Saturday, September 26, 2009

seeing the sunrise & notes on a rather large island

Photos of Crete:

Last weekend before leaving for Crete, I got to experience the true experience of Athens at night. My roommates and I relaxed and the apartment until about 1 am before heading out. This might seem super late, but it is a part of the culture of Greece. Greeks eat around 10/11 then go out after, so therefore 1 am was right on time. We took the subway to a popular hang out street in Monastraki. We found a huka bar that seemed to be filled with locals, not tourists which is always a plus. After hanging out for a couple hours we met two guys from Athens who helped us with our Greek, and told us about other places to check out around the city. Around 4 am my apartment-mate Kara had the extreme urge to go dancing, so we went to Gazi, which is basically a street filled with only dance clubs and bars. We decided to go the a very European dance club where all the locals were dancing full out to techno music and techno versions of popular American music and classic rock. Was a pretty odd combination, but it definitely worked with the atmosphere. After a bit we looked at the time and realized it was 6:15 am in the morning, and the club was still packed. Yikes. By that time we realized it was time for bed (very much time for bed), and we went back to our apartment why the sun rose. It was beautiful. The sun was a bright pinkish-purple, and we walked as others walked to church. I fell asleep in my bed as the church bells rang.

Sleeping in on Sunday was glorious (I guess you can call that sleeping in?). The day consisted of normal sunday activities, cleaning, school work, errands etc. Then in the evening my roommates and I met up with the guys we had met the night before to get coffee. They took us to a beautiful cafe along the water near the main port of Athens. They taught us all about Athenian sports. We watched the Greek national basketball team play in the European championships (they got 3rd!), and we watched some of the Greek soccer teams play. We learned that when the two soccer teams of Athens play it gets so violent that normally only the home team is allowed to come to the game in order to prevent violent fights. Isn't that crazy? That is like only Duke fans allowed to go to a Duke/UNC game in Cameron. I couldn't believe it. Hopefully we will be able to make it to a soccer match this fall.

For the rest of this week, I have been on the island of Crete. My program has two week long field trips, and this was the first one (the second is to the Peloponnese at the end of October). We left for Crete on Monday night, since it is so far away you have to take an overnight ferry. We boarded to boat around 8 and it left around 9. We were placed in four person bunk bed rooms with our own bathroom. It might sound squished but the rooms were actually pretty nice. The trip wasn't too bad for me especially because hours before I found the new Dan Brown book in English! For those of you who know, I am a huge fan and can't put the book down (however I did manage for a bit to write this blog entry).

We arrived at 6 am. We had breakfast on board then headed for our first site on the eastern side of Crete. Our first stop was the site of Malia. After spending an hour or so there, we bused to our second sight called Gournia which is located on a hillside overlooking the water, it was wonderful. Then we got lunch along the beachside. I had one of the many gyros I would have during the trip. After lunch we went to the town we would spend our first night, Agios Nikoloas, which is a very quaint, small town along a tiny port. I went out for an early dinner along the water, before heading to bed which was much overdue after an early morning wake up call on the ferry.

Wednesday was our busiest day. We woke up around 7 and had breakfast at the hotel. Our first stop was Lato, which is a site located in the mountains. The site had a breathtaking view of the mountainside that was definitely eye-opening. Our second stop was the large town of Heraklion where we walked around for lunch. It is the biggest town in Crete and is located along one of the biggest ports. After lunch we went to the famous Palace of Knossos. I am very torn with how I feel about it however. The famous archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans excavated the site in the 1880s and decided to basically "rebuilt" it as he thought it looked during its prime. This means that the site is extremely reconstructed and the wall paintings are redone from recent years. It is nice however to know more about what the palace probably looked like once upon a time, then just a pile of rocks, but it also seems a bit fake. Nonetheless it was incredible to be in a place I have learned about it my art history classes. After Knossos, we went back to Heraklion to spend the night. For dinner I went for gyros and got an amazing banana and chocolate crepe for desert. The town was very nice, but extremely touristy.

