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Study Abroad - Chris Stamas' blog
Studying in Greece
Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010
Like most any Greek-American, I was enrolled in “Greek School” at an early age. Every Saturday from age 6-12, I was dropped off at my church and taught the Greek language. Though I dreaded going to Greek School at the time, it has turned into an invaluable asset since arriving in Greece.
Due to my lack of fluency and newfound love of Greek culture, it has become my primary goal to achieve a better command of the Greek language. Thankfully, Arcadia requires every student to enroll in a Greek Language class. Unlike other language classes, it focuses on conversational skills over grammar and writing. It has helped everyone immensely in learning how to get around Athens, order food, and communicate on a basic level with locals.
Outside of the classroom, I have met several Greek friends who have allowed me to struggle through my Greek in front of them. The time spent drinking coffee and hanging out with them have been valuable in helping along my proficiency. They, along with the shopkeepers and other locals love to hear me attempting to speak Greek instead of taking the easy way out and speaking English.
Which brings me to my final point; it is amazing how many people speak English in Athens. In fact, it is hard for me to remember a time meeting a local who had zero knowledge of the English language. This has fascinated me, and led me to inquire why. The responses I have gotten are twofold. First, all Greeks are taught English in school starting at a very early age. The more fascinating reason why Greeks are able to speak English is since the vast majority of the movies and music they consume are in English. Therefore, they learn through a sort of osmosis.
Over the course of living in Greece, my language has vastly improved. I hope to use every opportunity possible while here to speak in Greek. Through class, speaking to friends, and immersing myself in any Greek media I can get my hands on, I will come away from my study abroad experience knowing a second language.