Here I am, home from Greece. It has been almost two weeks since coming home, and the hustle and bustle of reality has finally started to kick in.
I heard people talk about experiencing culture shock when arriving to a new location, but I was not prepared for the vast amount of culture shock once I returned home.
I thought jet lag would be one of the most difficult readjustments, but I was totally naïve.
The most difficult part of being back is not taking the metro every day or walking at least three miles a day. I also miss going to museum after museum and visiting ancient ruins.
I had to say sad goodbyes to the waiters that eagerly awaited our company and conversation, the dogs that would follow us for miles, the history that surrounded us, the mesmerizing sea that stretched on for miles, the sweet shop owner who would kiss us daily, and of course our bus driver who jokingly greeted us every day with a “calamari” hello.
All of these wonderful things disappeared in a matter of 13 hours. Thirteen hours that now separate me from the country I fell in love with.
I miss everything about that wonderful country, but I think I miss the people the most.
Coming back to the U.S. was quite a shock when waiters just handed me my food and check without acknowledging me on a personal level. There are no longer conversations lasting more than a half hour where we exchange our life stories and dreams.
Every day I was completely baffled by their extreme gratitude and hospitality. There were endless occasions where we arrived to a destination, and people would flock us with homemade gifts and food. I felt like I was in a constant replay of My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Sometimes it was hard for me to accept their gifts because I felt guilty. The guilt stems from the fact that they are enduring a very difficult time in their country’s history.
The economic crisis caught the Greeks by surprise, and their suffering is present everywhere. Although everything around them is crumbling, they still have strength to press forward with love and positivity.
I realized that it does not matter how much money they have; their selflessness and hospitality make them some of the richest people I know. Their kind and caring nature overpowers everything and anything money could buy.
I never thought I would miss a place as much as I miss Greece.
Every night, as I try to fall asleep, I try to formulate a plan that could bring me back to this magical place called Greece. Some are realistic, most are not, but hey, at least I am still dreaming.
There is no doubt that I will make it back to Greece someday. Hopefully sooner than later, but I know I will be back eventually. After all, I drank from the fountain in Delphi reassuring the fate of my return.