Thursday started with a bit of a disappointment. The archeological museum of Heraklion which has some of the most famous Minoan and Mycenaean artifacts ever found had an electrical failure and therefore we couldn't go inside. Pretty bummed about that. After that bump in the road, we drove to the town of Rethymnon which I loved. It was a beautiful small town, with lovely windy cobblestone roads along the water. We went to the archeological museum and walked around the old Venetian fortress overlooking the water. Afterwards we were given three hours of free time to eat and go the beach. Lunch sadly took a long time so I only had 30 minutes of beach time. But those 30 minutes were wonderful. We then drove to our last hotel in the town of Chania. For dinner my roommates and I found an amazing little restaurant down a tiny little street. I had my best dinner in Crete. I got fresh silver fish prepared on the grill. It was wonderful. Towards the end of dinner we were also served traditional Cretian liqueur with honey, it was quite good. After dinner we walked around the port where all the nightlife was, and were surrounded by water polo players. Apparently the european water polo championships were being held in Crete, I have never been around so many tall guys, it was crazy. It was a beautiful nigh, so we decided to explore the town a bit more before heading off to bed.

For our last day in Crete we went to our last site along a beach in western Crete. It was an old lookout fortress that was very well preserved. Afterwards we had a couple free hours to relax on the beach. The beach was wonderful, the only downfall was that our only cloudy day on the trip just happened to be on our beach day. I nonetheless enjoyed a couple hours relaxing while reading Dan Brown. Around 4 we boarded the bus back to the town of Chania for a couple more free hours before heading to the ferry. We got dinner along the port and people watched until it was time to head back. The ferry left Crete around 9, and we arrived in Athens around 5 am (early morning for sure). This boat was nicer than the other however and therefore we had tvs in our cabins. This was nice because I got to catch up on the world news, something I definitely miss watching.

Crete was definitely a great experience. It would be nice to go back with a more relaxed schedule. Our schedule definitely wasn't very leisurely, so therefore pretty tiring. The odd thing about Crete is that although it is an island, it is much larger (its quite big) and therefore doesn't give you the true Greek island experience. Therefore, I felt like I was along a country's coast, not an island most of the time. The hardest thing about Crete is guessing where to stay. There are so many wonderful towns, and it is very hard to choose a favorite. I have put all my Crete photos on facebook so if you want to see more you can check them out there :)

Now, I'm back in Athens relaxing and getting stuff done. Hopefully going to a Greek orthodox church tomorrow morning. I have my first Greek cooking class on Monday, tutor on Tuesday, lecture of Wednesday, then ISTANBUL this weekend! I can't wait.

I love comments, so keep them coming. I love hearing from all of you.
I miss you all so so so so much!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

music is an international language

This week, although long since we had classes on friday, seemed to go by pretty fast. It started with a very interesting experience. Since my program lasts longer than 90 days, we have to get visa extensions. Which involve a hefty sum of 180 Euro (another hidden fee sadly) and a tuberculosis test. However, we don't get the tb test at a normal hospital, we get the test at a hospital FOR visa extensions. This means it is a kinda sketchy place since they are dealing with economic immigrants (a lot of Albanians), and the people who work there are a bit rough around the edges. We had to line up, and one by one we go into a little room to the side and get jabbed (yes jabbed) with a needle. After the shot you wait in another room before having to take a chest x-ray. This involved taking my shirt of with a very "sketchy" male xray operator which created another interesting experience in itself. Lucky for all the visa process is officially over.

Sadly, after my hospital visit on Monday, my cold that I got in Santorini started to get worse. Monday and Tuesday basically consisted of me trying to get better and get rid of my fever. However, I did learn how the pharmacies work here. You tell the pharmacist your symptoms and then they hand you the medicine, it is pretty efficient. They work more like doctors in Greece than in the United States, hands down.

Unfortunately, my first visit to the Acropolis with my archaeology class oc
curred while I was mid cold, but it didn't keep me from being mesmerized by the experience. It was stunning to think I was actually standing on the place I have only
seen on slides in art history class or on television.

