Friday, October 28, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
When I walk out of my apartment building, my nose instantly wrinkles up as it senses the smells reeking from the dumpster on the corner. The municipal workers have been on strike now for too long. Whenever I get within 15 yards of a dumpster (and they are on just about every street corner), I am overcome by the rotten stench of the garbage. There is more trash than the dumpsters can hold so piles have accumulated around the dumpsters, sometimes even making it difficult to pass by. The latest word I have heard is that the strike is expected to extend for another week. This poses a huge health issue and I hope it is resolved sooner. Here is a Greek news article about it: http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite1_1_12/10/2011_410589
The garbage workers are not the only ones on strike though. The ministry of culture and archaeologists started a 48 hour strike and will not reopen until Friday. This means that I will not be able to give my presentation for class, the Archaeology of Athens, at the National Museum tomorrow morning for the museum will be closed.
A general public transportation strike begins tomorrow and will last two days. This has the possibility of messing up some of my weekend plans.
The number of strikes here seems to have increased. I have also heard more talk about the tax raises and the debt problems. Athenians always seem very willing to talk about the economic situation. My Greek professor went off in class one day about all the taxes and how the middle class are the ones that will suffer. On Mount Olympus a Greek hiker started a conversation with one of my classmates about the crisis. This evening Petros Doukas, the former deputy minister of finance, gave a lecture at CYA. Unfortunately I did not make it, but many of my professors expressed their dislike with him having been invited here. They were visibly angry with this man who is, according to them, personally responsible for the Greek debt crisis.
This evening I spent a couple hours at a U.S. university fair as a Tufts representative. I spoke with a Tufts alum a little bit about the situation. He was a) disgusted by the garbage and b) telling me about how the politicians are corrupt. According to him, the politicians promised people jobs in return for their support. This led to too many jobs in the public sector, which the government cannot afford. The politicians cannot fire these people or else they will lose power.
I find it fascinating to be in Greece watching firsthand how this economic crisis is affecting the people. People are certainly talking about it and are visibly upset. The strikes, however, are at times a bit inconvenient.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
As I hurried through bustling Plaka with my Athenian Democracy class, trying to keep up with our Professor, Nigel Kennel, I was hit with sounds of tourists preparing for lunch, museum goers marveling at the glass floor of the Acropolis Museum, and street musicians belting out atmospheric tunes. Upon finally reaching our destination, the Pnyx Hill, I was shocked to find that we were the only ones there and the only noise to be heard was that of our own voices. I believe it is the first place I have been in Athens where it is possible to escape from the activity of the city. I am a lover of city hustle and bustle, but it's always somewhat magical to find that one place where it's possible to be in, but disappear from, the city at the same time. I could see why the Pnyx, situated just behind the Acropolis, was the hill on which the Athenian Assembly met. It is a great place to gain some distance from Athens, but the Pnyx also offers a bird's eye view of the city. Here, reflecting on the city from a quiet distance, I thought about some of the unique aspects of ancient Athenian democracy.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
I am also taking Greek dance lessons. I have attended two classes so far and I have thoroughly enjoyed learning to dance. Some dances are fairly simple while others are very quick and complicated. Both times I ended class out of breath and with a smile on my face. While I doubt I will be able to master the dances by the end of this next lesson, I have definitely gained a greater appreciation for all dancers.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
There seemed to be a general mood of hesitance on the way to our meeting with Crete's branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). My group of about thirty students, led by Professors Karavas and Doxiadis and Activities Director, Nadia Meliniotis, had spent our first day in Crete exploring Heraklion's Venetian Walls, the archaeological museum, and the grave of author, Nikos Kazantakis. After an all night boat ride and an early morning start, my group appeared unsure of the next event on our itinerary: help the WWF clean up Malia's (a popular tourist destination on Crete, 23 kilometers from the major city of Heraklion) wetlands. Yet, after just a few minutes with the WWF, public opinion changed and there was not a doubt in anyone's mind that our experience would help define our trip to Crete. What was it that lead to this change? Our time with the WWF employees and locals who taught us that globalization can mean something as simple as helping another country with what appears to be a small, local problem for the betterment of the entire world.