On Monday, May 15th, my Greek language class started. It has been amazing but very exhausting and time consuming since it is an immersion class geared at making us fluent. Having already taken two semesters of modern Greek at UMich, I am in the third level out of five and am continuing grammar and vocabulary. One thing I love about the class is that it is completely spoken in Greek, which is forcing me to pick it up the language even quicker. I am becoming more used to hearing and using Greek, since even when describing a new vocabulary term, the professor speaks in Greek. I also love that I am practicing my speaking and writing skills much more than I did at my university. It has only been one week, but I can already see myself vastly improving in my ability to understand and use Greek. I cannot wait to see where I will be by the end of the summer!
I also started my research project on the 16th. I am reading poet Eva Palmer Sikelianos’ letters she wrote, mostly to her lover Natalie Clifford Barney. The project is still in the beginning stages, so right now my professor and I have just been organizing the letters by date and who they are from. In the future I will be analyzing and digitizing the letters to help bring more awareness to Sikelianos as a poet and lover. While I enjoy my research, I will be sad to see my professor return back to the U.S. I am not worried about continuing the project on my own (although deciphering some of the handwriting will be impossible), but I will for sure miss my professor’s company as we worked side by side.
It has been hard to balance going to my research in the morning and heading right after to my language classes. This is because as soon as I return home for the evening, I have a ton of homework to do, in addition to any other chores and priorities I might have. I have been staying up into the early morning to finish my Greek language homework since the class is a semester’s worth pushed into three weeks; while this has not been easy, I appreciate how much my Greek has improved in such a short period and enjoy learning and practicing the language.
One thing I hope to accomplish is to be able to balance my research and language classes so that I continue to excel in each of them, but also so that I am able to have time to explore Athens and gain something from the living abroad experience. I hope to discover how another country is different and similar to the U.S. so that my perspective on life and how I view it evolves and changes for the better. By experiencing life on my own in a foreign country, I want to understand the world I have not been shown yet to use this knowledge in the future.
What I have experienced so far of the city, I absolutely love. I find it amazing that historic monuments are a common part of the city without needing to be fenced off for display, like the Arch of Hadrian. They are just part of the scenery, which is really amazing that the Athenians live with such phenomenal pieces of history in their everyday life. One part I do not like is how loud the city can be sometimes. At some points it is very quiet, but at others, kids are screaming, music is blasting, and motorcycles are revving past my apartment. There can be something happening when I’m waking up or when I’m falling asleep; it doesn’t matter what time of the day.
I have yet to do much exploring of Athens since I have been so busy, but I soon hope to do more.