On Wednesday evening, the president of the program had his semester annual "garden party" at his house in the suburbs. He has a beautiful, homey home in a very nice suburb about twenty minutes from the heart of Athens (much longer when there is traffic). They had tables set up all around th
eir yard (which was obviously planned for entertaining), and we had upscale gyros with ice cream for desert. The best part for everyone involved it seemed was that they served wine at the dinner, which created greek dancing towards the end of the evening. I really enjoyed it, I just wish I had felt better, was still feeling out of it from the cold.

Thursday was my first Greek test. Have yet to get my grade back, so whether I know very basic greek well is still debatable. Overall, its just greek to me. The
best part of the day (obviously not the test), was that evening I got to meet the 13 year old girl I would be helping for the semester. They family lives in the same neighborhood as my classes (Pangrati), and was about a ten minute walk from class. I met the mom and the girl whose name is Celia. She goes to an American school in Athens, therefore her classes are in English (her English is very good). In turns out I will not be babysitting her but rather tutoring her. Her mom who is super sweet, left us alone so we could get to know each other. We ended up talking about twilight, the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus for about an hour. I guess some things definitely cross cultural lines. It was great, I got to help her with her English (although she doesn't need much), and she got to laugh at me trying to speak Greek. Hopefully my Greek will really improve with our visits. We did get started right away however, she needed help learning how to figure out longitude and latitude, so the night quickly turned into a two hour geography lesson. I promised her that I will take her to the new twilight movie comes out and her soccer games if she makes the school team. I am beyond excited for
the opportunity, it should be really wonderful.

Yesterday, for my class, we went to the new acropolis museum which is incredible. The building could not be better (the only problem is one floor is see through and it
is a top floor so sometimes you can see up people's shirts), but overall it is stunning. It is a must must must see. I saw the Kritios Boy, which is actually much smalle
r than I thought it was, a
nd numerous other famous works from the acropolis. I learned once again why it is nice to live in a big city. Last night I went to the olympic stadium (the one for 2004, not the ancient one by my school), so see a FREE concert of popular Greek bands and the r&b/rap artist Akon. The stadium is about 25 minutes outside the city, so we took the metro which stops right in front of the stadium. I'm pretty sure the entire Athenian population under the age of 35 was there. The athens youth is an interestin
g crowd, however not too different than those in the US. Punkish/emo seems to be the main style. The best part however was hearing the entire crowd belt out the words to the Greek music. In addition it was crazy to hear everyone singing loudly all the lyrics to Lady GaGa, The Black Eyed Peas and many other popular US groups with a Greek accent (video below). No wonder why everyone also knows English, at least the words used in Top 40 songs. I honestly think I enjoyed hearing the Greek music more than Akon, but also probably because it was just a more new and more exciting experience. After the concert we squeezed back on to the metro and got a late dinner in Syntagma square before heading back to my bed at about 3 am.

This week we are having a trip to Crete through the school program. Will be gone Monday night until Saturday at 6am, updates to come upon return :) Most likely won't have internet there, can be reached on my cell per always.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


This past weekend, I went on an adventure to the beautiful Greek island of Santorini with my apartment-mates. The most common, and cheapest way, to get to Santorini is from Piraeous, a port about twenty minutes outside of Athens, in which you take a ferry for 8 hours. 8 hours might seem like a long time, but luckily it went by pretty past to me. In order to maximize our time on Santorini we took the 7:25 am ferry, meaning we woke up around 5:30, walked to the metro, and then took the metro all the way to the port.
Unfortunately, the weather was not in our favor. The Greek islands had rain for the first time in five months, and it was with us for the entire ferry trip. I was lucky enough to be able to sleep through about 1/4 of the ride. When we finally arrived on the island it was down pouring, and our hostel (which told us
it would be picking us up) wasn't there to do so. After scrambling around the port for a bit to find someone to get the hostel's number, we were finally able to reach them and within 15 minutes we had a ride to the place we were goin
g to stay.

We stayed at a hostel called Carlos Pension, which should basically
be considered a basic hotel. From what I was told, this was a super nice hostel and for a very good price, no complaining there. This might have been because we were in the least touristy part of the island, however we were closer to t
he beaches which I thought was great.

