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Off-Campus Study

Notes from Abroad: Beatrice in Greece

Beatrice Skeffington-Palmieri ’19 is a double major in English and Art History who is studying in Greece.

I have always been in awe of people who speak multiple languages, as I have always struggled with learning another language, yet I never truly appreciated multilingual people until I came abroad. Being in a place where you do not speak the language can be incredibly stressful and overwhelming, constantly attempting to piece together what you mean through the little bits of the native language and what little the other person knows of English can be really embarrassing. For me, I always feel a bit ashamed that I do not speak Greek whenever I come in contact with a person who does not speak English or whose English is limited. However, while I do not know if this is common in the other countries, the overwhelming majority of the Greek people are more than happy to help you. While on a class trip to s design studio in Athens the women in charge of the studio did the talk in Greek as she was not fluent in English during the talk three different people offered to translate for me to make sure I had an idea of what she was saying, she also made a point of asking me in English if I had any questions.  I felt a little guilty that the others had to translate for me, I did not expect to have others go out of their way for me like that but it was very clear that the people there truly wanted me to understand. I have also experienced this at restaurant and stores. While my Greek is limited at best the Greek people are always very happy that you are willing to try, and will tell you what different words are in Greek and help you with pronunciation whether they are a teacher, friend or stranger. 

Being here in Greece has been absolutely amazing and beautiful. I am impressed with the landscape every day on my walk home not to mention while in Athens or on the islands. The food is delicious and the ability to travel to other easily so amazing. While all of these things are wonderful I believe that what allowed me to not have overwhelming culture shock and not be homesick is the incredible hospitality of Greek culture, there will always be one of two people who are rude or abrasive but the culture and people as a whole and inviting and warm. As a person who comes from the East Coast, I was not used to this level of communal identity that goes beyond Minnesota nice or southern hospitality. Despite being a little alarmed at first I have grown to truly appreciate the at times almost aggressively helpful nature of the Greeks. I have loved my semester so far and can not wait to explore more of this beautiful country.