Joe Johnson ‘ 11 – As a first time international traveler, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little skeptical, nervous, or at times afraid of what to expect about living in another country (especially if that country’s economy is struggling and its citizens are protesting). However, in only two short weeks in Greece, I have familiarized myself with the city and expanded my explorations from Greece’s northern border, all the way to the beautiful island of Santorini (roughly 600 miles). I have always heard it, but now found out firsthand that traveling is indeed addictive.
I am currently enrolled in a program called A College Year in Athens and the class that I am taking is called Ancient Athens: Discovering a Greek Polis. Every day of class is “field trip” but a field trip unlike any other I have ever been on. The very first day of school, my 21 classmates from all over the United States and I climbed the 1,000 foot Lykabettos Mountain. It was surreal! You could see all of Athens and then some. From here we could point out the Acropolis, other important temples and their respected ruins, and the Mediterranean Sea.
Besides climbing Mount Lykabettos, we visited the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion (voted one of the most beautiful places in the world). My class also visited the Temple of Hephaisteion which is Greece’s most preserved temple dating back from 420 B.C. Alongside the Temple of Hephaisteion, we visited the Ancient City of Delphi, Eastern Attica, Kerameikos, the National Museum, Eleusis, and of course, the Acropolis. The Acropolis holds four famous temples to the Greek Gods Nike and Athena (Where Athens derives its name from). The Acropolis’s most famous temple is the Parthenon.
My study abroad experience is unique to me for a couple of reasons. First, I am learning about the ancient city in which I am living in. For example, my apartment is right next to the Old Olympic Marble stadium. Being that close to history allows me to visualize the Olympic Games that once filled the city with cheers and excitement so many years ago. Where my apartment is today, once stood a gate where athletes from all over Europe passed through before competition. Also, I can walk outside and look up in sky to find the Acropolis towering a couple hundred feet above me. This very same view rivals the view of an Athenian over 2,000 years ago! We talk about American history being old (dating to 1776) but I am analyzing some artifacts that are dated 1776 B.C.! Besides learning about the city I am living in, I am also of Greek heritage so this class fills my interest of Greek culture and history.
Overall, I have struggled to put into words what this experience has done for me. I wake up every day excited for the next journey to begin. I also know that every other student here feels the same way as I do. We have done more as a class in two weeks than many citizens of Greece have done in their lifetime.
My class started May 24 and is currently already half way over. I feel like I am a veteran citizen of Athens (except for speaking Greek) but at the same time I feel like I arrived here yesterday. This trip has changed my outlook on life and has given me the motivation to come back in the near future. My hope is that one day I can extend my recent month residency in Greece to something a bit more permanent.