Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Cats of Delphi...and more! :)

This past weekend CYA took us on a short, yet absolutely marvelous field trip to the small city/town of Delphi, Greece. Having not known much before the trip, I was really excited to be visiting a place where people would ask questions to an Oracle who could foresee the future. 

The school divided the students up into two buses to make things more manageable once we arrived at the sites. The ride to Delphi took about 2 hours, but first we made a stop to the Ossios Loukas Monastery. Professor Kotoula, my Byzantine Art and Architecture teacher, guided us through the old monastery and explained to us all the cultural significance behind the church. What I found the most interesting of the Ossios Loukas Monastery was the bottom chamber, where we saw figures on the wall with their eyes carved out. I had learned in class that messing up the structure of the face alone was the greatest way to reject or show disrespect towards an icon in a church. Seeing that really reflected the tensions that occurred between the groups who tried to have power in the church. After our visit, we had a quick picnic lunch provided by the school at the monastery. Unfortunately it was super misty so our view wasn’t spectacular, but I was super hungry and will eat food whenever and wherever.

When we arrived to Delphi, the weather didn’t get any better. It was super rainy and we were told that the archaeological sites of Delphi would be extremely muddy. We decided to just relax in the hotel for the rest of the day and grab dinner. We also saw beautiful Greek cats during this trip! They are soooo adorable and my love for cats has increased since this trip. After dinner, the girls I was sharing a hotel with and I just decided to watch Greek soap operas and were impressed by how much we could understand after only being in Greece for two 2 months! 

The next day we rose up bright and early at 7 am. Luckily, the hotel provided us with breakfast and I reenergized myself with croissants, eggs and fruit. We visited the lower archaeological site at Delphi first. There we saw a temple dedicated to Athena and there was also a surrounding gymnasium. Every time I visit one of these temples, I am always blown away by how much man-power was put into the works I am witnessing and the durability of these structures. Next, we climbed our way up to the upper archaeological site in Delphi and saw the temple of Apollo, as well as a  grand stadium. We also saw where people made their sacrifices to the Oracle! Of course I knew there were a queue of wishes waiting to be granted, but I asked the Oracle my question anyways. I hope he heard it! J

We finished the field trip off by going to a nearby town called Arachova. It was super beautiful and it was the first time I had ever witnessed a snow-covered mountain top! Greece continues to make me fall in love with it every time I visit. I don’t know how I’m going to go back home!

Enjoy the pictures J

 Temple of Athena
Temple of Apollo/Oracle site at Delphi
Cute Greek cats everywhere! 

Arachova, Greece!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Athens: Land of Gyros, Cute Cats, Fantastic History and More Gyros

Ah....Αθήνα, where do I begin? 

Looking back at my past three weeks since I got to Athens at the end of January, I can truly say that I am very happy with the choice I made to study abroad in this unique city. I think it's extremely important to emphasize that each of my experiences would not be possible without the help of Professor Proctor and the George A. David and Marina Spiropolous Fellowship award :) So for the 100000th time, thank you!

Feeling like I'm on top of the world at Lycabettus Hill

For those of you who may not know me, I am a community health major, and also pre-med, at Tufts. People usually ask how this study abroad program fits into my area of study. In order to graduate Tufts I need world civilization and history requirements. So my train of thought was "why not study Greek mythology in Athens instead of a typical classroom in Medford?" Having planned my classes carefully since freshman year, I applied to the CYA program and am now enrolled in a Byzantine Art & Architecture class, a gender studies class, a service-learning class and Modern Greek 101! My public health knowledge is going to be extremely useful in the service-learning class where I intend to assist refugees with arts and crafts projects for mental health relief. However, I think this fellowship will be a great opportunity for non-classics majors like myself to be exposed to the fascinating world of classics and history! 
As guidebooks typically write, this really is the place where the ancient world meets contemporary society. Walking in the Monastiraki Plaza? No problem, there you will find the Library of Hadrian casually sitting in the middle of the square next to the entrance of the Monastiraki metro station. Feeling hungry? The scrumptious two euro gyros in Pangrati (the neighborhood which I live in) will satisfy you for hours! Having a bad day? Although that's rare when living in a beautiful city like Athens, just look outside your window and you'll see cats prowling throughout the streets. Wherever you go, there is always something interesting to see and that is what I love about this place so far- it has a hint of spontaneity and surprise in every corner. Perhaps I say this because it is my first time here, but I've been here for 21 days and have not been bored yet! 

Greek food is beautiful. 
Orientation at CYA was very rewarding and helped me orient myself to get to know the city better. Additionally, it was a great way to meet new people and learn survival greek! I certainly remember feeling a certain level of anxiety the day before I took off but as soon as I landed in Athens, the Greeks helped me feel like I was right at home. :) Once classes began, I started to get into a normal routine and am quite satisfied with how things are going. I manage my time well during the week so that I have free travel opportunities on the weekends. My second weekend abroad I went to Berlin, and last weekend I went to Istanbul! (A post about Istanbul will follow this one!) 
At the Berlin Wall! 

Although it sounds cliché, I definitely want to step out of my comfort zone when I am in Greece. The best way to have meaningful experiences is by getting yourself to do something you've never done before. Whether that ranges from making friends by speaking Greek to skydiving, I am going to make sure that I'm never "just" comfortable. Moreover, when in Greece, I want to see how being a first-generation college student abroad is different/similar from the experiences I've had at my institution back at home. Additionally, how does my Mediterranean background advantage me in some ways and/or disadvantage me in others? Aside from acknowledging my privilege as an American university student, these are just a few of the questions I will grapple with during my time here. 

In the meantime, please enjoy my posts and pictures! Now that I have settled in and know when I have free time, I will post frequently and keep you all updated on my adventure. Thanks for reading!!! 

Adio! -Kátia :)