We’ve been on the island for about six weeks. So far, we have gotten a lot of the stares as obvious-looking foreigners. And for those who have been brave enough to say hello to us, it is occasionally met with this phrase: “Ni hao?” (Chinese for hello.)
Nevermind that we took four months of modern Greek lessons to help us get through very, very basic conversation. But it is quite sweet how they approach us and try to make polite conversation.
After saying hello in Greek, their first question is are we “Kiνeζikα” (Greek word for Chinese)? We kindly reply that we “απo tvn Aμeρiki” (are from America or the States). They give a look of shock that someone of Asian descent would come from America.
And then they ask where are you really from? So we say our parents are from Korea. You would think the conversation about ethnicity and race would end there, but here is the clincher: North or South?
When I first heard that question, I responded, “Uh.. South.” I thought, “ They must not know that people from North Korea don’t get out much.”
Several weeks ago, Prof was able to share with our local butchers when they asked us if Chinese and Korean are similar in language. Prof said, “It’s like learning Greek and Turkish.” And then they all nodded their heads in agreement to the difference in language between the two.
I am slowly getting acquainted with Cypriot people and culture. I have definitely had to come of out my shell to be gracious when some Cypriots are not so polite. And for the ones who have shown kindness, we have been able to share a brief dialogue exchange about each other’s culture.
The “20 something” me would have clammed up and shut myself out of the opportunities to meet people, but the now “30 something” me has been able to appreciate the cultural exchange between the Cypriot people and us.