Bucket List

Part of my dream of living in Greece was to master (or somewhat master) the language.  I have been exposed to Greek all of my life, but I have never spoken it.  I didn’t go to Greek school as a child, but as an adult I took lessons multiple times.  I was sure that if I lived in Greece for a year I would finally be able to understand and speak the language with confidence.

The road to learning to master the language has been a rocky one.  I have to admit that although I understand much more than I did when I arrived, I am not still where I want to be.  I very rarely say an entire sentence correctly, and when I first started talking my kids asked me not to speak in front of their friends.  Yes, funny, I know.  It was at that moment that I realized I had finally become a true mother–you know, someone who embarrasses their children.  (Do note that a few months ago Rea did come to me, unprovoked, and apologized for having made that comment, AND Elias and Rea have been my biggest cheerleaders along the way.)

I have many issues with the language.  I do know the grammar rules after going to lessons two times a week for the past 10 months.  I have been exposed to a huge vocabulary and have sheets upon sheets of papers to prove it–first category verbs, second category verbs, third category verbs, adjectives, synonyms and antonyms, “small words,” and masculine and feminine, singular and plural, objective and subjective, and possessive cases, just to name a few.  However, the words don’t make it from my brain to my mouth. It’s as though my tongue is wrapped with cotton, and I cannot form the sounds.  I also can tell you the beginning part of most words–the first syllable or two, but struggle with the endings because they change with the gender and case of the noun or verb.  Sometimes I know what I want to say but I begin to speak too quickly and make silly errors.  Thankfully, most people are able to get the gist of what I am trying to say.  But sometimes my errors are too funny for them to resist laughing.

A while back I went to my Thea Avgetta’s house, and there were a number of people gathered around the table eating their midday meal.  She invited me to join them but I had just eaten.  I said, “Έφαγα το σπίτι μου.”  I meant to say, “Έφαγα στο σπίτι μου.”  Can you see that there is just one letter difference?  The difference is “I just ATE my house,” versus “I just ate AT my house.”  

Then last night I was at my cousin Petros bakery, and he asked when I was leaving.   I told him Thursday, and then I had to turn around and walk out because I was getting teary-eyed. When I came home I was speaking to my cousin Marina on the phone, and I was telling her the story.   I said, “Peter asked me when I was leaving and I said Thursday. Then I left because I wanted to fart.”  Apparently cry and fart are also only one letter/sound different! That one letter is very important!

Needless to say if I’ve done nothing else, I’ve provided a few laughs for the people around me. I guess I can’t check “mastering the Greek language” off of my bucket list just yet.  But then that’s no reason for me to be upset.  It just means that I’ll have to return every summer to keep working on it.

20 comments on “Bucket List

  1. sue mikolajczyk says:

    🙂 !!!!!!!!

  2. Roy says:

    I thought I knew the word for fart?!
    But I didn’t think it was like εκλαιγα.
    The Greek language is hard!
    My daughters and I had a wonderful trip to Kithira island. The trip was 3 1/2 weeks and now we miss it so much! The Greek humor is so fun and the environment so Godly. Next June, we will go longer and will try for Chios and Ikaria! Sometime I would like to hear more about the Greek schools in Ikaria. Have a safe trip to America! Καλό ταξίδι!

    • jandcfox says:

      I am so glad you had a wonderful trip! I hope to return next June/July so hopefully we’ll be able to have you here in Ikaria with us. We’ll be in touch!
      And btw, cry κλάψω and fart is κλανω–or something like that! You’re talking to a nonprofessional here!

  3. aunt Stella says:

    Do not feel badly. Your mom, aunt Zeda and I make those mistakes with the English language. Love,

  4. Lonna Hoffman says:

    Oh Jackie, thank you for the laugh. So happy to see the count down in single digits! See you soon my friend, Love, Lonna

  5. penny bouris says:

    You may not have ‘mastered’ the language, but as I witnessed while there visiting, you are able to manage a conversation…and a few laughs always good!!
    Anxiously waiting your return…..

  6. Janeice says:

    I feel like I have been trying to learn Italian my whole life….and I never fail to embarrass myself every time my cousins come to visit from Italy! See you soon! Janeice

  7. Marianne Hensel says:

    Just think of how far your language skills have come in the past year! I’ve enjoyed your blog this past year. What a great experience!! Travel safely!! (My mom used to knit with your mom in case you don’t place my name).

    • jandcfox says:

      Thank you! Yes I come far, but its a long journey! And thank you for the tip on the name. I knew Henssel and knew it was connected to Jean Walter. Your mom is Diane!

  8. Amy says:

    Jackie…I am crying I am laughing so hard and at the same time I am feeling bad for you. I know how sad I was when you left and I suspect your family is feeling the same way now that you are leaving them. I have learned that a balance is what makes me happiest but it is rarely achieved. These experiences can never be taken from you….you have learned a different way of life and hopefully you can apply these experiences to your life back here. It’s all within your control. You have learned what’s really important to you and your family. Maybe you can teach us all a thing or two about relaxing and what if means to be a family. I love you and I can’t wait to hug you and the kids. Safe travels…..

    • jandcfox says:

      Glad I could provide you a good laugh! I suspect many people will now ask me, while I am walking away, if I am leaving because I need to fart.

      Leaving is difficult and I am struggling with that now, but I know I will be back–so that helps just a little. I know there will be many open arms waiting for our return. I do hope that I can continue to relax and change my focus when I’m home. It almost seems impossible to do with the American way of life, but I’ll try! See you soon.

  9. Constantina Hajioannou says:

    Have a safe trip back. Maybe you can give a presentation on Ikaria at church. I think a lot of people would enjoy your story.

  10. Demetra Mavrophilipos says:

    I am sure you have surpassed all of your cousins!!! . Can’t wait to catch up!

  11. Tony Kypreos says:

    Hi Jackie: Very nice blog. I just starting reading it today, which is funny I guess because now you are back in PA. I found it very nice to read. I myself, I am from the Philadelphia area, and my father was born in Samos. Actually, I will go to Samos and Ikaria this summer in July. Honestly, when reading your blog I found many commonalities between many things that you said or talked about. I read the section where you studied in England instead of Greece back in college. My mom is from England, my father from Greece and spent time throughout my life in both places (I am 31 now). Also like you, I did not grow up speaking Greek- although I started studying the language at 25 and in 2008, spent two weeks in Ikaria- http://www.greekingreece.gr/ in the village of Arethousa, on top of the mountain by the port of Evdilos, followed by 3 months in Samos, where i started and now continue to try to improve my Greek as I can over the years. I really like the idea that you had to go to Ikaria for an extended time, with your kids. I have talked about doing these type of things as well( I dont have children now, but will sometime in the future). Ikaria is one that interests me- as it is one of the bluezones and I read a book on the Bluezones recently. Anyway- if you have time- please email me at akypreos@gmail.com . I would be interested to ask your advice on Ikaria and more about your experiences, at some point. Thanks alot, Tony

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