This vacation I’ve visited three places of very different sizes. Rhodos city, Kritinia, and Athens. In each of these the people felt very different and I think their size has something to do with this.
Kritinia is a very small village on the Island Rhodos. During my stay the community felt very close knit and it felt fairly difficult to approach people. I think there’s lots of reasons why I felt the way I did about Kritinia.
First of all, although I quite like talking to people, I am still fairly shy (especially arounf new people). Approaching someone perhaps feels a bit more unnatural to me than it does for most people. The shyness is something I can probably work on, because I think a lot of it might be caused by a feeling of unfamiliarity with meeting new people.
Besides the shyness there was also a language barrier. I don’t speak Greek and far from everyone in the community spoke English. This created in me also a kind of mental barrier. A fear to not be understood. Of course it also created the effect that you can’t really listen to the conversations the other people have with each other, so you can’t grab onto a conversation and add your little part.
But beyond the things that are just my experience I think there’s also something more universal that’s sometimes true for small villages.
In small communities it is easy to know everyone around you. So, it is more of a difference when someone you don’t know comes to visit. I think this means that it will be stranger for the people in a small community to meet a stranger and tourists are perhaps the strangest stranger.
About a year ago I went on a weekend trip to a farm in a small village somewhere in the Netherlands (with my debating society, The Leiden Debating Union).
I didn’t interact much with people I didn’t know during this trip, but the interactions I did have were more like the ones I had in Rhodos city than the ones I had in Kritinia.
I think this is in part because my experiences are a lot more similar to the people’s experiences in the Dutch village than to those of the people in Kritinia.
Of course the language thing is probably more important, but at this moment, I think that the shared background made the stranger (me) a lot less strange.