 3-5 pm everyday for siesta, or rest. At first this go with the flow vibe from the whole city was a turn off, but now I can't imagine life any other way. 

After school, Casey and I decided to catch the bus to Kentro, which is the center of downtown. Yesterday we were told the bus from school takes us to the stop in the center that we already know, but just like the rest of the luck I have had so far it did not. We ended up way past the center of town, and had to find our way back to the area we knew. We were hungry, so along the way we were also trying to find food. Of course the one time we are looking for food we cannot find anywhere to a city known for its food. Finally we found Goody's, which is Greek's version of "American fast food." It was really funny.. they had an American style Greek Gyro, which everyone seemed to be eating. It seems absurd that being within walking distance of multiple Gyro places at all times in the city anyone would choose to eat the poorly made gyro we eat in the states. Safe to say I will never eat at Goody's again. I am surrounded by the best food I have ever tried..There is no way I will waste another meal on American food. 

After walking a while, we finally figured out where we were and made it to the main pedestrian walk downtown. Right in the middle of the town there is a huge walkway lined with little stores and eateries. Everywhere you look there are ruins of old temples and castles, and beautifully built byzantine churches that are still in use or have been converted into museums. It is such a change from the cities we have back home.   

Monday, June 25, 2012

Day 10

So today was pretty normal... went to school, got off on the wrong bus and ended up at a different bus depot than last time, and then ended up downtown from 8 until 1:30. I tried Greek Pitza (Pizza) which was so much better than what is served in the US. 

After dinner we went to a small bar called Pulp Bar. Casey and I decided to try Ouzo. Bad life decision. It was horrible.

 But our new friend Konstos helped us find a different drink we would like better. I ended up with a Strongbow Cider, and our entire group had a shot called a little cappuccino. It was a great night!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Day 9

IT RAINED!!! It hasn't rained here in three months, so this is actually pretty great news. Today was pretty chill, but we went to the movies. I have decided that next time I want to go to the movies I might as well just fly here to see it. It would probably be cheaper than going to my local theater. For the price of one ticket back home I paid for my taxi fare, movie ticket, a small popcorn that rivals the large bucket back home and a pop. Crazy.

I decided (just now, about midnight here) to do some laundry. The washing machine here looks like the little toy washing machine I had as a kid as part of my play house. So to save time and money, I decided to try washing them the old fashion way in the sink. I now know why the washing machine was invented. I should probably clean up the puddle of water in my bathroom... 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Day 8

Today was freaking hot. We went to the beach and it was 97 degrees. I put on sunscreen 4 times and sat in the shade and I am still burnt. Not fun...but the beach was really nice.  

I cannot believe I am saying this, but I miss my frigid house. It is after midnight and it is 82 degrees in my room. Gross. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Day 7

Yeah, about day 6... Started off as a normal, almost boring day. Not real exciting until we went to the summer W, an open air bar on the outskirts of town. Casey (roommate) was turning 22 at midnight so we decided that we would party hard for it. Here in Greece drinking is a social experience that does not end in a hangover like it does in the US. But naturally, being American after a few drinks we decided to show the locals "how we do in America." Pretty sure no one asked to see how we socialize but at least they were able to laugh at how ridiculous we get. So I drank way too much, and ended up walking down the street with Casey to get hot dogs at 4 in the morning. By the way, if you are ever in Thessaloniki and just happen to want a hamburger at 4a.m. don't do it! Bad life choice right there.

I slept most of today, so not much to say. I went and watched the Germany vs. Greece soccer game which was so much fun. We lost, which was really disappointing, but it was an amazing experience. It seemed like everyone was down by the boardwalk watching the game in cafes. I actually enjoyed a televised soccer game! Great ending of the day. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 5: Funny Story Kind of Day

SO today was the first day of classes. This should be an adventure, right? Guess that the 12 greater gods decided that I needed some excitement for my day. So I went to my classes which were so much better than any course I have had in the US and my five hour break between classes was a bit dull, but with so many of us all chilling there it wasn't too bad. Now, ACT provides a free shuttle to campus in the morning, but getting back we are on our own. We have two choices: take a taxi (split four ways is less than 2 euro) or take the public bus (.90 euro, but you have to switch buses part way). Being the economist and adventurist I am, I decided taking the public bus would be a great way to save money and get to know the city. Bet you can see where this story is going... So my roommate and a girl named Disney (for reals, no joke) got on the bus and were talking to a gentleman who helped us figure out the stamping so we wouldn't get fined for having no clue what we were doing. We almost missed the stop to switch buses, but right before the door closed my roommate noticed and we got off. Close call, right? So then we are waiting for the next bus and I ask if we are supposed to cross the street to the other stop and they both agreed we didn't, and even though I was pretty sure we should cross, I decided to finally listen to my mom and pretend I didn't think I was right. Worst timing award goes to me for deciding to listen to her finally, since I was right this time and we rode the bus all the way to the bus depot since the bus driver didn't speak English. Luckily a different man at the depot spoke English and was very nice to us, telling us it happens all the time and we were not the first to do this. So we sat there for a few minutes waiting for the next bus to leave to take us home. An hour and a half later we finally get home. But wait, my day gets even better..

