From Final Exam to the Last Judgment

Wednesday morning I woke up, guzzled some coffee, and walked to the University where I had one class and a final exam.  I boogied through the final just in time to hop the metro to the airport for my flight into Rome.  Three and a half hours of airplane and shuttle-bus and we were checked into our hotel and ready for an authentic Italian meal.  We found this tiny pizzeria a short stroll from our hotel where we all had a quick pizza before we retired for the night after a long day of travel and test taking.  At the pizzeria the waiter was very friendly and nice to us and they didn’t let us leave without having an Italian ice on the house.

            Thursday our plan was to tour the Colleseum as well as Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum, but we were held back by rain (the worst we have seen since in Europe).  We were only able to see the Colleseum and rescheduled our Palatine and Forum tour for the next day.  We were sick of the rain getting in the way of our trips so a bunch of us split to enjoy the day in Rome anyways.  We trudged through shoe covering puddles as we made an effort to see as much as we could.  We knew that the next day was going to be busy because besides our visit to the Vatican City we were going to be visiting the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill as well.

            We rose early on Friday so that we could get a jumpstart on our very busy day.  Our first agenda item was to get to the Vatican for our scheduled tour.  We were lucky and got to skip the line to get into the city and were blessed with a wonderful tour guide.  As a group we have become generally skeptical of tour guides so this was a pleasant surprise.  We moved through the museums and were impressed by the works of Salvador Dali, Raphael, and, of course, Michelangelo.  We moved through in awe as we anticipated our last stop, the Sistine Chapel.  With the exception of the works in the Sistine Chapel I was most attracted to Raphael’s “Scuola di Atene,” or “School of Athens.”

            This very abbreviated tour of the Vatican which can take up to seven years to completely see (a fact from our tour guide) took a few hours as it led up to the Sistine Chapel.  After finally arriving in the chapel I was awestruck.  The grandeur and detail in the frescoes were breathtaking, even more so than I expected.  Being inside seamed surreal as if it wasn’t actually happening.  The pieces were so bright and brilliant radiating the beauty, which they are so famous for possessing.  Being inside made me think about the numerous years of labor that Michelangelo dedicated to this work.  Seeing this with my own eyes heightened my appreciation for this place to a level that is indescribable.  My favorite part of the Sistine Chapel is undeniably the Last Judgment.

            After the Sistine Chapel we walked around St. Peter’s Basilica before heading to the forum and Palatine Hill.  At Palatine Hill we were not lucky enough to get a good tour guide, and though these were very cool attractions they weren’t as special as the other things that we had already seen, or were about to see (Pompeii).  From Palatine Hill, though, I can say that I got a beautiful view of part of Rome and was ale to more fully understand the story of Romulus and Remus. 

            Saturday we were headed to Naples so that we could get to nearby Pompeii which I will leave for someone else to talk about. 

Rome and the Coliseum!

Never in my lifetime did I think I would get the chance to study abroad, and when planning for this trip there was only one place in my mind that I knew I had to see either on my own time or through our traveling with the class. The one place that I had been dreaming about for almost all of my life was Italy. Finally we were going and our first stop was Rome. We arrived late at night on Wednesday so adventures of Italy only went as far as finding the most Italian restaurant we could find and testing out the food, which by the way was incredible!

Thursday morning we woke up and headed straight for the Coliseum. The walking distance to the Coliseum from our hotel was not bad by any means and as we approached it. Getting closer and closer to the building it grew larger and more intimidating with each step I took. As we walked inside the excitement I was feeling was overwhelming and unsure of what to expect. We went up in the elevators to get to the higher part of the Coliseum and as you walked out onto the Coliseum to look down at the pits where thousands of gladiators fought, it felt incredible. As I looked around I could picture with my own eyes how it once looked, filled with thousands of people screaming and chanting as they gazed down on the gladiators fighting to the death. The part in which the gladiators would stand was no longer there, but instead you were able to see what was down below those grounds, where they kept the lions and tigers locked up. Our tour guide told us that they do not have a definite number on how many deaths actually took place in the Coliseum but she made an estimate of about a million or so people counting the amount of deaths for each day and for how many years this went on.

Rome was an incredible city, and despite what I had heard about it being a dangerous area I felt as comfortable there as I did in Athens. The city is filled with character from the modern day buildings to the Coliseum or Vatican City that has filled the area with history that dates back thousands of years. Of any place to travel to hands down it would be Rome not only for the historical aspect, but the food was great too!



