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Jackie Ryan / Her Campus
Life > Experiences

It’s All Greek To Me—What I’ve Learned from Two Months of Living in Athens, Greece

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SLU chapter.

I’m currently almost halfway done with my study abroad semester in Athens, Greece. I live in Plaka, which is one of the oldest neighborhoods of Athens. The Acropolis is visible from right outside my apartment, and it is a five minute walk to ancient ruins such as the Roman Agora and the Temple of Hephaestus. The neighborhood is a touristy one, so there are many restaurants, cafes and stores around, and there’s never a dull moment. I have loved my life abroad and the unique things that Greece has to offer that I never would have been able to find anywhere else. I’ve really been trying to immerse myself in the culture here and get the most genuine Greek experience possible, so here are some things I have picked up after two months. 

  1. The concept of “Greek Time”

This was something I was told about before coming here but didn’t really understand until I saw it firsthand. Greeks are very laid-back, and there is not as much pressure to be on time as there is in the United States. In fact, punctuality and timeliness are kind of foreign concepts here. For example, I have a class that starts at 11:30 a.m. The first day, I came at 11:25 a.m., and for a solid ten minutes I was the only person in the classroom. Around 11:35 a.m., the professor came in. The rest of the class didn’t join us until about five minutes later. Now that I’ve gotten used to this, I’ve started showing up to my classes ten minutes past the arrival time. Of course, this concept doesn’t just apply to the beginning of class, but the end, too. If we’re supposed to get out of class at 1:50 p.m., I can count on walking out the door at 2:05 p.m. at the earliest. 

  1. How good the public transit is

Public transportation all over Europe is better than that of America, especially St. Louis. But Greece has some of the oldest tram, metro and train lines, and they operate as if they are brand new. All of the stations are incredibly clean and well-kept, and many of them even have art installations or museum-like exhibits about the history of Greece or modern art. Both the metro and the buses have been very easy to use, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how effective, clean and quiet the public transport is. Emphasis on quiet—this is certainly not the noisy NYC subway. No one really talks and it’s very peaceful. Also, everything is posted and said in both Greek and English, which makes it very easy to navigate as someone who knows about ten words total in Greek. 

  1. Winter in the Mediterranean does exist 

When I envisioned my time in Greece, I saw myself on a beach, walking through picturesque white and blue towns and eating yummy Euro wraps as the sun shone brightly in the sky. Now, I will say, all of those visions have come true, but there have also been days when it’s colder here than it is back in St. Louis. One week, we even had our classes canceled because the Athens suburbs got snowed in! I almost did not bring an actual coat when packing, so I was certainly not expecting snow. It’s definitely a very mild winter, similar to the kind of weather I’m used to during April or late March, but a winter nonetheless. I’ve spent the majority of the last eight weeks in crewnecks and cardigans, and a lot of the locals look at me like I’m crazy for not wearing a winter coat. 

  1. The prices of fresh produce 

Before coming here, I did read about how produce is a lot cheaper here than it is in the United States due to the lack of pesticides and how everything is grown locally. I’m not really sure what other factors play into the prices of groceries here, but the fresh fruit and vegetable market is about a ten-minute walk from my apartment, and the prices there are absolutely insane—the other day I got eight kiwis for 40 cents! Even the grocery store prices are cheaper than in the States, which I’m super thankful for. It’s very easy to do all of my grocery shopping for a week and keep it under 20 euros, which is unheard of back home. 

  1. How big the islands are

I wasn’t really sure what to imagine when I thought about the Greek islands, but I certainly thought they were rather small, walkable and maybe home to a few thousand people at most…boy, was I wrong! This past weekend, two of my close friends and I visited the island of Milos. The trip was absolutely amazing—we got to swim in the sea, see mountain goats and saw one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever laid eyes on. But we only saw two towns in Milos, and it turns out there’s a lot more on the island that we did not even get close to exploring. The two towns we did see were about two miles apart, which is a short cab ride, or a medium-length walk if you’re feeling brave. Some of the larger islands like Crete are home to over half a million people, which was totally a shock to me. 

Overall, I have really enjoyed my experience studying and living in another country and the opportunity to immerse myself in a totally new and different culture. I cannot wait to see what new discoveries the next two months bring! 

Hi! I'm the senior editor of HCSLU, and a junior studying English with minors in Psychology and Communications who loves traveling, poetry, good pasta, and making the world a better place. I was born in Ukraine and currently spend my free time looking for cool hiking spots, trying new foods around Saint Louis, and going thrifting with my friends.