I am proud to say that I am continuing to become more of a local in Nicosia. After two months here, I have got just about all the bus routes mapped out and I can definitely show you some of the best coffee shops downtown. Most of my learning has come from the unexpected; off-the-cuff invites to friends’ houses or offers to show me local favorite restaurants. All of these experiences have led me to become more comfortable and confident in my time here.
By far, the most transformative experience here has been learning Greek. While I am definitely not fully fluent yet, I feel more confident and am able to pick up a lot of phrases. This has definitely allowed me to connect more with the locals and I can feel the warmth and appreciation for trying to learn Greek. Of course, almost everyone here speaks great English, but you can always see a spark in someone’s eyes when you try to connect with them in their first language. When I return to Pitt, I am going to continue to take Greek and continue enhancing my Greek language skills.
As a whole, Cyprus has been a wonderful and accessible island to explore. Since the nation is about the size of the state of Connecticut, it has been very easy to get around, and seeing my surroundings has made me more comfortable with the city I am living in. With a student discount, it costs around 4-5 euros to go anywhere on the island by bus. These one to two-hour bus rides make it very easy to take a day trip across the island and learn more about the culture and history of Cyprus. Each of these experiences increases my knowledge and therefore comfort in my home city of Nicosia.
Lastly, my program has done wonders to get us acquainted with Nicosia. They have held several events throughout the city which encouraged us to safely explore. Some of these events included scavenger hunts and meeting up with us for lunch. About once a month they host coffee meet-ups, and it’s always fun to learn more about their own recommendations of areas and popular events enjoyed by the locals. Personally, I think this sums up the greatest part of studying abroad and finally adjusting to a city: you get to live like a local, with the locals, and simultaneously share and explore the cultures around you.