Allison Tripp, a junior at Boston College, just returned from a semester at the American College of Thessaloniki in Greece, where she studied art and architecture, and history. Read her blog at itsallgreektome09.wordpress.com/.
SOUL OF GREEK FOOD: There is the most amazing cucumber yogurt dip called tsatsiki, and the feta here is somehow infinitely better than the feta in the United States. Everything is fresher, so even a simple “Greek’’ salad tastes amazing. I also am in love with gyros, the Greek version of a kebab or shwarma. The Greeks eat parts of animals that most Americans wouldn’t touch on a regular basis - but I didn’t have the culinary confidence to try to cook liver or brain in my apartment’s kitchen.
ART UP CLOSE: I ended up seeing dozens of works of art and architecture that we studied at Boston College during my travels. When my mom visited, I took her to The White Tower (www.mbp.gr/html/en/pirgos.htm) and the Museum of Byzantine Culture (www.mbp.gr) and The Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki (www.macedonian-heritage.gr).
BLUE LAWS: The siesta is legally enforced with quiet hours between 3-5 p.m. Since I lived a mile or two outside the main downtown squares, most of the businesses near my apartment were closed during these hours and opened back up after 5 only on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. It was impossible to get anything done on a Sunday, which was both relaxing and irritating when I would get back from a weekend away and arrive home to an empty fridge. (I ate a lot of cereal this semester.)
GREEK TIME:Everything happens in Greece at least a half-hour late and everything - including restaurants, students, teachers, assignments, events, even time, it feels like, occasionally - moves at a slower pace. Although it took some getting used to, I ended up loving this slower pace. I even learned to nurse a frappe (a Greek iced-coffee drink) for a whole hour!
CHURCH AND STATE: Religion is state sponsored and thus prevalent in all aspects of life in Greece. Orthodox churches are everywhere and almost everyone in Greece (statistically, anyway) is Greek Orthodox. I had a fantastic discussion in my class with Greek students about their views on the Orthodoxy. Almost all of them recognized the problems that the affiliation between state and church caused for the population, but they were all skeptical as to when or if it would ever change.