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A Greek-American Sees Differences from U.S. When Living in Greece

Greeks might question what she sees – or doesn’t – but Greek-American travel writer Joanna Kalafatis splits her time between living in Athens and Los Angeles and said there’s some stark differences between the countries.

Writing for the Business Insider site, she said she’s always drawn back to Greece, where she spends six months a year and added that what strikes her is that despite a reputation for ‘philoxenia’ – friendliness toward strangers – that Greeks can be rude.

“Especially to tourists. But being overly polite or smiley with strangers isn’t part of the nation’s social culture,” she said, which could be fighting words to many Greeks, when they aren’t being friendly to her and strangers.

“I actually appreciate knowing where I stand with people when I’m in Greece. I get much more constructive criticism and real talk from friends …  people in the U.S. tend to smile and offer some degree of friendliness and politeness – whether they’re interacting with customer-service workers, strangers, or friends,” she said.

But she loves the Greek penchant for partying hard, eating late into the night, and being able to dance and socialize into the early morning, complaining that Los Angeles closes earlier. “In Athens, I can easily stay out until 4 AM. And if I’m willing to head out to the club district or one of the many ‘bouzoukias’ (clubs with live music), I can stretch the night out even longer,” she said.

LA has some nice beaches too – nothing like Greece’s of course – but the American city doesn’t let businesses take them over or get too close to the water while in Greece they’re allowed to use at least 50 percent of public beaches for profit.

“In LA, if I go to the beach with friends, I pack coolers like I’m camping because we usually can’t get any food or drink service on the sand. It makes going to the beach in LA more of a full-day plan if you don’t live super close,” she said.

And she loves the Greeks’ ability to do just about anything they want, including young people drinking and skateboarding in public parks until 2 or 3 AM. “That’s pretty much impossible to do in LA without getting some sort of side-eye or written warning,” she said.

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