I enjoyed Athens more than I thought I would. However, it is a tourist area to me and overpopulated. It was interesting to see all the stray animals and the swarm of pigeons and how close they will get to you compared to birds in the United States. The museum we toured on May 9th was interesting and a sight to see. The one artifact that stuck out to me and stayed with me would be the demon with a serpent body and three heads. A key detail was also that many of these artifacts were replicas and that most original artifacts are in Italy instead of Greece. Like most of Europe, walking is a main form of transportation. This is the opposite of the United States. Almost everything we did was a culture shock to me, especially since this was my first time overseas. Climbing the Acropolis was also an amazing experience for me and something I will probably never forget or be able to do again. It is amazing that this is just out in the open. In the United States, we do not have anything like this. I also got to try a “european cigarette” while I was here. It was interesting that most Europeans roll their own cigarettes with tobacco and rolling papers. I do not smoke tobacco, but I am glad I tried it, asked questions about it, and saw how they do this. There is also graffiti and street art all around and interesting and beautiful to look at. Lastly, the food is different. Not having preservatives and sugar in my food was something my body needed to adjust to. I hate to say it, but I was not a fan of the food in this city. I did not enjoy the gyros or the mousakas and can go a lifetime without tasting them again.
This was a short experience, but I loved it. The views were amazing, and the calmness of the city was entirely different compared to Athens. The lunch was amazing and being on the water made the experience even better. This is where I met my two stray cat friends. I named them Frannie (orange cat) and Charles (black cat). The last thing I remember from this city would be the olive trees, which the back of the bus called “Children of the Olives” trees. This is a very beautiful place to visit, and I enjoyed it better than Athens I would say.
This city is number two on my list out of all of the ones we visited. It started out on a rough note with my straightener and curler being blown through my converter. I was honestly ready to go home after this, but the next day, it all changed with this beautiful experience. The Monastery of the Great Meteoron was beyond beautiful inside and out, more beautiful than words could ever describe. I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and this experience really moved me. No pictures were allowed, but I was moved to tears seeing the art on the walls of this beautiful place. It made my faith deeper than it already was. I am willing to die for Him, as He did for me and as many other people before me did. I truly cannot thank Jesus enough for placing me on this trip to experience this. This is by far my favorite day and experience throughout the entire trip. This experience also made me realize how afraid I am of heights. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat to feel that feeling again though. Thank you, Jesus, for everything and thank you to all the martyrs before me who showed me it is all worth it in the end. I loved the culture of this place and the quietness of this city as well.
This is the second biggest city in Greece. Honestly, I was not a big fan of this city. It was a pretty place, but I did not like the amount of people or the liveliness of the city. I know this is because I am used to being isolated and in quiet places and this city is just the opposite of this. The people here were rude to me, but coming from the South of the United States, most Europeans were to me. However, I know this is just the culture of the place and how people act. We also had a language barrier, so I cannot hold it against them. The White Tower area was beautiful here though and the boat ride was enjoyable. It is a once in a lifetime experience that I could never forget. In the end, Thessaloniki was just not the city for me.
I absolutely loved this country. This is my favorite city we visited. The history, country, and culture itself is truly amazing, beautiful, and outstanding. Sadly, I met the worst people on the trip here. They are not horrible people at all! Just being compared to the other cities, I would have to rank them on the bottom. However, they are not the focus of this reflection. Never ever did I know that Mother Teresa was born here. We also got to see where she was baptized, which was amazing. My favorite sight to see would be one of the biggest crosses in the world! It is 77 meters high, glows at night, and the best detail would be it is made of 33 parts to represent the 33 years of the life of Christ. I know I will never forget that. It is crazy how an earthquake, in July 1963, wiped out 80 percent of the country. That is so hard to begin to imagine. It was also good to know that the United States is not the only country that has politicians that do not necessarily represent the citizens of the country. It is also horrible that the country changed its name from Macedonia to North Macedonia to join the EU and to this day is still not a part of it. That is a big deal to me. Another crazy fact would be that there are less than 500 Jews in the entire country. 98 percent of the Jewish population was killed in World War II. Referring to our guide, I picked up that Macedonia and Greece have tension. I am rooting for Macedonia for sure. The food here, the beefsteak and spaghetti, are some of the best meals on this entire trip. They were truly phenomenal. I loved everything about this country and would visit again in the future.
We were not here overnight at all. Therefore, I do not have a lot to say about the country itself. The little amount of time spent here was great. Even though it was rainy, the environment seemed very calm and peaceful. The best experience was the winery and being able to taste the wines they make in that same building.
I may be biased since our professor is from here, but the experience here was phenomenal. A highlight of this country was staying in the resort with no cell service and being able to bond with everyone. I enjoyed learning the traditional dances with everyone as well. This must be the most beautiful country we visited. The Appalachians were one of a kind and a beautiful sight to see. I also loved the stream we did our cold plunge in. It felt as if we were on a camping trip and felt a little like home surprisingly. It was also great meeting Fabian and riding bikes with him and talking with him. The food here was delicious and might have been one of the only places where I genuinely enjoyed the food. The stuffed ravioli was my favorite dish this entire trip and I need to learn how to make it. I also enjoyed the people here and the environment itself. I cannot think of one thing that I did not enjoy about this country. The culture here is beyond beautiful and I really enjoyed learning about it and participating in it.
We also got to visit a bunker on the last full day here. I mention this because our group project was focused on these bunkers. After visiting the one we did, I would not change them. Learning the history of this country inside of one is the best use for them, I believe. Our guide compared the Communist days to how North Korea is today and that is truly mind blowing. The story of Hatlilje Tafaj will always stick with me out of everything I learned inside of this bunker. We also got to do a debate against the Albanian students and spend a night out with them. I honestly could not have loved them more. I got their social media to stay in contact and enjoyed hearing about their lives. This was a really great part of the trip. Overall, this country was a great experience for me, and I really enjoyed our time there.
Justice Whitley (BS Human Resource Management) spent spent part of May 2023 participating in a faculty-led trip to the Balkans through the Rollins College of Business. Justice had the following to say about studying abroad, “DO IT!!! This was my first time overseas with a group of strangers and it was phenomenal. I have made some lifelong friends and got to see the world from a different perspective. I would do it all over again and any UTC student should as well if you are able. Once again, DO IT!!!!”
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