Friday afternoon we showered and got ready to explore the island. The rain eventually stopped and created a rainbow which was wonderful. For our first night we decided to go to the capital of the island, Fira. We ate at a restaurant along the cliff side that gave us a great view of the water below. We even made friends with the waiters who thought were were very entertaining, especially si
nce we tried to speak Greek to them.

After about a three hour meal, we decided to explore the nightlife. The bad thing about the nightlife on a touristy island is that when you go to clubs/bars you meet more Americans. We stopped by one bar that played 80s/early 90s American music, however we finally settled upon a bar/club called Murphy's where we made good friend with two adults from Chicago who were island hoping. Of course you meet people from Chicago on a Greek island. However, waking up at five finally caught up with us around 2:30 and we decided to cab it back to our hostel.

Saturday, we woke up to a nice but still a bit cloudy of a day. First we took advantage of the complimentary breakfast at the hostel (which consists of bread and jam, however the bread was pretty good). And then we made friends with the other young people who were staying at the host
el, who were all a part of a European Union organization called Alliance, as I understand it, it is for building ideal moral and democrati
c values across the countries of the EU (there were people from just about every country in Europe you could imagine).
To our luck we became friends with two guys from Turkey, who gave us a list of all the things we must do while we are Istanbul. After talking for a bit, the girls and I decided to adventure around the town we were staying in, Akrotiri. As we were walking up a hill, an older man who spoke no English gestured for us to follow him. We have been told by our program that we should always accept because it is a sign of Greek hospitality. We followed the older man in what appeared to be a wine cellar. Once inside, he showed us pictures of his entire family, and gave us samples of the wine he makes in the cellar. It was incredibly sweet, you don't get that the United States. This man basically invited us off the stree
ts to show us hospitality and how us p
ictures of his family, apparently this is very typical behavior of Greek in the suburbs and in smaller towns.

After some Greek hospitality
, we decided to walk down t
he street to the Red Beach (which really is red). The stones/sand are red from the volcanic rock around the island (Santorini was created by a volcano, which is still active today, however has been "asleep" for quite some time). The beach was very rocky, which is typical of most Greek beaches, but it was incredible how red the col
or of the rocks were. After
a bit of tanning and relaxation, we decided to have a late lunch at a restaurant owned by the same family who owns the hostel we were staying at. It was incredible food, it wasn't a touristy spot, so we actually got real Greek food.
After having our fill we went to the hostel to shower to get ready for the famous sunset in Oia (the most beautiful part of the island, and what you have probably seen when looking at pictures of Santorini, think white white buildings with blue tops and windows and I'm sure you know what I'm talking about). We, along with about 3,000 (at least) other people huddled around the tip of the island to watch the sunset. It was beautiful until a cloud covered up the last 1/4 on the sunset sadly, but nonetheless was a great experience.
After our semi-sunset we decided to walk around Oia which consists of super expensive jewelry and art galleries for the upscale tourist (and they were busy), after walking into just about every store, we decided to bus back to Thira for dinner. I was sad to leave Oia, I can't began to tell you how magical it is there. We decided to have dinner at a different restaurant, but which also overlooked the cliff side down to the water. After dinner we were exhausted and decided to cab back to the hostel in order to have energy to go to the beach in the early am.

For our last hours in Santorini we decided to go to the biggest beach on the island called Perissa. Unlike most beaches in Greece, this one is sandy, which I was very happy about it. We stayed at the beach for about three hours, before catching our ferry back to Athens. However, before we left the beach we all had our first gyros. Because I live in the city, and the most upscale part of the city, I never pass a gyro stand much to my surprise, so I was excited to finally have a gyro in Greece.

I was very sad to leave Santorini. If you ever travel to Greece, it is worth the 8 hour boat ride so see a little bit of island paradise. (if you want to see more Santorini photos, they are on my facebook).

A few random notes: I hope that everyone is doing well. My payment for a lovely weekend is now I have a not so lovely cold. I have never missed Nyquil more (seriously, it is the greatest thing). Still looking for the Greek alternative. Also, if anyone has watched the TrueBlood finale I would looooovee to talk about it/hear how you feel haha.

lots of love,

Thursday, September 10, 2009

no ouzo please

This week has honestly flown by. I can't believe I am one class away from the weekend, although extremely thrilled about it.