So then Casey (my roommate), Rachel (new friend) and I were hanging out playing cards and I was sitting on my bed. So background info, when I got here I realized my bed made a lot of noise when I sat on it, or laid on it, or shifted. Pretty much the slightest touch made so much noise that it can be heard outside of our room. Being surrounded by college students, it sounds kinky... yeah not really what I want to be known for. Anyways, I was sitting on it earlier playing cards and talking and all of a sudden, the bed broke and the mattress fell straight down into the frame. I screamed, then laughed cause it was freaking hilarious, and other students came to our door to see what the loud thunk was. Yeah, so I went from the kinky sounds at night girl to the girl who's bed broke...neither of which I would like associated to me. Oh well.. it ended with us yelling Opa! and drinking some terrible wine. Pretty sure I will never forget tonight. =]

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day 4

Today was our trip to Vergina, which is a small town about an hour and a half away that is home to the royal burials. The tombs are underneath this small hill, and I actually got to see the large, square structures that King Phillip II and other members of his family were buried. It was amazing to get to see the structure itself that held all the artifacts instead of walking through a normal museum that shows pictures of the archaeological site. After the tour we ate at this little restaurant and I still cannot believe how much food you get. The plates seemed like they just kept coming one after the next. It is sad to think that after today I will not be eating like that anymore since I will be on my own for food instead of the program taking us out everyday for the best of the best.

When we returned to Thessaloniki I went exploring, trying to find a store with a hair dryer and a straightener. It is much harder than I thought it would be. On top of that everyone was staring at me, which I actually didn't mind. I figure if they stare at me I can look at them and the awkwardness balances out. I decided to embrace the awkwardness and now I say "ya sas" (hello) to everyone who looks at me. I think I startled a few people because they didn't seem to expect me to address them in Greek. But most people seem to like when I greet them as they pass.

I also went to the supermarket and bought some groceries, which is difficult since I didn't know what half the stuff on the shelves were. But I bought a lot of stuff, which was pretty heavy and while I was standing, struggling to hold my basket this little old woman came up to me and very sweetly gestured for me to sit the basket on the ground while I wait in line. Yeah, I know... I felt pretty dumb having not realized that option for myself. Anyways, moral of that story is I want to adopt her as my pseudo yia yia because she was really nice and absolutely adorable.

Oh, and I also went outside with a couple girls to the orange tree across the road to see if we could get an orange off of it. Pretty sure the tree is there for decoration, not to pick fruit from but we were going to try since, you know... its dark out. No one will see us. Yeah, that was dumb. We stood there staring up into the tree at an orange way out of reach while people walked past and looked at us like we were crazy. Oh yeah, we are great at blending in.

Finally found a negative about Greece.. There are a lot of bugs. And I am getting eaten alive. Top of my 'To Buy' list: BUG SPRAY

Monday, June 18, 2012

Day 3

Today we had orientation, which sounds awful but was a lot of fun. The staff at the college is much more relaxed here than I used to. They took us out for dinner and we sat around drinking wine and I even learned a traditional Greek dance. After dinner (a 2 hour experience, not a just a meal) the group went to a bar nearby for drinks. It was a great night!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Day 2

Well the flight from Philadelphia to Munich didn't go as well as planned. We left an hour and a half after scheduled and had 20 minutes from the time our plane landed to the time our next one took off. Luckily we were able to get through customs and onto the plane in time. Soon after getting to the housing I went and experienced my first Greek meal, a chicken gyro. It was amazing! Later I went for a tour of the city with some of the other students, then branched off and went for a drink with a bunch of the girls. The waitress gave us each a free shot (probably because between the dozen of us we spent enough to cover it anyways). Then we went for a walk on the boardwalk and I bought loukoumades. Sooo delicious :)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Day 1: Travel

I can't believe today is already here! So far everything is going fairly smoothly despite the delays. My first flight was in the tiniest plane I have ever been in and that was the sketchiest plane rides I have ever been on, but it was a fun adventure! Now I am about to board the largest plane I have ever been on for the next segment of my journey. Munich here I come!!