Well, I must say that Greece is pretty remarkable. Every time I look out over the city or see mountains on the horizon, I am mind blown that I am actually living in this stunning country. However, there are some things that you need to know before you come here that.
1)Bring the local currency with you. In Greece most smaller places do not take credit cards, and there are a lot of smaller places. You will use a lot of Euros (maybe drachmas for you when you go) on food and buying essentials. Make sure to check what your credit card fees are for taking money out of a foreign ATM and bring at least a couple hundred(in small bills) with you so you won’t have to go to an ATM right away.
2) Make a budget before you leave. It is so easy to spend butt loads of money on food and random essentials, especially in the first week and when you are just dropping 5 euros all the time. Things are relatively inexpensive here but if you don’t have a plan for your money, you will spend more than you want in the first couple of weeks before you even know what you want to spend money on.
3) Bring a cup, washable utensils, maybe a plate or bowl depending or your eating habits. Spending money on food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner gets price when you are in a country for about 35 days. The apartment has a kitchenette for cooking which is helpful. But it is not helpful when you have nothing to eat with, or anything to drink your coffee with, etc. I would say bring small plastic dishes because I have many friends who have spent money on a pot and cookware and items to eat with when they didn’t want to. I brought a bag of oatmeal and a bowl and spoon which has been a lifesaver on those cheap and lazy days. BTW there is no microwave in the room, only a oven and stove top.
4) Bring comfortable shoes. You will do a lot of walking in Greece. Especially when you get lost in the neighborhood because you don’t know your bus stop, or when you go on trips with the group. Good shoes are necessary because the sidewalk is made of marble and it is really slippery all the time, you don’t want to slip and fall. Don’t bring super nice shoes though because you don’t want to clean dog poop off of them.
5) Make a list of what you want to do before you get here. While you are here there are a copious amount of opportunities to participate in planned by ACT and planned by your new friends here. But with only a few weeks to do it all it is impossible. Know what your must sees and dos are before you come so you can jump on the opportunities that interest you and then with the left over time you can do whatever fits in your free time. If you try to just go with the wind you will find yourself disappointed in one of your choices or regretting not doing something.
6) Know what you will not do in Greece before you get here. Of course, you will meet students from all over the US and some people in Greece as well. Everyone lives their life differently and if you don’t know what your boundaries are before you come, there is a good chance you will be doing something you would rather not have done.
Now that I have the pre-game stuff covered, let me give you some things to prepare for while living in Greece.
1) You do not flush toilet paper. In Greece, every stall has a trash can where you are supposed to deposit your toilet paper. This takes some getting used to.
2) Hot water is not automatic in your apartment. You have to turn the water heater on before you take a shower and then turn it off before you get in the shower. This is slightly inconvenient but you will get over it soon enough.
3) Don’t expect to go to the beach every day. Thessaloniki is off of the water but it is not off of the beach. The nearest beach is almost 1 hour away from Thessaloniki. This was disappointing to me, so make sure to plan beach trips to the second leg of Halkidiki before you leave.
4) There are no dryers in Greece. You have to let your clothes air dry outside.
5) Netflix does not work in Greece. This was a shock to many of us when we realized that we couldn’t watch our favorite shows. Not only does Netflix not work but many other sites that you may subscribe to have the possibility of not working outside of the US. YouTube is always available.
That is all I have to say right now. Hopefully, you will follow my tips and not make some of the same mistakes I made or almost made while here in Greece. Thanks for reading!