Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.

So, I am sitting at my desk still trying to decide what stance I should take on the riots and killing of a 15 year old teen.
Since the riots began in the early hours of Sunday morning, my emotions have been on a rollercoaster ride. I know how all this violence in a city which I love and adore, is making me feel, but as for the reasons why they are doing it, I am still trying to work out if I think its right or wrong. There is no doubt in my mind, that the killing of a 15 year old boy can never ever be justified. I look at my 15 year olds in my class, and want to huddle them all in to a corner, to block out the scenes of violence, and to let them everything will be ok. This image of strength that I was trying to project to my students, as well as, my point of view that in my classroom we do not discuss what is happening, but try to have fun learning English, was almost blown out of the water, when one my boys came in to class late because he had been up to Syntagma Square to join with the rioters and show his support. These kids are all so so angry at the way the state is run. I believe most people are well aware that Greeks are all very proud people but I now can see that they are totally fed up of living in a country with a corrupt government, where they all work so hard to sometimes no avail. Having said this, is this a reason to smash and burn people's businesses??
The other political topic which comes up is that of the police. Only last week in one of my classes the module was focused on accidents and emergency services. I was shocked when i asked what would happen, if the same situation in the book (a drugged up boy, who was comotose and bleeding) happened in Greece. In fact, this was taken from one of Bill Bryson's books, documenting how Danish people have a very low crime rate, and that they only have about 6 murders a year. We were discsussing this, and me kids told me that the police were more than likely to just walk over him and leave him there. In fact, when I asked what would you have to do to go to prison here, they told me you would have to murder someone. This was the only thing they could think of. Compare this to the English police, I am starting to realsie we should be thankful for our country. Not saying it doesnt have its oh so many faults, but what would happen if this took place in England?
From a more personal view point, my flatmate and I have found these last few days extremely difficult. Not able to understand the newspapers or reports about whats going on in our city, only being able to go on what BBC and CNN have to say on the matter, or relying on our dear Greek friends to reassure us. In fact, we found it more disconcerting that this had all began, when we were out in the middle of town dancing the night away. Even more frightening, was that I had wondered of to have a conversation with my boy on the mobile, and my friends didnt realise so couldnt find me. What if they couldnt find me and things had kicked of there?? I have now vowed, never, to wonder off when we are out ever again.
Saturday was also when I had finally started to feel happy in Greece. That things were going well, and that on reflection, yes it is hard being away from my boy, my family and my friends, but that actually the experience was so totally worth it. By Sunday, this feeling was gone, and all we could think about was when can we get the hell out of here.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Lesson in Clubbing and A Trip to Ikea

So this weekend, we had a trip to Ikea (pronouced here as IK-KEY-AH otherwise no one know what the hell you're talking about) planned. We has been concerned about the old cash flow, I find these Euro things a bit difficult to get on with, but decided to go an have a look anyway, and with a budget in mind, I knew would be able to get a few bits needed to add a few more homely touches to chez moi's bedroom.

Apparently a trip to IK-KEY-AH is something of a family outting in Athens! We zipped around the upstairs enjoying the views of fabulously put together show rooms, silently wishing our empty echoey lounge would somehow transform in to an Ikea palace. So far, our prayers to the God of Soft Furnishings have gone unanswered. Off we went to the downstairs, where you can actually touch things and put them in your yellow bag to BUY!!! As we went down the stairs, it was like entering the inside on an ant's nest - people everywhere - suddenly your I kea bag turns in to a form of defence saying you from being battered by mad Athenians with armfuls of material and crockery.

My main reason to go enter the Sweedish den was to purchase a fabulous bed set. I have discovered the secret to loving my room is all about colour at the moment, and on my last trip, had spied a fabulous, if slightly garish, duvet cover. Well this was where the nightmare really started. We started in very British manner, no please you go first and all that jazz, but after 30 minutes of trying to decide which cover i wanted, as slightly garish cover unavilable, we were sweating and had headaches of the worst degree. It was time for full on elbow out, Greek grabbing what you wanted as soon as you could, and if you bruise someone in the process, well never mind, their fault for being in the way!