When you type “Greece November 17” into Wikipedia this is what comes up:

Formation –

The group's name, 17N, refers to the final day of the 1973 Athens Polytechnic uprising, in which a protest against the Greek Military Junta (1967 - 1974), also known as the Regime of the Colonels took place. The uprising ended after a series of events that started when a tank took down the main gate of the Polytechneion and security forces, including soldiers, stormed the campus. 17N self-identified as Marxist. In addition to assassinations, 17N was convicted for a number of bank robberies. Members of 17N claim they stole money to finance their activities.

Today, on the 17th of November we went to the Polytechnic University in Athens and saw representatives from every political party- complete with posters, newspapers, pamphlets, stickers, etc. We also saw on display extremely powerful pictures from 1973. Pictures of storms of people, tanks in Syntagma Square, and signs that wrote “USA = *swastika*”. Wow.

This alone convinced a few of us that we were definitely going to the march this afternoon. This march proved to be a life changing experience.

The different political parties had their own ways of doing things.

Although it was storming incredibly outside, that only fueled their fire.

The Communists were the largest of the groups, and the most peaceful. We marched with them for a while, and nobody gave us any trouble.

The Anarchists on the other hand were pretty extreme. Wearing all black, and blasting head-banging music these anarchists chanted loudly while marching down the street.

A few times the chants included “F*** Americans”. They had the courtesy to say it in our own language for us to understand!

These Anarchists were followed on both sides by extreme police brigades.

These police were decked out, helmets, shields, gas masks, and the whole uniforms.

Why were they wearing gas masks you ask? Tear gas is the way to deal with these anarchists that come out of order.

Many water bottles were thrown at these police, but it did not deter them.

Only when massive chunks of stone were thrown at them did the tear gas come out.

Don’t worry, we were a-ok. A wonderful distance away to view, but not to be involved.

What really struck me personally was the Green Anarchists. They wanted to live natural without all of this hubbub is what I got out of their campaign. Sounds pretty sweet to me!

What really got me was there were secret federal agent type dudes incognito. We had to be careful taking pictures, not zooming in on specific people in certain groups, because we didn’t want them to think we were one of these undercover rats.

I guess that these guys sometimes even start the major riots, like a 50/50 chance! Just to make the marchers look bad. Peaceful marchers makes the marchers look good. The government wants them to look bad. Whhhhat!!

Overall, this day was an eye-opening experience. Very exciting!

What a great day!

One Solution...Revolution

Last night at 11:00pm, we got back to Athens from an amazing trip to Roma and Napoli. The last thing I wanted to do was to wake up at nine to traipse around Athens watching the Communist and Anarchist demonstrations. However, it ended up being a remarkable, eye opening experience that I never imagined I would ever be a part of.

On November 17, 1973 there was an anti-junta demonstration escalated into military tanks charging through the gates of Athens’ Polytechnic University. Very few deaths were recorded, but it was a massacre unlike no other, and hundreds were killed or wounded. The result of this uprising was the restoration of Parliamentary Democracy and the date becoming an acknowledged school holiday.

Today, on November 17, schools and universities close to commemorate the valiant efforts of their living ancestors and loved ones lost in the valiant effort against military dictatorship and tyranny. At the Polytechnic University, classrooms are filled with photos, videos, and presentations of the events that took place on that day 35 years ago. Flowers, banners, and photos are placed in front of the gate where the tanks entered the school. Hundreds of students gather to hand out flyers and talk about the significance of that day and how much change is still needed.

Dmitri, a professor for HAU, offered to go to the commencement march that starts at the Polytechnic University and ends at the United States Embassy. Dom, Ashley, and I were the only girls from Sina who decided to go. And we were sooo glad we did.
We walked for blocks and blocks with police officers on the left and right of us wearing gas masks, holding guns, and carrying shields. It is no understatement to say we were a bit uncomfortable. Dozens of political parties and political groups marched and chanted with drums, sticks, and megaphones. The demonstrators threw rocks at the police, and they retaliated by hurling tear gas at them.

Professor Marra, Ron, Ry, Kayla, and Leslie met up with us, and Dmitri began to translate what the demonstrators were chanting. “The sun will weep tears of happiness when we become free.” “Psomi pedia eleftheria (bread, education, freedom).” And of course the predicted Anti-American Slander (even though Dmitri informed us that most of their platforms and ideas come from pamphlets and thinkers from the US).
It was an amazing sight. Nothing like this would ever happen in the states. Major roads were blocked off, buses and trains were closed, and police were ready for the impending riots. However, in the midst of all this chaos, parents brought their children to witness the March protest march. Ioanna and Dmitri told us that parents brought their children there so that they would learn from a young age that in order to get what you want, you need to take it to the streets and be heard. “One Solution…Revolution.”

