I thought studying abroad on an island in GREECE was going to be a great experience by itself, but the impact 16 women in the group had on me makes the experience even better. With our lead professor as dad, the 16 of us went traveling around to 6 different islands in two weeks. That didn’t mean classes stopped either. For the first two weeks, we spent one day in class then one day of travel. This alternation made it nice to recoup from all the hiking, swimming, and time in the sun with being in class 2 hrs a day. My class took place in the evening which gave me a whole day to myself. So, by the end I had a schedule that went: wake up, read, made pasta, beach, siesta, read, class, and then dinner. Siesta is an important part of the Greek culture Its in the early afternoon and all shops close which allows for people to relax and nap. I am now calling nap time a siesta because it sounds more festive and interesting than a nap. When I look back at what my schedule for a regular day in the spring, I am overwhelmed. I definitely got more time here to myself and to relax than I do back at home. This is definitely going to change in the way that I manage my time and my schedule to make sure a siesta can make it into my day. Siesta is my favorite part of my day and I don’t ever want to leave that part of Greece behind.
When we traveled, we went to six major islands, including Santorini, Naxos, Delos, Mykonos, Paros, and Antiparos. I swear at every location I hiked a mountain, ate the best food, and heard a bunch of archaeology history of the island. When we traveled, the 16 of us got closer with other each other because you would sit with someone different on the ferry or room with a new group. Trying to describe all I have done on this trip is impossible because I don’t think I can rename it all. I have seen so many important archaeology sites, beaches, and islands. So, hang in there with me as I try to list them off. I have climbed to the highest point in Athens, saw the acropolis, climbed another peak in Paros, sat on way to many beautiful beaches, went to an island that doesn’t have anyone living on it, climbed again, jumped off a sailboat into the sea, had a bag of skittles, went to a winery and a distillery, climbed an active volcano, swam in the hot springs, swam in a sea cave, saw marble quarries, saw a statue of a stone man from who knows when that was over 6ft tall, saw a third story bathroom from like 500 BC, took a picture next to a blue door, went to the red sand beach in Santorini, and I am not even done yet. This trip seriously wasn’t just a class, it was everything I could have asked for in a study abroad experience!
Greece has made me more relaxed and less stressed than I have ever been. I can’t explain the peace and self-discovery that has occurred on this trip. I want to be able to say how I have changed or been impacted more specifically, but I can’t find the words to describe such a big change. So, all I can say right now is that I have changed, for the better, because of my Greece study abroad experience.
While out of the states, I have learned that we take for granted that most people in tourist cities speak at least some English. There was a few communication barriers on the island, but nothing like what they face when they come to the states. In the states we don’t have as much of a welcoming effect to those who do not speak English because more than not individuals who speak to someone that they can’t understand will walk away without saying anything, which would never happen here. You would play a game of charades before someone will walk away from you for not understanding what you are asking. Tourist that come to the states have to know more an adequate amount of English in order to get around or the experience of the states will be a rough one.
Another thing that I have is that body types and body image isnt a thing here. You are not seeing advertisements for products with a skinny model on it. At the beach there isn’t a dirty look given to an older women wearing a bikini or even a larger women for that matter. Being here has made me hate the way our advertisement in the states is ruining girls and the confidence that we all need. Women shouldn’t be judged for wearing a one piece when they are petite or a larger women for wearing a bikini. I hate that every girl thinks Barbie is the prettiest and we all have to be like her. When in reality, shes not, we don’t have to, and every women is beautiful no matter what she thinks.
Oh, I also learned that there was three of us from Minnesota and if we said anything with an accent, they would know. I have been pegged to be from Minnesota or Wisconsin as soon as I say boat, roof, or uff-dah! I had the most neutral accent out of the three of us, but still sometimes I would get caught with it.
So, why study abroad? Um why in the world not? Going abroad takes you out of your hometown and into the big world without having to take that much time off work or give up vacation time when you are in the “real world”. It is okay to have fears, but the reward is so much more. For example, my biggest fears of going abroad were traveling and airports. Traveling alone is scary in the beginning, but by the end you realize that majority of everyone else is traveling alone as well. Airports are scary and the only way to become familiar with it is by traveling. Once I got over those two big things right away, I knew I was going to be fine. I have grown so close with the other women in my class because they were alone too and we all needed a friend or two. But, my biggest rewards were making those new life-long friends, self-discovery, and an addiction to travel.
I picked Greece because it is Greece, but it is also a country that I feel is out of my comfort zone just enough to challenge me without throwing me into terror. Students decide to go to various location for various reasons, but for some reason we all come back with the same new self-discovery and appreciation. Studying abroad has introduce me to a whole new world that I never want to stop exploring. Once you see what is out there you will want to go everywhere. I think students should study abroad essentially to explore a new part of the world, yourself, and your heart. Studying abroad makes you dive right into the whole culture from the way they eat, sleep, socialize, dance, and eat (yes, I said eat twice because it is important). The cultures ways become yours. Before I knew it, I was eating a gyro, pasta, and napping every day and I loved it.