As we made our way to the checkout, we were both exhausted, hungry and feeling a little fragile. Combine this with a half hour wait for a cab, there was a need for crisps and juice as we sat waiting for a cab to collect. Eventually, the yellow light of hope arrived, and off we sped to heaven, also known as home, to relax before getting out dancing shoes on!

After some stop starting, yes and noing, to and froing, we decided yes we would hit Gazi for giggles and good times! The excitement started to get going as we decided what to wear, spangle shorts for Saturday night dancing for me, and a sexy backless number for my lovely flatmate. Off we tottered in eagerness, hailed a cab and off we sped!

Or so we thought...after THE most slow and jerky journey we finally reached Gazi. We trotted to Soho Bar, said hello to our friends that work there, and relaxed enjoying the music, a drink and some snacks which arrive at our table. We sat for a wee while, untill the pumping bassline was too much we hit the dancefloor.

Ahhh English Girls, a salute for us where ever we are in the world, I think we know how to have fun the best! As we strutted our stuff on the dancefloor, giggles at each other and just had general silly-ness, we noticed we were the only girls dancing, and that we were quickly becoming victims of murder on the dancefloor. Yes sir, it seems the Greek girls have an unwriten rule: CLUBBING INVOLVES STANDING ON THE DANCEFLOOR, POSING AND SIPPING ONES DRINK. ONE MUST NEVER LOOK LIKE ONE IS HAVING FUN! They laugh, make fun, push and make any kind of spitefull look is thrown in our direction. On this occassion, it really felt much worse than usual. Is there a reason to behave like this?

I feel unfair to tar all Greek girls with the same brush - we have some lovely Greek female friends, who I really like, and have never ever behaved this way towards us. But it saddens me to think this is the way to behave towards us, after all we're looking to have a good time and get on aren't we?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A step back in time

One month in Athens....and even though it is passing so quickly, I'm still not completely there yet. My friend and I always seem to end up having coffee and discussing the fact that, actually, Greece, or maybe its just Athens, is stuck in the 1980's.

The teenagers all love 80's rock music, and nothing is simple. For example, we needed to pay our electricity bill, and so the whole of Kalithea seems to need to do the same thing. So off we go, after the obligatory coffee, to the electricity office to pay the bill. It appeared that the whole of Kalithea was also there, with the que right out of the door. And before you ask, no you can not pay on th ineternet or just post a cheque.

Last weekend I took myself off to The National Archealogical Museam in Pireaus. I thought this would be the ideal opportunityto be a culture vulture and enjoy the treasures unearthed in the harbour. So there I was enjoying the most amazing bronze sculptures, when a small old man with a wonky eye accosts me. I couldn't escape from him, because he worked at the musuem!!! He followed me arouns and told me that I should NOT be learning Greek but that I should just know it, that I needed to find a nice doctor to make me glamrous?? and that he was very lonely. It was only when a Japanease tourist approached for important photographic opportunity, that i siezed my chande and ran like the wind out of the museum and in to the street.

So having only used up 20 minutes of the afternoon set aside for musuem'ness'. I headed in to Athens, to be typical Ally and go shopping along Ermou. Mango, Zara, H & M and Marks and SSparks all have residency here, its amazing!

So we are learning that its impossible to pay any bills, that you need a guard with you when entering musuems, and also that when you go jogging its important to remember to run along side streets or else traffic is at a standstill and tooting car hors can be heard for miles as you run along in all your sweaty glory.

Have I told you how much I love living in Athens?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Week 1

I miss everyone all so very very much. Just the fact that I cannot just call you is rubbish. My laptop does not pick up the internet so I have to borrow my flatmates at the moment, so i am feeling a little bit cut off from the world.