United in Napoli

Last weekend, we went on a trip to Rome and Naples. This was especially exciting for me because I have family in Naples who I have never had the chance to meet. When we arrived in Naples, we immediately left for Pompei. I was anxious to get in touch with the relatives, but I was still interested in seeing the site of the city destroyed by Mount Vesuvius. It was incredible—the city was preserved by the molten lava—even bodies. It was so sad, seeing bodies almost a hundred years old, preserved with looks of terror on their faces as the lava overtook them. I left with a deeper appreciation for life.

We got back late so I wasn’t sure if I should call the relatives. I was getting really nervous about meeting them. I almost decided not to call. Then, I looked at my map—most of them lived on the same exact street as my hotel! I couldn’t believe it. It was a sign. I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t try to meet them.

I called a couple of numbers—no answer. I called a third number, Assuntia’s, who is my great aunt, and got an answer: “Pronto?” I had clearly woken her up. “Uh..mi nuna Anna Marie Esposito. Mi madre Diane..” She cut me off, rapidly speaking in Italian, obviously very excited. “Uh..no comprendo..Only Ingles..” We struggled for 15 minutes on the phone, but I got across which hotel I was in. “I be there in 1, 2, 3, 4..minutos!” And then she hung up. Oh my God she’s going to be here in a couple minutes! I couldn’t believe it!

I waited in the lobby, nervously tapping my toe. Then, I was told that she was here, outside calling for me. I ran outside. We saw each other, and literally ran into each other’s arms and hugged for a few minutes. I couldn’t help but cry, it was was like I could feel that we were family, like we knew each other forever. It was definitely a Kodak moment. Eventually, she motioned for me to get into her car with her. Dom hopped in too—obviously eager to meet her too!

She drove around the corner and pointed out “Esposito’s Café.” I couldn’t believe it—my family's café was right around the corner from my hotel! We got out of the car and she began yelling her brother's name, signaling that he lived on the 4th floor. Unfortunately, he was asleep so we didn’t get to meet him.

She brought us to her house next. She gave me a tour, making sure to point out the guest room, which she was very offended I wasn’t staying in. Then, she showed me photographs of my Grammy and Grampy. I had never seen photos of them in which they were so young—it was beautiful. She also showed me photos of family members I had never met: adorable little boys (with my eyes, Dom pointed out!), and her sisters, brothers, etc.

She next drove us all around Naples, showing me everything she wanted me to see. Although we didn’t speak the same language, we got our points across enough, and we learned a lot about each other. We met up with her niece, who spoke English, and helped us out a lot. When Assuntia realized that I was leaving in the morning, she was so sad—her eyes welled up with tears. She thought we’d have so much more time together. It broke my heart. I promised I would come back someday, and she promised to come visit me, too.

We stopped at her favorite pastry shop. She bought me lots of delicious native pastries—my favorites were canolis and babas—and had them wrapped them up for Dom and I. She was too cute! We continued on our tour. She showed me the church that my Grammy and Grampy married in, the funeral home of her father, castles, famous hotels, museums, and my favorite stop: the port. She told me how she used to stroll along here with my Grammy. I knew how happy she would be to know we were there together. She teased me, saying that if I lived there—like I should—I could sit and paint the beautiful bay all day. We linked arms and strolled along the port, laughing and chatting (or trying to), both happy to be in each other’s presence.

She brought us back at about 1:30 and walked me in to have the receptionist act as a translator. She said to call her as soon as I was home so that she could visit! I hope she does! It also became clear that she was not happy that I was leaving in the morning and that I didn’t call her sooner. I felt so bad! She hugged me for what seemed like forever, then pinched and kissed my cheeks. It was sad seeing her leave. We had such an experience meeting each other and I don’t know when we’ll see each other again. It was bitter-sweet; I try to focus on how happy we were to meet each other, not how sad it was that our time together was so short. I walked back up to my room with really sore cheeks with lipstick stains on them.

The next morning, we left bright and early for Rome. We had a couple of hours so I went back to the Picasso exhibit to do some thinking. I had such an experience this weekend I felt mentally drained. I’m back in Athens now and know for sure that life will never be the same.

