When I chose to study abroad in Greece, I was expecting beautiful beaches with the clearest water, sunny and 75 degrees everyday, in a quiet town built of small white villas. You could say I thought I was going to be studying on the set of Mamma Mia. However once I arrived, I found nothing that I had been expecting.
I was greeted with a completely new and crowded city; people, signs, and customs that was not any thing with which I have grown to know. I expected for the locals to not speak English as their first language, but I never really took the time to plan just how far this this language barrier would go. Menus at restaurants and settings on the washing machine are all in Greek, but even my new SIM card company would only send me messages in Greek.
For someone who has never been out of the United States before, talk about being overwhelmed. Not only was I forced to learn about a new currency and the basics of a new language, but I also had to make friends with my fellow study abroad students and attend classes (luckily for me, those are taught in English!).
As classes began and time went on, my experience in Greece has began to look up. I have made some close friends, have adjusted to basic Greek culture, and even to those tricky washing machines. My initial panic may have seemed life-ending at the time, but now I like to think of myself as a functioning member of the Thessaloniki society. My advice to you is even though things may be completely different than what you expect, give it some time, trust your instincts and hang on for the ride because you will never get this opportunity again!