Before coming to Greece, I would have said that I thrived on stress.
I Skyped my mother yesterday and was reminded how stressfully my life was in America. Between classes, work, student organizations, volunteering, family and friends my schedule was a constant race to the finish line.
In Thessaloniki, I still have deadlines and responsibilities but the pace of life is more manageable. I can enjoy the entirety of my days in a way that was personally unattainable in America.
A Simple Walk
For example, one of my favorite parts of any given day is my walk home from the bus. The bus ride itself is chaotic, involving a hike up a massive set of stairs, a packed bus, an across the street transfer to another packed bus, and finally a several block walk home. However, this walk, despite uneven sidewalks, puddles of unknown origin, and having to snake around cars parked on top of the curb, is when I take the time to reflect on the fact that I’m in Greece.
I’m in the homeland of the Greek gods whose mythology I studied as a child.
I’m surrounded by a new language and culture so unlike anything I’d ever experienced in America.
I’ve been given the opportunity to meet new people and create lasting friendships in a foreign country.
On that walk home I am filled with the knowledge that I’m a young, independent woman capable of anything and everything.
Last semester, my advisor at Iowa State gave me a great piece of advice: stop and smell the roses. Yes, I’d heard it before, but rarely followed through. However, since spending a few weeks adjusting to a Mediterranean lifestyle, I’ve realized how little time I spent simply enjoying life.
In America, I know that I would have dreaded the exact same walk home because it would have been time out of my day that could be better spent. Instead, I’m able to use that time to reflect on my contentment with life in Greece.
Greek life has taught me how to relax, a skill I was desperately lacking as an American college student. Hopefully I can take the lessons I’ve learned here and apply them when I return home.