I can't afford to walk a mile in those woman's shoes!

Before my time in Greece, I have to admit that I was a little full of myself. I loved fashion and was sure that I was extremely well dressed. I took pride in my appearance and possessed a confidence that could not be shaken. However, after living in Athens for almost two months a new feeling has come over me. Every morning I wake up 30 minutes before class. I brush my teeth and wash my face. I look in my closet and grab a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt. With a peek in the mirror before I leave the house, I realize that I look like any other American college students does when they go to morning classes.

However, Toto, we’re not in America anymore. As I leave the house I walk up the street to the Hellenic American University where we have class everyday. A strange sense of inadequacy immediately engulfs me. I am surrounded by women in 6 inch heels and men in tighter pants than I would be comfortable wearing. I think to myself that maybe they just want to look nice for a presentation or something. However, that is just wishful thinking on my part. There are two kinds of Greek people. Greeks who dress extremely well and Greeks who don’t. The ones that do dress well make up about 90 percent of the population. They are on the streets, at the grocery store and even at the Acropolis. I’m sweating my way up to the Parthenon being careful not to slip in my thickly soled sneakers when all of a sudden a woman in a beautiful dress and 6 inch leather boots passes me without a heavy breath. To me, that is ludicrous. Isn’t it dangerous to climb mountains in heels?

I might sound critical, but that is not how I mean to come off. I wish I possessed the grace and courage to “walk a mile in those womens’ shoes.” Sadly, I do not. I’ll just try to look my best and leave the real panache to the professionals.


It was all a Dream, I used to read Word-Up Magazine

Anticipation was building on the long drive to Nafpoli. Though Lauren and I tried to kill time rapping to every Kanye and Biggie song that came on the iPod, we couldn’t wait to reach our destination. Yes, we heard about the castles, the ancient ruins, and even the shopping, but nothing could compare to the most exciting part of our excursion…Our last time swimming in the sea!

Before we arrive in Nafpoli, we stopped at the Corinth Canal. It connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea, and it separates the Peloponnesian Peninsula from mainland Greece. Ioanna, our Greek professor, told us that bungee jumping would be available for our entertainment, and I was ready. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time, and I wasn’t able to go. Although I was bummed, I was able to buy a traditional Greek hat. Yeah, it was wild. I wore it all day, even though Ioanna said that it was ugly and embarrassing. Haha

Epidaurus was the next place we hit on our weekend adventure. It was known in ancient times as a healing center. People from around the region would come to have their dreams read and their remedies assigned. The most celebrated point of interest at the site is the theater. It can seat over 15,000 people. Ioanna did a demonstration showing how great the acoustics were. When different coins were dropped at center of the theater, we could hear the difference in sound all the way from the very top of the theater. I was given the opportunity to sing in front of the entire audience. Ioanna also sang for us. It was a beautiful folk song from her village near Sparta.

We arrived at Hotel Victoria in the evening. It was a very nice Seaside Inn near many tavernas, shops, and clubs! It was the perfect location. After dinner at a wonderful little tavern (that just barely seated us all) we went to Ioanna’s favorite bar in town—The Wrong Bar. But I guess we hit it lucky and were there at the Right Time on the Right Night, because we all had a blast. We talked and laughed while Ry played guitar and sang for the bar. Even after living together for two months, every day I learn something new about these people. I was oblivious of Ry’s talent, and I was taken aback by how his talent really brought us all together as a group that night.
The next day we went to Mycenae. It was home to the legendary King Agamemnon and the site of the one of the largest findings of gold, second only to the excavation of the tomb of Tutankhamen. We walked through the legendary Lion’s Gate and the Tomb of Clytemnestra. Though it was an amazing civilization that left us with great ruins to view and learn from, our new found interest in the paranormal definitely added to it. Lauren, Leanne, Caitie, Dom, and I decided to find ghosts in this ancient city. We made videos and took pictures of the supernatural activity we witnessed (Look at the ghost behind the rock in the photo!). It was fun and fascinating!

When we reached the hotel we were able to have some free time. Lauren, Shane, and I decided to go swimming! Unfortunately we forgot our goggles, but we made the best of it! It was about a 20 minute walk alongside the rocky coast. On the left were Prickly Pears. Shane thought it would be a good idea to pick and eat them. So he climbed up, picked some, and tossed them down to me. I guess we forgot they are called PRICKLY pears, and we got hundreds of prickly fibers stuck in our hands. I hate Prickly Pears! Swimming was fun, but cold! But what did we expect? It is November! It was refreshing though.

