Greek Culture

Differ from Americans

Greek Grocery Store

While I was at the grocery store in Greece I noticed several differences than an American grocery store. First, the store is split up into three stories. Most American grocery stores are all one level and are very open. This store had small aisles and different categories were on separate floors. Second, Greeks like to have exact change. My first time I was in the locate grocery store the lady asked me for exact change. Obviously, I could not understand her when she was talking, but I understood her motioning. I gave her exact change and started walking away. However, I realized my groceries were not bagged. Even though this is not a big deal it just caught me off guard. I realized Americans and Greeks have many differences within the few minutes I was in a grocery store. I am excited to experience more of the Greek culture during my stay here.

Skiing in Kalavrita I noticed something...

I was standing in line with Marisa and to our left we noticed several snowboarders. Being inexperienced we decided to let them go ahead of us. Even though we took a step back to let them go ahead I felt like they didn't even acknowledge our generosity. However, I did not think much more of it. Until, a few more snowboarders came up to the line. They deliberately cut straight in front of us. I was so in shock I just kept quite. As a few more came to cut I tried to move closer to the person ahead of me to make my stance but this did not work. Since we are in another country I had no idea if this was culture acceptance or if they just do this to Americans. I decided to just let them go because being the foreigner I did not know what was acceptable. As I thought more about this I realized this wasn't the only time I noticed Greeks being different about lines. When I was in the grocery store the guy behind my friend was almost touching her because he was standing so close. Obviously, Greeks and Americans differ in this area which might explain the line cutting. Americans are very sensitive about their personal bubble. In American if you cut in front of someone in a line or was almost touching someone in a line this would be considered extremely rude. In Greece if you do not put yourself right next to the person in line this means to them you are not in line. This is a non-verbal communication. Understanding Greeks’ non-verbal communication will help me next time I'm in line anywhere in Greece. I'll will have to get out of my American bubble and get close and personal with the stranger next in line to me to embrace their non-verbal communication.

1, 2, 3, say cheese!

I don't really knows when it starts but from a young age Americans are taught to smile. Smile at whom you might ask? Everyone. Walking down the street, walking into a store, restaurant, sitting on the metro, driving down the road. Smiling is a nonverbal communication skill we learn without really be told to do so. It almost feels like an instinct. However, over the last three weeks I've realized this is an American nonverbal skill. Greeks just don't smile. Obviously, they do smile but not as often or to strangers like we do. Americans use this non verbal language to say, "good day, how are you, hope you are doing well." Without words we have conveyed a whole conversation. So how do Greeks do this I asked myself? Maybe they have a different non verbal skill that says the same. Honestly, being here three weeks I haven't noticed. They don't seem to smile, maybe they make eye contact and that's there conversation. But I have noticed when they do talk it is very fast and sometimes angry. Since I can't understand what they are saying it just seems to me that they are angry when in reality they probably aren't. Therefore, Americans and Greeks definitely differ in this area. Maybe Greeks have more personal conversations and they think we are rude that we just smile. Or maybe they just do not smile at strangers and consider it surprising and strange that we do. Either way I've realized Greeks aren't necessarily trying to be rude when they don't smile back its just not one of their communication languages.

For All the Coffee Lovers

The smell, the dim lights, the looks of people busily working hard on their computer, or talking to a close friend, the way the workers hurray to please the next customer, and when your name is called out and you snatch your coffee you know you are ready to face the day. A coffee shop to me is one of my favorite places to go. I love the atmosphere. I throughly enjoy going to get coffee right before work and knowing the lady who takes my order everyday, sitting down with my best friend and catching up in each other's lives, studying hard on my computer for class the next day, or bringing a good book and sitting to read for hours. Generally in America this is what most people do in coffee shops. It is much of a social experience and usually for girls. Almost every coffee shop you walk into in America will have at least one table with two girls talking away about their lives. However, what I have learn here in Greece coffee shops seem to be much different. Within the first few weeks of being here I noticed a coffee shop right down the street was always full with men. Mainly, because men in American usually just don't sit and talk at coffee shops. I thought this was strange for a while until Vicki told us that coffee shops here are for men. It hasn't been till recently where girls are welcomed into coffee shops. She said most are fine with girls coming into them now but there are still a few that only men go into. I was very curious on how to know which ones welcome girls and she said just to look inside. Obviously, the one down the street is a men only without having a huge sign that states, “Men Only.” I find this difference very interesting. I think sometimes I forget that in other countries it's a “man’s world” and women have very little respect. Being aware of this difference has made me think twice about walking into any coffee shop. Communication is a big role in coffee shops. Coffee shops are used to fulfill many people’s desire for social relationships. As one can see the two countries both use coffee shops to fulfill social relationships but they are used for different genders.

Not Greek BUT London

As I boarded the plane I became very excited, I was finally going somewhere where they speak English. After being in Greece for almost two months it has been difficult to communicate with people. When I mean communicate I mean understand their culture and rituals. However, within a few moments of being in London I realized quickly I was stepping into a new culture once again. As I walked out from the train station I was looking for the Exit sign, but I could not find it. I soon noticed that there was a sign that said, "Way Out" I thought that must be the same and headed outside to the platform. This was not the only different visual sign I noticed. London has signs that say, "For Let" instead of "For Rent." They say, "Give Away" instead of "Yield." Their lights turn from red to yellow to green as where in America it turns from yellow to red to green. They say, "Bill instead of ticket." Even though these communication ways are all physical and logistical, I think it plays a very important role in rituals. Dr. Monte Cox talked a long time about how rituals shape our culture. I thought since they spoke our language phrases and sayings would be the same. I soon realized that wasn't true. I enjoyed being able to spot out the differences in culture even though we share a common language. It opened my eyes to understanding that just because you are English speaking does not mean you have the same cultural rituals which include the the common sayings for street signs.