Tatianna Lamperti: The Grecian Dream

375 500 Ellen Ensher
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Tatianna Lamperti in Greece

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the American Dream is “the belief that America offers the opportunity to every one of a good and successful life achieved through hard work.” Growing up in the United States has motivated me to always plan my next step; graduate high school, earn my bachelor’s degree, secure a great job, climb the corporate ladder, start a family, and then grow old. But is that all there is?

I recently spent time studying abroad in Greece. The trip began with exploring the main tourist attractions like the Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis, the medieval castle of Mystras, the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, and many more ancient Greek antiquities. This week of traveling allowed me to experience ancient history in a tangible form. Following a week of traveling across the country, we came to our final destination, Spetses, Greece, where we would reside for three weeks. After being exposed to the greatness of Greece’s ancient past, I started to focus on the culture of Greece’s modern-day society. During my three weeks immersed in the culture of Spetses, I have made an observation; the cadence of societal productivity is significantly slower than in the US, socially and economically. The pressure in the US to build personal success and live out the American Dream causes us to move through life at a rapid pace because our main focus is, “What’s next”? Greek culture takes an extremely different approach to daily life and productivity; enjoying the present.

These societal differences that I have noticed throughout my time here in Greece can be explained by three categories of Hofstede’s Country Comparison Tool; uncertainty avoidance, individualism, and masculinity. Living here for three weeks now I have been accustomed to siesta business hours, lengthy meals with multiple courses, and creating a work-life balance. These three observations of mine play directly into the uncertainty avoidance category in which Greece scores 100. “Greeks need to have good and relaxing moments in their everyday life, chatting with colleagues, enjoying a long meal or dancing with guests and friends.”(Hofstede) Allowing myself to prioritize the present was unfamiliar to me prior to this study abroad experience.

In contrast to the United States, Greece values a collectivistic society, rather than an individualistic society. I have noticed that small businesses are run by all family members, people are friendly toward strangers, and the younger generations are not expected to be fully self-sufficient by 18 years old. All of these observations are evidence of Greece’s Individualism score of 35. Greek culture honors loyalty amongst the community. Greek people are friendly towards strangers, rather than being standoffish towards new people. The younger generations are not expecting to be kicked out of the nest at 18 years old, many continue to live with their parents until they are married. The individualism scale measuring the degree to which the community maintains interdependence was blatantly observable during my time in Spetses, Greece.

Hofstede’s masculinity spectrum measures Greece to have a neutral score of 57. A high score on this scale shows that the country’s culture is “driven by competition, achievement, and success.” A low score indicates that the dominant values in society are caring for others and the quality of life.” I have observed Greece to possess a middle standing on this spectrum because of Greece’s past and present. Greece holds a history of power, achievement, and competition, seen throughout the antiquities of ancient Greece. I have observed in Spetses the nurturing and caring characteristics of the modern Greek identity. Hospitality and community are prioritized before business and economic gain. On the other hand, the United States ranks higher in the masculinity index. In the US, there is immense pressure to obtain the best job, and the best education, and eventually live out the American Dream.

But what about the Grecian Dream? My study abroad journey allowed me to take a step back and appreciate the things you cannot buy; health, happiness, and family.