International Close-up: Greece

Our university is turning into a melting pot. We see students and teachers from all different backgrounds. Getting to know them, you learn about their culture, local habits, economy, places to visit. And every single country is unique. While preparing this newsletter, we chose to focus on two countries that usually don’t come to mind first and that are totally different: The Netherlands and Greece. Four IUE-teachers and four students were interviewed about their countries. We hope you find something interesting and will enjoy it!

Could you tell us about your connection with Greece?
Mary Jane: My mom and my husband are Greek.
Nourntan: I was born in Greece and I grew up there. I have been here for five months for university.
Marianota: I’m from Greece and I have been here for two weeks for Erasmus.
Sezin: My mother’s origin is Greek and they came here with the population exchange.

Did you face any adaptation problems in Turkey?
Mary Jane: No, because I spent much more time growing up in Turkey.
Nourntan: No, Greek and Turkish cultures are very similar. We are very much alike.
Marianota: I don’t face any problems because my personality is not like that.
Sezin: No, because I was born in Turkey.

What is your most and least favourite thing about Greece?
Mary Jane: My favourite thing is Greek music and my least favourite thing is siesta time. Shops are closed and tourists can’t go and buy something. It’s bad for the economy.
Nourntan: Most favourite is the climate of course and how they are capable of finding the optimistic side of everything. Strikes which have a huge influence on everyday life is something we hate in Greece, but unfortunately it happens very often.
Marianota: I like the weather, the people, the language, the seas. Sometimes we can be very rude. I don’t like that. Also, people often say “I want to do this” but we never do it. I believe this is because of the weather and all the chilling.
Sezin: What I like the most about Greece is that its democracy is very strong. The only thing I don’t like about Greece is that I have to come back to Turkey every time.

What are the must-see places of Greece?
Mary Jane: Especially the Greek Islands. Of course, Athens and Thessaloniki are very famous places but the tourists prefer to visit Mikonos and Santorini.
Nourntan: Archaeological sites, first of all. Also, Mpouzoukia, Greek music where you can dance and throw carnations.
Marianota: Akropolis, Likavitos and many nice hills in Athens. We have very beautiful views. You have to go to the big national garden with its waterfalls. We have the zoo and many clubs.
Sezin: Definitely Thessalonika.

Can you give us a special recipe from Greece?
Mary Jane: I think the most traditional Greek food would be Musakka, it is the same in Turkey, also. As you know, with potatoes and minced meat, some zucchini and aubergines.
Nourntan and Marianota: In Greece we have Tzatziki. It’s a perfect sauce which you can put in your meals. We put yoghurt, cucumber, garlic.
Sezin: People in Crete mostly cook “horta” which means herb. Also, we cook octopus and squid with the skin on it as one piece but before that you keep it in wine and then you grill it. Whatever is left from the wine and olive oil, you just put it on the meal.

What is the general opinion in Greece towards women’s rights and equality?
Mary Jane: They really believe that women and men are equal there. It is beause women face no problems. I think, they truely support women’s rights.
Nourntan: The Greek government is in favour of women’s life and equality. Greece is the founder of democracy. So we couldn’t expect anyhing less than that, could we?
Marianota: We have many non-government organisations that are trying to protect women’s rights. We don’t face any problems with human rights. There are still sexist and disrespectful people but I think that Greece is trying to protect women.
Sezin: There is no such problem. They are very free.

Is there any special gesture or word that belongs to Greek people?
Mary Jane: Maybe just saying too much “endaksi” (which means okay).
Nourntan: They usually use slang and it is considered normal.
Marianota: We do a lot of gestures and emotions with our face and hands, but I can’t remember something special right now. We create things.
Sezin: You shouldn’t raise your open hand to a person’s face. It has a very bad meaning. When you use bad words in Greece, it is considered normal and people don’t get angry like in Turkey.

What do you think about the Greek language?
Mary Jane: It’s not difficult to learn but of course you need to study a little bit.
Nourntan: Greek is very difficult to write but at the same time is very rich and pleasant. In the past, Greek was proposed to become the international language instead of English but it didn’t happen.
Marianota: I find it beautiful, mathematical. It’s difficult, it’s even difficult to me sometimes. Each word has a history behind it.
Sezin: I love it. To me, it is the best language in the world and the most romantic.

Advice for Greece
Mary Jane: Just the language would be a problem.
Nourntan: Take your swimsuit, your hat and your best mood. That’s all you need.
Marianota: Take a swimsuit, be open because we are open.
Sezin: Go to Lesvos. That is the most special island in Greece.  Everyone there is a communist including the Priest.

Mary Jane Ozkurkudis (English Teacher, Prep School)
Sezin Aksaray (English Teacher, Prep School)
Nourntan Volaka (Greek Student, Prep School)
Marianota Giannaki (Greek Student, Faculty of Communication)