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 :)