Monday, August 29, 2005

Week Two in Greece

Our second week was spent exploring a few of Greece’s most beautiful islands! We took a night ferry from Athens to Santorini where we rode donkey’s, enjoyed a black sand beach, and hiked into a volcano crater. Santorini’s views were undeniably amazing and the group enjoyed evening dinners while appreciating the beautiful sunsets.

After two nights in Santorini the group traveled to the island of Ios. Our hotel here was right on the beach and everyone had a good time floating in the water and playing volleyball in the sand. Some of the girls even rode a banana boat in the Ios bay one afternoon! Nights in Ios were definitely the most interesting of all the islands and everyone enjoyed our nights out to some extent.

Our next stop was the island of Paros. In Paros we stayed much closer to the main village area than we had in Santorini or Ios. We spent our free time here laying on the beach, catching up on academics, or even riding ATV’s around the island.

I’m sure everyone would agree that our trip to the islands will be a real highlight of our study abroad program.

Although the islands were a lot of fun we continued to be academic while on our excursion as well. Each night we held seminars where a small group of students presented a synopsis and lead a discussion of a section of our assigned readings. Some of the topics we explored were Plato’s allegory of the cave, the influence of PR and celebrity on our perception of self, individuality, absolute truths, and how competition relates to validation of self in our modern society. We will be spending our third week in Athens and working on inviting community leaders to our seminar and researching for our independent research projects.

Enjoy some pictures of our recent excursion to the islands!

The group enjoying a dinner on the Plaka before we leave for the islands.
The beautiful island of Santorini!
The group before taking a boat to a volcano near Santorini.
Noelle and Holly in Santorini.
A beautiful Santorini sunset!
Noelle and Holly at the old Port in Santorini.
Ben being very enthusiastic about an exhibit at the National Archeological Museum.
Angela, Ben, and Tyler enjoying the boat ride to the volcano.
The donkeys we rode in Santorini!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Week One in Greece

The group has been in Greece for one week now and I can safely say that everyone is having an amazing experience so far! We spent August 11th-13th in Athens becoming acclimated to the city. On August 14th we left for the island of Evia where we spent time in the village of Vitalo, where Taso was born. After three days in Vitalo we headed back to Athens where we have been exploring the city and hitting the books hard.
Some highlights of the unique experiences we've had follow:
  • A wonderful group dinner on the first night at a restaurant near the Acropolis
  • Many shopping/exploring trips to Syntagma Square, Monastraki, and the Plaka.
  • A scenic busride from Athens to Kimi where we got to see some amazing coastline!
  • A Greek Orthodox church service for the Ascension of the Virgin Mary, done entirely in chants.
  • A 45 minute tractor ride from Vitalo to a secluded beach lagoon where we swam in the Aegean Sea and enjoyed the sunshine.
  • Authenic Greek cuisine prepared for us by the people of Vitalo
  • A vibrant festival in Vitalo with a couple hundred people, dinner, Greek music, and lots of Greek dancing.
  • A walking tour led by Taso throughout several notable areas of Athens (Syntagma, the University area, Monastraki, and the Plaka)
  • We've improved our Greek language skills by conversing with Vitalo locals and communicating with merchants in Athens.
  • We've had several seminars emphasizing our understanding of ethics and Plato's conception of the role of government.
Here are a sampling of pictures too!
The area near Syntagma Square has an amazing view of the Acropolis!
The area near Vitalo was a rolling countryside and provided many amazing views such as this one!Downtown Vitalo.The boys had a lot of fun being reckless in several vehicles during our stay in Vitalo.Our ride. A Lamborghini tractor.The church in Vitalo where we spent a lot of time playing soccer and meeting local people.
The beautiful beach we spent time at during our stay in Vitalo.Tara and Crystal obviously enjoying the Athens nightlife at an ice cream place in the Plaka.

Those are just some of the things that we've been able to experience so far and everyone has been having an amazing, challenging, and eye-opening experience in Greece so far. On Monday August 22nd we will begin a seven day excursion to the Greek Islands, including Santorini where we will be sure to continue our positive, educational experience.