Mechanical Minds

By on Oct 9, 2017 | 0 comments

Rachael Bittick Share On GoogleShare On FacebookShare On Twitter

Whenever I start to think about how our minds work, I always seem to imagine an organized and efficient system of spinning gears in my head. Which is funny, because if there were, in fact, gears in my head, they would most definitely need to be oiled.

Smooth, efficient simple solutions tend not to be my preferred route when faced with challenges. Of course, it’s not something I do intentionally, but perhaps subconsciously there is something in my mind that always wants to find the most complicated answers to life’s problems.

There’s that whole left brain-right brain dichotomy that suggests everyone has both creative and logical processing abilities. Well, whoever published that relationship clearly has never seen my brain. I would suggest that if there even is a logical, objective portion of my brain, it is very quickly being consumed by the creative rainbow cloud of abstractness that is the majority of my mind.

Why am I telling you this? Because I recently had a very frustrating encounter with my apartment shutters. Yes, an encounter. I say that because it was most definitely a two sided battle, and the shutters came out victorious.

An example of old, wooden shutters in many Greek urban apartments.

For those of you who may not know, many small European apartments have balconies, which

are accessible from the bedrooms. However, before you can walk through the doors to the balcony, you must first push the shutters up. At least I thought you were supposed to push.

During the first month of being in Athens, both my roommate and I had been doing our best to lift the shutters up by squatting and using our non-existent quad muscles to push upward like heavyweight champions. We just assumed they were old and would only go up a certain amount. So every time we went out onto the balcony, we simply ducked under the half-opened shutters, and prayed they didn’t slide down on us.


Until, one day, last week, I found myself 30 minutes into a fight with these shutters, sweat dripping from my face and back, arms and legs aching from unfamiliar exertion of force. I finally gave up and decided sunlight would have to wait. When a housemate came home, I approached her and asked if there was some magic technique like kicking a certain corner or something silly, that would get the shutters to go up.

She looked at me and said she didn’t know how she’d be able to get it if I couldn’t, but she’d try anyway. She walked over to the door, moved the curtains to the side, and grabbed a mysterious rope attached to the side of the door that I had never seen.

With three simple, quick tugs, she had pulled (NOT PUSHED) the shutters completely up.

My illogical mind was absolutely blown. I was beyond embarrassed.

Who ever would have thought that such efficient and simple technology could solve my problem.

So if you’re reading this as a new or even current CYA student, and you’re struggling to learn how to do new things, understand that we all experience these challenges, and eventually life in Athens will become very familiar.


For the rest of you, I hope you’re still trying to wipe the tears from your eyes after laughing so hard at me. Now that you’ve gathered yourself, it is also a good opportunity for all of us to realize that everyone’s brain functions differently. There are not good and bad manners of thinking and processing, just diverse.

In the words of Temple Grandin, we are “different, not less.”


As many of you may know, I do not have a mechanical mind. But I am proud to have a creative one. We should all be more accepting and encouraging of one another’s differences, not just our commonalities.

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