We spent about 12 days in the beautiful country of Greece. Starting in the lively city of Athens, where we explored the ancient Acropolis, home of the famous Parthenon. One of the most interesting of all the facts mentioned by the tour guide was that the Greeks were invaded/ attacked by the Nazis back in the 20th century during the time of the well known Holocaust tragedy. This was mentioned during our visit to the Temple of Hephaestus where bullet/canon marks were seen on the temple columns. This bit of information opened me to the reality of how big the Holocaust was, and the effect it had on societies around Germany. It was eerie to see evidence of such a horrific thing that happened to the Greeks. Next, we traveled to Delphi, home of the Oracle of Delphi, where Ancient Greeks used the temple for rituals devoted to Apollo, the God of music, poetry, and creativity. I have always felt connected to this energy that is connected to Apollo. For this reason I decided to craft an offering for Apollo. Next, we visited the still and quiet Olympia, home of the ancient Olympic Games and Olympic Stadium. To my surprise, upon purchasing jewelry at a local store, the owner had the original Olympic torch on display, and let me hold it. She revealed to us that her brother was in the games, and once passed on the torch to symbolize continuity and the spirit of the games. It felt unreal to hold a significant object in person knowing the path it has paved for professional sports worldwide. Furthermore, we were exposed to Greek line dancing when we were taken to an Olive producing farm, where they fed us and surprised us with their dance. After a 5-6 minute performance, they brought all of us together and we danced around while holding hands. Though nobody knew the steps to their dance, I could feel the joyful and freeing energy flow throughout the room. Finally, we visited the coastal city of Nafplio, where we got to visit the Palamidi Fortress. The fortress is situated on top of a big hill, and the breathtaking view overlooks the coastal city and the ocean. The views felt very surreal, and the trip down the 900+ stairs were even more extraordinary. Overall, each city in Greece was able to paint a broad but very detailed perspective of what occurs within the country residing on the other side of the world from my home country.
A culture shock that stood out to me about the population in Greece is that a fair amount of people I have encountered are either native-born Spanish speakers, or are tourists visiting from Spanish-speaking countries. I was not expecting to arrive in Greece to Katja Edwards, a Spanish native now residing in Greece as a local guide, who completely lifted the burdens of anxiety/skepticism over my shoulders and filled me with motivation and curiosity about the people in Greece upon discovering she spoke my native language. I became excited to learn more about Greek culture, and felt very comfortable to do so knowing that someone that spoke a language I know has now integrated themselves into Greek culture.
During one of our first nights in Greece, I went with my friends to explore the nightlife in the city of Athens, where we eventually ran into a rooftop bar. However, upon entering, it quickly became apparent that it was a dance bar, and the Greeks were dancing to Bachata on the dance floor. Numerous Greek couples on the dance floor that surprised me with their approach to the rhythm of Bachata. They danced around each other, locking eye contact, and though both partners danced differently and would sometimes break from their partner, their dancing would always flow back to each other where they would harmonize their dancing. Greeks take the dance of bachata to a whole new level for me which has proven very sensual and beautiful. I was in awe, and extremely grateful at that moment to have been able to witness first-hand the powerful energy that radiated off of their dancing to the very familiar genre of Bachata.
All of these experiences I had during my time abroad were able to immerse me into many different aspects of Greek culture, society, and history that I would not have known had it been for the CLAS 3960 course. Not to mention the extremely healthy Mediterranean diet and these eye-opening moments that made me realize how alike Greek culture is to my own native culture. I even left the country wanting to explore more about these overlaps in cultures that I noticed between Hispanic and Greek cultures. Nonetheless, these priceless memories will forever motivate me to take the initiative to see the world, and what it has to offer me. For my first abroad experience, I would not exchange it for anything in the world. It makes me extremely proud and grateful to have experienced Greece when I am a first-generation college student, and knowing that I am making my family proud by participating in such events.
Joseph Morales (BA International Studies and Art, Studio) spent part of May 2023 participating in a faculty-led trip to Greece with the Classics department. Joseph had the following to say about studying abroad, “Explore the vastness of our Earth, and embark on a transformative journey while traveling abroad. You’d be surprised to what’s out there on the other side of the globe.”
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