Today marks the end of my journey in Europe. It was such a special and memorable experience both venturing on my own for a month in Athens and going to Santorini and Istanbul with my parents for two weeks.
Rewinding to my first day in Greece seems like a lifetime ago. I took two classes at the American College of Greece – Deree: statistics and Greek Art in Athens. My art professor, a British man by the name of Dr. Karim Arafat, made the class intriguing with his funny and sarcastic sense of humor, as well as taking us on field trips to different parts of ancient Greece. Some of the places we visited include the Acropolis (home to the Parthenon and Erechthion), the Kerameikos (the burial grounds leading to the entry gates into the city-state), Agora (the center of business), Roman Agora, Gate of Hadrian, Temple of Zeus, and Eleusis (a large worship shrine dedicated to Demeter, the great Olympian goddess of agriculture and sustenance of mankind). In addition, we went to important museums such as the National Archeological Museum and the Acropolis’ museum. My favorite by far was the Agora. To read more about my class experiences, click here.
I spent my Fourth of July weekend with a group of new friends in Mykonos, and the next weekend in Hydra. These two islands are part of the many Greek Isles known for their beauty and adventure! My favorite part of Hydra was definitely cliff jumping into crystal clear, beautifully hombre’ waters that fade from sea green to turquoise to royal blue.
And then there was the food – absolutely incredible! (I quickly devoured every meal!) I mostly ate traditional Greek salads, which I was surprised to find actually has no lettuce! The feta cheese was insane as well, each time served in a portion the size of my HAND! As a cheese lover, I was ecstatic. We also ate lots of gyros, which are made up of tzatziki, tomato, choice of meat, shredded lettuce, and French fries wrapped in pita bread. It was delicious and so cheap – only three euro! I definitely will miss the real kalamata olives upon my return to the states – as friends of mine who have already returned say, they just aren’t the same ☹.
Another part of studying abroad I truly enjoyed and did not exactly expect was the alone time I had for self-discovery. Don’t get me wrong, I made plenty of friends who I cannot wait to visit on a trip to Boston, but I became more self aware of the world we live in, what I value and who I want to be, and realized the importance of being a global citizen. Countries in Europe are much more connected, not only in proximity but in relationships. One way I am practicing being a global citizen is by reading theSkimm. I highly encourage you to subscribe to it, as it is a fun, summarized daily email of what’s going on in the world!
By the time finals were administered on July 29th, I couldn’t believe the program had passed so fast; however, I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my parents! We met in the airport that Thursday and flew to Santorini, Greece, where we had four amazing days of relaxation and exploration in Fíra. We spent the remainder of Thursday at our idyllic white washed, blue-ceiling and shuttered hotel with beautiful pink flowering trees and lush vegetation. I was surprised that it was such an arid, desert-like climate with all of the beautiful green fauna! The next morning, we explored the black beach. My dad and I walked from one end to the other and the bottoms of my feet were crying in pain by the time we finished. Beaches in Greece aren’t actually sandy, but very rocky. And black rocks in the sun – ouch!! Later that night we met up with an HPU friend and her family for dinner in Oìa (prounounced Eeh-ah). We actually went to the restaurant where Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was filmed! Apparently it’s in the scene when Lena is fighting with her Grandma.
Saturday brought a full day of activities. We woke up early and drove to the highest part of the island to get a beautiful panoramic view, followed by walking around in the oldest village. I took some truly beautiful pictures that I cannot wait for you guys to see. Later in the afternoon, we went to the Akrotiri Ruins. Have you ever heard of the historical site of Pompeii? The same principle applies to this site, except no bodies were preserved. The historians told us it was because the volcano that formed Santorini gave off warning smoke symbols, allowing the residents to evacuate in time – lucky them! It was absolutely incredible to see what our ancestors of the world lived in and built. The preservation was incredible and the excavators found tons of advanced artwork, giving us much detailed information about their lifestyle.
Later that evening we took a beautiful catamaran boat out to sail around the island, stopping at the Red Beach, Black Beach, White Cove, Lighthouse on the tip of Akrotiri, and the hot springs (I didn’t go in because it would’ve stained whatever I was wearing to yellow from the sulfur). My parents and I enjoyed talking to our captain Petros (Peter in English) during dinner. He talked about how he alternated between sailing in the summers and being a ski instructor during the winter in Austria. I would’ve never guessed his favorite artist was Kenny Chesney! How about that, a little southern comfort halfway across the world on a boat! I definitely enjoyed grooving to some country, which reminded me of how anxious I am to get back to High Point! Sunday brought another day of relaxation and another lunch with another High Point friend, Eliana! On a cruise, they stopped in Santorini for a couple of hours and I was grateful we carved out some time to meet up for lunch!
After playing tour guide to my parents in Athens for a couple days, my dad flew back home. My mom and I went on to our second part of our adventure: Thursday’s hour flight took us to one of the most culturally beautiful cities, Istanbul! It was so interesting to see the entwinement of old traditions and new, Christians and Muslims, and the juxtaposition of the old Byzantine Empire with modern day Turkey, who won their freedom in the 1950s. I realized how important this city continues to serve from ancient times, as it connects the European and Asian continents physically and culturally. We had an amazing tour guide Tuba (yes, like the instrument!) squire us around the city, taking us o the center of Constantinople, the Cistern, Hagia Sophia, and the Sultanahmet Mosque (most commonly known as the blue mosque), and Grand Bazaar. My mom and I also visited the spice market and Taksim Square. The food is definitely the thing I will miss the most. I loved the spicy kebabs, farro rice, and grilled vegetables. I am so glad my mom bought some spices to cook with upon our return. The pistachio baklava along with the traditional apple tea was out of this world, too! My favorite part of Turkey had to be visiting the Turkish baths! We went to the Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamami, built in 1556. It was truly an ancient Sultan spa day, accompanied by an hour massage – exactly what I needed before I set off on 24 hours of travel the next morning. I truly enjoyed visiting Turkey and cannot wait to connect with my Anthropology professor Dr. Samli back at HPU. Because she’s of Turkish decent, during class she educated us on Turkish customs, particularly wedding practices!
From my second half of my Summer Abroad, I learned not only important information about history, culture, and other “typical” classroom things, but also things you cannot learn about in a classroom. Being a part of three different areas of the world (Ecuador, Greece, and Turkey) has shown me how much our world is connected and the importance of being an educated, international citizen. The world we live in is vastly different than years ago. All of our economies and exchange of ideas are connected. We live in a special time where we can value the uniqueness of each culture easier than ever. It is a wonderful thought to know there are many different ways of life, and being aware, knowledgeable, and experiencing these idea first-hand is a rewarding and amazing thing.
I highly encourage you to travel and experience new ways of life during your time in college. Contact the Study Abroad Office to receive more information about how High Point University can help you explore these important opportunities!
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Thanks for reading about my summer adventures!