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Athena Paros Island Spring 2012: Hannah Zoppi

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The best days.

Posted by Hannah Zoppi on Thursday, 15 March 2012 in Fall/Spring 2012: Hannah Zoppi

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. 

Our school went on our first trip the other day and it was unlike anything I'd ever done before. We started off taking a bus to the bottom of the Mycenaean Acropolis. We all looked up at the mountain skeptical of our hike leader Cameron and questioned whether or not this would be safe, whether or not we could do this... who would know if we tumbled off and.. I think you get what I'm saying here. But since when do we ever do anything in our comfort zone, so we ventured onwards and after an hour of climbing made it to the top. I had never rock climbed a mountain before, I'm not what you would call an adventure/thrill seeker kind of girl, but oddly enough I had so much adrenaline and determination that nothing seemed challenging. The view from the top was INCREDIBLE, we could see all of Paros and people were taking pictures, writing in their journals, and trying not to get blown away from all the wind.

 

After that, we went to Kolimbithres which is an amazingly beautiful rocky beach and we explored and took pictures. I spent most of my time here sitting on a tall rock looking out at Paros and the Aegean Sea while listening to Dashboard Confessional and Ingrid Michaelson on my iPod.

Following that we hopped on the bus to Naussa, the most incredibly picturesque little fishing town in all of Paros, that was reminiscent of every postcard and stereotype you could think of about Greece. It was WONDERFUL. I think it might just be my favorite spot on the island thus far. We had lunch there at a little cafe and actually ordered hamburgers (something you don't often find on a menu!). The owner and waiter seemed both excited and anxious for us to try it as he gave us the disclaimer: "they probably aren't like what you're used to, but we do our best!"

The rest of the day was quick trips and stops at Piso Livadi and Marpissa. We explored for a little bit, drank hot chocolate, and were exhausted that by the end of the day, nothing felt better than getting back to our apartments and relaxing. A place that has already started to feel like home.

Classes have been increasingly interesting to me and I am finding myself to be excited every time I attend one of them. They all offer so much and give me a different skill to work on and to be inspired by. This week in Art Workshop we finished up another still life, and then took a trip to the archeological museum and sketched in there. Neva, our teacher, is so supportive and willing to help you no matter what your skill level may be. She is honest, which I appreciate, but will still point out even something you would assume is as insignificant as a line you have drawn and explain what makes it so "gorgeous". I already feel like I'm improving which is the best feeling to have. We also got to sketch a male model named Kostas who was as beautiful and naked as ever. I've never done figure drawing before, but so far it is my favorite thing we've done. For more reasons than one :).

Creative Writing is probably my most intense class I am taking. Our teacher George, is a skilled writer and has published multiple books (one that is currently in preproduction to becoming a movie). The structure of our class goes like this:We read our poetry or prose in a class of about 6 people, and then take turns critiquing each others work. We also have a one-on-one session with George at a nearby cafe once a week to meticulously go line by line over what we're working on. This first week, my first meeting with him, and not only did I spend time getting to know his fascinating life in which he has lived: in Paris, Rome, Spain, and now Paros, but he got to know me as well. We decided that for the final showcase at the end of the semester, I would be working on a dark monologue that is 10-15 minutes in which I will perform for my final. My second meeting I got to give him a piece I wrote since being here and him as well as my classmates had a strong positive reaction to it. I'm excited to keep building on it, and have a solid performance piece at the end.

The absolute best thing about being here is that this is not like a regular school. The emphasis is on the freedom of doing what you are willing to challenge yourself to do, and working hard to accomplish that. Whatever you put into this semester is what you will get out. I find that to be the most refreshing thing, because that is how learning was supposed to be. I find myself working harder than I ever have, because there are no rulebooks or a linear path to follow, I push myself because I want to succeed. 

Because I've been incredibly busy and haven't gotten around to blogging I have since went on another field trip- so this is blog part 2:

We went on a 5 hour hike on Saturday and despite all of the scrapes and scratches, it was an amazing experience. The pictures say it all: 

We also got to celebrate St. Patricks Day here which was one of the best nights I've had going out on the island. We went to the bar Entropy, where our entire school went and danced and mingled with English men, Greek boys, and our Albanian friends. It's incredible the people you meet.

I am getting SOOO excited for this weekend- a trip to the island of Naxos for a night, the following weekend is my weeklong trip to Rome with my friend Shayla and to meet my best friend who is studying abroad currently in Copenhagen, and then after that.. Spring break in TURKEY. I am in awe of my own life...These are the best days.

xxx Hannah

 

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I'm Hannah! A 21 year old Theatre major and Creative Writing minor at Flagler College in Saint Augustine, Florida; Currently studying abroad on Paros Island, Greece for the second semester of my junior year. I'll be posting pictures, stories, and inspiration from my time here as much as possible so check back frequently and experience this amazing journey right along with me. :)

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