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During my study abroad in Athens, Greece, I was able to visit the Acropolis. As I stood at the Parthenon and looked out at the city, I had the opportunity to feel the weight of history. Just think how many feet have walked those paths, from antiquity to modernity. I was also able to participate in the Athens Festival. For the Athens Festival, historic places like the Odeon Amphitheater are transformed into performance venues. At the Odeon on the Acropolis, I listened to an orchestral concert conducted by Riccardo Muti. The orchestra, which included native Greeks, performed Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as the sun set. Through the famous arches, I listened to Ode to Joy and had a memorable experience.
Athens, Greece, is for the most part a fairly homogenous city. It was quite clear who the locals were versus foreigners. As an Asian American who has attended majority white schools, I’m used to being the only representative of my race. Although there were other Asian students in my classes, in the city itself there was a lack of representation. Sure, there were sushi and Chinese takeout restaurants scattered in the city center, but overall I found myself missing home-cooked food and an Asian community.
The biggest culture shock in Athens was actually related to the treatment of women. Although Europe has the projection of a liberal mindset, myself and fellow female classmates experienced street harassment and unwelcome advances. While catcalling unfortunately occurs in the States, too, in Athens waiters and restaurant owners would overstep boundaries. Usually, these advances were uncomfortable, but harmless. However, it was always off-putting to be treated in such a manner.