Bringing the learning home (Australian Learning & Teaching Council)

First Impressions about Thessaloniki

I have been spending my semester abroad studying in the city of Thessaloniki in the north of Greece.

My first impressions upon arriving in Saloniki were of disappointment. The sky was grey and overcast, the weather barely 10 degrees and the buildings seemed dirty and un appealing. Nothing seemed to work as it should, or as it does back in Australia. Nothing can be achieved in one day, for instance if you want to post a letter home it will take a few days as you need to go and buy and envelope one day, and then try the post office a few times until its open to send the letter. It can be frustrating and exhausting as you try to push past this to make life work the way you think it should. This view was soon overturned as I made friends, the weather improved and I began to really appreciate the beauty of the city.

The streets are lined with citrus trees which means that there is constantly a faint citrus scent wafting down the streets. You see past the graffiti and the ugliness of the buildings and instead begin to appreciate the undercurrent of the Greek culture which pulses through the city. The art of taking a coffee with friends and family for hours every single day. The sharing of dishes at meal times, which also last for several hours, the Greek version of siesta which means most of the shops close in the afternoon every day. You begin to adapt to the lack of urgency which surrounds everything, and it no longer bothers you that it can take days to fulfill a simple daily task, as that’s part of the charm of Greece.

At first I was overwhelmed with the daily life of living in Saloniki, but now I know im going to find it really hard to adjust to being back home in Australia, where it is rude to be more than 10 minutes late to meet a friend, a coffee takes 30 minutes to drink at most. You also can’t leave everything to do tomorrow like here. Whilst today you don’t have anything specific to do, your too busy having a coffee and enjoying life to do it today so you will do it tomorrow instead.



2 responses

  1. Jan Gothard

    Hi Morgan

    Delighted you managed to get on line! I was fascinated to read your commentary on the process of slipping gradually into Greek life, immersing yourself in new cultural ways and patterns and a different pace of life. Also intersted in your initial reaction to Thessaloniki – I wonder how many ‘tourists’ have been similarly disappointed on arrival, their expectations not quite met; but you are not a tourist, you are a ‘sojourner’, and have had time to look beyond an apparently not so great facade.

    I will continue to look forward to your updates on Greece and Greek life and culture.

    Tell me – what is the attitude to Australians like (if there is one…) ? so many Greeks have/had relations in Australia, esp in Melbourne – are you welcomed like family or like a tourist?

    I was interested in your Easter comments too -holidaying with Greek friends – has it been easy to meet Greeks? are there many international students where you are studying? we don’t have many others (any?) there at present so wonder how many are there.

    And how’s your Greek?


    May 4, 2011 at 1:29 am

  2. Hi Jan,
    The reactions to Australians here are really good. Everyone loves to talk about Australia, and the land thats sooooo far away. Many people have relatives in Melbourne and have visited so the reaction has been really positive.
    Thessaloniki is a student town, during Easter it was like a ghost town. There are many international students as well so there is a really large mix.
    I havent found it really easy to meet Greek people, as my classes are all in English and only for exchange/erasmus students, but I have a few Greek friends that I have met through other friends who have been in the city for a longer time than myself.
    Alas the Greek language is not one that I get on very well with. I can read the alphabet and say basic phrases but that is where it ends.
    Thankyou for your comments and feedback!

    May 16, 2011 at 10:15 am

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