Monday was my roommate Emily's 21st birthday. However, the Greeks didn't quite understand why we were making such a big deal about it. In honor of her birthday we went "all out" at a restaurant a couple blocks from our apartment in Kolonaki. We decided that it would be a great idea for everyone to have ouzo (not the greatest idea). Our waiter, who was from Bulgaria taught us how to properly drink ouzo. It is served to you in a tall glass (basically a water glass), along with ice cubes and a pitcher of water. When you are ready to drink, you place an ice cube and some water in the class. This dilutes the ouzo (which is very very necessary for drink-ability), and turns it from clear to a cloudy watery color. Then you "sip" it. For those of you who don't know, ouzo is basically licorice firewater, seriously. It is "the drink" of Greece and everyday I wonder whose idea that was. Anywho, the food at the restaurant, called Kolonaki restaurant, had amazing food. I got avocado salad with vinaigrette as a starter, veal with tomato sauce (a traditional greek dish) for my main, and an apple tart with ice cream for desert. yyumm.

Tuesday started bright and early. In order to beat the tourist/school children traffic, my archaeology of athens class starts at 8:30 (meaning you have to meet somewhere on sight around 8). For our first on-site class (only the day of the midterm is held in the classroom), we climbed Philopappou Hill, one of the highest hills in Athens, and one with the greatest view. However, because I live in Kolonaki, I had to take the metro to class. Let me tell you...the metro here is incredible. It makes the DC metro look pathetic. First of all, the metro is spotless, totally spotless. It is also pretty simply and therefore not hectic. Most importantly, the metro is basically a museum. In the metro you will walk by famous statues, vases, and artifacts. It's crazy.
The class itself was an experience. Once on top of the hill you can see the entire topography of Athens (which was the subject of the class). Also, the weather completely changes, it got very very cold on top of that hill.
After classes on Tuesday, we had an intro-meeting for the Greek cooking classes. I am so excited. We learn to cook three-four course meals, including soups. The class starts at seven and ends at ten (because we cook, wait, then eat!). We also learn how to pick wines to go with particular Greek foods. The class is every other week or so, therefore we have about 5-6 lessons. Can't wait.

Last night made me realize why I want to live in/near a big city. As I was walking back to my apartment after class, my roommate and I stumbled upon a symphony warming up in a beautiful courtyard. We walked into the courtyard assuming it was a paid performance. However once we got the the entrance we were greeted with programs, and took a seat towards the front. The program unfortunately was only in Greek but we could tell that the concert started at nine (was 8:30 at the time). We grabbed a quick snack and then waited for the concert to start. It was wonderful, and lasted about two hours. Recap: free symphony in a beautiful courtyard in Athens for free, and by simply stumbling upon it. Not bad :)

For my archaeology class we went to the National Archaeology Museum, which I highly recommend to anyone who comes to Athens. I basically felt as if I was walking through my art history 69 textbook. Highlights were the dipylon painter vase and the bronze statue of Poseidon/ Zeus that was found in a shipwreck.

*This weekend, aka leaving at 6 am tomorrow morning, I will be in Santorini! Check out where we are staying: I cannot wait, it is supposed to be unbelievably beautiful. And last night I made the spontaneous decision, and booked a ticket to Istanbul for the first weekend of October!!!!! far I'm doing pretty well on my goals. Got two major trip goals coming up: Santorini and ISTANBUL! Also, I am currently being pared up with a local family to become a babysitter/tutor for the children. Cooking class (and recipes for you) are currently under way. The only one that I'm working on is gym (they are extremely expensive here to shopping around). However walking over two miles at least each day and eating well is definitely helping me a lot until then.

Also, if you would like to send letters/packages (hint hint parents) to me, my address in Athens is:
Erin Malone-Smolla
DIKEMES/College Year In Athens
5 Plateia Stadiou
GR-116 35 Athens, Greece

Keep me updated on life everyone. I miss you.