My favorite part of the entire trip was on Sunday when we went to the Palamidi Castle that sits high above the city of Nafpoli. Ioanna gave us the option of taking the bus to the fortress or taking the 1,147 stairs to the top. To my surprise, and most likely to the surprise of the others, I chose to take the stairs with Professor Marra, Shane, Kayla, Leslie, and Ron. I am sooo glad I did! Though it was one of the most difficult hikes I have ever been on, it had one of the most scenic views I have seen the entire time I have been to Greece, and it was a great feeling standing at the top and looking down at the hike I accomplished. To my surprise we all made it to the top in about 15-20 minutes, actually beating the bus!

Finally at the Top!

Shane and I decided to break off from the group and do a bit of our own exploring. Several times we decided to take the paths less traveled. We went digging through ancient tunnels and caves. We came across one that is worth noting. We walked through a small hole that opened up into a large room. We walked down the stair case and saw the domed roof. In the center of the room was a large pile of rocks and dirt that had fallen through when a small part of the roof collapsed. A couple feet of standing water filled the grotto-like structure. It was by far the coolest site at the fortress.

This trip was great! One day I hope to come back again.


Over the weekend we went to Napflio. This city was absolutely beautiful; the ocean, cute little shops and restaurants, and amazing mountain views in every single direction. We were able to see many wonderful sites and ancient ruins.

On the way to Napflio we stopped and got to see the Corinth Canal. It was great! The amount of time, energy, and money this canal saves everyone! Someday I would like to ride down the canal! Or, better yet, bungee jump off of it!

My favorite was Palamidi Castle up on the massive hill. Some braved the 999 (or more) stairs. Due to my extreme laziness and dislike for stairs, I took the scenic 5 minute bus route. The stair climbers arrived quickly though, within 30 minutes! Sadly with my clumsiness, I sprained my ankle and did not get to explore as much as I wanted. Oh well, an excuse to go back someday!

I am SO excited for this upcoming schedule of events! We are SO lucky.

Wednesday 12 November – Leave for Rome and hopefully visit Naples

Sunday 16 November – Return to Athens

Friday 21 November – Leave for London for Thanksgiving break

Tuesday 25 November – Travel to AMSTERDAM

Sunday 30 November – Return to Sina Street!

Weekend 5-7 December – Hopefully travel to Delphi, the belly button of the world!!

10 December 2008 – HOME!

WOW! All with papers and finals, time is going to fly by!

Nafplio and Mycenae

Friday we packed up and were on the bus to head to Nafplio by 11:30am. The bus ride itself took all day to get there, but we made a few pit stops along the way. The entire time on the bus I spent reading my book for my directed study which was actually one of the best books that I have read thus far.

The second we hopped off the bus it was already dark out so it was hard to truly get a feel for Nafplio right off the bat, but I knew I loved it even so. We took a scenic tour to the top of the hill to be able to look at the city from above. It was absolutely beautiful with all the streets lit up. The weather itself added to the feel for the place with its sweater weather, which is one of my favorite temperatures.

Ioanna, our professor for our class Athens Through the Ages joined us on our weekend excursion and showed us around the area. We all met up with her outside of the hotel and went to the “Wrong Bar” which was a quirky little hole in the wall that from the outside looked like a junk store, but on the inside was something so much more. It’s strange atmosphere gave it a lot of character and made it all that more enjoyable. Everywhere around you there were little antiques and old fans, miniature sewing machines and old school telephones. Everyone order a few drinks, and socialized with one another. The owner of the bar and a woman who was born in Santorini but now resided in Nafplio got together and sang in front of everyone. Afterwards one of our group members, Ry got up and played the owners guitar singing some songs himself. It was a great night and full of enjoyment for everyone in the group.

My favorite part of the trip was definitely the last day when we went to the top of the mountain of Nafplio and explored the prison and castle there. It was absolutely breath taking with tons of different nooks and crannies to find and search for. Leanne and I went on a great adventure searching through every part of the place. Two hours there was definitely not enough time to find everything and take it all in, but overall it was an incredible experience. Nafplio was my favorite place we have been to so far, the city was beautiful and the people were so nice. I would go back there in a heartbeat and I could see myself residing there one day in the future.

Yamas!! It's Halloween!!

