Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Athens: The Adventure Begins!

To start our first full day in Athens, we went to the Athens Centre for our official orientation. There, we were given a tour of the quaint yet very beautiful facilities by Nina. We were introduced to Harry, the rhino that protects the centre. No, it's not a real rhino, but if you glance briefly at it you would not be able to tell.

After our tour of the library, classrooms, main office, and everything else (trust me, it's not even as big as I'm making it sound) we went to hear from who had to be one of the wisest and most well connected people in all of Greece. When he talked, it seemed as though he knew everybody there was to know in the country. I can't remember any of the names he mentioned specifically, but I do remember him saying there were quite a few famous poets. I believe the name of the man that spoke to us was John Zervos, the dircetor over the Athens Centre.

The only drawback to the "lecture" was that he almost knew too much, more than the four of us (and even out professor, Dick!) could absorb in the time that he talked to us. None os us felt like we knew when it would end. There was a lot of interesting and useful information, but our brains became over-saturated with it. After our conversation, we went back to the Athens Centre for some refreshments. The cookies and juice, like a lof of t hings here in Athens so far, were absolutely exquisite. I may have to take some of those cookies with the chocolate filling back to the Florida with me. As we all devoured the refreshments, we chatted with Nina some more. Then, we were on our way for a two hour break before "classes" offically started.

All four of us went on a bit of a mission on our break: first, a couple of us had to buy a book that we have to read while we're here in Athens. The book is called "Eurydice Street: A Place in Athens". That was found with relative ease, minus a turn here or there. After that, we went on to our next mission: getting cell phones. Now, we weren't looking for Athenian BlackBerrys or anything, just a simple pre-paid phone to get us through the remainder of the trip. We found a phone store and were able to get some phones with minutes for pretty reasonable prices. Unfortunately, the time it took to get the phones put the group against the wall as far as time went. We had to get back to the centre for class, but we were also really hungry as well. We wanted some traditional Greek food for lunch, but the time crunch forced us to our American ways. Steve and I ended up ordering a Big Mac value meal from McDonalds (side note: the McFlurrys over here look much much better than the ones in the U.S., I have to get at least one while I'm here) and headed back to the apartment to get ready for class via taxi.

Our first lecture was essentially to prepare us for our official visit to the Acropolis the next day. We visited it on the first day we arrived here, but that time it was more for tourist purposes. This time it would be as students learning about the different buildings. Our lecturer for that session was Dr. Iris Plaitakis. She was born in New York, and got her Master's Degree in Archaeology from Oxford University in England. She talked to us for a couple of hours about the ins and outs of the Acropolis. After she finished, we had class to learn about the Greek language. I can't remember the exact name of our professor, just that it is Angelica in english. There were plenty of things I remembered about the Greek language and alphabet. One of the biggest things I learned is that we as Americans butcher about 85% of the Greek alphabet. This speaks mostly to Greek-Lettered-Organizations. That's for another blog entry however, so be on the lookout for that. Anyhow, we learned a lot about the language and when I say it is a tough language, I mean it is TOUGH! But I guess a language with over 11 million words could do that to you.

After class got out, the four of us went out to explore a little bit. We started out at Plaka, the oldest section of Athens. This tourist attraction right below the Acropolis has plenty of shops, tavernas, and cafes. We sat down at one of the tavernas. The food was very good; we had souvlaki with french fried potatoes and rice. The white rice had to be the best I have ever had, and the potatoes were good and not very greasy. While we ate, a friend of Jon's (one of my roommates) showed up and sat with us. His name was George, and the two are friends from Australia. He lives in Greece now however. While we were sitting down, we also got our first glimpse of who could have been some other American "study abroaders". I saw one guy with an "Omega Psi Phi" hoody on. It was nice to see someone else from the NPHC in Athens, even if they aren't apart of the best fraternity in the world like I am.

When we got up from dinner, we decided to walk around. Boy did we ever walk. And walk. And walk. We walked for a pretty long time and some interesting parts of Athens. I'll put it like this: everywhere in the world has a shadier side to it, not just the parts you see on the postcards. Where we passed through kind of reminded me of the boroughs in New York. Some of it was good, some of it was not so good, but it was definitely eye-opening. After a while of walking, it got to be a bit much and I got tired. We called a taxi and went back to the apartment. The six euros and change was way better than the 12 euros we had to pay to go from the city square back to the apartment earlier in the day.

So went the first day of classes here in Athens. Stay tuned for more....

P.S.- even though we've only been here a few days, it seems like we've been here for weeks!

1 comment:

  1. great and exciting first day. fabulous. the other fabulous news is that you have cel phones and maybe now your 'buddy' Mr. Flynn will make like E.T.