Greece through American Eyes

Ancient Greece gave birth to myth, theater, philosophy, and democracy. This is a country of great importance when it comes to our modern society in such that they have influenced most aspects of our lives. From the theater of Dionysus to the first academy the Greeks influenced government, entertainment, religion and the expressive ability to think critically and constructively. How could a country with such immense influence go unnoticed in today’s world? During my time in Greece I was determined to dig deep and uncover the beauty and richness that is hidden from the eyes of a typical American.

Upon arrival your world begins to change immediately after your step off the airplane. The air is fresh, the noise level is lower, and everywhere you look there are strange unrecognizable words all over the place! You have officially stepped out of your comfort zone. After obtaining our luggage meeting our city tour guide we climbed aboard our ride to where we would be staying for the next 10 days. Apart from the occasional nap, the view of the city of Athens was completely astonishing. In every direction there were buildings upon buildings as far as the eye could see. No joke, look!

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Beauty had already pierced the veil, ready to be discovered.

During the first few days we traveled around Athens and explored the ancient and archeological sites; each one more impressive than the last. It was important to the ancient Athenians that the city of Athens be built in such a way that from every street you have a nice view of the Parthenon. Even to this day Athenians still follow this philosophy when expanding their city. This is the reason for the wide spread urban sprawl since buildings are no taller than 8 stories tall. The whole concept of translating an ancient philosophy into modern development baffled me. How could this be? Why not just grow like the rest of the world? Through the days and nights no matter where I was I’d look up to check if I could see the magnificent Parthenon as the ancients had, and every time I did.

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From lectures to blending in there was a lot to learn in such little time. Everyday you learn something new, but in Athens you learned something every 20 minutes. The amount of stuff you could talk about in relation to Athens is incredible! Having been a civilization thousands of years before Christ makes it really hard to not have something to talk about. No matter where we were or what we were doing our tour guide could give a speech about our environment. One thing that got me was how the city of Athens developed over the years. There is so much history about the individual neighborhoods, districts, squares and those who occupy them. One particular neighborhood in Psiri caught my attention with its old unique style. The neighborhood had once been the most popular place to live in Athens, but now it was nearly abandoned, a ghost “town” of sorts. However, with recent events young wealthy people are buying out the houses to renovate and recreate the atmosphere the neighborhood once possessed.

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Although Athens has a lot to give in culture, ancient sites, and knowledge, the most beautiful part of Greece is the people. No matter where or when there was always a sense of hospitality that was commonly shared amongst the people. Whether you were Greek or American everyone was treated with the same respect. This was a whole different change coming from America where everyone lacks patience and sets expectations for just about everything. In Greece the people would take their time, relax, and enjoy their surroundings and company they had. It was rare to see any Greeks eating lunch by themselves or browsing their phones during a meal. Conversations were a lot quieter as if to give everyone the same opportunity to speak; as a soft spoken person this was great! If you needed help just about anyone would stop and take a moment out of their time to help you out. This was a huge shock since most of my experiences in large cities had been the complete opposite. My time in Greece and within the city of Athens I was able to make friends whom I will never forget, and will always miss. That is the real beauty a typical American cannot see.

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-Ryan Sargent


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