Every year on October 31st Americans, both young and old, partake in the fun filled festivities that are characteristic of Halloween. We dress up in creative costumes and enjoy traditional activities like bobbing for apples and, of course, trick-or-treating. For 19 years, I have enjoyed said holiday and knew nothing different. Before studying abroad, I tried to prepare myself for the differences that I would encounter while living in Greece. I knew I would be using different currency, I would be missing fall in New England and my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. However, for some reason, the lack of Halloween just did not register in my mind.

As a group, I think we were all a little bummed that we would be missing out on Halloween. We would miss dressing up with our friends and going out and causing a little mayhem. So we decided that we should bring a little bit of Halloween to Greece. I have to say that I am extremely impressed with the creativity of our group. Using things we already had and a few extra supplies we were all able to fashion fun and imaginative costumes. Within our group we had a cat, a dog, a couple of witches, a Greek goddess, a pirate, a couple of aerobic instructors and I was a pumpkin. Well, to be more specific I was a jack-o-lantern. As we wandered through the city, we wished everyone on the street a happy Halloween. We saw many children walking through the streets with their parents like it was any other day. It made me a little sad that none of them were in costumes trying to collect candy, but even that could not put a damper on my mood.

We made our way to the local Irish pub. We thought that might be a place where we could find other people who were celebrating Halloween. We were right. There were a few other groups of young college students who were doing the exact same thing we were. I don’t mean to brag, however, our group had the best costumes by far. We spent the night indulging in Irish car bombs and chatting with other students into the wee hours of the morning. At home, Halloween is an event. Here it felt like any other Friday night out except for the fact that I had a face taped to my torso and a stem coming out of my headband.


Election week and more

This past week has been very busy and exciting in many different ways. On Sunday we were invited to do a scavenger hunt of sorts with other HAU students. The scavenger hunt was fun because we were able to mingle with some of the Greek students but it was not truly a scavenger hunt because a good chunk of the things that we had to find was information that most of us went to the Hellenic Union Library to look up online. We did have to go around Athens and find something and takes pictures of different sites which was fun. I rode on a motorbike for the first time which was both fun and terrifying all at the same time. At least this motorbike did not hit a taxi. After the scavenger hunt everyone met up at a taverna in Plaka for lunch.
Monday afternoon for class Ioanna took us to the ancient agora which was really amazing. There was only one significant building that was left standing and much of the site is over grown with shrubs but it was still very fascinating because the details of how the agora was laid out was very clearly defined and there were still statues and pieces of structures left standing. There is a museum as well and everything in the museum was found on site. The most interesting things in the museum were the voting devices including a black balling machine and voting discs to ostracize someone. An other interesting thing about the ancient agora is that some legendary ancient figures met there and spoke there such as Sophocles, Pericles, and Socrates. It was really fascinating to walk in their footsteps and see the places where they spoke and changed the course of history.The highlight of the week here however has to have been the election. Everyone waited up to see Barack Obama elected as the 44th president of the United States. Unfortunately this meant waiting up until the polls on the west coast closed which did not happen until 6 am Athens time and then we waited up to hear the speeches by both McCain and Obama which did not end until 7:30 am. It was fun to stay up and watch the election though. Some of us stayed in the apartment and had pizza and coffee and basically had a party in the living room while we were waiting. The only downside to staying up was classes. Morning class was canceled thankfully, but we still had an afternoon class which no one was very focused for because everyone was so tired.


Halloween, Scavenger Hunt, Elections

We had an exciting week!

First there was Halloween! We all decided to dress up, regardless of the fact the Greeks don’t celebrate this holiday. It was a challenge to our creative sides to come up with costume designs. We had Aphrodite, a Dalmatian, a pumpkin, two Jane Fonda ladies, a pirate, some witches, etc. I dressed up as my orange cat Norton.

A few of us decided to go out to the James Joyce Irish pub for some drinks. We decided our luck would be best with the Irish pub for understanding our Halloween celebrations.

The walk there was interesting, many stares. It was crazy to see little kids not knowing the fun they are missing out on, dressing up once a year as whatever you want.

There were a few cat ears, goddesses, and witches at the James Joyce. But no crowd was as classy as us in our Halloween getups.

Saturday we had a Scavenger Hunt with the students at HAU. This was a very fun experience. We all got to mingle with the Greeks, and put our skills of traveling around Athens to the test. I think quite a few of us students got to make some good friends in the process.

