Je bekijkt de reis...
Reisverslag The end of the beginning
17 juli 2014
The end of the beginning
The last two weeks in Greece we've been busy with visiting two more islands: Mykonoooos and Syros. Both trips have been amazing! After that, unfortunately, the days of the goodbyes started, which was not that nice.. I wrote this story shortly before I left Athens and although I'm back home for two weeks now and I totally love being back, I still want to share this last story with you. It's my Erasmus experience in short - my memories apart from all the lovely parties and the beautiful trips. Here I go...
I have been living in Athens for about five months now and slowly I am realizing that I will soon have to leave my new home. It is a feeling I cannot describe. I have had the most amazing time here, in this beautiful country! I have learned so much about the culture, about other countries, about other (crazy, different, nice and energetic) people and also I have learned a lot about myself. I am not able to summarize my whole Erasmus, living-abroad experience in a couple of words… The experience as a whole has been absolutely amazing, let that be clear. When I look back at it, a lot of memories flash through my mind. I will write down the ones that pop into my head first, because apparently they have made the most impression if I might say so.
If I think about Athens, I think about Kypselis street immediately. That is my daily-life image of Athens. I remember I hated to walk up that damn-long street every time, every day, multiple times. It seemed as if it would never end. I made some ‘checkpoints’ when walking along that street: when you arrive at the Kypselis Erasmus house, you reach checkpoint one. When you walk further, you will be at the gym. At this point you are finally getting closer to my room, but you still have to do a bit more effort. After that, you reach the kiosk next to the church. This is when you know you almost rearched the final destination: the Sporgilou residence! The place I lived in. As the semester passed by, I lost count regarding the times I walked up Kypselis street. Maybe because I have been walking that street so often or maybe because it did not feel like climbing a random endless street anymore; it started to feel like being almost home. And every fortunate person loves home.
To call a place in Greece your ‘home’, means you will have to deal with the mentality of the Greeks. Let’s leave the question whether this is a good or a bad thing in the middle, but I do know what I am going to miss about it. It is a totally different thing than I am used to. What I will miss most is the absence of the feeling of stress. Greek people just never have stress, it seems. Not as we do or deal with it in the Netherlands, where we are always in a hurry. Greek people can be late, always. And they can handle everything, always. Also, I will miss the fact that when you look at people meeting each other for the first time, here in Athens, it already looks like they have known each other for years from the minute they know each other’s names – compared to Dutch standards. People will kiss each other as a matter of greeting and they will be very spontaneous from the start. You cannot see from the conversation people are having if they have just met each other or have known each other since high school. I think that is great; the Greek culture should cherish that!
Part of my daily routine in Athens has been to get a ‘koulouri’ (a round, seedy bread) from the bakery at the corner of our street. Athens has so many bakeries; it makes the city cozy and it makes life lived more day-to-day. For example, you also notice it in the supermarkets; people do not buy a lot of stuff at once. Actually, it would not even fit on the treadmill of the register. But ok, back to these ‘koulouries’. When I just arrived in Athens, I did not like these ‘koulouries’. But since the time they started giving me one for free with my coffee, and I tasted it every once in a while, I got very fond of it! Same goes for tomatoes, rice, feta and cappuccino… I did not get these things with my coffee, but I started enjoying all these things while living in Greece. I do not want to live without these things any longer, haha.
Another thing I was luckily enough to experience here was my 22nd birthday. In this story, I did not want to mention specific events, since I already wrote about them in the other blogs. But this day has to be mentioned, because of the things I realized that day. It was the best feeling in the world; let me explain. My brother was here, which made the day even more perfect. Actually, I did not really feel like partying that day to be honest… But that all changed when my birthdayparty at the balcony started! A lot of people came over and my Erasmus friends had a lot of nice surprises. Birthday presents, birthday hugs and congratulations of so many lovely people! I received post cards from people from the Netherlands as well! It is one of the greatest feelings in the world to know that people think about you and care about you. It was unexpected and amazing! Next day I spent at the beach and at Lycabettus hill for the sunset. I totally loved everything about that day. I never want to turn 23; it can never become a more perfect day than this one, for sure!
When I look back at my Erasmus experience in Athens, I see all the parties, all the travelling, all the hours at gym (yes, you may call me crazy), all the nice food, all the clumsy but brilliant actions of Anna, all the laughter with my great buddy Jera, all the funny jokes of Spyros, all the nice chats with Natalie and all the hugs with Simona flashing by… And what I remember most of all is that there was always that curly girl right next to me. It was someone I can now call my friend. Someone I met just a few times before going abroad, but someone I saw everyday during the last half year. Someone who is always cheerful. Most important, someone I could rely on and I would not have wanted to miss in this whole experience. This person is Steffi, of course. Although you meet so many new people and experience a lot of new things, I cannot describe how nice it is to be able to share the whole experience and your point of view with someone from the beginning to the end. We have got to know each other quite well in Greece - and we found out we are completely different in many ways! Actually, I would have to think harder about similarities than differences between us. But the thing is, I never doubted the fact that Steffi would do anything within her ability to help me if I would ask her something. And for me, it is exactly that feeling that made a totally new city feel a bit more like home!
So, I think the well-known quote goes as follow: A journey of a thousand miles, begins with just one single step. Although I am moving back to the Netherlands soon, and some people might think this journey has come to an end, I think I just made one of the very first steps. This journey will continue; it has basically just begun… Let’s hope it will be a very long one. One thing is for sure, the start could not have been any better! I will always take a little bit of Athens with me, everywhere. I will always 'Live it_Love it' thanks to this experience of a lifetime! Ευχαριστώ!
Lots of love from Nijmegen/The Netherlands,
Foto's bij verslag (3)
17 juli 2014 20:35 | Door: -nu- emotionele steffi
Snik, te lief lizzy! And I feel exactly the same way about you!!!!! Kan natuurlijk deze prachtige woorden nooit overtreffen.. LY!!
18 juli 2014 06:09 | Door: Hans
This makes me both sad and happy, to think about it :)
but beautifully written Lizzy.