Monday, September 7, 2009

First Weekend in Athens

The photo to the left is of the olive man from the farmer's market on Friday mornings two blocks from my apartment.

Friday the girls and my apartment made our first try for a true Athenian night, meaning going out to dinner at around 10 or 11. We decided to walk to a restaurant that we had passed by during our previous excursion the Acropolis. The restaurant is located pretty close to the base of the Acropolis and is located on top of a little hill so you can look over the lower parts of the city. We ordered a little bit of everything, basically a tasting menu of Greek food, pretty similar to our taverna dinner earlier in the week. Our dinner, in typical Greek fashion lasted until about 1:30 am. On the walk back we were joined by one of the many stray dogs that literally walked the length of the walk back with us. However, once a couple blocks from our apartment we stumbled upon a very busy/happening bar street only two blocks from our apartment, who knew. We ran into a couple other people from the program, and soaked up the atmosphere among the locals for another hour or so. Sleep came around 4/5ish, with an unwelcome 7:30 wake up call the next morning. We had to get up so early, because on Saturday we had our first field trip to Braron and Sounion, two towns outside the city of Athens. The first place we went to was where the temple of Artemis is, which marked my first “classroom” visit to ruins. Next to the ruins was a small museum, which had a really nice pottery/vase collection. Then we went to the Temple of Poseidon, which you can walk up pretty close to, however, you can’t walk on it since people before began to write all over it. The most famous signature actually is that of Lord Byron. After touring the temple, we went to the beach. The beaches here are not sandy, but rather rocky. The water is the perfect temperature, and is crystal clear. The water could not be more beautiful.

Last night (Sunday night) we went to an open air theater a couple blocks down from our apartment, which is known as one of the most beautiful outdoor theaters in Athens. It was wonderful. You walk up these stairs into a little area that resembles a garden patio. The walls are covered in ivy like plants. To the side is a wine and food bar, and the seats (which look like director's chairs) are lined up in front of the screen. We saw "The Soloist," however, the only downside was that it rained at the start and the end, but that didn't prevent the night from being wonderful. While watching the movie you could hear the city noise in the background, which only added to the experience.

Also, I'm going to Santorini this weekend. I cannot wait.

Friday, September 4, 2009

new number

Just so you know, I have a new number to be reached here in Greece. Call
+1 7572634191. Calling me is free for you, however it costs me about .39 cents a minute, but nonetheless want to hear from you (in short bursts via phone) :)
skype name is: erin.malone.smolla

farmers market & trying, desperately to learn Greek

First of all, this photo (on the right) is from the top of the hill we climbed to look at the acropolis by night (that is the Acropolis in all the beauty). The one to the left is the view of the Acropolis from our classrooms. This morning since I didn't have class until late afternoon, I went with one of my roommates Laura (who goes to Tulane) to the farmer's market which is only TWO blocks down from our apartment. It was incredible. I have never seen anything like it before. There was a guy who sold only olives, a guy that only sold eggs, there was squid, octopus, huge whole fish, a million different types of fruit, etc. (will post photos of it soon). The people who work the market either speak very good english or none at all, so that was a good learning experience. I am learning quickly on how to get some super juicy figs without speaking. Plus, we got some free samples which was super wonderful.
So far today I have also learned that my Greek class will most likely be the only thing that gives me any academic trouble (and I meant that). The teacher somehow things that she can teach us Greek by only speaking Greek..hmmmm. Figure that one out. However, I did just watch the latest true blood online (with greek subtitles), so at least I'll know how to say vampire in Greek. I have just one more class left today before the weekend (Understanding Europe, a political science class which I haven't had yet). Tonight exploring the city some more (and eating some of my produce from the market). Tomorrow we have our first day trip to the coast, Sounion/Braunion (the beach!)

keep the comments coming :) I want to hear what you are up to!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

..and so classes begin

Last night we were all split up into numerous groups to go to a taverna dinner with two professors. We ended up eating in Pangrati square which is pretty close to the academic center. We had so many amazing things: taziki, an eggplant dip, fried goat cheese with lemon juice, ricotta cheese dip, greek salad, fresh bread, peppers marinated in vinegar then grilled, stuffed peppers, a mixed grill of lamb, baklava, house red wine, and much more. Greeks don't start eating dinner until about 10, which is super late compared to the United States. The children are also up, running about till about midnight, even on school nights apparently. Siestas are taken VERY seriously here, which occur from 2-6, allowing Greeks/especially the children to stay up so late.

