You’ll have to forgive me for generalising in this article. I understand that every individual is completely unique, regardless of where they’re from.
Although, during the time I’ve spent in Greece I’ve noticed a lot of common differences between the Greeks and the English, so I thought I’d list them here.
Stronger family bonds
In Greece, families tend to be remarkably close-knit and will get together to celebrate almost any occasion. These family values are rooted in their culture and protected by tradition. For example, the majority of Greeks are expected, and often pressured into marrying other Greeks. However, there is an argument to say that this tradition is slowly losing itself to integration. Nevertheless, many Greeks do care deeply about the happiness of their family and make family life a #1 priority.
In the UK however, families tend to be significantly more divided. Christmas is the one time of the year where everyone gets together, but this often more due to a sense of cultural obligation.
Weaker family bonds in the UK also seems to include marriages. The Office for National Statistics estimates that 42% of marriages end in divorce in the UK; whereas Greece sees divorce rates of around 24%. This could be due to the fact that marriage is simply taken more seriously in Greece due to its religious beliefs and cultural ties
A More Outgoing Nature
Considering the extreme difference in climate, it’s no surprise that Greeks spend a lot more time outdoors than us hermit Brits.
The Greek people I know, spend very little time – if any – watching TV. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the English. A recent study has revealed that Brits spend a staggering 53 days per year watching TV! And that figure really doesn’t surprise me. It’s more unusual for the TV not to be switched on in a typical British household. After all, without it, families would actually have to speak to each other, and social interaction is avoided like the plague in this day and age.
You usually need to spend money to socialise or have fun with friends in the UK; whereas, in Greece, I’ve noticed this is not the case. It’s normal for people to meet up and literally do nothing but enjoy each others company. You will often see this at beaches, parks, squares and just about anywhere. Money is scarce for the majority of Greeks, and so I really admire them for not having to spend it to have a good time.
Passion for Life
The Greek people have a real lust for life accompanied by an abundance of charisma and enthusiasm. This was something that stood out immediately when I first visited Greece.
Whether you’re in a restaurant, shop or bar you will probably notice that the Greeks are very effective communicators and wear their heart in their sleeve. If you were to enter a group of Greek people into a room, then the volume of that room would undoubtedly increase and they’d be doing the Zorba’s dance before you knew it.
It’s quite rare to meet an English person with the same level of passion, especially in customer service. We tend to be polite, but also reserved people in the way we express emotion.
Women Are More Feminine
The differences between Greek and English women are the most significant in my opinion.
In the UK it seems that a lot of women are beginning to copy the behaviour of men: drinking beer, watching football, playing video games etc… Now, before I attract the attention of feminists accusing me of being sexist, I’m not. I’m simply explaining what I’ve seen, and have no opinion on it whatsoever.
I’ve noticed that in Greece the women are much more ladylike, in the traditional sense. They walk more delicately, possess a timid personality and tend to have separate interests to men. Although the flip side to this is that Greek girls are notoriously more emotional and sensitive.
Greeks Really Are Hospitable
This is a longstanding stereotype about Greeks which I’ve found does has some weight to it.
Since moving to Athens I’ve received so many messages on Twitter from Greeks welcoming me to their country and some even offering to meet up. The majority of residents I’ve met in Athens are grateful for tourism and welcome visitors, as well as expats, with open arms.
This warm and welcoming personality may derive from ancient Greek times. Travelling back then was often lengthy and expensive, meaning that the average-joe (or Giorgos) couldn’t afford to pay for lodgings. Therefore it became customary that the Greeks would offer shelter and often food for strangers. This would grant them with the desired status of being hospitable, which was an honorary title back then. Over the years it seems that Greece has not lost these ideals, and as such now receives over 15 million tourists each year.
They Tend to be Healthier
This makes sense given that their lifestyle is revolved around the sun and sea, whereas in England it’s the internet and TV.
However, diet also has a significant part to play and the Mediterranean diet is widely seen as the best in the word – and I can understand why. Even the fruit and vegetables are so much fresher to what you’d buy at an English supermarket. It makes you realise how amazing healthy food actually can taste, and when you’re tucking into a delicious Greek salad you don’t even think about your old friends Ben & Jerry.
If this post seems a little bias in favour of Greece, it’s because it probably is. Considering Greece has given me so much, it’s hard not to be. But after spending the majority of my life living in England I’ve come to believe that us English aren’t living healthy lives, mentally or physically. We put too much emphasis on being intellectual, productive and “successful” – I write that in speech marks because I believe that there are multiple definitions for what it means; and my definitions don’t include words such finances, job or circumstances. Instead, I believe that words such as happiness, family, friends and love should encompass success.
That’s what really separates the Greeks from the Brits: they’re successful in all the ways we’re not.