Every day it gets easier.

February 4, 2009

As overwhelming as it is to be in a country where I literally cannot even understand the alphabet, there are distinct advantages to being so ignorant.  For one, at bars when men make rude and aggressive comments, I feel no urge to respond (and thus, potentially put myself or my friends in any danger of retaliation) since I have no idea what they are saying.  Second, I have discovered just how far a smile and a lot of pointing can take a person.  Thirdly, getting lost because we are 100% incapable of reading the maps has turned into a sort of tradition and we’ve discovered some fantastic stores thanks to our misadventures.

Yesterday we made it to the White Tower in time for it to close, so that will be on the agenda for this weekend.  Instead we wandered around the city center where we discovered parts of a Roman Emperor’s palace just sticking up in the middle of one of the squares.  We passed by the football stadium as well; a game or two will definitely be on the agenda for this semester.  All of this exploring has been taking place with two other girls from BC and two girls from UMASS Amherst.  Out of the 80 or so kids in the program I would say at least 50 are from the midwest (particularly Iowa and Wisconsin), us northeasterners seem to be sticking together in resistance haha.

Last night we had another failed attempt at a dance club but found the most fantastic taxi driver who took us to what he said was ‘the best bar in the city.’  He wasn’t wrong.  It was absolutely packed (in our opinion anyways) for a Tuesday and right on the waterfront.  There is an entire strip on the other side of town that is all bars and restaurants that look out over the water.  Perfect for people watching in the evening this Friday night when it will be warm!

On the subject of warmth… today was the first time the sun came out since I have been here (which I’m told is just bad luck and very unusual) and it was UNBELIEVABLE.  This morning on our way to ACT we were driving through fog with a visibility of maybe 100feet and then around noon just as we get to the campus tour the sun burst through the cloud, illuminating the entire city below us.  ACT is located a few miles outside the city limits, much like BC but it is halfway up quite a large hill and thus offers spectacular views of the city and the surrounding mountains and countryside.

Our orientation was pretty basic, though I found it incredibly entertaining to compare it to the orientation I help lead as an IA at BC for our own study abroad students.  Though I have yet to go to classes and meet normal ACT students I can’t help but feel like having an IA at BC is a huge advantage for incoming students (but I may have some prejudice of course).  I just feel like I have no idea what the actual student body at the school is like yet.  The day included confirming registration for classes, warnings about illegal drug use, the campus tour, amongst other pretty useless knowledge.  The staff for the International Students Office, however, is unbelievable.  Our coordinator is this gorgeous twenty something girl (woman, I suppose) from Michigan who came to ACT to study abroad and just never left!  Two of her assistants were the ones that picked us up at the airport, another American girl who loved it too much to leave and a Greek guy who was born and grew up in Thessaloniki.  Between the three of them and the rest of the staff I feel like I have an entire network of people already hoping for me to have a good time.  They all already know our names (80 kids!) and have given us great recommendations for bars and museums.  One of the helpers runs a magazine about the music scene in Thessaloniki (which is supposed to be the best in Greece, even the Balkans some say) and set up a discounted happy hour for us at this fantastic live music bar tomorrow night.

After all the shenanigans around campus we bussed it to IKEA where I snagged another rug to put some color into my very beige room and then Lizzy and I caught the public transportation home to avoid being saddled with waiting for the massive group.  It was our first 100% successful public transportation expedition and we were quite proud when we arrived home without a hitch.  In a bit we are goin to walk down to the water for the sunset (camera in hand!)… In fact I just checked and it’s technically in 20 minutes so I have to go get her!!!

I’ll post pictures tonight. **


2 Responses to “Every day it gets easier.”

  1. oceanlines said


    Great stuff, Allie! Makes us feel like we’re sharing the adventure with you!!

    Stay safe!

  2. lisa Faley said

    I enjoyed reading your blog. My daughter is at ACT this semester through Iowa State. I found your site online. ….. any recommendations for her would be great. I think i may go over in Dec. Thanks again for sharing

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