By SOFIA LYNCH
I consider myself extremely fortunate for being able to say that I have been to Greece multiple times throughout my life. This past June, I returned to Greece after being away for five years. The last time I was there I was a child. With the perspective I’ve gained on life over those five years, my experience of the country and its people was completely transformed.
The first one would expect from someone who just returned from such a gorgeous country would be a spewing of awe and gratification for the beauty they saw. And there are countless paragraphs that could be burned capturing that.
The culture, however, is what really left me feeling so changed when I returned home. Being Greek and having family in Greece makes my experience in the country not like that of the usual vacationer.
A lot of my hours were spent on front porches, soaking in beautiful air and
beautiful views, surrounded by the sweetest old ladies you would ever want to be around. A majority of the impression that was left on me was the general reverence of the elderly that seems to be a national sentiment.
Perhaps I just have a very loving family, but it seemed like all family life revolved around the eldest generation. Seeing or taking care of your grandparents is a routine part of daily life.
I relate a lot of my affinity for the Greek people and their way of life to this general strength in family ties. In America, it seems everyone is so focused on their own lives that time with family often takes a backseat.
I became extremely aware of my own allegiance to my family when it came to leaving them and their country after witnessing the beginning signs of its financial collapse.
This financial collapse was another thing that greatly affected my experience in Greece. It was obvious when we arrived that our city of Nafpaktos that it was not in the condition we had left it.
It wasn’t news that Greece was in bad shape, but seeing the streets lined with vacant shops and graffiti on every open wall was heartbreaking.
A few days into our trip, there were lines forming outside of banks and ATMs. From what I knew of runs on the banks from our own country’s history, it was clear something was coming.
Soon the topic of “yes” or “no” votes on the referendum became the buzz of every conversation. However, what else could be expected of citizens with the weight of their country’s future in their hands?
My mother and I left two days before that vote, but we were leaving behind my grandmother and all my other beloved relatives to deal with the 60 euro daily withdrawal limit and whatever other madness would follow the vote.
The politics and the finances of the country, however, are the least important pieces of the picture. Greece is a country rich in culture, history, and beauty. It’s an experience so grand it can’t be done justice in less than 3,000 words, maybe more.
It comes from the bottom of my heart when I say that I feel privileged for every second I’ve spent in Greece. For anyone who has a trip to Greece on their bucket list: circle it, underline it, do whatever you have to do to make sure you follow through and experience the unexplainable for yourself.