So far, I have a had a bit of a hectic time, but its much better for me when i am busy!I started work on Monday, I made ane xcellent impression by being 20 mins late because i got totally confused and lost, so many little streets!!! anyway after that it was ok. I work at two different schools, bot with in walking distance. I have MOn, weds and fri with one school and tues and thurs with the other. they are all the same but just in two different ares! I teach students from 12 to 18 at the moment. they are very excitable, especially the younger girls they say 'miss, i like your nails'...'miss, i like your pencil case'...'miss, are you married???' these are mainly my 12 yr olds that are like this. but so far they seem like good kids, just need to be shouted at occassionly but they are so eager to learn! My class with 18 yr olds is very hard going, they are only just learning, and it is harder cos they are older. i have to speak very slowly. there is one girl called Christine who i really like, she stayed after class to talk to me last night. I have a class of just 4 boys, they are very good, and seem to be very nice, except when they ask questions about grammer, that make me go, what?!?!?!?They have given me 28 hours at school, but i have just asked my boss to cut down my hours, as i am working until 10 pm most nights, and 10.30 on some others. so watch this space - i might end up losing my job!!!!!!

My apartment is really nice, i am living in a family block, the lady Gallini is lovely and very helpfull. it is two bedrooms, our rooms look lovely, and the living room has nothing in it! but my bedroom is looking more and more like home, photos everywhere, and even my sex and the city poster!!!!Even though I am in Greece it doesnt feel like a different country, other than not being able to read what i am buying in the supermarket.its just the people i miss from england ( and the animals!!) if you were all here, it would be perfecto!!

So I just thought I would let you know everything that has been happening. it is very exciting, but i am so homesick, very teird and continually stressed at the moment. i can't wait to see you whether you are coming to greece, or if it will be at christmas. every evening i am like when will christmas get here, and the same in the mornings, but i know its just something that i need to give time. I think on Tuesday night, we had a small earthquake, its not unusal, but as i am not sleeping verywell, i could feel it as my bed was shaking!!!!!!!

Week 2

Well I am now in to my third week in the land of gods, olives, wine and most important, feta cheese!!!Today is a bank holiday, so no work for me! although i do only do three hours on a tuesday normally! So i have been doing marking while sipping coffee in the very Greek starbucks in Kalithea, where we live! I also came face to face with a giant grasshopper on our balcony, and died a pair of my lovely river island jeans that were pink a kind of mouldy blu colour. So far so good.

Life in Greece so far has been a mixed bag. Being Athens itself would be the most intimidating experience had I not been here so many times before. I remember on my second vsit to the city, wondering why everyone was so unhelpful, they wouldnt help with directions and watched me struggle with my many bags when i arrived on the metro. But everytime, it got better, picking up the tiniest amount of Greek, getting used to the city set out in bloacks, and enjoying the challange of finding my way around all the tiny side streets. This time around the city feels more accepting, and I am relisghing the chance to learn more greek, which is happening from siting during coffee breaks atschool in the staff room while the rest of the teachers speak Greek around me.Ah the job...I like my job a lot. They are good kids, and actually I feel English children have got it sooooo easy. They can be naughty, but I put on teacher voice and its fine!

This weekend, we went to Mao Club, which was brilliant. A friend of ours was doing a set there, and so we had gone along to support him. WE were on the guest list and had the best seat in the house. Now in Greece, if you have a table at a place like this, you are expected to spend certain amount on drinks, so a bottle of vodka it was! I tell you if my girls had been there with our drinking games, i would have been even more wasted! Although not sure if the Greeks would enjoy a rendition of 'Whats the name of the F**king game!' I got in at 5 am, early really! Was a really good night, and played good mix of music, r and b, hip hop, greek music, and dance music!On saturday night, we went for dinner and a 'quiet quick' drink in Gazi,haha! quick and quiet it was night, in fact we spent the night dancing away in Soho, until some sleazy men frightened us away, we headed to gazaki.

The weekends are good, especially when we go out, Sundays are bad when the hangover kicks in and i miss sunday mornings with hollyoaks and peanust butter on taost. It's getting better slowly but surely, I am sure when the end of May rolls around, I'll be clinging to the tarmac at the airport begging to stay!xxxx