It may be a European country with familiar facilities and social structures, but that doesn’t mean that expats won’t experience at least some degree of culture shock in Greece.
It is a country of rich traditions and ancient history, as well as sea and sunshine. In response to their environment and history, the Greek have developed traditions which expats should respect. Greek characteristics have been shaped by a fascinating blend of the ancient and the modern, and the country’s long history as a crossroads between East and West.
Language in Greece
Greek is considered by many to be a tricky language to learn. There are differences between spoken and written Greek, as well as between regional idioms. Greek also employs inflections, where the meanings of words change depending on tone. As a result, expats in the first stages of learning Greek can expect some confusing exchanges.
Generally, locals are accepting of foreigners who don’t speak Greek. At the same time, Greeks are extremely proud of their language, and rightly so: it is one of the oldest in the world and has made significant contributions to the English language. Expats intent on staying would do well to learn the language – not only does it create more possibilities for employment, but it is also the best way to integrate into Greek society.
Time in Greece
It is often said that Greek people would rather relax than rush through their daily routines. Time in Greece seems to move more slowly. Statistics show that the average Greek employee works more hours in a year than most Europeans, but this fact doesn't affect the value Greeks place on enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Being half an hour late for a social gathering is normal and even expected, but expats should take care to be on time for business appointments.
Food in Greece
Food and drink are important in Greece, and serve as the gathering point for socialising. Locals spend hours at coffee shops when they can, but this is often less about the coffee itself and more about spending time with friends or family.
Even in the toughest times, Greek people are fantastic hosts who provide their guests with everything they can. Expats who enjoy this privilege should always bring a gift for the host such as wine or flowers. They should also be prepared to eat whatever is in front of them – it is considered rude to turn down food.