Tonight there is a little party at HAU from 12 am – 4 am celebrating the American Elections! It will definitely be another interesting experience to see the Greeks view of our big American event!

The weekend before this past one we were in Turkey. We went to Izmir and Istanbul. This was the first Muslim country I have ever been to and I enjoyed it a lot. In Turkey there are prayers that get blasted over loud speakers at certain hours of the day and it is really interesting to hear. While in Turkey we visited the Ephesus site which was an amazing thing to see. There were a lot of still standing ruins and it was easier to tell how everything would have been set up just by looking around and one could almost get a feel for how life was living in this area, better than some of the other sites with little remains left.
Istanbul has become one of my favorite cities that I have been to. While there we went to the Blue Mosque which was enormous and impressive. This mosque was built with the intention of being bigger and better than that of Hagia Sophia which is right next door. Hagia Sophia used to be a Christian church before the Ottomans took it over. It was decided that the Hagia Sophia would not be demolished because of cultural relevance so it was turned into a museum. My favorite part of Istanbul was the spice bazaar and food market. It really made me wish that I lived there because the food and spices were so fresh and delicious. The other thing that sold me on Istanbul was the fresh juice stands on almost every corner which sold juices from apples, oranges, pomegranates, and carrots. A return visit to Istanbul is a definite must for me at some point in my life.
Now being back in Athens, it is the day of elections back in the United States. The plan is to go to our favorite taverna for dinner and then stay up until all the votes are in. At that point it will be close to 3 or 4am here in Athens. I cannot wait to see all this go down tonight.


Scavenger Hunt

After much planning and preparation from the people at Hellenic American University we set out on Saturday morning for a scavenger hunt of sorts.  We were split up into groups of about five or six, given a bag of tasks and clues, and set free to roam around the city in a swift frenzy of riddle solving and picture taking.

            Many of the groups were organized in a way that mixed our Franklin Pierce Students with Greek, HAU students.  My group consisted of five Greek students and myself.  I was the only American in the group.  I was very excited about this; I could meet new people, mingle with the Greeks, and all of that good, fun stuff.   This excited notion wasn’t completely accurate because, though when around a majority of Americans the Greek students speak English, they speak very little when around only one.  This made it difficult for me to be included at first.  I was fumbling through their sentences trying to understand some of what they were saying.  To my surprise I could understand more Greek than I could before our adventure began in September, but still not enough to feel comfortable understanding entire conversations. 

            About a half of an hour into the scavenger hunt some questions appeared that were catered toward common American knowledge and not Greek, and the Greek students turned to me for help with these ones.  Now the English was coming out and the day began to get more fun.

            After answering a bunch of trivia questions and taking pictures of landmarks around the university we set out into the greater city to complete our list.  This was a storm of fast walking and chaotic picture taking, but we made it to our end point on time.

            At the end we all met at a taverna in the Plaka area and had a late lunch.  We talked about the scavenger hunt and determined the winners.  Unfortunately my team got second place, losing by only two points.  All in all the day was a blast for the participants and a success, I would say, for the individuals who put together and hosted the event.  

Dream Weaver

I have recently been experiencing a re-occurring nightmare that I would like to share with my avid readers. There are a plethora of museums in Athens of a myriad of different varieties. We have had the distinct privilege to visit many of them with our Athens through the Ages professor, Iaonna Kopsiafti, who seems to know the ins and outs of museum life like the back of her hand. My tragic dream occurred after a visit to one of these museums.

In my dream, The group is weaving it's way through one of these museums taking in the history and knowledge that places like these tend to provide. I am staring at an ancient statue of Zeus himself when my foot suddenly catches beneath me and I trip and tumble over myself. Clearly my sub conscious was reminding me of my recent decent into clumsiness.

As an aside, I was never the klutzy one. My sister Jennifer has been known to trip in the middle of an empty room. Apparently since coming to Greece, I have taken the clumsy crown as my own. Jennifer has nothing on me now. From tripping up the steps on Delos and falling on my bad carpals, to falling at the temple of Artemis in Turkey and tearing open my knee skin, I have experienced many a folly that have caused bodily harm to myself.

Back to the nightmare. As I trip and fall (in slow motion of course. This is a dream after all), I see the statue of Zeus in front of me and put my arms out to catch myself. In an effort to avoid injury, I knock over the statue and watch with horrified panic as the statue wobbles and tips precariously. I take a deep breath as it seems to settle and suddenly the entire sculpture crumbles into dust. The last imagine I remember before waking up in a cold sweat with an overall feeling of shame and guilt, is one of everyone from the museum workers, to Ioanna, to Professor Marra, to my dearest mother Patty, gawking at me with general looks of contempt and disbelief.

