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Showing posts with label Athens. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Athens. Show all posts

Monday, July 2, 2012

Common Misconceptions About Greece: Guest Post from Bex at Leaving Cairo

        Bex blogs at Leaving Cairo, the UK, and Back to Greece.  She is quite the world traveler and she writes about places that many of us will only dream of ever going.  Visit her blog and let her take you away.  Today she takes us to her adopted country of Greece.  This country has been getting some bad press of late and Bex wants to address some of these issues in this guest post.

Common misconceptions about Greece
            As an EFL teacher, I had started my career in Sri Lanka pre-CELTA as a volunteer for 3 months.  I soon realised I loved teaching and after completing the CELTA, decided I wanted to continue my visit to far flung destinations, anything in Europe to my mind was not far enough removed, both geographically and culturally.

         How wrong could I be?  Thinking I would spend just one year in Greece to gain experience and move on, 3 and a half years later I find myself loving this diverse country and choosing to stay.

            Unfortunately there are some common misconceptions about Greece and the Greeks, especially with the International media’s reportage.  I hope to give you a slightly clearer picture here:

1) They throw plates a lot

            Er, no – it’s not even really traditional.  They actually have a special Greek dance called “Zebekiko” where women sit in a circle (or men) and in the centre, a man dances to the women (or visa versa) whilst the admirers in the circle clap and throw flower petals at him/her.  The dancer is expressing their love for someone in the circle – you have to hear the accompanying music to appreciate how expressive it is, and how FREE people are when they dance to this.  It brings tears to the eyes.

2) Greeks are lazy

Fisherman mending his net.
            OK, this is clearly a racist comment, particularly flouted around in Northern European countries like Germany to discredit the Southern European states. The Office of National Statistics shows us that, ironically, Greeks have a longer working week that Germans (42.2 hours per week compared to 35.6 hours).  Many Greeks, due to recent austerity measures, hold down 2 jobs and I think what people need to concentrate on is the inflated public sector.  But not every Greek is a public sector worker, remember that.  And not every Greek is a tax dodger!!  Look at the people in the upper echelons of every nation – THAT’S where you’ll find the tax dodgers.

3) Greeks are always rioting

        Oh dear – the International Media have a lot to answer for don’t they?!  Bombarding us with pictures of rioting Greeks in Syntagma (Parliament) Square. 

       Greeks have always been a passionate race and due to hard austerity passed down to them, instead of sitting around moaning about it – they take to the streets and demonstrate.  Unfortunately, occasionally these demonstrations can turn nasty – but invariable it’s by a minority of people instigating it.  I’ve been quite happily sitting at home, updating my blog when the phone’s rung and a panicky voice of one of my friends had bleated down the line:

“Oh my God!  I’ve just seen the news – are you OK?!”  for me to reply“What are you talking about?” 

          I’m sure the media use ‘library footage’ a lot.  Remember, the majority of Greeks are NOT violent people.  Which brings me onto: 
Old house in Kypseli,
Athens Greece
4) Athens is constantly burning

            Athens is not in the midst of mortar fire constantly.  Interestingly, I have been sitting down having a coffee (a famous Greek pastime) whilst round the corner a demonstration has passed by…with no problems!  Which reminds me…

5) Greeks spend all day in the coffee shops/Kafeneos

            Hold on, you don’t hear a Greek saying “Well, the British spend all day in the pubs don’t they?”  And I ask you – what’s a more civilized picture in your mind: a Greek sipping on a frappe with his mates, slapping each other on the backs in a friendly fashion or a British man drinking ridiculous amounts of beer and spoiling for a fight (see what I mean about stereotypes)?

          So I do hope you’ll come and enjoy all this country has to offer.  I, for one, feel like an honorary Greek, which is an honour indeed.  These people have taken me into the bosom of their homes, fed me, looked after me and accepted me.  I love Greece – may she continue to fight against the negative stereotypes bestowed upon her.


Sunset --Paros Island
Paros Sunset

        Have you ever been to Greece?   Have you been to Cairo?  What is your dream place to visit?   Perhaps Bex has been there and can tell you about it.

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