Saturday, September 19, 2009

music is an international language

This week, although long since we had classes on friday, seemed to go by pretty fast. It started with a very interesting experience. Since my program lasts longer than 90 days, we have to get visa extensions. Which involve a hefty sum of 180 Euro (another hidden fee sadly) and a tuberculosis test. However, we don't get the tb test at a normal hospital, we get the test at a hospital FOR visa extensions. This means it is a kinda sketchy place since they are dealing with economic immigrants (a lot of Albanians), and the people who work there are a bit rough around the edges. We had to line up, and one by one we go into a little room to the side and get jabbed (yes jabbed) with a needle. After the shot you wait in another room before having to take a chest x-ray. This involved taking my shirt of with a very "sketchy" male xray operator which created another interesting experience in itself. Lucky for all the visa process is officially over.

Sadly, after my hospital visit on Monday, my cold that I got in Santorini started to get worse. Monday and Tuesday basically consisted of me trying to get better and get rid of my fever. However, I did learn how the pharmacies work here. You tell the pharmacist your symptoms and then they hand you the medicine, it is pretty efficient. They work more like doctors in Greece than in the United States, hands down.

Unfortunately, my first visit to the Acropolis with my archaeology class oc
curred while I was mid cold, but it didn't keep me from being mesmerized by the experience. It was stunning to think I was actually standing on the place I have only
seen on slides in art history class or on television.

On Wednesday evening, the president of the program had his semester annual "garden party" at his house in the suburbs. He has a beautiful, homey home in a very nice suburb about twenty minutes from the heart of Athens (much longer when there is traffic). They had tables set up all around th
eir yard (which was obviously planned for entertaining), and we had upscale gyros with ice cream for desert. The best part for everyone involved it seemed was that they served wine at the dinner, which created greek dancing towards the end of the evening. I really enjoyed it, I just wish I had felt better, was still feeling out of it from the cold.

Thursday was my first Greek test. Have yet to get my grade back, so whether I know very basic greek well is still debatable. Overall, its just greek to me. The
best part of the day (obviously not the test), was that evening I got to meet the 13 year old girl I would be helping for the semester. They family lives in the same neighborhood as my classes (Pangrati), and was about a ten minute walk from class. I met the mom and the girl whose name is Celia. She goes to an American school in Athens, therefore her classes are in English (her English is very good). In turns out I will not be babysitting her but rather tutoring her. Her mom who is super sweet, left us alone so we could get to know each other. We ended up talking about twilight, the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus for about an hour. I guess some things definitely cross cultural lines. It was great, I got to help her with her English (although she doesn't need much), and she got to laugh at me trying to speak Greek. Hopefully my Greek will really improve with our visits. We did get started right away however, she needed help learning how to figure out longitude and latitude, so the night quickly turned into a two hour geography lesson. I promised her that I will take her to the new twilight movie comes out and her soccer games if she makes the school team. I am beyond excited for
the opportunity, it should be really wonderful.

Yesterday, for my class, we went to the new acropolis museum which is incredible. The building could not be better (the only problem is one floor is see through and it
is a top floor so sometimes you can see up people's shirts), but overall it is stunning. It is a must must must see. I saw the Kritios Boy, which is actually much smalle
r than I thought it was, a
nd numerous other famous works from the acropolis. I learned once again why it is nice to live in a big city. Last night I went to the olympic stadium (the one for 2004, not the ancient one by my school), so see a FREE concert of popular Greek bands and the r&b/rap artist Akon. The stadium is about 25 minutes outside the city, so we took the metro which stops right in front of the stadium. I'm pretty sure the entire Athenian population under the age of 35 was there. The athens youth is an interestin
g crowd, however not too different than those in the US. Punkish/emo seems to be the main style. The best part however was hearing the entire crowd belt out the words to the Greek music. In addition it was crazy to hear everyone singing loudly all the lyrics to Lady GaGa, The Black Eyed Peas and many other popular US groups with a Greek accent (video below). No wonder why everyone also knows English, at least the words used in Top 40 songs. I honestly think I enjoyed hearing the Greek music more than Akon, but also probably because it was just a more new and more exciting experience. After the concert we squeezed back on to the metro and got a late dinner in Syntagma square before heading back to my bed at about 3 am.

This week we are having a trip to Crete through the school program. Will be gone Monday night until Saturday at 6am, updates to come upon return :) Most likely won't have internet there, can be reached on my cell per always.

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