Hello, my name is Brooklynn Ashmore. When I first received the email about the study abroad trip to Greece, I immediately signed up to attend the information session; however, I did not actually think I would be able to participate. My family is lower-class, so I did not think I could afford to go. Not only that, I am from a small town where my parents have never left, so I just assumed I would never get the opportunity to leave the country so young. However, after learning more about the trip, and discovering different payment plans and scholarships, I realized that this is something I must do. After completely paying off the costs for the trip and buying my plane ticket, it really dawned on me that I was going to experience something that my family never had the chance to.
I had never been in an airport or ridden on a plane until the day I departed Nashville to head to Greece. Flying was an incredible experience. I kept my face in the window almost the whole time. I had a layover in Newark/New Jersey. My plane landed there an hour late so my friends and I had to run to our next flight. That was incredibly stressful. Once we boarded our international flight relief set in. We were on our plane for ten hours, and I cannot describe the relief and excitement I felt when we finally landed in Athens, Greece. I did experience a little culture shock in the airport when we could not find the restrooms because the restrooms there were labeled as “WC”. I still do not know what that means.
First, we stayed in Athens at the President Hotel. It was beautiful and it had a rooftop pool. The city was beautiful, but it was a lot different than I expected. All the buildings were very old and dirty, and so were the streets. However, I still I loved every second of my time there. We learned how to ride the metros, and how to navigate our own way throughout the city. I feel like I could do it on my own now. We ate at many incredible restaurants, and tried many new foods. For example: Greek salad, baklava, Greek olives, souvlaki, gyros, and moussaka. My favorite of all was the Greek salad. Their vegetables were so fresh, it was incredible. We went to a cooking class and learned how to make our own Greek dishes. It was a really fun experience, which was surprising because I hate to cook. I met many interesting Greek people, one of which I met on a bus we took back to our hotel. This man had a suitcase and told me he was headed to the airport because his vacation in Athens was over. He said he comes there every year; and he was incredibly friendly. He asked me many things about America. I look back and am proud of myself for starting a conversation with him. My friends and I went out one night and a man stopped us and asked us where we were from. We replied and told him we were from the United States. To which he said, “I hate America”. That was an interesting interaction.
After we left Athens, we headed to Delphi. Delphi was small but the views of the mountains were breathtaking. I miss Delphi a lot. After Delphi, we went to Olympia. Although Olympia was small, my favorite memory from our trip took place here. We met a lot of other study abroad students that were from Knoxville, TN in Olympia. We all hung out all night. Finally, we went to Nafplio. Nafplio was the most beautiful place out of all the cities I visited in Greece. It was surrounded by the ocean, and the water was so clear. On the first day, we went to the beach to swim when it was raining and we saw a double rainbow. It was incredible. We had many delicious dishes here and made a lot of lasting memories. I loved Nafplio so much that I decided I am going to bring my mom there when I graduate.
I loved Greece so much, and I was not ready to come back home. However, I am so appreciative for being given this opportunity and being granted scholarships to help me pay for it. I never thought I would be able to experience another country, and its culture, so young. If I could go back tomorrow I would. Not only was Greece amazing, but by going there I was able to meet so many new people and become closer to many of my classmates. I now consider some of them my best friends. We will always have the memories of one another from that experience, and that makes me happy. I also want to say how much I enjoyed my experience with WorldStrides. They planned incredibly interesting activities for us to participate in. I got to know one of the tour guides with their company very well, and I plan on going to visit her again one day. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.
Brooklynn Ashmore (BS Biology, Pre-Professional) spent part of May 2023 participating in a faculty-led trip to Greece with the Classics department. Brooklynn had the following to say about studying abroad, “Before you graduate from UTC, you absolutely have to study abroad. I was given the opportunity to study abroad in Greece and it was the most incredible experience. I will be going abroad with UTC again in the future. I loved it.”
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