Johnson ’11 Fitting In with Greek Culture

Joe Johnson ’11 – Well, I am on my fourth week in Athens and I find it pretty astounding how the time in a foreign country has adapted me to its everyday lifestyle. For example, I went downtown to a store in Syntagma Square. Syntagma Square to Athens is like a miniature version of Times Square to New York City. I went into a store called “Public” which is very similar to our Best Buy, however, Public didn’t only sell electronics; they also sold name brand clothes (in the same store), which blew my mind. Anyways, I was in conquest for an Ethernet cord for my computer and when the attendant asked me what I was looking for I replied, “A two meter Ethernet cord.” It wasn’t until my roommate pointed it out to me that I used the term “meter” instead of feet. Not only was I using meters to describe lengths but liters to describe volume. The funny thing is, I don’t recall asking for the cord in meters and I can’t remember ordering beverages in liters, my brain just automatically switched over. 

Another proud moment in my adaptation to Greek life was when a group of tourists approached me and asked me for directions to Monastiraki (the main shopping plaza of Athens). I assume they thought I was a Greek citizen, or at least they were hoping I was due to my Mediterranean complexion. I was happy to give them proper directions how to get there and I even remembered which road to use. The group of about 15 was very appreciative and thanked me for the directions. I could tell they were from America because of their English and one of the younger kids in the group was wearing a Denver Broncos jersey. As they walked away, I paused, looked back at the group, looked forward, and then nodded to myself for a job well done. I felt like a true citizen! I promise the story was much funnier at the moment but I did indeed feel a sense of belonging to the city, and in only three shorts weeks!
Like I stated in my last blog, time has been going by extremely fast. Last week, my class visited the sites of Piraeus (Port City), Eleusis, Eleutherai, the Agora in Athens, and the infamous Corinth. My favorite of the five sites was Corinth because of the archeological history and the surrounding area was breathtaking. I have never seen so many hills, valleys, and beautiful bodies of water all tied together in one fascinating landscape. This past weekend I went to Nafplion and Epidaurus with a group of my friends from class. In Nafplion, I visited with Adam Miller ’12. Adam and I work together at Career Services and became good friends over the past two semesters. Adam is working in a wine shop in Nafplion for seven weeks out of the summer and from what he has been telling me, his experience of Greece is pretty comparable to mine. It was great seeing another Wabash Man in such a distant, and distinct place. 
After Nafplion, my group went to Epidaurus which holds the world’s largest and most preserved ancient theater! The theater was built in the 4th century BC and holds just under 15,000 people. What makes this theater so unique is its acoustics. Rather by accident or perfectly applied acoustic properties, you could hear someone light a match at the middle of the stage from the very last row! No other theater is this precise and perfect. My group had half of the people on stage and the other half scattered all along the last row (roughly 150 feet away). The people on the stage whispered messages to each of us and with no problem, we could understand them. When it was my time to go on stage, I decided I would sing “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson. I sounded pretty pathetic, but still got a great applause. 
This trip has been extremely special to me. I would like to take some time and thank all the people at Wabash and at home who made this possible. First, I’d like to thank the Rudolph Family. Without the Rudolph Family’s generous donation to Wabash giving students the opportunity to study abroad, I would never be studying here in Greece. It is because of them that I am experiencing the trip of a lifetime! Also I would like to thank Wabash College and the people that helped me out with the process. I’d like to thank Betsy Knott for recommending and informing me about the Ken Rudolph Fund. Also, I’d like to thank Mr. Clapp for helping me with the organization and making sure I got accepted to the program. Next, I’d like to thank Dr. Mikek for helping me with travel arrangements and writing me a letter of recommendation. Finally, I’d like to thank Dean Phillips for advising me as well as his letter of recommendation. On top of my Wabash family, I’d like to thank my personal family for their support and encouragement in making this trip possible. I cannot thank both of my families enough. 
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