Today is my first day of classes. I woke up around 7:30 to make it to my 8:30 archaeology class (I have 830s on tues/thurs, and then on mon/wed, I don't have class till 12:20). My first class (archaeology) seems like it is basically going to be a tour every class period. We never meet at the classroom, instead we meet on sites (the acropolis, Agora, etc.) We are only in class one day, and that is for the midterm. The professor is a young woman, who seems like she will be a lot of fun and relaxed.

The last class I had yesterday called International Relations: The Mediterranean Dimension, I think is going to be my favorite class. The professor is a young guy from Cyprus called Phillipe who got his undgrad/grad school in the US. I think the topics of the class are going to be extremely interesting and it is going to be conversation/debate based. In his introduction he exclaimed, "and by the way I love Hilary Clinton! I think Bill was the best president recently, possibly ever, but I think Obama will pass him up." This actually started a great conversation of the bat (mostly guys denying Hilary's awesomeness).
Another thing the professor told us, is that the current prime minister of Greece (who is behind in the polls), has called an election. This means that there is going to be a prime minister election October 4th! This means that Athens is going to be the political hotspot for the next month, which I find super exciting. Apparently this means that there are going to be many demonstrations and protests. Can you imagine if the presidential election in the US only lasted a month!?!? That would be crazy...
After my first day of class I went back the apartment and my roommates and I had our first night of cooking dinner. We cooked pasta, fruit salad, a pasta salad, and fresh bread with feta and olive oil. Then, I realized I greatly need to practice the alphabet. I posted it below to show you just how ridiculous it is to learn. It is the only country/language that uses this language. lucky me
Α αAleph AlephAlphaἄλφαάλφαa[a] [aː][a]1
Β βBeth BethBetaβῆταβήταbv[b][v]2
Γ γGimel GimelGammaγάμμαγάμμα
ggh, g, y[ɡ][ɣ], [ʝ]3
Δ δDaleth DalethDeltaδέλταδέλταdd, dh, th[d][ð]4
Ε εHe HeEpsilonε ψιλόνέψιλονe[e]5
Ζ ζZayin ZayinZetaζῆταζήταz[zd]
(or [dz])
later [zː]
Η ηHeth HethEtaἦταήταe, ēi[ɛː][i]8
Θ θTeth TethThetaθῆταθήταth[tʰ][θ]9
Ι ιYodh YodhIotaἰῶταιώτα
i[i] [iː][i], [ʝ]10
Κ κKaph KaphKappaκάππακάππα
k[k][k], [c]20
Λ λLamedh LamedhLambdaλάβδαλάμβδαλάμδα
Μ μMem MemMuμῦμι
Ν νNun NunNuνῦνι
Ξ ξSamekh SamekhXiξεῖξῖξιxx, ks[ks]60
Ο οAyin 'AyinOmicronοὖὂ μικρόνόμικρονo[o]70
Π πPe PePiπεῖπῖπιp[p]80
Ρ ρRes ReshRhoῥῶρωr (: rh)r[r], [r̥][r]100
Σ σ ςSin SinSigmaσῖγμασίγμαs[s]200
Τ τTaw TawTauταῦταυt[t]300
Υ υWaw WawUpsilonὖ ψιλόνύψιλονu, yy, v, f[y] [yː]
(earlier [ʉ] [ʉː])
Φ φorigin disputed
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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Nighttime at the Acropolis