After such a terrifying look into my sub conscious, I am now far more aware at the museums than I would be otherwise. In addition to trying to take in the overwhelming feeling that tends to accompany seeing an actual Spartan shield from the Battle of Pylos, I also take into account how well said shield is protected, not from the elements, but from my own personal misfortunes. Museums where the artifacts are well protected, such as the new Acropolis Museum, are far easier for me to navigate when I don’t have to worry about the entire nation hating me when I knock over a restored sculpture of Athena.

So, readers, use this tale of woe as a cautionary word. Making friends and influencing people isn’t done by knocking important things over.

Jane Fonda and other everyday occurences

Unfortunately Greece does not "do" Halloween which was very disappointing to me because it is one of my favorite holidays, however that didn't stop us from showing them how it is done and dressing up. Seeing that Catie did a good job describing every ones outfits I'll spare the details and will leave you with this....

The day after Halloween was the scavenger hunt put on by HAU so we could get a chance to meet more students from the university. I particularly enjoy scavenger hunts so I had a lot of fun and met some pretty interesting people.

while walking around the city during the scavenger hunt I was reminded of what someone told me earlier in the week. My friend told me that I should take pictures of everyday things around Athens because that's what I'll miss the most when I'm back in the states. This advice came back to me after (of course) coming across everyday sites, as i thought about this i realized how much they would be right. The thing is as much as I love Greece I'm not going to be here forever. I knew I would be homesick for the U.S. but I never thought I would be homesick for Athens, and now I know there is no possible way I couldn't miss being here. The truth is I could take dozens of pictures of the islands, and Turkey and everywhere else we go, but when it comes down to it I'm going to miss going to the kiosk at 2 in the morning for a coke and ruffles, my morning coffee at Gloria Jeans, and being able to try as many flavors of gelatto down the street without being judged by the manager.


Halloween and Scavenger Hunt in Greece!

Unfortunately Halloween is not a holiday that is celebrated here in Greece but that of course did not stop us from celebrating it by any means! We set out on a task to get costumes that were cheap and creative. All of us bought a few pieces of fabric here and there, used some clothes that we already owned, and got to work! Slowly you could see the scraps of fabric coming together and soon we all had the perfect Halloween costume!

Lauren was a pumpkin with a shirt and leggings she already owned and some creative skills in making a pumpkin headband, and some black fabric to make a face.

Dom and Leanne put their creativity together and were Hadley (Leanne's Dalmatian dog) and Norton (Dom's orange cat.)

Ashley and I put our heads together and came up with the idea of being the best 80's Aerobics queen; none other than JANE FONDA! With a pair of leggings, bathing suit bottoms, leg warmers, a bunch of bright colored shirts and a thick purple head band, we were Jane Fonda in a matter of moments!

Misty bought a beautiful white dress and a few gold strands of beads and VOILA! She was transformed into the beautiful Greek Goddess Aphrodite!

All of us gathered together at Sina Street (including kids from the VK) and had ourselves a Halloween party together. Everyone hung out and socialized and as the night grew later a few went out to celebrate a little bit more!

Although Halloween is not celebrated here, people still knew what day it was and so it was somewhat accepted.

On Saturday we all gathered at HAU and met up with other HAU students where we had a scavenger hunt all over Athens. The idea was great and successful. We were able to intertwine with more of the students at HAU and it made for a good ice breaker to get to know people. The scavenger hunt also allowed us to see new places or things in Athens that we may not have seen or noticed before, but it also allowed us to prove that we did know the city pretty well, and that even just being here for 2 months, we knew our way around the area quite well. At the end we all wound up meeting at a great little Greek restaurant and celebrated together! Dom and I were in a group with three other girls who were already best friends with one another so at first it seemed like it would be difficult to try and get to know them, but by the end of the hunt we had all opened up to each other and were able to get to know one another on a different level than we would have been able to without the scavenger hunt. I had a ton of fun and hope this becomes a tradition at HAU for all of the Franklin Pierce students studying abroad to take part in!

On Tuesday HAU informed us that they will be holding a gathering for the election in the US that goes from 12am-4am I believe in order to find out who won the Presidential election together! I am looking forward to this and think it will be interesting to see how the elections in the US are depicted here in Europe and what the people here think of who is elected President.