By Mikayla Booker, Senior studying Business Administration
Initially when we embarked on the flight from LAX airport to Greece, I expected Cypriot and Greek culture to be very similar considering that the two countries are only a four-hour flight from each other. Upon arriving to Athens, the city was very lively and full of shopping and trendy restaurants. The restaurants offered a variety of selection to pick from, which was indicative of the openness of the Greek people to try things outside of their traditional cuisine. I anticipated the people to dress more conservative in comparison to San Diego summer attire, but it was relatively the same. Everyone seemed relaxed and happy to be enjoying the summer days. In terms of infrastructure, the city was covered in spray paint graffiti on almost every building. The streets were run down and there was a mix of modern and older model vehicles, but there was no apparent differentiation between economic status amongst anyone. The majority of people we encountered throughout Greece spoke English, which was extremely convenient and again surprising to learn. While visiting the popular Acropolis archaeological site it was thought-provoking to see structures that have been standing since 447 B.C. Those same structures will continue to stand long after I have passed away and it was humbling to be in their presence. Overall, Greece offered ancient history while still maintaining a modern feel.
After spending a few days in Athens, I carried the same standard of expectations to Cyprus. Cyprus was drastically different than I anticipated in terms of the people and the infrastructure. I expected to encounter a large amount of Greeks, but it seemed to be mainly people of Middle Eastern descent. I also learned about the history of the Turkish and Greek divide over Cyprus and how that has affected the north of Cyprus dramatically. I would consider Nicosia underdeveloped in comparison to the other countries I have traveled, but according to our client the northern half of Cyprus is even more underdeveloped than the southern. It opened my eyes to see how people went about their daily life in comparison to what I observed in Greece. There were far less cars and people wandering about. The restaurant and nightlife experience were far less vibrant than in Athens. The Cypriots themselves were very welcoming and friendly to us, educating us on their traditional dishes and cultural customs. Overall, there is definitely potential for Cyprus to become a hotspot for travel considering its geographic location. I would love to visit in a few years to see if the country has made any progress in terms of infrastructure development.