I must confess that learning Greek is much harder than I thought, but it has helped me immerse in the culture. I found myself to be a little ethnocentric this week, but my progression towards cultural relativism has been a progress. It is easy to miss McDonald’s on every corner, Dr. Pepper, and all the things that we have at home, but I took at step back and realized what a rare opportunity I have. Realizing ethnocentrism requires humility and a little self evaluation. The sudden immersion in the culture came as quite a shock to me. Here, in Greece, I am considered to be exotic; whereas in America, I am just a regular girl from Kansas. I am full-figured, tan, and 6 feet tall so this is a different look for some Greeks. It has made me quite self conscious. I had a conversation with a Greek boy and he said I was quite big! I didn’t know how to take that. So, I started going through the stages of ethnocentrism; denial, defense, and minimization. I started to compare myself to others. I felt like I couldn’t relate to anything here. I got a little in my head and I then missed the comforts of home…



I relied on the connections that I have made in my program. I was encouraged and empowered. I started having real conversations with Greeks and asking questions instead of assuming. This started the process of relativism – acceptance, adaption, and integration. I have developed friendships with some girls in the program, as they are experiencing some of the same feelings I am having. There are also many resources at Deree that can help you if you have any issues that you can not handle alone. While physical safety and health are important, mental health is, as well. As a Disabled Veteran I suffer from PTSD, anxiety, and depression. I am usually afraid to tell people this, because then I am labeled as “other”. This type of framing is hurtful and unfortunate because many of us suffer from some sort of mental health illness. Make sure when you are abroad that you take the necessary steps for you to take care of yourself mentally. Whether that means packing some extra comfort foods in your suitcase, listening to music, or talking to your new friends about what you are experiencing like I did. Just know that you can do this!


Crystal Miller is a student at Kansas State University and was an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied with ISA in Athens, Greece.

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