Athena Study Abroad students share their experiences with amazing blogs.
It has been way too long since I've blogged last. It's nearly impossible for me to grasp that the end of the semester is coming near so I'm spending even more time appreciating where I am and less time sitting on my computer. SO MUCH has been going on! School, island life, people, work... It's overwhelming and exciting. I can't even talk about actually leaving Paros or this blog will turn into my recent slew of poems. And no one wants to cry right now.
In school we have been focusing in on our final exhibition! At the end of next week we have our poetry reading and the following night is the art exhibition. I have a huge amount of work left to do in all of my classes, on my writing, and finishing touches on my paintings. But it's so exciting and I can't wait to see all of the work the other students have created throughout our semester here. They are ridiculously talented people and I have a feeling it's going to be mind-blowing. The piece I chose to read is a longer monologue that I've worked on here and there through the semester and is close to my heart. Nerve-wracking, yes. But I can't wait to share it with everyone and giving it a voice. One week!!
What an amazing spring break. Our entire school went to Istanbul, Turkey for a week and it was unlike anything I've ever experienced in my entire life. I tried to change it up this time and let the pictures (and video) speak for themselves mostly... enjoy :)
We took the smallest plane to Athens due to the possibility of ferry strikes on Paros. It was a 35 minute flight compared to a 4 hour ferry ride... yes please!
It is possible that I just had one of the best weeks of my life...
Shayla, a friend I met here in Greece, and I decided to take a week long trip to Rome & Florence to meet up with my best friend Kristen who is currently studying abroad in Copenhagen!
Overall, the traveling days were the most difficult. There is a lot more that goes into hopping from country to country than what I expected. Shayla and I woke up early on Friday the 30th and headed to the ferry (carrying our luggage across cobblestone streets made us realize that perhaps we packed too heavy, and had not even left Paros yet!) We bought our tickets and got on the ferry which was 4 hours to Athens. Once in Athens we got a taxi to the airport, checked our bags, and off to Roma we went! When we were landing every time someone said "Welcome to Rome!" we screamed a little bit.
I was talking to a friend I did theatre with back in Saint Augustine, and she told me that when she was traveling, every day she would wake up and say "today is the best day of my life" and she would end every day by saying "today was the best day of my life." That spoke to me because I have experienced the same exact feelings. I think about how lucky I am every single day on my walk to class, or when listening to my professors, or when working on my assignments, and of course when I get to travel around and see things that are just mind blowing beyond comprehension... Every day here is the best day of my life.
Ever since I have gotten to Paros, I've felt a level of comfort that I didn't expect. I'm in a new country, I don't speak the language, it's different food and way of living and I have accepted all of that and just went with it, which makes living somewhere different that much easier. Sure, things aren't always perfect: my power goes out frequently, the apartment is always 10 times colder than it is outside, no cellphone, no hulu or netflix, communication with people here and people in America, and things even as simple as grocery shopping have become an incredibly daunting task (i.e: Half the time you have no idea what you're buying. Vanilla cookies turned out to be banana filled biscuits?!) But none of that seems to matter here. When my blowdryer knocks out my power and I have to run around to different rooms with my brush, blowdryer, adapters, and soaking wet hair, all I can do is laugh because I know that not only will my hair look awful regardless (due to the extremely low level of power my hairdryer gives off anyway), but who really cares? There's a sense of freedom on this island that is lacking in the US, much less emphasis is given to vanity which leaves you with more time to be in awe and appreciation of where you are instead. In film studies, when our light blew out on the projector during a showing of "Leaving Las Vegas" due to an outage in town because of the strong winds, he told us that that's the charm of Greece: things don't work properly, and they break, and you fix it the best you can but nothing is flawless. There is no need for perfection here like there is in America: that's just the quirky charm of Greece.
Waking up every day, opening the doors to my balcony, and feeling overwhelmed with this much beauty is an unexplainable feeling. People keep asking me to describe this place and I can't seem to find the words. All I can say is that you must see it for yourself. I want nothing more than for everyone I've ever loved, known, or spoken to, to be able to experience this. It is incredible, and no words or pictures could ever do it justice. I can not stress that enough.
As I’m sitting on the ferry making my way to Paros, all I can think about is how surreal these past couple of days have been. It’s hard to grasp that I actually am experiencing all of this and I know I will continue to feel this way up until the day I leave... which I already am sensing will come too soon.
Overall, the traveling portion of the trip to Greece was not nearly as bad as I had anticipated. The two connections were in Atlanta and Paris; The Paris airport was by far the hardest to navigate because of the layout of the airport and the minimal time I had. When I landed in Athens I faced my first test of independence: I was originally supposed to meet two girls in the program but when I got off my flight they were nowhere to be found. I ended up searching the airport for them for quite awhile but because none of us had our phones or any wifi available we were unable to communicate. I contemplated giving up and happened to run into our taxi driver and after making a few calls he told me both of the other girls flights were delayed and they would be taking a later taxi into Athens. So, I took the journey alone! I packed up my suitcases and was driven into Athens to my hostel.
Twelve days out and I am beginning to feel the reality and excitement of this next chapter. Since this is the first entry it only seems fair for me to share some information about myself: I'm 21 years old, a second semester junior at Flagler College in Saint Augustine, Florida and studying Theatre Arts with a minor in Creative Writing. I love Flagler with every piece of me, but couldn't pass up the opportunity for a change such as this. After all, everyone needs excitement!
Thus, along came Greece.
What led me to where I am now can be summed up as 5 months of running around my college in an attempt to obtain signatures and the "go-ahead" from just about every office on campus (some more helpful than others). But in the end, whatever led me to pick up Athena Study Abroad's handbook and figure it out for myself could not have been a better decision.