Life of a Greek student in Groningen

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Studying abroad can be daunting for the most students but also quite fun! For the greek students the feeling of homesickness is rather common and that is mainly because of the “greek mother” stereotype. In general, mothers in Greece are over protective and emotionally connected to their children. This means that your notification box will be full from missed calls and text messages sent from your family. Not to mention the fact that if you don’t call back or at least send an SMS you will receive twice as much notifications! So next time you will complain to your friends about the regular messages you get from your family, think about the greeks and you should feel better!

Apart from the aforementioned facts, what caught me by surprise was the fact that greek words are so frequently used in the logistics of our faculty. Nestor, Panacea, Scorion, Ephorus… I feel proud that my ancestors have contributed to the fields of science and are honoured in such a way! In addition, the board has done an admirable work so that each of the aforementioned words is connected to its use. For example, Panacea was, according to greek mythology, the goddess of universal health, a name that  perfectly suits our student association!

As for the typical dutch trends, I found myself in difficult situations a couple of times. Cycling is not common at all at my country, thus me and most of my compatriots have already (almost) crashed with somebody while riding our bikes in a wobbly way. You just have to see it from the positive side though; we learned so useful dutch expressions like “Nou!” and “Even kijken!”. After all that time, I have managed to learn how to ride without my hands so that I can put them in my pockets when it’s cold outside (but still I keep forgetting my gloves every time I wake up late and have to attend that practical!).

What about the food? The fun part of the story is that thinking in a tourist’s way, we are desperately looking for traditional dutch food and when we told it to our dutch classmates the where like: “You DON’T want to try it!”. Thence, our feelings are mixed about dutch food and the truth is that I haven’t tried it yet. Honestly, nothing compares to the greek food (not because I’m greek of course) but you have to try it! Imagine how good it is that I go every Saturday to a greek restaurant (pm for more information :P) and eat as much food as I can. *For the greek students, souvlaki is super expensive here so your pocket will be mourning after you buy one (even worse if you get two obviously)!

What about exams? It is a quite boring topic but especially greek student can totally relate with the below-mentioned facts. In Greece, exams are only two to three times per year and that’s it. Literally, it takes me hours of explaining to my friends from my home country what it means to have progress tests, theme exams, tutor and coach groups assessments and presentation plus the learning community tasks. Personally, I did not expect to be so busy from my first year, as the only educational system I was acquainted with was the greek one. And the worst part, we have no free time - vacation after all these examinations/ assessments. Hence, we are totally jealous of our friends back home.

Now, lets move a little bit more towards the Christmas spirit! What are we doing during this period in Greece? We are doing something very innovating, we are decorating the house and the Christmas tree! However, this was not always the case. Santa Claus and these events were adopted from the west. Traditionally, we were decorating boats; as a country surrounded by the aegean sea, it is our national symbol! Nowadays, very few families and cities are still keeping this tradition alive, but if you ever come Greece you should try to visit a village and see this old-fashioned Christmas theme.

I am wishing you merry Christmas and a great time back home or wherever you choose to celebrate the most exciting time of the year!