After the first half of orientation yesterday, I went to my first Athenian food market. There is a store near my neighborhood that only sells produce, it is amazing. I got huge plums, peaches, and an assortment of berries. Afterwards, we took an hour long break then we met up a professor in our neighborhood, Kolonaki, to show us where the markets, banks, pharmacies, etc. near our apartment. We live in such a nice area. Then we walked back to the academic center for the President of the program's welcoming talk. The best part was afterwards they had a sampling of Greek food. There was this amazing sandwich (I sadly can't tell you about it, but it was some medley of Greekness). I ate like four of them. I am in LOVE with Greek food. as we finished our food, someone came up with the brilliant idea that we should go to the Acropolis. We knew that the actual part would be closed for the night, but we could at least walk right up to it and explore the area around it. The walk was about 20 minutes, and then all of a sudden we were in this amazing part of the city. We walked by the new museum here (the one that is having the Elgin marble controversy with Berlin). The museum is stunning. We then walked right up to the entrance of the Acropolis. I have never been so overwhelmed by anything like that before. After walking around in a daze by the base, we climbed up a large rocky hill, which took some time in rainbows and a dress, but the view at the top was breathtaking. We could see every inch of the acropolis, and I could see the far reaches of Athens (which is huge by the way, super huge, the suburbs keep expanding, to get from one end to the other takes over an hour at least). It was honestly one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. We then explored the area around the Acropolis which is filled with little stores and restaurants. We walked by a nice restaurant playing Greek music and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Afterwards, we walked back to our apartment, unpacked some more, and passed out cold.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Athenian First Impressions

wow. it all I have to say about this place. I'm currently sitting in the academic center of the program I am at, and to my right outside my window is the ancient olympic marble stadium (picture to the right).

Once I landed yesterday I was greeted by two energetic employees of the program who swiftly lifted my luggage and got me into a cab to my apartment. My apartment is in the Kolonaki district of Athens, which is this beautiful, upscale residential neighborhood. It is on the top of a hill which includes many, many steps (I honestly will be getting in shape just walking around this city). My apartment is the farthest away from the academic center (where classes are held), but it is hands-down, at least I believe to be in the most beautiful area. Oh, and did I mention that behind me the view from where I'm sitting is the Acropolis!? It is mesmerizing...

My apartment includes four other girls. Two doubles and one single. I honestly could not have been luckier with getting awesome apartmentmates. I'm in a double with a girl named Emily who is a junior from Davidson (for those of you who know my obsession with Davidson basketball, this is super exciting). She is awesome, hands down. We have so many similar interests, I'm really excited. My other housemates are great, super sweet, and eager to do everything here. So excited about it. We already have plans for cooking classes/cooking dinner nights, making friends with locals, travels, etc. One girl, Marissa, is studying for the entire year.

Last night: Went with the people in my apartment to a cafe a couple blocks down the hill. It was beautifully lit up with lights. I had a greek salad, don't laugh, they are amazing. There is no salad, it consists of FRESH, and I mean fresh tomatoes, onions, a HUGE chunk of the best feta ever, olives, drizzled with olive oil and a bit of vinegar. Everyone of course was thrilled that they could order alcohol, this is obviously a novelty for everyone since most of us are rising juniors. The wine here, as my parents warned, is very sweet and well, they aren't known for it, but good to try nonetheless. Afterwards we went to more of a "hip" bar, however, most were extremely tired and therefore laid back. OH! and for those who know me super well....guess what they have here!?!!?!? FANTA LEMON!!!!!!!!!!!! My favorite drink in the entire world. Corey, I know you respect that.

We had orientation today, it got me so pumped. A big thing here are outdoor garden theaters. They are looking out to the Acropolis and they are in a garden (obviously) with home cooked food and a little outdoor wine bar, and they show current movies. In English (with greek subtitles). How great is that !? outdoors. drinks. a view of the acropolis. good movies/good company

Going to look into babysitting for a local family, tutoring, or some other sort of local interaction. I really want to meet as many locals as possibly and get to know the culture. Also, looking into (besides cooking classes), yoga and Greek dance :)

Tonight we get a walking tour of our residential area, and a reception with the program's president.

**my phone is apparently not accepting calls, however I can call out. It will be fixed within 48 hours. Will update when it is working. Skype: erin.malone.smolla
Once I get a regular schedule will let you all know when skyping will work out well :)

i love the comments by the way (thanks mom and stewart!), keep them coming, I love hearing from you