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  • Writer's pictureSean

Integrating into Greek Society - Tips for New Residents

Updated: Jul 16

Starting a new life in Greece is an exciting chapter of your life, but you need to make sure that you adapt to a new society properly to enjoy your new home to the fullest.

Depending on where you come from, Greece can have social norms and customs that are confusing, but with time and some prior warning of what to expect, you’ll adapt. Let’s take a proper look at what you need to know if you are looking to move to Greece from the UK.

1. Dining Rules and Etiquette

The rules of the dining table vary massively across the world, and Greece is no exception to this rule. It is perfectly normal for you to find yourself engaged in a meal with friends or co-workers and be expected to follow the rules. The other thing to note is that mealtimes are a communal experience so it’ll be hard to duck too many invitations.

So, here’s what you need to know. If you’re in a restaurant, the eldest person at the table is the one to initiate the meal. You should wait for either them or the host of the night. If you’re visiting someone in their home for a meal, bring a gift.

This is normally a bottle of wine or a dessert - it’s customary to do so. Always use utensils when you’re eating, too - even if the food looks like it can be eaten with your hands, it’s not good manners to do so.

2. Greetings are Important

Many parts of the world are fairly informal with their greetings and often quite curt - most people just say ‘good morning’ as they walk past each other. In Greece, greetings are a little different and pretty important. They are normally associated with warmth and respect for the person you’re greeting.

You can expect a friendly handshake in most cases, especially if you’re meeting a person for the first time. If you’re greeting friends and family, then it becomes a lot more affectionate - usually a hug and kiss on the cheeks. It’s not always defined by gender, either, so it’s important to be affectionate no matter who it is.

Always maintain eye contact during a greeting, too. It shows that you’re happy to see that person and are sincere in your greeting.

3. Conversations and Social Situations

Social rules and norms can be different in Greece than in most places in the Western world, so if you’re coming from the UK, US, or even Europe, it’s worth noting how things are done.

Greeks have earned a reputation for being warm and agreeable. Their social interactions are often lively and communal - lots of people like to spend time together laughing, talking and enjoying the company involved. You’ll be expected to get into the spirit of things.

Answering questions with nothing more than ‘yes’ or ‘no’ will be considered rude and standoffish in most communal gatherings, so you will be expected to offer up a little more than that. You should try to engage in conversations and show interest in what other people are talking about.

The Greeks are warm and affectionate people. However, they also have a keen respect for personal space, and there are clear boundaries expected of locals and expats alike. The basic rules are simple enough to understand. Don’t touch people’s heads - that’s considered disrespectful, as the Greeks feel that the head is the most sacred part of your body.

During the conversation, you’ll want to stand about an arm’s length from someone to maintain a respectable distance. This type of stuff helps you to seem like you’re trying to respect local customs and will help you integrate faster.

4. Dress Nicely For Events

You’ll find that Greece is an interesting collection of contradictions when considering dress and culture. First and foremost, you’ll see almost immediately that there are a lot of traditions and cultures surrounding festivals, events and communal gatherings.

You will be expected to join these without prejudice or bias - if you embrace traditions, then you will be welcomed into the community a lot faster.

At the same time, you must strive to dress appropriately. Greek people place a level of importance on dressing formally for specific functions or when visiting religious locations. Women should cover their shoulders and knees on these occasions, and men are expected to wear formal clothing and avoid sleeveless shirts. Casual occasions are more relaxed, thankfully, but still emphasise dressing well - Greek people take pride in their appearance.

5. Learn the Language

Of course, speaking the language in Greece is and always will be a key part of settling into society. Greek people speak Greek, unsurprisingly, but they also have a keen understanding of English, which is widespread among visitors.

You will be expected to learn Greek as soon as you can, so the best thing you can do to prepare yourself for this is to learn a few key phrases and words. It’s a good basis for getting started, and it shows willingness, which will help you establish your relationships.

Moving to Greece

Greece is a place that is warm and welcoming to new residents. You will be embraced and accepted within the community quite quickly, which is undoubtedly good news for any nervous expats.

However, with this in mind, it is important to understand that Greece is a proud country and it has traditions that have endured for centuries. You won’t be able to brush them aside or ignore them - learning is paramount for settling in.

However, it is accepted that you’re not a local, and you may need time to learn everything you need to know. Generally speaking, if you’re seen to be trying to learn, you’ll get a pass from most people. Greece is a wonderful place to live, and it is one we recommend for anyone who wants to start a new life. We can help you with the moving process, too - if you’re looking to build a brand new life elsewhere. Speak to us at Pinnacle Removals & Storage and find out what we can offer for your move to Greece.

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