I kind of miss saying “y’all;” no one really says it here in Greece.
If you didn’t know by now, I’m spending the next two weeks in Greece and Israel through a program for incoming freshmen via Harding University called Scholar’s Abroad. I’m so thankful to my parents who’ve helped make this possible for me, and I realize I am incredibly blessed by such a spectacular opportunity.
This is my first time out of the country, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But so far, this trip has been nothing short of extraordinary.
We’re staying in Porto Rafti, Greece, at The Artemis, a hotel thought was bought by Harding in 2001 and renovated into their campus. It houses classrooms, a library, bedrooms, a dining hall, a kitchen, a lounge area, a pool, and many more exciting little quirks.
My trip began on Tuesday (June 9th) with a flight from Little Rock to Atlanta and then from Atlanta to New York. Those flights were bearable and actually quite brief compared to the flight that was coming.
After a four hour layover in New York, we headed to Athens. Our flight from New York to Athens was 10 hours! To add to that, we had to deal with a time change (Athens is 8 hours ahead of Arkansas). To be honest, I still haven’t figured out the whole time change/flight duration thing and how they work together.
It’s 10:03 pm here right now, so it would be 2:03 pm at home. That’s crazy! It makes communication a little difficult, too.
It’s only been two days, but I’m blown away at how close myself and the other 39 students are becoming. I think it’s proof that there is this type of communication or bond that transcends anything that we know – a type of bond that only happens in a program like this, and I am so thankful for that.
We arrived in Athens at 10:00 am on Wednesday (June 11th); our challenge was to stay up all day to help fight jet lag. After dosing off once or twice during class and trying my hardest to stay hydrated, I finally made it to bed and fell asleep at 9:00 pm.
Oh, also, we are learning the Greek alphabet. So that is very exciting! It helps make reading the signs easier. Hopefully be the end of the trip I’ll be very fluent in the Greek alphabet.
Today (June 11th), was our first full day in Greece. We started the day with a class discussing Acts 17, which is Paul’s speech to the Athenians on Mars Hill. I always enjoy learning about parts of the Bible that I am not well-versed in, so this was a treat. Also, everyone here is so intelligent, so the class discussions are so fulfilling.
We had a quiz over the Greek alphabet, and I’m happy to report that I made my first 100% of the trip! The classes and quizzes have been pretty easy so far, so I am thankful for that.
After class was lunch, which was extraordinary! Our campus has our own cook, Natasa, and she is 100% Greek and 100% awesome cook! Every meal we have had has been so good, and I can’t wait to discover more foods of Greece.
We had a great deal of free time today, which I was excited about. A couple of friends and I walked down the street to the beach and swam for a while. After our rather cool swim in the crystal clear waters, we headed to a local ice cream shop. I’d have to say that Greek ice cream is a lot better than American ice cream. Interesting note: the actor Zach Galifianakis’ family owns the ice cream shop we visited.
Spending euro for the first time was pretty cool, too. The language barrier made it a little difficult, but that’s just part of the experience.
Free time was followed by a group work time. My group was assigned with teaching the rest of the class the history of Athens. Other groups taught us different aspects of Athens because we will be traveling to Athens tomorrow for a city tour.
Dinner tonight was Greek pizza. It was so good! Natasa is seriously a wonderful chef. Also, I got to meet her son, Dmitri, who will be attending Harding in the fall. He helped us with our history of Athens lesson, too, which I was so thankful for!
We heard our group presentations later tonight, and now I feel better prepared for our full day in Athens tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to be awesome, and I plan on taking lots of pictures.
Right now, I’m sitting on the back patio of The Artemis next to the pool, looking in on a group of students and professors playing cards, and I am overwhelmed with joy. I still don’t think it has hit me that I am in Greece. All of the wonderful people I am meeting are making this trip extra special.
I don’t really know what my expectations were heading into this trip, I’m not even sure if I had any, but if I did, I’d have to say that all of my expectations have been surpassed thus far.
I thank God for this opportunity, and I look forward to the chance to gain a closer relationship with Him throughout this trip.
I’d appreciate your prayers for a safe trip and for open hearts and minds to what we are learning and experiencing. I know it’s certainly something I’ll never forget.
Below are some pictures so far. You can see more on my Facebook and Twitter pages.
I’ll post again soon.
Until next time, keep smiling!
αντίο (goodbye in Greek!)