When you glance out the window of your taxi at night watching the Parthenon’s lights reflect across the glass, you know you’re okay.
When you walk down the busy streets and the stray cat your roommates fondly named “Miguel” rubs against your legs, you know you’re okay.
When you walk into the tiny market on the way home from class and can snag a carton of milk without spending an hour trying to decipher its label, you know you’re okay.
When it becomes easier to say “Kaliméra” to the school guard in the morning.
When you step into the sea and it’s warm in between your toes.
When ‘ancient’ mixes with ‘modern’ down every street, as a McDonald’s stands only a few blocks from the Panathenaic Stadium…
There are going to be mornings when you don’t feel okay. And nights, too.
Some days I wake up and feel a weight on my chest as heavy as a statue of Athena. I think of home and the life I’ve left behind there. The friends and family that are going about their day without me. Oh, how I miss them. I want to hug my mom and dad or have a movie night with my best friends. I want to pet my dog and bounce on the trampoline with my brother. I often wonder how much is changing there and if it will ever be the same when I come back. To tell the truth, I am not sure if it will. The other truth is, maybe that’s a good thing.
I’ve never been good with change. Studying abroad in Athens, Greece has already become one of the biggest challenges of my entire life. Everything was flipped upside down for me on September 8th, 2019, when I departed for my first solo adventure here.
The best way to comfort yourself when you become overwhelmed is to know that time will pass whether you want it to or not. You can’t control change, other than find the things that make you happy. “Go out and walk down the street. You’re in Greece!”, as my mother would say.
Navigating change is one of the hardest things any of us will have to do in life. But I suppose if there’s a place to do it, it’s in a beautiful ancient city. I am thankful to be here, no matter how scary it feels sometimes. The vibrant friends I’ve made, the bustling city of strangers who don’t speak my language, and the breathtaking sights I can’t believe I’ve actually seen – is it possible to be so unbelievably happy and so terrified at the same time? Yes, it’s called studying abroad.
When you can wake up every single day and say “I can’t believe we are actually in Athens, Greece” to your roommates, you know you’re okay.
Then you know you’re okay.